The above images were ‘coloured in’ using an app on my iPad. The app is called Colouring Book and the Mandalas are a sub-set of the images provided. This particular mandala design is my favourite as I like the almost 3D feel about it. I found it to be great fun and quite relaxing!
Today I thought it would be interesting to do a gallery of small segments of some of the art we have in our home. It was a fun thing to do.
I also decided to take some photos of old and broken jewelry. Instead of throwing it out or putting away in a cupboard I have them displayed in my office. Even though I can’t wear them anymore, it is still nice to catch glimpses of them throughout the day/evening.
The writing prompt I have chosen for today is “What is healthy?”
It just occurred to me recently that doctors don’t know everything. I strongly believe in the science behind our health systems and the staff that work within it. It isn’t just that they are not perfect; it is just that we humans are so complex!
I used to think it was just a matter of identifying the symptoms and then applying the fix. Perhaps I was fortunate that was often the case for me. I have occasionally sought out alternative health practitioners but generally return to the mainstream. Today I believe that many things go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and it is often a lifetime of exploration to find the right solution or as best as is available; or even, not at all sometimes!
However, getting back to the question of “What is healthy?”….. It is only in the last 18 months that I have been going to the gym and have been amazed at how a very small investment in exercise can provide such a great return in things like more energy, better mood, improved balance, more interest in doing stuff that I wouldn’t have done previously. I was one of those people that was sort proud of not being very fit! What if I had worked all this out when I was fifteen!
Apart from physical health, I have found that being busy this year has had a positive impact on my mental health. I need to exercise my brain as much, if not more, than the rest of me.
So this creativity challenge is about learning how to express myself creatively through various avenues. The writing prompts are a means of getting me writing again – something I have done very little of in recent years.
Click HERE if you would like to join me in the Creativity Challenge!
Today my challenge will be to write a short post about the following topic:
“What is the best lesson you have learned?”
When I was in my early 30’s my marriage broke up and I found myself in a situation where I had few possessions (including money) and three young children to take care of. I was also living in a remote Aboriginal Community in Northern Australia.
The lesson I learned is that I am stronger than I think I am. Sometimes I just pretended that I was strong and often that was enough. I also learnt that I was the only person I could rely on to get through the difficult time.
When I rang my Mum to tell her what happened she said that I shouldn’t even think about coming home. I was quite shocked at the time but now I realise that the path I did choose turned out to have a lot more going for it than if I had returned to my home town in Victoria.
That was about forty years ago. My sons grew up with me in Western Australia. We did miss (still do) having extended family close by but it forced me to go out and meet people and in many ways enabled me to rebuild my life without the constraints and limitations I would have faced if I had returned ‘home’.
As I get older I see many people on their own – having lost their partners and perhaps their extended families. I do feel passionately that we need to be aware that some people suffer from loneliness and isolation. This is even more so with Christmas approaching. I find Christmas a bit challenging however I try to make the most of it and put in a little effort! I don’t think I am alone in this!
Do you fancy joining me in a 30 Day Creativity Challenge?
First, let’s jump ahead to the back story – next year (late March) I will be leading a small group of seniors (through our local University of the Third Age) in a course titled, Unleashing Your Creative Spirit. I thought it would be good to get my creativity muscles toned in the lead up to it.
If you are interested in joining me in the Challenge you can read about it in the following website and documents:
Inspired by Melissa Harfiel’s Tips for Undertaking a Daily Creativity Challenge: click HERE
Today I went to Bunnings to get a few garden things and at the entrance there was a colourful display of plants called The Big Kahuna. Now, you may have heard of the movie:
The Big Kahuna is a 1999 American businesscomedy-drama film directed by John Swanbeck, and produced by Kevin Spacey, who also starred in the lead role. The film is adapted from the play Hospitality Suite, written by Roger Rueff, who also wrote the screenplay. John Swanbeck makes few attempts to lessen this film’s resemblance to a stage performance: the majority of the film takes place in a single hotel room, and nearly every single line of dialogue is spoken by one of the three actors.
I grew up in a small country town in Northern Victoria called Cohuna – about 3,500km away from where I currently live.
Surrounded by dairy farms, and situated on the banks of Gunbower Creek, (an anabranch of the Murray River), the town is a popular holiday spot as well as a regional sports centre with a wide range of facilities. Cohuna is the main access point to the attractions of the vast red gum and box forest covered Gunbower Island, which lies between Gunbower Creek and the Murray, and is home to diverse native birdlife, kangaroos and emus.
