They be trippin’

Art by: Clancy Cavnar

After haven written a blog on psychedelics in July I got several reactions from people around me. A few of my friends let me know they thought I was being unfair in my testy accusation towards hippie-trippie space cowboys, in particular when I said there is no such thing as “inexplicable”.

My boyfriend said the following about it:

“Words are used to describe reality as we see it on a daily basis. The stuff you see and experience when doing “the trippy thing” is not every day reality. A trip will have you process information with your senses that is so odd that the vocabulary that a brain has access to will always feel inadequate to describe it.”

the G-man

Sure. I can accept that.

What I do not accept is being dismissed by people.

Let me be clear, I am not talking about my boyfriend here. On the contrary, he never lets the limits of our vocabulary stop him from sharing his experiences and insights with me. He tells me about his psychedelic experiences in such a matter of fact way that an outsider may not even notice we are talking about something so “out there”.

There are others though who sort of set (people like) me aside as being naive, uptight and bigoted for not diving into the psychedelic hemisphere with them. They don’t always do this explicitly, which makes it harder to pinpoint, but it’s definitely there.

It annoys me because it is not true. I do want to understand. More even, I feel I may actually already understand it up to a certain degree and definitely more than I am getting credit for.

Aren’t they the ones demonstrating narrow minds towards me then, when they decide I am not worth the trouble of formulating a description for?

That last sentence makes me sound like an entitled nosey body, I realize that. I suppose me saying that isn’t the case, isn’t worth much, but emmmm… that really isn’t the case…

Maybe I should let it go but something about all of this is still nagging me. It has something to do with interpretations of what is real and accompanying feelings about who is right (and possibly my own overblown reactions to condescending behavior).

I’m going to chew on this one a bit longer and dedicate a new blog on the matter when I’ve figured it out.

the Platinum rule

I recently discovered that a very common principle I have known all my life is referred to as the golden rule. I also learned that it is coming under scrutiny and modern times are asking for it to be updated.

Golden Rule

The golden rule is a principle we all must have heard at some point during our upbringing. It comes in different forms. You may have heard one of the following varieties:

  • Do unto others as you would want done to you
  • Do not treat others in ways that you would not like to be treated
  • What you wish upon others, you wish upon yourself

The golden rule is pretty simple. You only need to embark on a quick soulsearch and pinpoint how you like to be treated and then apply this to others.

Unless you’re dealing with some psychological turmoil, the answer should be available pretty much immediately, as you probably already know what makes you happy (and what does not).

Until recently, I would have told you the golden rule has great merit and that the world would be a better place if we lived by it more strictly.

Platinum rule

The golden rule stands on the assumption that every other person you interact with wants what you want. There are many ways you can miss the mark on that one, which is why the golden rule is in need of an update.

The upgraded version of the golden rule is referred to by some as “the platinum rule”. It boils down to something like this:

Treat others as they would want to be treated

Its a simple idea and the underlying sentiment is still the same; be nice.

Its practical implementation does require a bit more effort than the golden variety, which is what I will dive into a bit more, below.

Ask and check

When putting the platinum rule into practice you would have to figure out what it is that the person on the receiving end of your actions wants.

Asking is one way to go about it.

A direct question, especially directed at someone you may not know very well, may not get you the answers you need. When you put someone on the spot like that, the person in front of you might say something like “Nothing” or “I don’t know”.

If you truly want to be the person the other person needs (or at the very least the person that doesn’t hurt the other’s feelings) then getting an answer like “nothing” does not mean you’re off the hook.

The pitfall with this approach is that by asking the question you make your problem their problem. You put the spotlight and the other and achieve the absolute opposite of what you were trying to do.

In the end, the fact that you don’t know how to behave is YOUR problem, not THEIRS.

However, I am convinced that you can solve almost anything with a drop of empathy and a whole lot of communication. Keep asking questions. Keep listening. And back off when appropriate or requested.

