Quote of the Day

Friday, July 24, 2009

waiting for the world to begin

Oh God, are there so many of them in our land! Students who can’t be happy until they’ve graduated, servicemen who can’t be happy until they are discharged, single folks who can’t be happy until they’ve found a mate, workers who can’t be happy until they’ve retired, adolescents who aren’t happy until they’re grown, ill people who aren’t happy until they’re well, failures who aren’t happy until they succeed, restless who can’t wait until they get out of town, and in most cases, vice versa, people waiting, waiting for the world to begin.

~Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

This is precisely why I always feel the need to remind myself that living is for the NOW and not at some distant point in the future. Yes, it’s good to have goals and desires, things to look forward to in the future. But we can’t put our life on hold until these things have been acquired. Time is too precious to waste and life is too important to wait for.

And as I've learned through the years, the thing with this mindset is that once you've reached the desired destination you can often find yourself looking around at your life thinking, "So what? Now what?". Because no arbitrary date or milestone or achievement can instantaneously bring happiness and clarity within itself.

And so I tell myself this: make your plans, keep you dreams as the carrot on the stick. But live now. Love now. Find joy within yourself now. Whatever your situation, however near or far you may be from your destination. Because if you’re forever waiting for your life to begin, it will be over before you even know it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

the trials and tribulations of the flat-intestined

I am now pretty much convinced I'm anemic. I always hate self-diagnosing, it inevitably makes me feel like a hypochondriac. BUT I also hate putting my health care completely in the hands of others. It makes me feel helpless. So I do my research. I guess maybe I'd rather be a hypochondriac than passive and helpless. I just like to think of it as being a hands-on patient.

But the other day this sneaking suspicion was actually given credibility: it seems my flattened intestines may be preventing me from properly absorbing certain nutrients. Yes, flattened intestines. Well ok, it's not really the intestines themselves that are flattened, it's the intestine walls. But still.

"Look, I don't want to hurt your feelings or anything but... your intestines, well... they're just so flat. Just rather dull, really. So lacking in villi. I mean really, if you were a nutrient, would you want to stick around?"

Oh dear. What is a flat-intestined girl to do. Well apparently take Omega 3 Fatty Acid, but that's another story. As for the possible anemia, pernicious or otherwise (pernicious is soo ominous sounding), I know I should really get a blood test... but oh god, I am a horrible coward and just the thought of the needle spikes (no pun intended) up the level of light-headedness from the slight buzz I've been walking around with for weeks to an all-out squeamish fluster. I wonder if I can just load up on b-12 and iron alongside the fatty acids (why do I just love saying fatty acids so much?) and hope it helps...

I'm really not a hypochondriac. I swear. In fact, I tend to subscribe to the "if I ignore it, maybe it'll go away" philosophy, which has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion (turns out if your knees or ankles start to really hurt from running it's not actually a good idea to push through the pain). But after weeks of feeling unable to focus and like I'm functioning at half capacity, even I have to admit that maybe it's time to stop giving this anemia or whatever the silent treatment and tell it to go fuck itself. Politely, of course.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

peace (corps) & love

I got another Peace Corps email yesterday listing upcoming recruiting events in the bay area, and as it always does, it made me stop and think. Every time I get those emails I feel a tiny pang in the pit of my stomach. Of what, I'm not quite sure... longing, regret? It's true that I can't quite help feeling a little like I sold out, taking my current job when I was finally right on the verge of applying.

But then I remind myself that it was the right thing to do. After all, if the whole application/interview process is supposed to take at least a year, there was no way I could
realistically sit around waiting with no steady source of income and no foreseeable job opportunities. At least not without moving back home (and anyone who knows me knows that's not going to happen if I can help it). And more than that, as antsy as I sometimes get to just take off, deep down I think I knew I wasn't quite ready, that it just wasn't quite the right time.

But I still get that little pang when I see the emails, and I welcome it. Because it serves as a reminder that the opportunity is still out there if I want to pursue it in the future, a reminder to prepare myself for when it might be the right time. I'm still not sure if I would be qualified or if I'd even definitely want to do it, but it's something I've thought about ever since high school and I don't want to lose sight of the possibility. I kind of feel that if I don't at least apply and see where it takes me, I'll end up regretting the wasted opportunity.

The thing is, sometimes I get scared that I’
ve become too comfortable, and too materialistic. Sometimes I stop and look around at my life and wonder where the need for all these things came from, and how it became such a natural feeling to want them, to feel like I need them even. How does want so easily become need in our society, when so many people around the world are living on so little?

And then it occurs to me that I don’t want to get caught in the trap so many fall into; I don't want to spend my life doing
unfulfilling work and chasing things that in the end will never make me happy. Because the thing with material possessions is that there will never be enough, there can never be enough to bring happiness, and so the endless cycle plays on, the need for more, always more, in vain.

So the idea of just saying fuck it all, fuck all these things… to leave, for a little while, the privileged life I know and go off to some far away place where the people, in comparison, have nothing… to maybe be able to help them in some small way, and to perhaps learn something about myself and about life in return… well, you can see how that sounds pretty appealing.