So, the reason I am telling you all is this is because I just had to buy the flowers with that name! And here they are …
We have given the garden a bit of a makeover this week so it was good to add a splash of colour with the Big Kahuna name tag!
Last week we had a few days in Kalbarri. Here are some of the photos taken during our stay there – most are taken at Rainbow Jungle Bird Park. Many of the birds were in enclosures and I didn’t enjoy taking photos through the metal grids. Some were free to fly in the bigger enclosure. We stayed in a AirBNB house with a pool (which we only used once!) and great views of the Indian Ocean. Here is a link to some common Australian native birds.
Well I have heard of people who have ‘near-death’ experiences where their life flashes before their eyes. I didn’t know that having a 65th birthday could also bring on this phenomenon!
A little bit of background – nearly ten years ago we moved from Perth to the South West of Australia. I didn’t have much prior knowledge of the region so there are not a lot of cues for past memories. It is a bit like living in a bubble where much of the past fades almost to non-existence.
For my 65th we decided on a family catch-up in Perth with an overnight stay at Joondalup Resort. As it happens I used to be a regular guest there every Monday evening in my role as President of the Joondalup Rotary Club. I used to work in Joondalup too. The next morning we had breakfast in the street where my old office was. It was across the road from the Chinese Restaurant where I often went for a $5 lunch special (in the 1990’s). Also in the same street is where my original office was and I met a lady who came to see me looking for work. She had only been in Australia for three months. I was able to assist with some contract work and she stayed on for over 20 years. She is still a good friend today and actually outstayed my time at the Department.
We traveled to Kalbarri after breakfast – approximately 600kms north. We passed through Yanchep where I often took my three sons when they were little. Lots of happy memories there. Further along we passed through Geraldton where I lived for a short time in 1993-1994 until my marriage broke up and I moved to Perth.
Our destination of Kalbarri held some memories too. While working in the region I visited there to assist a community group who had funds from the Department to set up a local bottled Spring Water enterprise using unemployed youth. Then there was the Greenough Village where we investigated an employment project.
I won’t go on as it is probably boring to anyone except me! I felt the need for the trip to come to terms with reaching 65 years old. I am grateful that I have reached it and hope to have a few more decades yet.
I am currently doing a course from University of the Third Age Online. It is called Unleashing Your Creative Spirit. I am keen to run this Course in 2020 through our local U3A.
I have met a lot of people in early retirement who find themselves wondering what has happened to them with all the changes of no longer being in the workforce. I have noticed that lots of people, me included, have a list of project we have always wanted to do when we got the time.
Well, we have the TIME now but struggle to make these projects happen. I have been wondering why that is. Some of my projects include learning calligraphy, making personalised greeting cards, sewing (I bought a nice new but basic sewing machine) photography (I purchased a digital camera) and writing. I also like doing WordPress websites for friends.
This course is great in that it looks at what motivates us to be creative and at what situations create blockages. It emphasises that a part of creativity is actually ‘work’ and organisation. That surprised me, silly as it may sound. I had thought that being creative was purely stuff you did for fun and quite different to what we do for work.
It was a bit of a light-bulb moment when I realised the ‘work’ aspect of creativity is the main cause of my not completing my projects. A small project I am working on involves using some photos of wildflowers to create greeting cards. My first big hurdle was I didn’t know how to print the photos even though I have a modern printer. I did persevere and had success!
I feel I have learnt a lot already and I can see lots of opportunities for exploring new skills and enjoyment along the way.
The Philosophy discussion group that I facilitate considered Confucius last week. Who would have thought that the topic would be so relevant – the 70th anniversary of Communism in China and the unrest in Hong Kong?
Some of the comments that came out of the discussion included: ‘Confucius spoke of unity but what we see in China today is uniformity’; ‘it is so difficult to examine an Eastern Philosophy when we (in the group) all grew up in Western democracies and can only try to consider Confucius’ (and China’s) ideas from a distance’ :
An article written (Why is Confucius Still Relevant Today?) for the National Geographic in 2015 interviews writer Michael Schuman, author of Confucius and the World He Created shone some recent light on where Confucianism sits with modern China. I did find him to have quite set ideas though.