Titanium rule

Contrary to the golden rule, the platinum rule leaves room for interpretation and error. Because:

  • What do you do if the other lets you know they want you to treat them in a way that (you believe) is harmful for them?
  • What if the way the other wants to be treated is something you are not willing to do (for example because it goes against your own values or because it is harmful to you)?
  • How do you avoid becoming that annoying person that asks a million questions at every turn?

These questions have come up when dealing with people I hold dear, that struggle with addiction or tendencies to self harm. The platinum rule would not help me or them, if I followed it strictly. The golden rule would also fall short.

An opinion piece written by Kris Williams on Medium that I bumped into just now, struggles with similar dilemmas. Ms Williams describes a third stance, the Titanium rule, and it goes likes this:

“Treat others as it is in the highest and best good to treat them.”

This might be a bit much for every day life, but it sounds like a sane way to deal with more complicated interactions.

At the end of the day I think it’s not even necessary to choose between the three. I think all have their merits and make sense in different situations.

What do you think?

Language

This is Blog 12 in my A-Z Blogseries:
Language

My boyfriend, G, and I share a love for language and linguistics.

It happens almost weekly that some odd expression, pronunciation or unusual word makes my ears perk up (and often it is something that I see is simultaneously happening in his mind, which is obviously a huge turn on).

We then tear the matter apart, googling the heck out of it (after we’ve agreed on the best search terms, which sometimes can be challenging enough).

The last word we dove into was “psychopath“, which I now know stems from the Greek words psykhe, meaning mind and the word pathos, meaning suffering.

So a psychopath is, in the purest sense of the word, somebody who has been diagnosed with suffering of the mind.

In modern times we envision a psychopath to be a manipulative charmer that spends his days fantasizing of all the ways he could make you disappear. We would say a psychopath is more often the cause of suffering than the victim of it, wouldn’t we? I suppose we have TV crime-series and horror stories to thank for that.

G and I debated on how much empathy a psychopath really would have. I decided that they actually could have some empathetic abilities in the sense that they recognize feelings and know how to respond to them convincingly. What they lack are soft feelings such as pity and compassion (making them perfect for politics or wall street).

Another word we tried to decipher was “discussion“. Not something you would normally need to look up the meaning of, right? We came to the conclusion however that our personal definitions were quite different, with his being much more negative than mine.

In his view, there is no such thing as a “good discussion”, given that there are always two (or more) people participating with opposed opinions and no real willingness to change that.

In my opinion a debate can be a tool to get closer to the truth and changing your mind about your argument is actually allowed.

This made me realize that being in (his definition of) a discussion is an experience he does not enjoy at all. Now that I know that, I can change the way I react to him when he mentions a discussion he’s had with this or that person.

These elaborate exploratory talks we have (often during breakfast) remind me of how important it is to check during conversations if we are actually talking about the same thing.

Even when your convo partner is using the same words as you are, you may be missing the point completely because you do not know the weight it has for the person across from you.

We are a species blessed with the ability to use language, in spoken form and also through gestures and posture. Putting a little effort into the way you communicate can make life so much easier!

Mind Cleanup – March 2016

Epiphanies

  • I need to stop telling people in “the real world” about my blog...
  • … or I need to own up to my thoughts and opinions and face the music when stuff I write here reach the eyes and ears of people I know.Oh-hi-gif
  • (Hi friends and co-workers!)

mirrorSelf-reflection

  • cuddle donkeys.jpgJust like everyone else, I need oxygen to live. I also need water and nutrients. And chocolate. Pretty straight forward stuff. However, I can also run out of animal love. I found this out last weekend, when I visited the petting zoo (don’t start, I live in the city, I need to get my furry fix somewhere…). I felt so replenished after having cuddled with a donkey that I realized I had run out weeks ago and only now felt complete again.

emoji happyUppers – Cowabunga

  • Donkeys.donkey.jpg
  • I got a new bike after my previous one was stolen (again!). Thx Zeefje!

emoji disappointedDowners – Bummerama

  • Caitlyn supports Trump… Now this really got me fired up. This is some new level donkey droppings. WHY is this even on TV?! And why do I know about it? Argh… I don’t know where to start but my dog, it really truly deeply annoys me…

emoji SeeNoEvilDenial

  • When I was walking home on the 24th and saw many government buildings in The Hague had flags hanging at half mast, I decided that we had instated a national day of mourning in memory of Johan Cruyff, and decided to act as if terrorists didn’t exist.