Monday, July 6, 2009

they say you are what you eat...

So recently I've decided that I need to make a few changes in my consumption habits. For a start I've decided I should really buy only cage free eggs and organic, hormone-free dairy products. I’ve kind of already implemented this into my grocery shopping routine, but I really want to be more diligent about it. Yes, it can be a little unfriendly on the wallet, but I’ve started to feel kind of hypocritical saying that I don’t eat meat and then turning around and using eggs from chickens kept immobile in cages and cruelly clipped of their beaks, or milk from cows pumped full of hormones and strapped to devices that milk until their udders bleed.

To be honest, the poor treatment of animals is only one of the reasons I stopped eating meat, but it is something I loathe. I’
ve always striven to be nonjudgmental as far as eating practices go, and frankly any intolerance on either side annoys me. I find it amusing that I’ve been out at a restaurant and actually had people apologize to me for eating meat once they find out that I don’t, and then had to explain that no, I am not offended by their carnivorous ways. I have even on occasion voluntarily stared morbidly fascinated at my television screen as Bear Gryllis tears into a fresh gazelle carcass (or some other unfortunate beast of the wilderness) with unnatural zeal.

My point is that everyone has their own reasons for eating what they will, and I'm a great believer in to each their own, live and let live.
But I do think it’s important to know what you’re eating and to think about where your food comes from. Personally, when I think about the horrible conditions many farm animals are subjected to for their edible goods, I can’t in good conscience bring myself to contribute money to those practices, and I can't help but think that if more people were really aware of the ugly history of their hamburgers or scrambled eggs, they wouldn't want to either.

I have to wonder: how did we come to this? How did we get so removed from our food source that we so often don't know or don't care how our meals get to our plates?

When Native Americans presided over the plains of the US, they depended on the buffalo for their nutrition and overall survival. They recognized the fact that they were reliant on these animals, and as such they respected and paid tribute to them. They
acknowledged the noble and spiritual nature of the beast, neither wasting nor killing unnecessarily.

Even today in certain parts of the world a family with barely anything to their name will butcher an animal that was like a pet in order to feed a guest and fulfill their culture's code of hospitality. To most of us in the US this is unthinkable. We would probably consider it shocking, backwards or even cruel behavior. And yet when you think about it, it's actually far more enlightened than our western way of thinking, because they know where the food on their table came from, they mourn the animal and recognize its sacrifice. Unlike most of us who pick up a sandwich at the market having little to no knowledge of where exactly what went into making it, they can fully appreciate where their meal came from and the meaning behind it.

By contrast, our western culture, as it seems to usually do, has followed its own path and continued a downward spiral of
bastardizing the treatment of the creatures we use for food. I'm not sure exactly how this attitude evolved. Maybe it has to do with the Western tradition of needing to "conquer" and dominate anything and everything in sight instead of finding a way to peacefully coexist and develop mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships. Maybe it's because of the rampant consumer culture that dominates our society. Or perhaps it developed gradually as we became more and more removed from our food sources. After all, it's a lot easier to remain ignorant of and lose appreciation for what you eat when you're not the one farming the vegetables or hunting, skinning and carving up the meat.

Most likely it's a combination of these and other factors that led to the often callous attitude we hold towards the creatures we consume. Of course, some of these same things probably helped create the
privileged society we know today, where it is no longer even necessary to eat meat in order to survive and indeed one can thrive on a vegetarian diet, which I for one am grateful for. But regardless of our diet and what we call ourselves, when we eat something, we should have at least some knowledge of where it came from and what it took to get on our plate, because only then can we really appreciate what goes into keeping our life force going. If instead we willingly choose to remain ignorant, we are only helping to continue and worsen a dangerous attitude of apathy and disconnectedness from the earth that provides us all a home.

To make what's become a very long and rambling story short (too late, I know), I guess the bottom line for me is this: animals are not machines, and should not be treated as such. The passing of Prop 2 in last November's election was a positive sign and a step in the right direction. But there is a long way to go in mending the
dichotomy of societal standards in which we buy our pets clothing and Christmas presents and yet don't care about cruel slaughtering practices or substandard conditions for housing farm animals. I can't help thinking that if things like reincarnation and karma do indeed exist in the universe, the people who perpetuate inhumane treatment for profit with little or no thought to the ethical implications should probably be a little frightened for the future.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the silent scream

So what is it, exactly, this frustration building within me? What is the mystery of emotion, that we can feel things so intensely that we are unable to define or adequately describe? The ebb and flow, at times receding and then the sudden wave that crashes and fills me until I feel I must surely burst. Sometimes it seems that I can only express myself through the words of others, and even then not to those it matters. It's a feeling akin to having your tongue cut out, suddenly becoming mute and possessing no knowledge of sign language. Like the dreams where you shout out but no sound is heard, the dreams where I try to raise my head but lay paralyzed. What is it even that I should want to say if I had the voice, and to what end? What is it that I want? Do I really want the things I think I desire? Do I really know, or do I merely cling stubbornly to my notions of what I think is the goal, all the more persistent for the elusiveness of the quest?