Over the past week I became quite distressed at issues happening throughout the world and I know I am not alone. I have been looking hard for the positives but today I came to see I am powerless to change anything. I think I need to detach and let go … I found the quote below this evening and thought it to be relevant.
Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.
I did a blog recently about the Busselton Wildflower Exhibition and my involvement in promoting the event that was held last Thursday and Friday.
Below is a gallery of most of the flowers on show at the Exhibition. There are strict rules about what flowers can be picked in the wild and the quantities allowed so as not to impact on their sustainability for future years.
I found it impossible to choose just a few! Our local Geographe Community Landcare Nursery had some native plants on sale – the bottom few photos.
A week ago we arrived home from a short holiday to see family in the Top End or Darwin, Northern Territory. It is about 4,800km N/NE of where we live. We visited the Aviation Museum as you will gather from the photos above. I was really taken with the size of the B52 Bomber. It was a central feature and the other planes were placed around it. I actually bumped my head on it (trying to get underneath) and wouldn’t recommend it!
We also went for a drive of around 100km to Mary River on the Arnhem Highway. I lived in Arnhem Land for a stint in the 1980’s so enjoyed seeing the landscape once again. The ocean shots are taken from the The Esplanade park area in the City of Darwin (population around 150,000). To me the water looked a bit sinister with the knowledge it is crocodile territory.
The weather was wonderful. I was a bit amused about the newspaper article about the cool weather. It was much warmer than we were getting at home.
I have been thinking about motivation. There are some things I have no trouble doing when they need doing. There are other things, usually jobs I don’t enjoy much, that I struggle to find the motivation to do them. Examples include housework and gardening. There is no shortage of time to do these things.
I thought I would put the question to readers “What tools or strategies do you find helpful in achieving goals?” I have read lots of literature over the years and I know there are multiple books out there but I would really like to hear what has worked for YOU! Please share your experience with me.
Somethings I have tried include:
A ‘to do’ list
Breaking tasks down to smaller chunks
Breaking time down to smaller chunks
Do things as they need doing rather than let them build up
I hope you will get back to me with what has worked for you.
South West Exhibition includes hundreds
of rare and exquisite wildflowers
Now its 94th year, Busselton
Wildflower Exhibition is gearing up to welcome local enthusiasts as well as
visitors from further afield this September. The South West corner of Western
Australia is renowned for having one of the richest and most diverse flora in
the world and attracts visitors from around the State, Australia and overseas.
Exhibition chairman Barry Oates said it was an
opportunity to see spectacular wildflowers you couldn’t see anywhere else in
the world. “It is a truly unique experience and a great way for people to
connect with part of Busselton’s community and history,” he said. In
addition, Geographe Community Landcare Nursery’s Coordinator, Rod Cary will be
onsite to assist wildflower enthusiasts to learn more about the local
varieties. Mr Oates stated that the relationship with Rod and the Nursery is
highly valued for advice on Exhibition day plus assistance with accurate naming
of the diverse range of wildflowers.
The City of Busselton has been a long-time
supporter of the exhibition. Mayor Grant Henley said the exhibition highlights
a wonderful array of native flora, rich and diverse in the South West.
“Much of the flora on display would not be experienced by any one person
at any one site, so it’s a rare and fantastic opportunity to do so,” he
Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association’s Joint CEO/GM Marketing, Sharna Kearney said, “The South West region provides a rare opportunity to experience
exceptional concentrations of endemic wildflower species. You can get a close
look at a wide range of these wildflowers at the Busselton Wildflower
Exhibition as well as by getting out and about in the region.”
The exhibition is loved by locals as well as
visitors “One doesn’t have to be a gardening or wildflower expert to be
amazed at the beauty and variety of specimens on display” says Busselton
resident, Deirdre Chell. “I come back year after year and always find
something new to view or photograph” she said.
Wildflowers on display are chosen by people who have obtained licences from the Dept of Biodiversity,
Conservation and Attractions (Dept BCA) to pick wildflowers in the week of the
All pickers are conscious of the need to preserve
native flora and pick responsibly. Rare and endangered species are not picked. The
Busselton Wildflower Exhibition gives those unable to ‘go bush’ an opportunity
to see a great variety of specimens.