emoji musicMusic

  • My dad bought Coldplay’s latest CD for my mom… which confused me… and surprised me in a pleasant way…
  • I’m going to see Beth Hart in June!

emoji film.jpgMovies

  • New Indiana Jones in the making. O.o
    (don’t want to get excited, but most of all don’t want it to suck. Still kind of hoping it’s an April fool’s joke…)
  • Deadpool: Very funny. Pretty brutal. Go watch!
  • I re-watched Frozen, after having expressed my dislike for this film a couple of times, which is apparently “not done”. Friends told me I probably didn’t like it because I didn’t really get it the first time. I needed to watch it again. So I did.
    • My summary of the movie before re-watch:
      It’s about anxiety, poor communication and anti-social behavior
    • How people summarized it to me:
      It’s about love, self-worth and letting go of fear.
    • My summary of the movie after re-watch:
      It’s about bad parental advice, bad judgment and poor communication, with a small bit about love and family at the end.
    • What would have made me like it more:
      • Explain the origin of the trolls.
      • Better understanding of why the troll-king found it necessary to remove all memory of magic from Anna’s mind… Really don’t see the use in that.
      • Explain the origin (and use) of the ice-magic gift/burden
      • Leave out the Olav-song and the troll-wedding-song
      • Explain Kristoff’s background. Did he just leave his parents because some rock troll decided to keep him? Or was he actually an orphan? Where are his folks?
      • Make Sven more reindeerlike. Why does he have to pant like a dog?

I still don’t like hearing kids sing “Let it go”. It’s not a healthy song. It’s a frustrated angry song. It’s an “up yours”, a “fuck you all” an “I don’t care” in a fancy dress. Elsa is not a likeable person.

Hakuna_Matata

It made me think about Hakuna Matata and I wondered if that isn’t also a “fuck you all”-song. I don’t think it is. I think the final effect might be the same; which is doing whatever the hell you want, but Hakuna Matata is not an angry song. It has a “Don’t worry, be happy”-message, that might have irresponsible and anti-social behavior as a side effect, but not as a goal.

look-downLooky here

This new mind cleanup category will be where I will dump tidbits that I saw or read over the past month and that I want to share with the world:

emoji paellaEpicureous

  • I have been going through an avocado craze phase in my diet. I found a small fruit and vegetable store near my house that sells ultra ripe and yummy ones, which has spiked my avocado intake by 2681%. I have come to the conclusion that eating more than half an avocado a day makes me feel bloated though. Kind of interesting, kind of a bummer.

 

emoji hourglassEpilogue – What’s up, April?

  • I have a week off in the first week of April. Still no plans. Looking forward to it, though!

Cruel intentions

blunt thoughts

My sense of humor can have a cruel touch.

Besides making jokes on specific people’s expenses I also always enjoyed making offensive jokes about entire groups of people. Literally any group. Men. Women. Chinese. Latinos. Jews. Dutch. Gays. Cripples. The elderly. Hippies. Farmers. Lawyers. You name it and I would make fun of them and enjoy myself shamelessly in the process.

Not only have I enjoyed making these jokes, I have also loved being on the receiving end of them. There are few things that I find more entertaining than being in a humorous battle of wits and being outgunned by someone quicker than me.

And don’t forget dirty jokes! People don’t expect them to come from my corner and the looks on faces when I let one loose is highly addictive; A priceless mix of confusion and shock, topped off with a swirl of delight and disgust. Love that shit.

I speak in the past tense, as if it is something I don’t enjoy in present day. But I do, just not in the same way. I still make the same remarks, just not as loudly. In some cases I may even bite my tongue and chuckle silently as I share my witty remark with just me, myself and I. If I’m lucky there is a kindred spirit present to exchange glances with.

snark-meter.jpg

There are times when I really mourn the loss of my snark and want to blame the world for stirring up my conscience to such politically correct levels.

