Chains of Events – or: Missing Links and the Art of Interpretation

coloured dots in space some connected with lines
In life as well as in art (storytelling, poetry, movie scripting, etc.) events that occur – real or fictional – usually are ordered into some kind of consecutive whole that is supposed to make sense.

This is also often called a ‘chain of events’.

But what if this chain has a missing link in there? What if we ‘connect the dots’ in the wrong order? What if we are simply not aware of all the events, the facts, and connect the visible ones into a chain, that eventually may be tied to another person’s ‘neck’…

In law, alas, this is known to be a tragic occurrence when people are being convicted for things they did not do. Innocent.
‘Miscarriage of justice’.

In countries where the death penalty still exists that’s particularly cruel: Hanged, or these days usually killed with some kind of poison in a syringe.
The human being, a whole small universe of thoughts, ideas and feelings, emotions and learning, experience, kindness and laughter – eradicated.
Gone.

In everyday life such ‘interpretations’, the ‘connecting of dots’ into some kind of whole, still too often also can go wrong.

Opinion veers to one side – or another. Unnecessary pain and suffering can be caused by insufficient reasoning, the ‘interpretation of facts’, if not done with care.

If any of my readers at any time in the course of their lives have been subjected to such ‘reasoning’ – that is really unreasonable – they know what I mean.

Therefore: Let’s judge with care and keep an open mind. We may be wrong…

Perfect Parents – Perfect Children…? Present-Day Western Rules of Education

Happy mom holding little child with golden cup.
Since World War II, after dreadful events had taken place and crimes had been committed – as well as endured – by millions all around the globe, a general question arose:
How can this be prevented to happen again?
Education by ‘perfect parents’ raising ‘perfect children’ so it seems to this day…

The subject is not new to my blog but it presents itself in different shapes, repeatedly…

First Research on Best Educational Practices

The research done with fervour and some very valuable findings made it clear what was needed: Education as a self-determined and free-thinking individual enabled to resist dumb orders was being defined as an important aspect.

Educational best practices were formulated and are to this day:
What do parents and especially mothers do and what should they avoid in order to raise children that are prepared?

Business Aspects Taking Over

Yet, another aspect crept in a little while later, basically throughout the 1980s, when more people wanted more jobs and at the same time business limits seemed to fall, profits sky-rocketing in certain areas.

It appeared clear at the time that not just any education but only the very best would ensure a profitable job.

The result was an even more intense, not to say feverish, search for the rules of behaviour in parents that would create ‘perfectly prepared children’.

Modern Psychology Roots

Ever since Sigmund Freud had published his research on the power of mothers, and eventually parents, ideas also flourished that adjusting parents would do the trick:
Prevent mental disorders, fears and insecurities or even suppressed urges.

His research to this day stands tall. No doubt about it.

Humans Like So Many Devices…?

But the idea that humans are ‘adjustable’ and ‘tunable’ to the point of representing a perfect model or ideal, is not Freud’s.
It is the result of the above-mentioned developments and history in a modern Western world that believes in – some parts of it – the feasibility of anything.

Like putting a car into the ‘shop’ to be repaired, soul as well as body are often treated like so many parts that can just be replaced or ‘repaired’.

Well-adjusted, ‘successful’, wealthy and always top-of everything and everyone or -where, these children are also always happy.
Or are they?

Conclusion: Don’t Force Them Into a Mould

Forcing people into ‘moulds’, into ideals, can end like the famous children’s story of the piglet a farmer wanted to raise as a cube:
He put it into a large wooden box and fed it. And lo and behold the piglet became a square pig… But one day the farmer opened the box.
And nature took its course: The pig rounded out again, as pigs usually are shaped.

Forcing children into a mould in the best case ends a little like that piglet: They will find their true nature again, one day.

In the worst case they will be warped and become seriously unhappy or even sick of body and soul.

“Children are guests asking the way.”

Super-models, Used Cars and TV-Shows – or: The Relativity of ‘Beauty’

image of line of models on catwalk walking away
Super-models are and have been hotly discussed as a concept for decades, at least.
Why? First and foremost, because, they sell:
They sell an idea, glamour, the unattainable, a dream…and the latest fashion. Last but not least, the idea of sublime love…

They seem to be the living image of all those childhood fairy tales, the princess of the piece; again the almost unattainable, the ‘lady in distress’ to be saved.
The prize a man would win and thus suddenly be shot to the top of society from wherever he came, originally.
The woman apparently being a ‘princess’ or ‘queen’ in her own right:
Adored, looked-up to – and earning money by the bucketload…

But the downside of this is also very true and thus this post: Too many people take these images still too seriously and especially young ladies and girls tend to try and follow that example – far too often and far too much.

We should remember this, as a well-known TV-personality put it one day, (translated from German):

He spends lots of times behind the scenes in the makeup artists’ domain and what they do to the models’ faces there would get any used-car dealer into prison…

Since the advent of digital image editing this is even more pronounced, try using a search engine online for terms such as ‘digital makeup’ or ‘digital face lifting’: Just one such search comes up with 5.3 million results.