Australia’s South West, Chief Executive Officer
Catrin Allsop said that “Almost 80% of Australia’s South West’s plant species
cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In August through to November, more
than 8000 species of wildflowers and 300 species of delicate orchids are in
bloom, making it a popular and beautiful time to visit the region.”
Organised by the Uniting Church of Busselton,
the Wildflower Exhibition also includes the following:
display (Busselton Camera Club)
Community Landcare Nursery sales and advice
garden display (Geocatch)
Light refreshments will
be available throughout the day
Variety of stalls displaying
local produce and crafts for purchase
Bring your camera along to test your skill at capturing
the rare beauty of the flowers on show.
Place: Uniting Church Hall
and Grounds, 47 Kent Street, Busselton
Date: Thursday, 26 September and
Friday, 27 September 2019, 9am- 4pm
I am assisting in the promotion of the 94th Annual Busselton Wildflower Exhibition to be held on 26 &27 September 2019.
The Exhibition Committee and volunteers work in partnership with the Geographe Community Land-care Nursery Inc. and Coordinator, Rod Cary, a former TAFE lecturer in Margaret River. Rod’s scientific knowledge of native plant species is invaluable. He assists Exhibition volunteers with the accurate identification of wildflowers for display at the Exhibition. Rod is also available for the two days of the Exhibition to answer questions about the native plants and their requirements. Barry Oates, Chair of the Exhibition Committee, said the relationship with Rod is highly valued.
This amazing nursery is a not-for-profit community organisation, located at the Queen Elizabeth Avenue site in Busselton for the past 16 years. They look like being there for many years to come.
They are self-sufficient through plant sales for their daily requirements and they sometimes receive Government funds for special projects (a recent building was funded by the Royalties for Regions funding).
Some numbers to impress
The Nursery grows up to 90,000 plants each year.
They have around 80 volunteers with up to 60 assisting each week.
Volunteers may be retirees, people with disabilities (some with carers) and work-for-dole participants. Volunteers help each other with the tasks to be undertaken.
They have about 250 Australian native plant species available for wholesale customers plus there are around 300 species of cultivars (cultivated varieties) of native origin.
About 10% of sales are retail with the remainder of the plants sold wholesale to mining companies, local government, developers and small property owners.
Growing native plants from locally collected seeds produces much better results due to their genetic diversity – better chance of some of them surviving because of this diversity. They have had breakthroughs with a range of species.
***** I just love the wildflowers and really enjoy finding images to share!
Over the past few weeks we have been discussing David Hume (1711-1776), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Georg Wilhelm Hegel (1770-1831).
I have to say I have found them at the same time, very hard work and yet brilliant. If I had just read about them in the book we are using I would never have grasped some of their concepts but having a group discussion about them was really stimulating.
David Hume spoke about causation and that we can never assume that because we observe something happening once, we can’t be sure that it will happen the same way again! Lots of talk about billiard balls.
From Kant I learnt about the Categorical Imperative – I understand it to mean that if I need to determine if an action is moral I need to consider how it would be if it was a universal law that the action be carried out by anyone/everyone.
And then there was Hegel. I found him the most difficult to understand and yet the most fascinating. Hegel’s philosophy covered such a wide scope. I think I almost understood his “thesis – anti-thesis – synthesis” but don’t ask me to explain it here. Again, the group discussion really helped my understanding.
Next fortnight we will discuss Bertrand Russell and I am looking forward to it!
We had two interesting discussions on Thursday based on information on Descartes in Tom Butler-Dowdon’s book, 50 Philosophy Classics. I also provided some handouts based on my research mostly on the internet. This morning’s group found Descartes famous ‘I think, therefore I am’ difficult to grasp. Also the idea that Descartes could discard all existing knowledge and experience and start again in judging what he believed to be true. Is it really possible to imagine that all your past ideas and experiences can be erased to the point that the only thing one can know is that they are a ‘thinking thing’.
Descartes goes on to to say:
“And the whole force of the arguments I have used here to prove the existence of God consists in this, that I recognise that it would not be possible for my nature to be as it is, that is to say, that I should have in me the idea of a God, if God did not really exist.”
We discussed that people throughout time and in different cultures throughout the world independently believe in some form of higher power. But does that really prove that God exists? It doesn’t disprove it either!