The sentence above is something I wrote weeks ago. Maybe even months. It’s been moved around from one draft to another until last week when I started to doubt it’s meaning.  I was planning on going into my own personal anti-political-correctness-tirade, which would have boiled down to something like this:

The last few days though I have felt the need to do the opposite and come to the defense of political correctness and promote it as the only true and right attitude to have.

Why?

Donald Trump.

Yes, I am really trying to ignore and deny his existence but he’s just so LOUD. The kind of stuff he’s been saying in the last couple of weeks has really truly blown my mind:

In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today, everybody’s politically correct. Our country’s going to hell with being politically correct
February 26, Oklahoma

And:

Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it. … We had four guys, they jumped on him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day, we got killed in the press — that we were too rough. Give me a break. You know? Right? We don’t want to be too politically correct anymore. Right, folks?
March 4 in Michigan

These are just two of the many things he said when confronted with protesters at his rallies. I don’t know if I am more angry or sad.

And then yesterday, while campaigning in Tucson, Arizona, he promised the world he would be acting more “presidential” in weeks to come (whatever that means). Not because he wanted to per se, but because his wife and daughter “begged him”. Ah yes, of course the weaker sex would do that… And as a good husband and father he can’t help but give in…

So yes, if opposing political correctness puts me on his team….

….I don’t even know how to finish that sentence but I think you get the point. I’d rather give up humor for a decade than associate myself with this man in any remote way.

clv1126c

Mind Cleanup – January ’16

The first month of the year flew by like a rocket! I must find a way to slow this thing down. I hope you all had a good start of the year. I would rate this month a 8 out of 10.

emoji happyUppers

  • My work contract was extended for another year!
  • My brother made a bird feeding house for on my balcony and managed to attach it to my unconventionally shaped banisters and now cute little birds come visit every morning (until the seagulls arrive).
  • Serena Williams did not win the Australian open, but was a really good sport about it. The hug she gave Angelique Kerber at the net after the game, really made me smile.

emoji disappointedDowners

emoji sunriseEpiphanies – getting to know myself

  • After watching a documentary called Growing up Trans I came to the conclusion I am more conservative than I thought, when it comes to accepting transgenderism and sex-change operations (and I will write a full blog on this topic soon)…
  • I really hardly drink alcoholic beverages at all but I have decided that if I drink at all, I prefer beer over wine. For some reason I used to always order white wine, out of some sort of strange society-induced conviction that that is the drink women should order or something…

emoji paellaEpicurious – food related thoughts

  • Five sperm whales died last month on the beach of our largest Wadden Island, Texel. I have been having so many discussions with my colleagues about what is healthy for us and the environment and the animals that we do or do not eat that I can’t help but wonder….
    • Could we eat the meat of beached whales?
    • Should we?
    • Where does it go when it gets “disposed of”?
  • I recently found out, yes thanks to one of my fanatically vegetarian colleagues, that we use pig and animal hair as a fluffener in bread… Who knew…
  • I have never had a quiche that made me want to go for a second round. I think it’s the egginess. I’m just not a big quiche fan. There, I said it.

emoji musicMusic related thoughts

  • I have never really cared for David Bowie
  • Sam Hunt’s hit song was one that I was pretty ecstatic about when it first came out but it’s sappiness kind of gets on my nerves now.
  • Speaking of Sams, I think Sam Smith has an unpleasant voice.
  • I really like Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist, which has introduced me to some great new music, but for some reason keeps suggesting crappy covers of Beyonce’s “Halo”, which I really don’t understand…
  • Some songs get a whole new dimension when listened to with headphones on or with an incredibly good sound system.

emoji hourglassEpilogue – February expectations

  • Carnaval!
  • Valentine’s day
  • I will be going funtubing with a friend, next week.
  • I am going to go to a karaoke evening with my co-workers. The kind of thing you are totally looking forward to and totally not, all at the same time. haha!

 

Message received

argument stubbornI love being right almost as much as being proven wrong. I don’t enjoy being contradicted per se, but I do enjoy it when someone shines their light on a situation from a new angle, putting my truth to the test. I don’t mind admitting I was wrong (or at least incomplete) when new facts are presented to me in a fair way.