In our modern digital age the spread of such images is fast and almost global: Far too many people every day doubt themselves and their looks and suspect they might not look fashionable, that is ‘beautiful’, enough.

A big mistake. Because, what happens to people who choose a partner simply for looks is a complete disillusionment as soon as the person becomes known to them in real life.

It is part of that fairy-tale ending we so often presume when not aware (yet) of the image as opposed to reality. I’ve posted about that too, elsewhere.

Love starts with ourselves. Not with ‘eternal, perfect’ beauty. But with the friendship we can develop inside for ourselves, a liking, the ‘love your neighbour as you love thyself‘ concept.

I implore anyone who is in doubt about their features:
Think again! Watch, learn, I am sure you will find I am right: ‘Winning’ someone’s love starts with liking / accepting ourselves for what we are.

In recent years some campaigns have been launched for ‘real beauty realization’.
But the reverse is there still: TV-Shows about model challenges and searches where young women and increasingly men are cruelly put down in front of audiences for ‘not fitting the bill’.

Erich Kästner, German, award-winning poet and writer of the 20th century, put it in a fine poem like this
(used DeepL for English translation in this case, edited manually, for speed):

The dream of face-swapping

When I dreamt what I am about to tell you,
thousands were rushing through that house.
And as if some one commanded it
and their own faces tormenting everyone,
they all took off their faces.

Like taking pictures off the walls for moving
we took our faces away.
And then we held them in our hands,
as masks are held at the end of festivities.
But it was not festive, the place.

Without mouth or eyes, bare as shadows,
each one reached for the other’s hand,
until they had faces again.
Quickly and silently the exchange was made.
Each took what he found in the other’s hand.

Men suddenly wore children’s features.
Women wore beards on their faces.
Old men smiled like concubines.
And then they all rushed, me along with them,
towards the mirror but I couldn’t see myself.

The crowd grew wilder and wilder.
One of them had discovered his face!
Shouting, he forced his way through the crowd.
And he cornered his face.
But he did not find it. It remained hidden.

Was I that child with long braids?
Was I that woman with red hair?
Was I one of the bald heads?
Among the mixed-up creatures
I saw none that was myself.

Then I woke up in shock. I felt cold.
Someone was pulling my hair.
Fingers tugged at my mouth and ear.
I realised, as the fear faded,
that the hands were my own.

Of course, I was not completely reassured.
Was I wearing features that did not concern me?
I jumped up hastily and turned on the light,
I ran to the mirror, looked at my face,
put out the light and went to sleep, reassured.

 

‘Suffering from a Lack of Emotion’ ? – ‘*Feeling* Alive’

image with a stone heart, blue flowers and a light
“What to take when you suffer from a lack of emotion.”

Erich Kästner, German poet and award-winning writer of the 20th century, published a small book of poems he called:
‘Dr. Erich Kästner’s lyrical medicine chest’ / Dr. Erich Kästners lyrische Hausapotheke.

He ordered the poems by ‘ailment’ in the sense of what to ‘take’ in which kind of life’s – sometimes hard – situations.

I love this book. Among others.

One category in there he called:
“What to take when you suffer from a lack of emotion.”

He was not the first to state the importance of emotions and feeling in human life. Another fine and well-crafted example is the poetic fairy tale Wilhelm Hauff wrote in the 19th century, “Das kalte Herz” / Heart of Stone.

Why do they write about it?

Why would Kästner call it a ‘suffering’, consider it something treatable?

Because in the Western world at least for generations business considerations made it necessary to appear ‘cool, calm and collected’ any time. I mentioned this elsewhere. Additionally, two world wars called for heroism and ‘toughness’ before, during and after.

Building destroyed cities from the ground up again, in many cases made it appear to be even more essential, to be ‘tough’, not be moved to tears by sadness – or similar kinds of emotions.

It seems that many consider it a ‘weakness’ to this day.
Men are even more challenged that way still: A man is to be always superior, know his way about, and will save women, children and the elderly first, risking his life, if needs be.

The Heart of Stone

The result of such ideas is the opposite of an emotional mindset: Stony, dry and unmoved people ‘move’ through life and wonder only now and again what might be missing.

For men, almost the only two spheres in life they are allowed to be moved by, still, are sports and passion.

Of course this is also culturally dependent. Some cultures ‘grant’ emotions to men, and in general in certain situations, that others do not.

In effect it means that such people feel ‘dead to the world’. Walking, talking, attending to business, yet nothing seems to interest them.

Emotions ‘at the Heart’

In modern medicine even, it’s become clear – after certain brain surgery cases – that without actual emotions at all, we are unable to decide on anything.

Emotions are crucial, underestimated, and actually there, even if we are not aware of that ourselves.

Sigmund Freud did the research and cleared up a lot of unknowns around the whole matter.

How to go about it if you hadn’t realized it already?