The afternoon group suggested that Descartes’ attention to God in his writing was more pragmatic due to the time (early 1600’s) in France. Many of his ideas in maths and science, astronomy could have been seen as heresy if he didn’t publicly pay homage to a belief in God. Galileo suffered being called a heretic for his advances in scientific knowledge so Descartes, as a witness to this, withdrew some of his writings (The Book of the World).
Primarily our group is about having a stimulating discussion and keeping our brains active. The participants know that I am not a philosophy academic and hopefully that enables them to think and to express valid views on the topics raised in the book. And we can get to know each other and start to build some social networks in our community.
I got a pleasant surprise today when a distant cousin sent me some old photos and scans. One family member who is well known to me from stories but I didn’t ever meet her – my Great Auntie Mary. She was born in 1892 and died in 1994.
We had two lively discussions last Thursday on Machiavelli. He is mostly remembered for the words “the ends justify the means” but I don’t believe he actually ever used those words specifically. In his book, The Prince, he develops something of an instruction manual for a Prince who is about to lead his kingdom.
There are around ten people in each group competing to share their ideas. I try hard to let everyone have a chance to talk.
It was inevitable that we would end up discussing some well known politicians such as Donald Trump and Theresa May. We also tried to discern if Machiavelli really supported unscrupulous behaviour or whether he was just “telling it like it was/is”. We generally believed he wrote from his knowledge and experience within the government of the day.
Since Thursday I see so much Machiavelli wherever I look. People in power presenting an acceptable face to the world but barely hiding some of the measures they take to continue in their roles.
It could be argued that we all have a dark side or shadow but hopefully most people work towards bettering themselves and not at refining their dark arts!
Next week I will be starting the Let’s Talk Philosophy course for our local University of the Third Age.
This year we will be using the book “50 Philosophy Classics” by Tom Butler Brown. We hope to cover just ten philosophers between now and June. It will really be an introduction to each of the chosen philosophers and we will enjoy some stimulating conversation and hopefully a few laughs!
I usually include a quote by a philosopher as a basis for discussion. Our first one is Aristotle and the quote is:
Do you have any thoughts on the quote? I would love to hear them!
I am thinking about next year and where to focus my interest and my energies. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions or for setting goals but I like to pause and consider what I want to include or change in my year ahead.
2018 was a pretty good year for me. It was very busy and enjoyable year with my U3A (University of the Third Age) commitments. It was one of those years where, at times, I became more of a human-doing rather than a human-being.
For the year ahead I would like to give more attention to my relationships with people in my life. I have moved around a fair bit in my life and have often lost touch with people in the process. I grew up in Victoria and have now lived in West Australia for 36 years. I have lived in the Kimberley region, Pilbara region, MidWest/Gascoyne region, Perth, Goldfields/Esperance region and now the South West. Each time I moved I had to start again and make new friends and set up new networks. It gets to the point that I get itchy feet if I stay in one place too long.
I think 2019 will be about putting down some roots, building relationships and accepting we are here to stay. And being grateful that I can enjoy life in such a pleasant environment.
I sometimes find that depression sneaks up on me. I have lots of strategies for working around it (diet, exercise, pills, positive psychology etc) but sometimes it wins. Today was one of those days.
I caught myself being grumpy when reaching for my ‘after-dinner’ orange that I have everyday that we have oranges in the house. I looked at the orange and thought how nice it looked. I remembered living in a remote community in the Northern Territory of Australia and we had no access to fresh fruit at the time. That was when I realised that oranges are my favourite fruit. We had to order food about six weeks in advance and the grocery order came by barge from Northern Queensland (quite a distance away).
I held the orange in my hand, smelled it, felt the texture and felt very grateful for it. I then proceeded to eat it while savouring the taste! It didn’t cure my depression but it was a circuit breaker letting some light in!
Recently I have been exploring many avenues seeking wisdom.
I have studied (with a small group of other interested folks) Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche (not in any great depth, I might add!)
From there I spent some time in October studying the Stoics – Seneca again, Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. Following on from there we leapt a few centuries to consider Karl Marx and Mary Wollstonecraft. We finished up with a quick look at Bertrand Russell and Australian philosopher, Peter Singer.
Now it would probably be useful for me to tell you all about them but I am probably too lazy to do that, to be honest. Anyway, if you are interested they are only a google search away.
While doing the above I also joined an online course with The School of Practical Philosophy. A small group of us met online on Monday evenings for an hour and considered a range of texts and some thoughtful discussion.
