Sunday, 24 March 2019

Is there joy in life?

Nine Scientists Share Their Favorite Happiness Practices

Is there joy in life?

I spent a lifetime in the pursuit of safety and health. Saving lives have been a popular subject every since I can remember. We trained in saving people from accidents, in making safe places, healing, keeping people from any form of danger, including disease and dangerous habits. We educated people to lead a healthy lifestyle.  A big part of my job was to incorporate fun into doing healthy activities. The aim always was to prolong life at any cost.

Right along with my efforts others were making efforts to provide more food, improved transportation, offer recreational activities and better living conditions for the people we live with.  This was available often at the exclusion of others. In summary, we work all of our lives to prolong life and make it pleasant, but we always lose. In the end, everyone dies, and the others say, well, he or she lived a good life, or not. What does life consist of?

One can observe the big political debates of our time. I look at the last little while. There is a division in our society about the beginning of life. Should we or should we not allow abortions and how easy should it be to obtain them. Half of the people believe that it is a question of women being able to control their bodies while the other half sees abortions as the killing of unborn innocent babies. We have big debates about suicides also. Should we save people from ending their lives or should we let them do what they wish?

Many of us try to deal with life through a hazy lens of participating in intoxicating addictions. Life is going on in the same manner that it always did, but the individual gains false confidence from the use of a chemical which numbs the senses. I view it as cheating the brain.

What is life for most people? I see most people going to work each day grumbling about having to do it. People watch the clock to see when the day’s work is done and waiting eagerly for Friday when the work week is done. Kids go to school with the same attitude. They grumble about time spent in structured pre-determined activity and look forward to doing their thing.

People of past generations had to perform many tasks that we no longer do. Some of our parents and grandparents chopped wood, hauled water, made soap, sowed or knitted clothes and I can go on forever. When people began renting their lifetime for a paycheque, intellectuals wrote to the papers complaining about the loss of freedom.

Life is not a journey from the cradle to the grave. What people want from life is a very important question, central to our being. What happened in the past is mostly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what we are doing now and how it will affect us from now onwards.

Some never realized that we live in a country where more people die from overeating than from lack of food, and eat their way to death. Others try to hide from life by playing games or inventing “make busy” projects. I know so many people who are afraid to exchange ideas or be politically incorrect so they meet others and immediately start playing games. Even worst, they discuss other people playing games and submerge themselves into “teams” which have nothing to do with them.

Often you may see a team, let's say hockey, which is “owned” by an individual from another place, playing in some city. Most or all of the players are from other places. Yet people from that city and surrounding areas talk as if they are playing the game. Someone in a town in southern Alberta is cheering when the Calgary Flames score a goal and shouting, “we scored” and crying when an opposing team scored blaming them for cheating.

We have a life but what is the point? Is it to consume? Do I have more pleasure from a “Big Gulp” than I used to get from a “regular size drink?” Am I less fulfilled if I don’t tell all my friends that I have spent a month in a tropical tourist trap last winter? I truly don’t think so.

Life is still what it always been. It is a day in which I am aware that I exist, regardless of how much services and goods I was able to consume. If I live begrudging the past, blaming it for my misfortunes, I live in misery. If I live a day trying to protect myself from all the unpleasant possible happenings that I observed others suffer, I have a sad existence. I can spend the day of life unhappily and go to sleep expecting another miserable day tomorrow, and it will happen. Most of life takes place in our heads and is a reflection of our thoughts.

Another option is available to me freely. I get pleasure from caring for others. Making others feel good, have safe lives, be healthy and enjoy whatever possible, gives me more pleasure than taking care of myself and watching others suffer. I know that there are people who enjoy winning more than helping. Those are my natural enemies and I make an effort to ignore or stop them.

I honestly believe that there are more of us who get pleasure from loving than from winning. We have been fighting about this for 2019 years or more, and I think that the balance has shifted. I watch news from around the world and I see the people who worship selfishness lie, cheat and lose. Those who care outnumber them.