This happened to me a couple of months ago, when I got into a cyber discussion witih a Jewish FB -er. It happened to me again last week when a fellow WP-er, Being Woke, called me out on my use of the word “exotic”, among other things.

All though part of me is still a bit defensive and wants to emphasize how good my intentions are and that that should be what counts, I know deep down that she was right to cyber-slap me on the wrists.

polar bear facepalm.jpgLet me summarize what happened. I read a blog in which a muslim girl described how threatened she feels on a regular basis (and during one especially aggressive encounter in particular) by looks and remarks she gets about her muslim appearance.

Instead of stating straight away that I hated that she had to deal with these kind of reactions, I inadvertently channeled my inner oaf and pretty much asked her to sympathize with the burden of my white privilege.

I told her how muslim women (or anyone foreign looking in general) stick out in my predominantly white hometown and how I struggle sometimes with how to react. I tried to explain how I would want them to feel welcome and acknowledge their presence, but at the same time I know that they would much rather just blend in. So how do you forcefully help someone blend in, when in all truth they stick out like a sore thumb?

Making myself explicitly not look makes me feel like a silly child ignoring a former friend on the school yard. It doesn’t feel nice or friendly or welcoming or productive in any way. Looking at the person in question however, even if it’s just to give her a smile, might make her feel uncomfortable and exposed, which is pretty much the opposite of what I intended in the first place. My idea was to acknowledge the facts, show her that I see her but that this has no negative connotation.

And then I earned myself a one way ticket to hell by referring to foreign looking people as “my exotic compatriots”. It’s  really bad… right?

My comment was met with a verbal eye-roll and a couple of questions to top that off:

I personally do not believe your stares are required to acknowledge someone’s presence. Do you stare at people who look like you to acknowledge their presence? Or is that reserved for those who don’t look like you – and therefore are your stares for them or to fulfil your own curiosity?

The answer to the first question is probably “no” and I go back and forth on how to feel about this. I know she is implicitly calling me a racist here, and I myself have admitted at some point I am not perfect in this field. The answer to the second rhetorical question is “yes” and again, I know I am being expected to feel bad about this.

What I want to say is that I have been on the receiving end of stares myself. I grew up in a country where my appearance stood out and I was the odd one out in a crowd. I tread a fine line here; because even though my skin and hair color made people point at me and call me names that have a negative connotation I will always be privileged by the simple fact that I am white.

Or as Louis CK puts it:

So, yes I am white and “thank god for that shit, boy”.

I am guilty but I mean no harm. I am one of the good ones, I really am. I understand why it must annoy the hell out of you to be called “exotic” and have us whiteys defend ourselves by saying we meant it as a compliment. I understand you feel you are being compared to a tropical parrot or something.

I should have never touched the word. I understand that now. I do want you to know I didn’t mean it as a compliment… or an insult, for that matter. I used the word as an adjective, to describe all my fellow countrymen and -women that may have lived here their entire lives and maybe even their parents did too, but lack the Northern European look the majority of us Dutchies has. I wasn’t saying you are not Dutch. Or less worthy. Or extra sexy-feisty-squeezy-easy. Or whatever other negative connotation it may have.

So, let me be completely open and disregard all political correctness for a minute and ask some frank questions of my own:

    • How can I, as a member of the white majority population, find the balance between acknowledging your values, respecting your right to wear different clothing and help you blend in? The only way I can think of is stop looking all together, which is most definitely not what I want. I love my sense of wonder!
    • Can I, as a white person, ever say you are too sensitive? Thin ice cracking, thin ice  cracking, thin ice, thin ice…
    • Am I allowed to say “I understand” or is the impossibility of me ever getting the struggle of a person of color so evident that it would always be either a lie or a display of my ignorance?
  • Why does us discussing semantics feel so silly?

Anyway, I promise I will never stop trying to improve myself and trust I will find a balance at some point, all though I am starting to sense that it is almost inevitable to tread on some toes along the way. I apologize beforehand. I really do try!