The thing that impacted me the most was the well known words used in the the song below. It was one of those ‘aha’ moments! Realising that the cycles of life keep turning and sometimes we are observers and sometimes participants. Sometimes things go the way that is pleasing to us sometimes they don’t!
Where does this leave me? Not sure! The journey continues …
I was cooking dinner this evening – Tuna Mornay – an old favourite. Now, over time I have been careful about particular food items and sensitivities. The mornay starts with cooking the onion in butter. Next is to add flour to make a roux (butter and flour mixed together to make a paste). I used gluten-free flour. All good so far.
Next item to add was the milk – soy milk of course. Then I added the tuna, cheese, spices, corn and peas.
An then I laughed at myself. Why did I bother with the gluten-free flour and the soy milk when I had already included a whole onion?
Then I got philosophical. We take so much care in looking after very specific aspects of our lives while we cannot see the bit that really needs attention (the equivalent of the onion) in our lives.
I guess this is how most of us manage day-to-day life. We are not always attentive to the bigger picture – especially if our thoughts are busy with a million distractions. We keep hearing about the importance of being mindful of the present moment but it often alludes me still.
I loved the Story of the Week so thought I would share it with you. The author is unknown.
One day Arnav and his friend Bhima were having a friendly chat while walking just outside the marketplace in Dhubri. A beggar asked for some help from Arnav, who told him to ask him tomorrow. The beggar went away. Looking around Bhima saw a big drum at a stall just inside the market took the big drum and started walking through the market beating the drum furiously. Arnav was surprised, ran after his friend and asked why he was doing this.
Bhima said, “I want to declare that our revered Arnav has won the battle against time! You told that beggar to come tomorrow. How do you know that you will be there tomorrow? How do you know that beggar would still be alive tomorrow? Even if, you both are alive, you might not be in a position to give anything. Or, the beggar might not even need anything tomorrow. How did you know that you could both even meet tomorrow? You are the first person in this world that has overcome time. I want to tell people of Dhubri about this.”
Arnav got the message from Bhima, recalling that actions can only occur in the present moment. Arnav called that beggar right away and gave him the necessary help.
While recently reading Women in Love by DH Lawrence I was reminded of a quote by French philosopher Michel de Montaigne:
“I am not prepared to bash my brains for anything, not even for learning’s sake however precious it may be. From books all I seek is to give myself pleasure by an honourable pastime… If I come across difficult passages in my reading I never bite my nails over them: after making a charge or two I let them be… If one book wearies me I take up another.”
But I had a problem as a literary essay by Norman Loftis claims it to be a masterpiece and DH Lawrence’s best book. I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and had no such difficulty with it so it must be me, right?
Anyway, I was determined to make it to the end and I also re-read the essay to see if it made more sense and perhaps I could understand what he was getting at – the need for men and women to find a new way of loving and living that was more equal and freer. It was written over 100 years ago at a time when women were seeking emancipation and turning away from subservience.
Anyway, I found it to be pretty tough going. Have you read it and, if so, what did you think of it?
This time last week we arrived in Perth after our week’s holiday in Darwin. We had a really good and relaxing time. Great to see my son and grandsons as well. The weather was fabulous – around 30-35 degrees. It was so good to be warm! Below are some photos from Darwin Museum and Art Gallery, The Botanic Gardens and Darwin Wharf. We also went to Bachelor (about 105km south of Darwin). In the 1950’s it was the town-site for mine workers at the nearby uranium mine called Rum Jungle.
The crocodile in the above photo was called Sweetheart!
We are back home again now and being optimistic that Spring is on its way.
My six-week philosophy course finished in August. I am missing the interesting weekly discussions we had. In the interim I have signed up for a ten week (1 hr per week) course titled Presence of Mind with the School of Practical Philosophy. The course is online and made up with people from different states of Australia and three people overseas. Fascinating!
Life experience has taught me that nothing of value comes easily. So I agree with Nietzsche on that one. He is a complex philosopher with many strands to his philosophy. In our U3A groups yesterday the majority felt their opinion of him has improved after considering Alain de Botton’s description of him and his life work. I wasn’t so sure!
The three things that stood out for me were:
His thorough advice on how to write a novel (over the top!)