Anyone who wonders what is the meaning of life can work on having a good life, but will only be fulfilled when all have a good life. If we wish to have real happiness, we must achieve it for all people and the world we live in.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Space ships and Aquariums.

Space ships and Aquariums.

I was paying in a restaurant and my little grandchild was closely looking at the fish in the aquarium beside the till. The cashier sprinkled a little Fish Food on top of the water and all the fish rushed to get a bite, to the delight of the little guy. He watched and signaled me to get closer, and whispered. Where do they go poo, Grandpa? In the water I said and the preschooler made a disgusted face. They eat in it and sleep in it, he said. The cashier told him that every month they change some of the water but it didn’t reduce his concern.

I remember years ago when I was little, and a teacher in grade school told us that the world existed for millions of years but never got a drop of water or air from outside. This was before we sent a man to the moon or even to space. Now I am listening to David Saint-Jacques, the Canadian astronaut on the Space Station, telling on a live interview about his experience. He talked about the coffee and mentioned that the water on Space Station is recycled. Yesterday’s coffee, he said is today's coffee. In his opinion, the experiment of people in space is most important because people are learning how to live together and how we depend on each other. David went on describing the fact that our atmosphere is a very thin layer above the planet and we are learning that we have to take care of it. The atmosphere over the earth is the aquarium in which all species which provide what we call reality or life exists and there is no other alternative. Nothing in, nothing out. The earth is us and it receives energy from the sun. Very little else comes in as cosmic dust.

I went with my grandchildren to the Zoo and came to the big mammal's enclosure. The rhinoceros was close to the barrier so the kids flocked to see it. I don’t know if the big animal wasn’t trained well at tourist hospitality workshop, but it lifted its tail, and….you know, nature played its role and all the kids made a face and went, peooouh. I tried not to pay attention but the smell couldn’t be avoided. I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to walk out of the building into the open air.

Some molecules of the stink entered my lungs, oxygenated my blood, traveled to my brain, became electricity and formed a thought. The thought made my body get the energy to my muscles and made me run for open air. Open air contained all of the used material from the whole world but was scrubbed by natural process and plants to give me life. All of that in the thin layer we call atmosphere that exists on our planet and possibly on others, but we don’t know for sure.

We live in a huge closed system that we didn’t design. Even my own body is more dependent on what my brain does subconsciously than on what I control. It is easy to destroy the natural defenses of the body or of the whole world. A body or a world may quit working.

Last week we watched in horror as a modern airplane took control away from the pilot and plunged everyone on board to their death. When we take over from nature and neglect to compensate we are plunging space ship earth towards death. We may do it by abusing the environment beyond its capacity to self-repair, or by abusing other people. A crazed White Supremacist kills and injures a hundred Muslims and an equally crazed Muslim fanatic does something worse.

David Saint-Jacques thinks that the most important aspect of being in space is the Psycho-Social experiment of having people from many nations isolated on a space ship. I agree with him full heartedly. When I was young we looked at the world from our own national perspective and we based our observations upon our limited education. We can no longer do that now when the whole world is communicating so quick and easy.

Last Friday, March 15th, about a million teenage kids all around the world skipped school and went on demonstrations telling adults to take action against activities that cause climate change. In Australia, hundreds of thousands, in Europe even more, demand that we will quit destroying the world they must live in. Even in Edmonton, around a hundred students protested. The North American news hardly touched upon it.

My generation called for: drugs, sex, and Rock and Roll, and now the young are fighting for LIFE. We owe them something. We brought freedom for women, an end to harsh discrimination, and economic prosperity, but we didn’t know when to stop. When we gave up the fight, it was replaced by greed.

Now the youth are fighting for their future and many of us will not abandon them, for as long as we can move. My grandchildren are in the aquarium but they are not going to sleep in poop under dirty water breathing poisoned air if I can help it.

National school students' climate strike in pictures ...

National school students' climate strike in pictures ...

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