It took me years to realize that thinking for yourself is the last thing that people want, that society as a whole wants.
In fact, it’s actively discouraged.
Even in school or at university, there are actually very strict rules in place, and you have to follow those rules if you want to get the highest grades. If you write a paper for an English class, for example, no one gives a fig for your opinion. You have to refer to every Tom, Dick or Harry’s thoughts about the novel you read, synthesise their viewpoints acceptably and then: bingo! Good grade.
Silly me. I actually thought that when people said, “Think for yourself,” they meant just that.
But what people actually mean by thinking for yourself is “observe the rules and play the game.” These are the people consistently lauded by the majority of citizens.
Not that I’m complaining. Thinking for yourself makes life at once simpler, richer and more complicated. I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I do get exasperated by the double-talk.
Example: be very careful when your boss asks you what you think at work.
Does (s)he really want to know what you think or does (s)he simply want confirmation of her/his ideas?
In my experience, there are very few people in positions of responsibility who really want to hear what you think. They can’t handle it. If your viewpoint diverges from theirs, they see it as a coup d’état.
I would go further. As long as a relationship is power-based, there can be no real communication.
I have been living in Switzerland for over thirty years now and I’m often asked if I miss England, the land of my birth.
I usually state the obvious – that if I really missed England, I would be living there and not in Switzerland.
If I’m pressed for details, I go on to explain that life in the UK is complicated on a relationship level.
Why is that?
At that point, I explain that it is impossible to have genuine communication between a person who says what he thinks and a person who says what he thinks you want to hear.
Believe me when I say that the person who truly says what he thinks is in a very tiny minority.
Most people don’t know what they think. They respond to how those around them behave. Not unlike sheep.
Take tattoos, for example. Goodness only knows why this has become such a fad in recent years, but I bet that a huge majority of people got a tattoo because someone in their entourage got one.
Beards. Another sudden craze. Did you grow one because it suits you or because everyone else started growing them?
So much for thinking for yourself.
“To thine own self be true,” as Polonius put it.
Difficult to do if you don’t know who you are.
So start by identifying the voices.
You know, the ones in your head.
Now which ones really belong to you?
By sorting out what belongs to you and what doesn’t: parental voices, voices of friends or not-so friends, co-workers….
Remove the clutter and then you can think for yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you got a tattoo or grew a beard or whatever crowd pleasing activity you may have indulged in, as long as you acknowledge that you were following the crowd and not yourself.
Only by checking those voices, those impulses on a regular basis can you eliminate what does not belong to you and find your way back to yourself.
If thinking for yourself is what you really want to do….
Have a great week and may your life never become an endurance test.
Support me at: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/endurancefree
It always half angers and half amuses me when people talk about “traditional medicine.”
Traditional medicine in its true sense is what our ancestors practised for thousands of years using animals, trees, plants and roots and their extracts.
There’s nothing traditional about the popping of pills manufactured by huge multinational pharmaceutical companies that our current health system is based on and encourages.
Let’s be clear about this.
When doctors, the press and people in general talk about traditional medicine, they really mean synthetic medicine. For without the process of chemical synthesis, those huge pharmaceutical companies cannot register and protect a drug and make the exorbitant profits that they do.
You cannot put a trademark on something that exists in nature already.
Once you realise this, you can’t look at the current health system in the same way. It’s not based on what is best for the patient. It is based quite simply on making money.
There is a clear conflict of interest here.
How many times has your doctor suggested that you take a natural remedy and not a synthetic pill? Probably none.
And why is that?
Because doctors are actively encouraged by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their products. In some instances they are even bribed to do so. Doctors may receive a significant financial kickback when they prescribe a course of chemotherapy drugs, for example.
A natural remedy is often much cheaper and has fewer or no side effects.
Everybody is always complaining about the rising costs of health insurance and expenses.
So why not do something about it and use natural remedies instead of synthetic ones?
Yes, what is it about loo rolls in what the BBC describes as “these unusual times?”