His views on Christianity – he was strong (ruthless) in his opposition – I wondered how his views would be received today
His ‘Slave Morality’ and ‘Master Morality’
On the third point we read an article written for Psychology Today that considered those views from the point of view of US politics (Democrats and Republicans) but I could see how they could reflect most left and right views of politics today. Here is a LINK for that article. It made for good and lively discussion.
Friedrich Nietzsche was born in October 1844 in Rocken, located near Leipzig in Germany. He is the subject for next week’s two discussion groups in my local U3A Group. In preparing my research I came across the following advice from Nietzsche on how to write a novel! Was he serious? I will fill you in on our discussions after the classes next Wednesday!
This is how hard one should try to write a novel: The recipe for becoming a good novelist … is easy to give, but to carry it out presupposes qualities one is accustomed to overlook when one says ‘I do not have enough talent.’ One has only to make a hundred or so sketches for novels, none longer than two pages but of such distinctness that every word in them is necessary; one should write down anecdotes every day until one has learnt how to give them the most pregnant and effective form; one should be tireless in collecting and describing human types and characters; one should above all relate things to others and listen to others relate, keeping one’s eyes and ears open for the effect produced on those present, one should travel like a landscape painter or costume designer … one should, finally, reflect on the motives of human actions, disdain no signpost for instruction about them and be a collector of these things by day and night. One should continue in this many-sided exercise for some ten years; what is then created in the workshop … will be fit to go out into the world.
de Botton, Alain. The Consolations of Philosophy (pp. 216-217). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
Arthur Schopenhauer was born in 1788 in Danzig, Germany. He was the topic of two philosophy discussion groups that met today. We have been reading a book called The Consolations of Philosophy, written by Alain de Botton and published by Penguin.
Group members were on the whole of the view that he was a miserable man who had nothing to offer for us in consolation of any kind. A few of us (me included) disagreed. It is difficult to get to the core of the man in a two hour session. His thesis, The World as Will and Representation was hailed as a masterpiece (not at first but later in his lifetime).
He certainly paints a dark view of life full of pessimism however I felt a sense of fellowship with him. I have known some dark times in my life and it is as though he could put my experience into words. He also emphasised the strength of our will to live in that the survival of our species depends upon it.
I can’t do justice to the complexity of the man but I do know that he certainly got our group members fired up about some of the things he said and his attitude toward women (not good)!
One of the female members of the group suggested he may have had more success with women if he had a better hair cut.
The two discussions on philosophy on Wednesday were very interesting and enjoyable.
The quote below provoked a lot of debate. It wasn’t difficult to see that the impact of humans on nature has often been detrimental. But then nature can be fierce and destructive too. We agreed that the advances in knowledge and application of science can enable us to have a more positive impact on our environment.
A lot of our discussion was about how ‘down to earth’ Montaigne seemed and that made him likeable. Even though he was rich, educated and talented (and wise) he wrote about life in a way that anyone can relate to what he said. His references to bodily functions surprised and amused us – we still sometimes feel uncomfortable with subjects such as flatulence and sexual anxieties today but he didn’t hold back!
Montaigne had travelled quite a bit and put a good case about withholding judgement on the differences we encounter in different countries and their customs. That had us talking about ‘culture shock’ and the fear that can arise when suddenly faced with a culture we don’t understand. He made us realise that what is normal for us may be very strange to someone in another setting.
Tomorrow our two U3A Philosophy Groups will be exploring Montaigne. I must say it has been challenging trying to pin him down as to what he is about. A little more reading led me to see that he is a Sceptic (Skeptic) and so that explains things a little.
Another interesting aspect about him is that even though he is rich and of noble birth he speaks plainly about everyday things. One can almost feel like he is a friend.
In one of the articles I read they suggested that he could be the world’s first blogger! Now that got my attention! I can understand why though. He, in his Essays, writes about whatever is on his mind in an interesting and entertaining style. Incidentally, I checked on Amazon and was able to purchase The Complete Essays on Kindle for $1.03!
Anyway, I will write some more about Montaigne after our two classes tomorrow!
Today our U3A Group looked at Lucius Annaeus Seneca. He was born in 4BC and died in 65AD. He was a Roman Philosopher known for his Stoic philosophy. He was also a Statesman and Magistrate. Stoics get their name from Stoa (below) where they met and discussed their ideas. The dictionary definition of Stoicism is ‘An Ancient Greek School of Philosophy which taught that it is wise to remain indifferent to changes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.’ Seneca wrote his philosophy in Latin and therefore it was more accessible to the Romans as up to that point it was all recorded in Greek.
