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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Optimism, Hope, and Being Positive

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I saw this sticker on the mirror in a restroom at one of my favorite urban coffee houses:

Patience is certainly a virtue, but unfortunately, not one of mine. So, this was a great reminder. I don’t like the fact that change happens slowly, but it’s usually true. Sigh.

So, I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. But what does being positive really mean to me when I wake up each morning?

I think it involves more than simply being hopeful. Desmond Tutu just wrote a book encouraging us to be hopeful, in which he describes hope as, “…being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  Yes. Yin and Yang. I get it. But, then what?

Optimism sounds nice too: “The tendency to expect the best possible outcome.” But some days, that’s not enough for me either.

I like the word positive because it’s more specific. It goes something like this: “Positive thinking is a process of choosing positive emotions from stimuli in the environment and applying them to perceptions and beliefs. The objective is to create an outlook that translates into a new or better chosen reality.”

Now that gives me something to work with! Change Happens Gradually. Stay Positive.

Life Box – Save the Planet One Cardboard Box at a Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

Growing Pains

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Can you face the consequences of continued growth?

by Greg Gillette, Denver, CO

I friend of mine sent this quote to me the other day. At first I thought the quote to mean the continued economic growth and suburban sprawl that this country is famous for. NO, I screamed inside my head as this type of continued growth has got to stop. I cannot face the consequences of more pollution, more war and more corporate greed.

It then dawned on me, that the quote meant the consequences of MY growth: my emotional growth, my spiritual growth, my inner and outer growth of what it means to be living in love, truth, and awareness.

As I have grown over the years, my circle of friends and my ability to connect with people has gotten smaller. At times, I feel out of place with the regular American who blindly follows the other Americans in search of happiness through more material goods and who blindly supports the government, the media and the other out dated institutions in this country.

At times, I ponder if my life would be better if I had not changed and I was a typical American, just living and not questioning anything and enjoying all the things that the typical Americans enjoy: television, bars, shopping, pro sports, Hollywood movies, automobiles, lawn mowers, carpet, etc.

Of course, I only ponder because my blood runs so deep in becoming a better and more conscious person every day that I would die if I had to go back to where I came from.

I will continue to live with the consequences of being different and crazy to most Americans, for this is who I am and I know that other Americans are feeling the same way I did many years ago and they, too, will find the courage to face the consequence of their new growth and their continued growth into the future.

Even bin Laden believes in global climate change

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

It would be so convenient – a real relief – if I were to simply tell myself that global climate change is not happening, or, at least, that humans are not the cause and we can’t do anything to change it. Then I’d be off the hook and worry a lot less. That would work for me. But, it wouldn’t be the truth.

This is all I can think of to say to the people who insist on denying what is happening to our environment and the role our industrialized lifestyles play in it (George Marshall explores that topic here.) Then again, I could always point out that even Osama Bin Laden believes in the impact of global warming. This from, via Agence France-Presse:

“All industrial nations, mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming,” bin Laden said in the message attributed to him by the pan-Arab news channel based in Doha.

In an unusual message possibly timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, he warned of the impact of global warming by saying that “discussing climate change is not an intellectual luxury, but a reality.”

I know – the irony of it all. Especially considering bin Laden’s fortune comes from oil, and, well, terrorists are not usually members of GreenPeace. I’m not trying to bolster his image in any way, but, just sayin’…

It would be so simple to just decide that we don’t need to make changes – big ones. But, as it turns out, denial is built in to our human nature, as described, in part, below. Pay extra attention when you reach the last two lines…..

In 2001, George Marshall wrote a great story about this state of mind. Here’s an exerpt: In, States of Denial, Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, author Stanley Cohen argues that this capacity to deny a level of awareness is the normal state of affairs for people in an information-saturated society… According to Cohen’s definition, denial involves a fundamental paradox – that in order to deny something it is necessary at some level to recognise its existence and its moral implications. It is, he says, a state of simultaneous ‘knowing and not-knowing’.   Read more here.

The Power of Half

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

When I heard a friend on Facebook today, say, “I’m excited about what the future may hold”, I immediately thought of the recently reported story of Hannah Salwen and her family.

The short version: In 2006, Hannah was 14yo, living in a 6,500sq ft mansion in Atlanta with her parents and brother. As a young girl, she was already interested in helping people and doing volunteer work for the homeless, but one day Hannah proclaimed that her family could do more – way more. In fact, why not sell the house, move into a smaller one, and give half the proceeds to charity? As it turned out, they did.

I was slightly skeptical upon stumbling this story. I mean, really, many multi-millionaires love to give away tons of money for tax breaks, while not denting their net worth or lifestyle significantly. And moving from a mansion to a home half the size, was still a darn big house. But then I did some research and discovered the longer version:

Upon agreeing to this plan, the family decided to leave no stones unturned. They met each week to watch videos, discuss ideas, research helping organizations, and basically, learn as much as they could about the world’s problems. As they narrowed things down to their biggest areas of concern and interest: water, homelessness and poverty, they also learned more about each other and became more bonded as a family.