Diarrhoea isn’t one of the symptoms.
Brigitte suggests it may be for wiping off surfaces as it’s cheaper than kitchen roll, but loo paper has a tendency to disintegrate so it wouldn’t be the best choice.
Still, this is definitely the moment to go into details about this most humble of commodities.
My mother has two toilets in her flat and at any one time there are approximately twenty rolls of toilet paper in each toilet. She lives alone. (I’m talking about normal times. I don’t know what the situation is at the moment.)
Seems like overkill and B and I have laughed about this on more than one occasion.
However, I am of the opinion that good toilet paper appreciably augments the quality of life.
But so little of it is good.
I once discovered an excellent toilet paper in – wait for it – Rome, Italy, which is sold in very large rolls indeed. Back in Switzerland, I expressed my desire to the manufacturer of obtaining some, but I never got a reply to my request.
I also used some excellent toilet paper once on a camping site in France, but there was no indication on it which would have enabled me to order.
And then about four years ago, we went to a village called Mürren up in the mountains here in Switzerland for a few days and the hotel toilet paper was pretty good. So when I got back home, and was disgusted with the latest purchase of “high quality” paper from the local supermarket, I finally rang up the hotel and asked them where they got their toilet paper and they were kind enough to tell me.
Only slight drawback – industrial supplier so minimum order 280 rolls. But I went ahead and ordered them sometime in June 2016, put the two cases delivered by lorry in the garage and have been as happy as a sandpiper (or is it sandboy?) for these last several years.
However, it does rather put the forty rolls at my mother’s flat into perspective….
We still have some fifty-six of the order left. We changed the roll on Sunday morning and we have just changed it this morning (Friday.) So one roll last five days. This means that as we still have 56 rolls left from our order in 2016, we have enough for 280 days.
No reason to panic then.
There are only two of us, of course, so a family would need more. But panic buying them in bulk doesn’t really make sense.
Unless, of course, one has been searching for a really good toilet paper and finally found it….
And there are other ways of cleaning one’s rear.
The Romans used small sponges which they dipped in running water. The sponges were communal which might have made it a less hygienic solution.
In the middle ages, they used rounded stones. Haven’t tried that. Don’t know how satisfactory it is. I imagine they washed them and re-used them as well. Communal stones?
The British cut up newpapers and used that during World War Two. My mother experienced that and survived to tell the tale. I smile, imagine being able to read the headlines on people’s butts, British newspaper print being notoriously shedding.
And I’m sure that now we’re in the 21st century with all our wonderful technology, we ought to be capable of coming up with a few more ingenious ideas if the world runs out of loo paper….
May your life never become an endurance test even with coronavirus about!
P.S. I have just read somewhere that the average person uses 200 rolls of toilet paper per year.
Can this be true? The mind bog(gle)s.
If our consumption is one roll every five days, that adds up to 73 rolls in a year between two of us, or 36.5 each.
What are people doing with the other 160 odd rolls?
