Before the pandemic, I was a teacher. It was a good gig at a nice school where I had worked for twenty years. I was paid well and had a nice benefits package (thank you, Canadian teachers’ union). I taught nice students from all backgrounds (I live in the most multicultural city in North America). They had involved parents who cared about their educations. There were some entitled parents and students, but mostly everyone was kind, well behaved, and appreciated the work I did.
That was all I had to do: be a good teacher. Then I would come home…
My sister phoned me the other day, sobbing. She has been recovering her early childhood memories with the help of the drug DMT. Her “visions” under the influence of this drug consisted of emotions like terror and shame. She sobbed uncontrolledly and was afraid to look down a dark tunnel that someone was showing her.
She phoned to go over the experience with me. It was a short conversation because she became so agitated that she had to hang up so she could be physically comforted by her husband.
The experience was shattering. She had fifty-eight years of emotions to…
My first book was the bible. No wait, it was a cookbook entitled Joy of Jello.
The bible was my second book. It was a picture bible with the stories illustrated like a comic book, but with no dialogue balloons. The illustrations were black and white and in the centre of the book were colour plates of renaissance painting depicting key bible moments like the creation of Adam or Mary adoring the infant Jesus.
I still have both of those books.
I loved that illustrated bible. I studied the pictures and read the captions from about age four. When my…
Humans have a tendency to see things outside of themselves as real and to see inner things as imaginary.
I’m the opposite. I unabashedly live in my own inner world. Maybe that makes me weird. Much like a Zen Buddhist, I see the sensory world, the world of things we can see, hear, feel, smell and taste, as a parade of illusions.
As Shakespeare called it, “this insubstantial pageant.”
“Isms” like feminism or existentialism or romanticism (I refuse to capitalize them) are projections of the inner world of humans onto the unknowable, unfathomable material world. …
It is fashionable now to deny the existence of evil. It’s supposedly an outdated medieval concept like believing in witches or fairies.
This is the way that oppression, cruelty, and injustice are now explained: society. Society creates oppression. Society creates abuse. Society creates toxic masculinity. Society creates rape culture and slavery. Society crushes the powerless individual. Society’s system creates structural racism and people are helplessly caught up in these unequal social webs of injustice.
And society makes people behave badly. They can’t help it. They are taught these behaviors. They are socially constructed. Society teaches them that they have to…
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats
Self-righteous certainty is always a problem. Its opposite, self-doubt, can also be a problem, but is much less dangerous.
As the great Irish poet pointed out, back in 1919, “passionate intensity,” what I am calling self-righteous certainty, can lead to violence, “The blood-dimmed tide.” Conversely, self-doubt, when we refuse to engage in verbal extremism, can be seen as a lack of conviction, which paralyzes action.
Those of us over a certain…
Many years ago, I was a recently married young woman and about to become a mother. My husband and I were sitting at home one night talking to his best friend about the nature of marriage. Both my husband and his friend had grown up in Iran, a place with rather different ideas about the roles of husbands and wives than I was used to, having grown up in Canada.
Unsurprisingly, as a twenty-something, educated Canadian woman in the 1980s, I believed it to be a self-evident fact that men and women should be equals, especially within a marriage. …
I was reading an article on Medium about a week ago on transgender issues. One of the commenters had a startling take: he said that as a psychotherapist he refused to call one of his female transgender patients by her preferred pronouns, because she was living in a “fantasy of a female body” and he couldn’t validate that.
Other commenters predictably attacked this comment for its harshness and inhumanity. I found myself objecting to the refusal to use pronouns, while at the same time agreeing with the fantasy part of his comment.
Hear me out.
I am against transphobia. I…
I have done a lot of things in my life more or less out of spite. Like learning to play the violin because my best friend in 1971, a spoiled ten-year-old girl, told me I would never be able to play it. Fast forward fifty years, and I’m learning the first Beethoven violin sonata as my retirement project. So there, bitch.
But an initial spiteful impetus can lead to meaningful outcomes. And time mellows rigid ideas like an autumn ode by the unforgettable romantic poet John Keats, who coined the term “negative capability,” the ability to accept ambiguity.
Mother, Teacher, wife, food lover, spiritual searcher.