Seneca suggests that we best endure those frustrations we can anticipate and also for the frustrations in life that we weren’t expecting and cannot understand. We noted that much of his philosophy is similar to what we know of as the Serenity Prayer (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference).
We looked at some of his quotes and discussed what we thought he meant. We speculated about the last part of the quote below as perhaps an early reference to euthanasia. We didn’t come to any great conclusions but we enjoyed the mental stimulation and each others’ company!
Surely peace of mind and a clear conscience are well worth pursuing. After all, our level of happiness is only increased for a little while with the acquisition of new purchases and possessions. It is only a matter of time when our happiness level returns to where it was in the first place.
Epicurus was a Greek philosopher born in February 341 BC. A great deal of what he wrote has not survived. His philosophy was to acquire a happy and tranquil life, free from worry and absence of pain.
His School, named The Garden has the distinction of being the first philosophical Greek school to admit women.
The basis of his beliefs can be summed as:
Don’t fear god
Don’t worry about death
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.
Our group found lots to discuss about the above four points – particularly the last two. For example, what does he mean by “good” and how “easy” is it really? We found it hard to get our heads around the suggestion that terrible things/circumstances etc. are EASY to endure.
One of my personal favourite quotes from Epicurus is about the importance of friendship as seen in the quote below.
Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, for the greatest is the possession of friendship.
As part of our group last week we looked at some of Socrates quotes and discussed what we thought they meant.
I had no difficulty with the above quote. It immediately brought to mind relationships in crisis.The sense of devastation if you have been rejected and deprived of the object of your desire. Someone suggested that love and hate are two sides of the one coin and how easy it can be to flip from one to the other.
I was surprised that many members of our group had difficulty relating to these words. The other interesting aspect was how much difficulty people had with the word ‘hate’.
We might say we hate the summer or the cold etc. but to express and acknowledge hate towards another person is a different matter. I cannot think of anyone I hate. There are some politicians that would come close!
Another thought is that while we experience these emotions, with restraint, as long as they are not acted upon the damage caused will mostly be to ourselves.
Please feel free to disagree with me! One more Socrates quote tomorrow and then we move on to Epicurus!
Last Wednesday I held two classes (morning and afternoon) where we are studying six philosophers and guided by a book called Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton (published by Penguin).
It was Socrates turn.
We talked about the importance of being aware of what is happening in our lives and the world around us. We could really relate to the idea of getting in a rut and working, eating and sleeping as is so often the case when you are in the workforce and paying a mortgage etc.
When we live like that we sometimes do things we don’t want to do; don’t find time for the things we do enjoy; take on board others’ demands on our time and energy; become distant to what is really important in our lives and find little satisfaction in life.
We saw that Socrates believed so strongly in his philosophy that he was prepared to die for it. It was interesting that some members of our group saw Socrates as a trouble maker in how he kept asking/testing the young men in Athens to show them how little they really knew.
He said he was the only wise person as he KNEW that he knew NOTHING!
We also talked about what wisdom really is and tried to think of someone wise. We struggled with that. We had lots of suggestions for the opposite!
I am not sure how long I have been blogging but it goes back a few years. I am at a turning point with it and not sure which way to turn.
I still enjoy being part of the blogging ‘family’ but feel like I would like to tear mine up and start afresh. When I first started my blog I used to wear my heart on my sleeve and share my deepest thoughts. Even though I am doing that just now, I have grown less comfortable with it.
I have stopped taking new photos to add to my archives and find I am using the old ones over and over again when I do post a blog. It gets a bit boring!
Perhaps it reflects the major changes in my life since I started the blog. At the time I was working full-time in a fairly stressful job and had a busy life. I have been retired for eight years now and once again have a busy life but doing things that I love to do.
My involvement with the University of the Third Age has added a new dimension to my life. Tomorrow my ‘Let’s Talk Philosophy’ group starts. I thought there may be half a dozen people interested but I have twenty-five people enrolled and I am nervous but excited about getting started.
Getting back to the blogging ‘rock bottom’ – I am happy to hear ideas as to how to reignite my enthusiasm or change direction. I am sure I am not the first person to reach this point in my blogging journey. All ideas are welcome!