Hey guys in this video I’ll share how to make
your own coconut oil. With the numerous health benefits and uncountable
uses of coconut oil, you should be making yours at home. You will need just coconuts! I’ll be using 3 coconuts for this demonstration. Break the coconuts with a heavy blunt object. I love coconut juice so let’s take a commercial
break while I drink some! When done, pry out the coconut meat from the
coconut shell. Once the coconut is mature, the coconut meat
should come out of the shell easily. Rinse them very well. And cut into small pieces like this to help
your blender. Next, boil some water. Extracting coconut milk with moderately hot
water gives you more coconut oil than when you extract with warm or lukewarm
water. Don’t even think about using cool water for
the extraction. Then grind it in a blender till smooth. I diluted the hot water with cold water to
bring it to a comfortable temperature that I can safely touch with my bare hands as you will
see later. Pour in a sieve to separate the coconut milk
from the chaff. Then press with your hands to squeeze out
the last drop. I grind the chaff a second time to extract
more coconut milk. I’ll be using this sieve with a finer mesh
to sieve the coconut milk to remove the tiniest particles. When done, keep it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, you can see that the coconut
oil has separated from the water and caked beautifully like a frozen lake. Take the white part that’s the oil and place
in a clean dry pot. It is advisable to use original stainless
steel pots for this. Cover and start cooking on low to medium heat. Meanwhile what do I do with the coconut water? I pass it through a sieve. And pour whatever I catch in the sieve into
the pot because that’s coconut oil. You can use this water to boil plain white
rice, to prepare Jollof Coconut Rice and White Coconut
Rice. In fact, you can use it in any recipe that
calls for coconut milk because even though we have removed the coconut oil,
this water still has some coconut taste in it. Keep an eye on the pot and watch the coconut
oil go from this … To this … To this … I cooked it for a total of 1 hour 15 minutes
on low to medium heat to get here. If you notice some smoke while cooking it, you can reduce the heat to very low. Then set the pot aside so that the coconut
oil can cool down to a comfortable temperature. Sieve with a cheese cloth to remove the charred
bits. Due to the sediments at the bottom, I sieve
again with a paper towel. That’s it! Use coconut oil for cooking, for your hair
and body. Google for other uses of coconut oil. Bye, see you soon!
I’ve been eating out quite a bit at lunch time in recent years.
Brigitte (my wife) works in a school about half an hour away in Yvonand and I often drive over and we go for lunch somewhere in Yverdon, which is the nearest sizeable town.
We’re lucky because there are a number of good restaurants in the area near the ice skating rink and parking is easy.
Something that was beginning to bother me though, was that we’d often take food home with us in cardboard or aluminium precisely because we didn’t want to overeat at lunchtime.
I’d order a pizza, for example, eat maybe two-thirds of it and then take the rest home in one of those take-away cardboard pizza boxes.
The sheer wastage of these pizza boxes, destined to be thrown away as soon as we got back home, started to get to me.
So rather than compromise and eat more than we wanted to, we got some varying sizes of food boxes and now we take home the pizza and other food portions in those.
It seems the perfect way not to overeat and act against wastage at the same time.
Of course, you have to wash the boxes after use and remember to put them back in the car and take them with you the next time you eat out.
Sometimes we forget.
In spite of this, I think we’ve managed to cut down considerably on wastage from eating out.
After all, there are only two solutions if you want to avoid overeating. Leave the rest on the plate or take it home.
If the food is good, it’s a waste to leave it on the plate. It will only get thrown away. It deserves a better fate than that.
We frequently get an extra meal in the evening out of a lunchtime restaurant portion with the result that eating out is not so expensive after all. It’s often little more expensive than buying a sandwich and I’d much rather have a hot meal – or two – for the same price or less.
So if you find that the portions in restaurants are overlarge, don’t hesitate to ask to take the rest home. You might feel awkward asking to begin with. You might even be afraid of what other people might think. But it’s a mark of respect for all the work that goes into preparing that food, from field to kitchen, and towards the food itself.
And if you bring your own boxes, you don’t even need to ask.
When I was a kid, I went on holiday with my family once and we stayed at a place in the West Country, UK.
The owner told us a story about a woman he knew who’d been a missionary in China all her life and had just come back to England. He was bemoaning the fact that all her possessions for shipment had fitted into a tea chest. He thought that it was incredibly sad that she had worked all her life with so little to show for it and my parents agreed.
‘Just one tea chest of things, after a lifetime of work,’ he kept saying.
I was perhaps about fourteen at the time, but this story has stuck in my mind over the years, probably because I wasn’t sure whether I agreed with the others about this even at the time.
There was something about the discipline involved in not collecting stuff or in making the choice to throw a lot of it away that rather impressed me.
I’ve got to say that I’m a work in progress where hoarding is concerned. My wife would certainly say that I’m a hoarder.
