"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Liberated

As an observer of the world (Canadian, retired, and relatively well-off), I have the luxury of time to synthesize ideas. I am the product, after all, of a liberal arts education. This doesn't mean that my leaning is anti- conservative. It means my education has left me free to apply thought that is outside the box. Liberal in this situation derives from the Latin, liberalis, meaning free.

A liberal education encourages the learner to research and synthesize their own ideas - in other words, become a free thinker.

Ironically, a liberal education for all is exactly what many politicians, especially conservative ones, would prefer to avoid. Free thinkers are harder to lead about by the nose. Someone has to be really smart and subversive to do that. Interestingly, smart, subversive people make good leaders.

Sadly too, it seems to me that people who wish to rule a docile, hard working population accidentally notice the word liberal in front of education and take an immediate dislike to it.

This past week, the newly-elected Conservative Party majority in Ontario has declared that the Health Education guideline in place since 2015 is to be replaced by the one that preceded it; written in 1998 and devoid of any mention of gay or transgender folk, and avoiding any discussion of consent or cyber-safety ... basically avoiding any discussion of sex.

Perhaps if the Liberal Party of Canada, or Ontario, or whatever, were to call themselves the Middle of the Road Party, and leave the word liberal alone, then bullies who are politicians might ignore education policy and leave it to educators.  The Middle of the Road Party should do that too, by the way.

It is no coincidence to me that the majority of folks I call friends have benefitted from a liberal arts education. Even those who have gone on to acquire practical skills still manage to apply free thinking effectively.

One of the very best things about giving your children a liberal education: they don't need to listen to anyone else (yes, including you) to know what they think about a topic. They will learn to do that for themselves.

If you love someone, liberate them.

Monday, 2 July 2018

The Woman in the Mirror

Back in the spring, in a conversation with a group of women around my age, the question under discussion was: 
Norman Catwell - Lucia Heffernan


How old are you until you look in the mirror?

The general consensus - we all feel a lot younger than we appear. There was no bitterness; just a realization that how we feel isn't the person others see. Upon reflection (pun intended), we all agreed that when one looks in a mirror we are more critical about our appearance than we should be. 

Like my feline friend above right, my self-image is a bit more complex than most. These days, compared with a lifetime of hating my reflection (or at least avoiding looking too hard at it), the way I feel brings a lot more pleasure than it used to. 

Interestingly, the other women mostly chose the young lady they were at about seventeen as their internal image. Try as I might, there is no seventeen-year-old version of me that satisfies my feminine ideal. As fit as I was (and old photos confirm my body might have produced a lovely young woman), the image of that confused and frustrated young adult is not one I want to carry about with me. The very best I can manage is a thirty-something lady whose self-portrait was captured as a pencil sketch.

While looking at that sketch, however, I notice a restlessness of spirit that has been somewhat quenched by recent life experience. She also has a very fit body that I cannot recall ever having. It seems the downside of my current contentment is a less-than-ideal body (unless you have something that Rubens might have painted in mind, that is) shape. 

One interesting debate going on in my mind is whether at my age it is important to 'regain' that ideal body that I never actually had, to go with my so-much-better attitude toward life in all other ways.

Another woman might say that she has accepted herself after a lifetime because she won't ever be that ideal woman in her memory. On the other hand, I am a woman who definitely did not accept herself as she was.  These past few years have been seen momentous change. The question might be when to declare that process complete. 

My restlessness of spirit might have been somewhat quenched, but life is an adventure. I will not rule out serendipity.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

On Things Learned From Others

The years of this blog have been mostly spent in self-reflection. For a refreshing change, this post is a reflection on others, and their reaction to my transition - oh dear, sounds like it is all about me after all.

Most people have been great; typically self-absorbed, but friendly when approached in a friendly way. 

More surprising, it seems there are perfect strangers who get angry at the audacity of one who has taken charge of their life, refusing to conform to anyone else's idea of what is correct for them. Perhaps they are jealous, wishing they could find the nerve to follow what they know in their hearts to be true, instead of the dictates of society. 

From some friends and family members, I learned that what their particular version of the Christian gospels says (or, is badly interpreted to say) is of huge importance. Some of these former friends and family stopped speaking to me as soon as I told them. One quoted their badly translated version of the bible to me in emails before cutting off communication completely. I can only suppose that they all feared contact would threaten their immortal souls.

From my musical friends, it has become clear that in music, what matters most is the music and the love that comes through that music.

From a friend who teaches motivation to others, I learned that being myself was a truly wonderful thing for some. She actually said "You aren't sh***ing me are you??? That's wonderful!!"

From my spouse of decades, I learned that there are some for whom the most important thing in life is how they are seen by others. "What will ______ say? We won't have any friends. Everyone is going to shun us."

From my children I learned that being a parent who loved and supported them meant that they would support me right back. "You will still be our father, won't you?" They have a father who is a woman, and we get along just the way we always have. 

From my partner, the love of my life, I am continuing to learn what it means to accept and cherish without conditions. 

My knowledge of the rest of the human race is enriched as those around me have been pushed into revealing things about themselves that lie on the edge of their behaviour. 

I have learned from my closest friends through all this, that, as it says in Proverbs, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, or in my version, sister. 

What does one do with a collection of such knowledge? We make better informed choices about the sort of person we want to be, of course.