Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, February 23, 2006

more on identity

I was watching a recent episode of House in which the victim turned out to be a hermaphrodite. She was a female for all outward purposes but also has undescended testicles. The writers made the news that she had these testicles a shock and had the information delivered like a bombshell and the victim cried and wailed that “she was a girl, not a boy!” It made me think again about how people define themselves and how they establish their identity. This girl had identified herself as a beautiful girl (she was 15 years of age and a fashion model) and that was about it. When told she was something slightly more (shall we say) or at least different, she collapsed into grief at her lost identity.

When some people find out they are adopted, not having been told this as they were growing up, they often go on a desperate search for their biological parents. When some people find out their background contains a few genes from someone of colour or someone from some other repressed ethnicity, they tend to identify with those few ethnic genes, rather than accept that they are still the same person they ever were. Why is that?

Why do some people cling to a single aspect of themselves as their primary identity, when they are really a composite of everything that has occurred up to that point? Perhaps people find that being unique is unsatisfying, perhaps they long for belonging. If a person is part of a group, then that person IS somebody (they think). Such is the mentality of gang members. And yet, one cannot always agree with everything the group does. Maybe it’s too much like work to be a unique individual - maybe it’s easier to be just one in a group?

patience and impatience

Patience is accepting that things are the way they are.

Impatience is NOT accepting the way things are.

Being patient and therefore accepting does NOT mean that you necessarily like the way things are. It just means that you will not fight current conditions, or spend your time wishing that things were different.

If you spend your present moment wishing things were different and yet not doing anything to make things be different, than you are being impatient and you are wasting your time. If you really DO want things to be different, then make a plan and then make it happen.

It works with sewing too. People say, “I wouldn’t have the patience to make that” but what they really mean is that they would be sitting there the whole time, wishing that the thing they were making would be finished. Or maybe even that they were working on something else. I do that a lot - work on some project where I don’t like the fabric and wish I were working on something else. I should learn from this NOT to buy fabric just because it’s on sale, especially if I don’t like it intrinsically. But that’s a topic for my other blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

about maturity

What makes a person mature?

I remember as a kid I would have issues with my mother from time to time. She would be reacting to my bad behaviour and she would say, “I’ll treat you like an adult when you start acting like one.” To which I would pose the bogus challenge, “how am I supposed to act like an adult if you don’t treat me like one?”. Bogus because a person doesn’t need to be treated any particular way to act like an adult. A person can be all alone on a deserted island and still act like an adult - or a child.

So what makes an adult? Of course, it’s not any one thing and you can’t reduce a complex notion like this to a one-size-fits-all answer. But if you did reduce the concept, you would get “self control” at the top of the main things that make up an adult. Not all adults have this of course and that’s why I am using the word “mature”.

I think self control is a matter of considered choice. We are faced with a situation to which there are several answers. We consider the consequences of each behaviour and then we choose the one that we want. Small children who don’t know about the concept of self control don’t even consider the consequences. They know immediately what they want and that’s the one they go for. For example, take the situation where someone offers you a piece of cake. As a small child, assuming you like cake, you will immediately say “yes I want cake”. There are no consequences to a small child. However as you get older, you learn that there are consequences to behaviour. If you eat that cake now, you may have the satisfaction of the taste, you may satisfy a hunger pang, but you also know there are better food choices to make or, if you aren’t hungry, that these are empty calories.

Even a dog understands that choices can be made and that there are consequences. As I watch my puppy learn and mature, I see him hesitate before deciding to chase that bit of paper across the street. Sometimes he chooses not to chase it and he is rewarded. Sometimes he decides that he will chase it and he is corrected. “Control” is not necessarily about prohibiting behaviour - it can mean channelling it or working with it, like you do with a dog’s natural instincts to chase of sniff.

As we get even more mature, we begin to differentiate between long term and short term consequences to our behaviour. Something may satisfy you in the short term with no apparent negative consequences but you can look to the long term and see that there could be negative consequences down the road. (This concept is especially applicable to the subject of weight-gain.)

Finally, we start to understand how our behaviour affects other people (which in turn ultimately affects us). If we get angry at someone for something they did, we have to choose what to do about it. Do we express our anger in the hope that what they did to us will not happen again? How has that worked in the past? Do we give a measured response, hoping that the lesson will be learned but without all the rancour?

All of this can be boiled down into how much you control your own self. And we can all control ourselves - sometimes we just choose not to. I think the extent to which you willingly control your behaviour is a sign of how mature you are.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Weather has been notable today. We have had winds gusting to 80kph, temperatures dropping during the day from just above freezing to minus 14C (with a windchill of minus 28C), some snow, more blowing snow causing white outs, flash freeze of all the melting we had yesterday. I took three pictures out the back.
The first is at 11:30 during a lull in the snow. You can see the trees are weighted down with ice.
icy trees and temperatures dropping
The next is at 12:30 and doesn’t begin to capture the wind blowing the snow around and rattling the house, shaking the windows.
snow and blowing snow
The final picture I just took at 2:30 when the sun suddenly came out and the ice sparkled.
and suddenly the sun came out