But I think I know the limitations of possessions pretty well.
One of my favourite self-quotes is, ‘More is not necessarily better,’ and that applies to everything but especially to music, I’ve found.
It’s amazing how the desire to embellish and vary can kill the emotion.
In architecture too.
But there are some possessions I’d rather not be without and maybe one should start from that end and work backwards.
My Petrof, for example, even if I don’t play it nearly enough at the moment.
What possessions would you rather not be without?
All good wishes for the Christmas season and for 2019.
May your life never become an endurance test….
P.S. I must give credit where due. I was reminded of this story while reading a short post by Derek Sivers entitled Subtract. Well worth the read!
Anyone who watched Hsieh Su-Wei playing in the Autralian Open Tennis Championships at the beginning of the year shouldn’t find it in the least surprising that she knocked out the world number one Simona Halep at the Wimbledon championships.
What distinguishes her play from virtually any other tennis player on the circuit is that her tennis is not based on brute force but on intelligence.
She hits the ball where the other player isn’t.
To understand the importance of this, it is perhaps interesting to reflect a little on the way we perceive things.
Way back when we were hunter gatherers, I imagine that our main visual concern was objects, and in particular objects that moved. A space would not have been threatening. A moving animal might well have been. Or a source of food. Hence our vision historically more attuned to moving objects than still ones and our lack of concern over spaces.
Have you ever been behind a driver on the road who brakes every time there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction ? This is particularly flagrant with a large vehicle like a lorry or a bus. The driver in this case is concentrating on the object rather than the space available, which is usually more than sufficient. If the driver was concentrating on the space on the road ahead, he would not even be braking.
The same thing happens when a vehicle slows down to turn right (left if you are in the UK). 99% of the time, the car behind will slow right down as well. The left side of the road may be completely clear and overtaking the car no problem at all, but the car stays behind the car turning off until the road is completely clear. No end of time is wasted because of this. Again, the driver behind is concentrating on the object and not the space available.
Now, I’m not an expert in tennis. But in the last couple of years, I have watched quite a lot of highlights of matches on YouTube. I don’t have a TV and life is too short to sit through two and three hour matches most of the time anyway.
But through watching these highlights, one thing becomes clear.
The person who usually wins the point is the one who gets the opponent to run. And this involves hitting the ball where the other person isn’t.
Which brings us back to Hsieh Su-Wei.
If I was coaching a female tennis player, I would look very closely at those matches in the Australian Open. As things stand, there are far too many women trying to play tennis like men. There’s a lot of bashing away from the baseline, hitting directly to the opponent, with no real strategy at work at all. It may have something to do with the fact that the majority of tennis coaches for women seem to be men. I don’t know.
But from my point of view, any repetitive rally back and forth hitting the ball as hard as possible to the other player is a pure waste of energy on the part of both players. Sure, one or other of the players will eventually make a mistake, but it’s a very energy inefficient way of winning a point. The error rate is usually too low for this to be a viable « strategy. » They are professional players, after all.
Hsieh Su-Wei doesn’t play tennis like a man. She is not a power player. She uses her intelligence, varies her shots and exploits spaces. Watching her play is a pure delight. She usually breaks a baseline power rally very quickly, after a couple of shots.
Some players have immense presence on court. Serena Williams, for example.
Remember that driver who kept braking every time he saw a truck coming the other way.
I see her opponents behaving in exactly the same way. It’s as if all they see is the tennis player – their respect or awe prevents them from seeing and exploiting the spaces.
Serena Williams is a very fit player indeed. But she isn’t the best mover about the court. And the times when people beat her are the times when they really get her to run about.
And it’s strange because afterwards, those same players who managed to beat her by using the spaces don’t seem to understand why they won and the next time, there they are bashing away at her from the baseline again and dumbfounded because it doesn’t work.
No one can trade power strokes from the baseline better than Serena Williams. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.
All this to underline the importance of watching spaces, even if our vision is more drawn to objects.