They documented the project in a newly released book, The Power of Half. Aware of initial skepticism, they wanted to share their reasons for writing the book, which they do so eloquently on their website by describing how they wanted to share their experience and methods with others, introduce us to the amazing people they met along the way, share the new closeness they have found through less space and less stuff, and create a roadmap for others to pursue their own Half projects.

Realizing that most of us have less of a financial Half to give, Hannah points out that we all have our own kind of abundance or “time, talent or treasure.”  “Everyone has their own Half, you just have to find it.”

I’ve moved quickly past my first glance and am inspired and hopeful at the thought of the coming Aquarian age and ‘what the future may hold’ as we join this family in giving more and taking less.

Hostel In The Forest

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

There are many reasons I don’t enjoy staying at hotels while traveling, so I’m happy to see Hostels are making a comeback in the U.S. (read my previous post). So, I’m thanking my friend, Jo Jo for introducing me to Hostel in the Forest – to my surprise, it’s been operating in Brunswick, GA for 32 years! Get a load of this:

Hostel in the Forest began with Tom Dennard and consists of geodesic domes and 9 tree houses on 130 acres of forest and wetlands. Everything has been built and maintained entirely by volunteers. Over the years, the center has evolved into a spiritual retreat and educational facility which promotes and teaches environmental sustainability, teaching a “hands-on approach to a sustainable lifestyle through activities such as alternative building and organic gardening while complementing the processes of nature.”

The “rooms” are really up in the trees! How cool is that? Down below, there are composting toilets and outdoor showers. They serve nightly vegetarian dinners and a kitchen is available for guests to prepare other meals. The lists of events and workshops include all yoga, Tai Chi, fermentation, cobb building, and one that especially intrigued me – a presentation on “Optimism and Fortitude”.

Learning, sharing, nature, peace and quiet. You can’t find that at The Holiday Inn. ahhh. Georgia on my mind……

Here’s a link to some great photos.

Parades – Old and New

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto,

Because it felt almost like a civic duty, I attended the annual “Christmas Parade” in my town last weekend. There was the usual cuteness going on – lots of smiling and waving. There were also lots of BIG vehicles pulling floats that carried all these smiling faces, moving very, very slowly down Main Street. Remember, idling engines are running at their most inefficient and pollute MORE than when driving at higher speeds. Although I tried to push this out of my mind, the fact that my eyes were burning from the exhaust really rubbed it in. I didn’t stay long and the whole experience made me start thinking….

Did parades exist before automobiles? Did horses pull then versions of “floats”? When did we decide to change all of this despite the fact that these events still move at a walking pace? That dangerous idea of “bigger is better” is, of course, partly to blame – even horses couldn’t pull some of the contraptions that move through NYC on Thanksgiving Day.

Yet, isn’t it time to see the fun being missed through the veil of smoky exhaust trailing all that beauty? Could we team up bicycles to pull things? And what about pedicabs? Then there is dedicating this event to veggie-deisel vehicles, because I prefer the smell of french fries to petroleum any day.

HAND-Y-JOB – the future of work

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

Want to work with your hands? Be an entrepreneur? You’re not alone, although many people will initially fall into the category of ‘have to’ rather than ‘want to’. This isn’t all bad. I’ve talked to friends who have been laid off, and after the initial shock has worn off, admit that they are finding freedom and satisfaction in the choices they face. It’s not all golden – one friend moved in with his brother to make ends meet, but subsequently went back to school to prepare for a new career that he’s excited about and has already found part-time work to get him through the process.

Others are leaving (or being forced to leave) corporate positions to work with their hands. Lisa Maris Grillos founded Hambone Designs with her brother, Hernan Barangan, and began designing and making bicycle bags which they sell online through  John left a lucrative finance career to establish a business restoring and refinishing flooring and says he enjoys the feeling of completing a hands-on project. A laid-off teacher and her pregnant daughter decided to start a cookie-making business.

There is a collective soul-searching and/or disillusionment with corporate America as we begin to question the value of how we spend our days at the office. With the help of the internet, starting a business is getting easier and less expensive with online services like Starting/owning a business is never a bed of roses, but I think there’s something to the fact that it challenges our abilities, confidence and identity. According to this NY Times article, research shows that we tend to find and have more resilience in adversity – a kind of call to arms – and mentions the publication of : Reset: How this crisis can restore our values and renew America.

There’s also a strong case for the value – soulwise and otherwise – of working with your hands. After finishing a Ph.D. in political philosophy and finding the academic job market bleak, Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, spent the winter rebuilding and old Honda motorcycle, saying, “The physicality of it, and the clear specificity of what the project required of me, was a balm.”

This resonates with me, for despite the fact that my work has been mostly physical, I have constantly sought outlets for creating like drawing, painting and sewing. Others make projects of their homes or yards. The author quotes one of his high school shop teachers who says, “Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

Of course, we can channel this energetic soul-searching to sustainable ends in our everyday lives and work.

That’s the best news I’ve heard all day.

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