Tag Archives: wisdom

Pseudopods


I love amoebas. They hang around in mucky water and do all sorts of tidying up activities. They can also hang out in your gut, and that’s extremely unpleasant, but left to their own 743px-Amoeba_(PSF).svgdevices, they are interesting little creatures, moving around their environment, one pseudopod at a time. They grow and reproduce.

They have a contractile vacuole, something I’m sure I have in the back of my head, where it squirts out unpleasant things to maintain mood equilibrium. They use them to manage salt.

They are filled with ectoplasm. Goo. So are we. Messy stuff, ectoplasm.

From Wikipedia:

The amoeba is remarkable for its very large genome. The species Amoeba proteus has 290 billion base pairs in its genome, while the related Polychaos dubium (formerly known as Amoeba dubia) has 670 billion base pairs. The human genome is small by contrast, with its count of 2.9 billion base pairs.[9] Unicellular budding yeast has an estimated 12 million pairs.[8]

For unicellular organisms, they are so wonderfully complex. Why?

I suppose the better question is “why not?” They’ve been around for so long. They probably picked up a bit here, a bit there, embroidered on their genomic life.

But it’s one of those things that makes me go, “ooh!”. And wonder. Is more necessarily better? Or are they like Swiss Army animals, able to pull up a genomic shift as needed for survival at a moments’ notice?

They also can curl themselves up and hide, waiting for the right environment to grow. Can’t we all?

So why am I thinking about amoebas? Well, I feel like one these days. I seem to be growing and going off in several directions, I have no assigned body shape (dieting and exercise are changing my exterior), I wield my contractile vacuole mightily to keep my brain and heart free of entanglements, and yet my inner life is increasingly complex. I’m reaching out to new experiences and pulling them in to me, savouring them.

And though other bits of my life are dying off, I jettison them cheerfully and heal around the wound. I find that as I get older, perhaps wiser, I’m getting better at determining what goes into the ejector vacuole.

I’m adapting to my environment, I guess.

Sometimes, though, I jettison something prematurely…and am oh so grateful when I can send out a wee pseudopod to make contact, and find the contact welcomed.

picture courtesy of Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amoeba_(PSF).svg

Helping or pushing, the fine line


Sometimes it’s terrible being an ex-nurse. It’s so tempting to come up with solutions for people, drawing on my tremendous reserve of advice and knowledge to make their lives so much better than they are right now.
Because of course, I would know. (Note sarcastic tone). After all, no one could deny my life is totally organized and successful, what with my multimillion in book sales and such…

Kidding, kidding.

The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know. And as I get older I am — gradually — learning to keep my mouth shut rather than advise, at least most of the time.

It helps that I teach a “self-help” group where we are expressly forbidden from offering advice, encouraging the much more knowledgeable class to share their ideas. It’s a good reminder that the group knows more than I do.

And heaven knows I hate being told what to do. Sometimes people may have great ideas for me, for my writing, for things I could do or should do to make things better. Sometimes I listen. Often I pretend to listen, then go off and process the suggestion. Ignore it. Adapt it. Maybe even use it.

But sometimes, people force their suggestions down my throat. Sometimes I get too enthusiastic with my offerings. It’s an easy slip from helpfulness to bullying. Mostly done in the spirit of trying to help, but there’s that fine line there…

As I grow older and presumably wiser, I truly hope I will learn to take suggestions with equanimity, and give them rarely.

And gradually, I’ll get quieter and quieter, and maybe one day be thought wise. Like that owl from the brownie poem:

“The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Oh why can’t we be like that wise old bird?”

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Sulking towards enlightenment


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It seems oddly appropriate that I am spending countless hours reading and listening to the words of old white men in the month where the Roman Catholic Church elected a new Pope. I have my doubts that enlightenment arises through the overwhelming administration of the Church, but there’s always hope.
And it’s interesting, from a female perspective, to read about Socrates and his gang, men all, who debate the issues of the world while, no doubt, the women around them cook and clean and raise their children and fix their sandals and sweep the ground they tread upon and generally speaking, run the world.
I’m not saying there isn’t good stuff in their discussions, that they don’t have fascinating perspectives on morality and such – but at the same time, these educated men treated their women as slaves, drones, property. It is hard for me to appreciate the one without hearing the undercurrent of the other.
It reminds me of the Confederate South in the US, going on about how to live properly while standing, elegantly booted, upon the necks of their slaves.

So on I read, trying to absorb the discussion, while hearing behind it the murmurings of my ancient sisters and wondering how on earth one can discuss morality as a concept while living such an amoral life.
Oh yeah, I get it now – you merely redefine it to suit your needs.
Sadly, we don’t seem to have evolved past that, even these many years later.