Worlds Away Savoring outdoor time during my recent reprieve in the temperate Caribbean, I hoped the warmth would cradle me through another 72 icy winter days back home. Mother Nature’s wizardry transformed the oppressive grey I left behind into sparkling and vibrant blue, a welcome relief in this world that seemed worlds away.
Lounging on the balcony at night with vast stars washing over me, I felt an incredible sense of wonder. This feeling continued through daytime gazing on a tryst of blues from sea to sky, the all-embracing horizon suggesting I was worlds away. And in some aspects, I was.
The Andromeda galaxy at 2.6 million light-years from Earth is visible with the naked eye. With one light-year equaling nearly six miles, I find this almost incomprehensible — that I could indeed be seeing a world trillions of miles away. Viewing the horizon at three to four-and-a-half miles — or even 30 miles at night, dwarfs in comparison. But when considering that mileage in terms of traveling from my hometown to the next one, I’m still awash in wonder.
Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza Awe-inspired, I pondered how long have humans contemplated the sea, the sky, the vastness to a place far beyond imagination? My search revealed this Longo (Tanzanian) proverb: Waleba mengi komenzi genyanza. Translated into English it means: “The water of the sea is only to be contemplated.” A worthy proverb and so apropos to the universal social issues of today, but not exactly the information I was seeking.
Many philosophers, however, regard the universe in similar terms of human insignificance. They feel loneliness and worry. I felt none of that. Completely opposite, actually.
The Whole Package Viewing vastness soothes me — whether ocean, sky, stretches of white sand, even fields of green grass, rolling hills, and mountain ranges at home. Their expanse is an aspect of a power greater than ourselves, offering an infinite abundance of support, a glint of life everlasting.
A blanket of peace and calm is only a blink away. Let Mother Nature freely wrap herself around you. Go outside and wander in wonderment.
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan in Cosmos
By now, you know my feelings about the overuse and addictive characteristics of social media, particularly as it hampers one’s interest in human to human communication and experiencing the natural environment. I offer Christina Farr’s article in the hopes it will help those of you trying to detox and return to a more serene, content and manageable life. As a society, we do have the ability to take back our lives. Have you noticed a recent wave of people saying, “Enough is enough” and unplugging to stop the progression of anxiety, depression, chaos and confusion that social media has introduced into their lives?
While Christina offers her personal experience of attending a formal camp to unplug, you can reduce stress and create a more rich and satisfying life by asking yourself a few introspective questions like:
What is truly important to me? Personal time with friends and loved ones, or how many likes I’ve received?
If I had one day left on this planet, what would I do — would I post on social media or respond to that inner nudge to do something I always wanted to do like mountain climb or learn to play a musical instrument? What have I always wanted to do but spent my hours on social media instead?
How do I feel inside when taking a walk in nature, looking at someone in the eye and seeing their smile versus hearing constant pings on my device?
Is my time better spent helping someone through volunteer work or trying to impress and compete with the virtual lives of others?
What makes me feel content? What makes me feel anxious or depressed?
Make a list if you need to. Let it look you squarely in the eye and you’ll know what you need to do to truly live a meaningful life. Here’s how Christina handled her social media addiction:
Social media detox: Christina Farr quits Instagram, Facebook
Christina Farr used to spend 5 hours a week posting and interacting with friends on Instagram. She quit cold this summer, and her life changed dramatically for the better.
Can you see the number 11 as an upwards arrow pointing to ascension and light, as perhaps global leaders have throughout the years? Any idea why the major hostilities of World War I were first ended in 1918 at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, or why Israel and Egypt signed the first Israel and Arab agreement for peace in 24 years — on 11–11 in 1973? What is the significance of the number 11? Just coincidence you say? Numerology begs to differ.
In numerology, the esteemed master number 11 symbolizes immense physical and mental power. According to Numerology.com, 11 has the potential of “pushing the limitations of the human experience into the stratosphere of the highest spiritual perception; it is the link between darkness and light, ignorance and enlightenment.”
Eleven is associated with calmly handling complex situations, steadiness, adaptability, a sense of order, mature thinking, understanding others and their problems, and doing everything possible to create a feeling of goodness. Other qualities associated with the number 11 are:
Higher spiritual insight
Loving and seeking freedom
Immense ability to see others more deeply
Can you envision the number 11 as two candles — the first one showing the brighter side of life and helping others, the second candle as the receiver of light?
Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).
I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.
This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.
My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)
In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question: “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations? Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”
“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,”Harris said.
Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?
Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits. At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!
I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.
Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment. “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.
However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.” In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.
To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.
Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster.And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.
Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Scargill on Unsplash
Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash
Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash
“You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.” This sounds perfectly natural to me.
Talk about “fake news,” or shall I say propaganda or better yet, follow the money trail? Situations such as these underscore why I am against letting a computer tell me what to think, rather than making my own observations and decisions. For the record, I am neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. I’m not even in the green party although since I love nature and gardening I suppose I should be. I am simply deeply concerned about what I see happening in my environment, the country, and beyond on our planet.
No need to post photos of Hurricane Florence’s wrath. (She was only rated a Category 4 storm by the way.) They’ll be plenty of devastating photos and stories on the news for days. But, Florence is yet another indicator that climate change cannot be denied through policy. Awareness is the first step to change but if we continually deny the reality of what is happening, are we simply going to be swept away? I suppose Mother Nature will let us know…
Some people say expectations set us up for disappointment. But as a gardener I say, “I must have expectations for the fruits of my labor. Otherwise, why would I plant?” And more often than not, the final product — of abundant produceandbeautiful blooms — farexceeds my expectations.
Still, sometimes plant wilt. Sometimes they become diseased. Sometimes it’s excessive heat or too little rain that hinders the intended outcome. But, while there is no guarantee, the end result is more true for plants than people.
How do you handle expectations? Do you allow them to create a vision? Do you have a blank slate, throw your hands up in the air and accept whatever comes? Do you reserve expectations only for plant life or allow them to carry over to relationships?
If you’re wondering about aspergrass see my recent post “Did you say Aspergrass?” Since my asparagus is still producing and I’ve wanted to try some new recipes, the Asparagus and Cheese Tart starred brunch today. After making some slight adjustments to suit my taste (noted below) this recipe is a fave:
I grilled some of the asparagus (as depicted in the photo) then blanched the rest according to the recipe. I also:
Increased the lemon zest from 1/2 tsp. to 3/4-1 tsp.
Increased the shallot from 1 tbl to 1 whole shallot
Used 3/4 cup each of shredded fontina and gruyere cheeses
Reduced the extra-virgin olive oil to 1 tsp.
For an interesting dimension, put 1 drop of carmelized balsamic on a bite at eating time.
If you love asparagus, try this recipe and let me know if it’s made it’s way to your favorites too!
Brunch consisted of herbal ice tea, the asparagus tart, fresh greens from the garden with lemon olive oil and kosher salt, (homegrown tomatoes are not ready yet), and uncured bacon. Yes, I am still a carnivore.