The first thing is awareness. That is what I try to do around here… for the general public, as it were, hoping to light a candle perhaps.
Or have one or the other of my readers realize that there is ‘more to it than meets the eye’.

Try, if you will, for starters, the book and the tale I mentioned:

All emotions are essential to human life. Dealing with them is what it needs.

Awareness can help a great deal – in business just as much as in private life.

Judging, Judgmental, Truth – or How Images Are ‘Born’

picture of a marked calendar with people

Judging your peers, your neighbours or your near and dear can be tricky, if you take it seriously – and would want to do them ‘justice’.

Imagine the case before a court, where all the evidence seems to point in one direction; only, this time you would be convicted.
Although you know that you are innocent. It would be an emotional torture, to say the least.

An image is ‘born’? Yes, in the mind, by using words and going on from there. Of course, generally you would say it is created. But the ‘born’ simile makes it clearer:
The ideas and the underlying images we as humans have and sometimes create based on simple and insufficient impressions are ‘born’ in the mind at some point.

So, judging someone can be a tricky process:
Again, imagine a timeline and then try and mark the occasions on it you really meet another person. And how much time and work and your own thoughts and ideas and tasks pass by on that timeline mark as well.

You may come to realize that in between all the hustle and bustle of everyday work there are actually very few impressions you could judge by…

In philosophy for ages it has been a whole topic of research, how humans do know / understand: the epistemeology.

In criminology I used as an example up there this knowledge has been refined since the 18th century, especially.
It’s been an age old saying too, that on any ‘case’ of doubt, you should hear at least two people’s accounts.

So, let’s try to remember that any fleeting impression or occasional encounter can only provide very limited ideas of what the whole person means – in every sense – and is.
If in doubt, try putting yourself in their place, as regards being judged – with care and precision.

The bible has it too, more ancient yet to the point (quoted from Wikipedia):

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

— Matthew 7:1–5 (King James Version)

(English subs available)

 

The Princess, the Hero, the Dragon – Romance? – or: Romantic Love as a Life-long Project

drawing of book with 3D image of castle inside
Fairy stories have them all: The ‘romantic’ types of love that come with a sudden realization, or a ‘meet cute’ as they call it in Hollywood or on TV, or the hero slaying the dragon to save the ‘lady in distress’.

They are sweet, sometimes the rendering in stories is wonderfully done.
Yet, they end with the smile of two, or more, protagonists: Curtain.

Real life begins after that.

The idea of romance can have at least two types, it seems to me:
One is the image made up of ideas that recur at least since the middle-ages, including a couple of different archetypes as C.G. Jung identified them. It causes people to ‘run around’ with stars in their eyes.

The other is romance that combines the longing for true closeness and passion by knowing oneself and the other – and better over time.

At this point I’d like to reference a fine book here that ‘has it all’ for anyone who cares to read:

Steve and Shaaron Biddulph: The Making Of Love, 1999 and later, Doubleday Australia / Wie die Liebe bleibt (German)

Steve and Shaaron Biddulph, Australian couple of psychotherapist and social worker published their first edition of this truly funny, smart and warm-hearted look on love and how to keep it during the 1990s. It’s been revised a couple of times since then and is still one of my favourites on the subject.

Quote: “Love starts out as a blessing, even a fluke, but it continues as an achievement!”

What we tend to overlook in view of all those glittering pictures is the fact that we spend a lot of time and energy on the romance in the beginning – and then feel: ‘Ok, this is done. Let’s get back to business.’

Love is an achievement, knowing yourself, knowing the other – and it needs time and energy in order to work.

Know yourself and what you expect from a relationship – and then find and keep your partner in life.

Dignity – The ‘Top’…? – Unique Humans

people in sea water harvesting salt
“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”
(Albert Einstein)

He was right.

It’s an age-old desire, a human aspiration, you might say, to be appreciated. Acknowledged. In that respect we are all more or less the same. In some cultures more than in others.

The difference starts with the values and means that are used to measure the level of acknowledgement reached.

In many Western countries you learn that the highest appreciation of society around comes with wealth. With the best possible results in learning and work. Being ‘at the top’. Wherever that is….

In other countries, being the ‘best’, being appreciated is based on the idea that you actually are a good part of the family and friends, society, around you. Learning, an ‘education’, might be part of that, too. Trying to do your best. But not in order to outshine everybody else, but to be the best possible, and responsible, caring person inside the group.

Why would we want to strive to be a ‘success’ in the eyes of the world around us at all?
Appreciation is a type of love, too. And love is the life-generating force in humans. Without it, we die. Some sooner, some later.

Life can be hard, sometimes almost unbearable. Many of us get the worst of it, in these pandemic times. So, to understand that feeling connected to people – feeling close perhaps, if you are lucky – can make life bearable again; but that may need suffering or sorrow.

The internal ‘glow’ starts here, the realization of yourself as a unique human being and at the same time a part of a group, a society, with values.

Those values that make life bearable and better, each day a little. The Human Rights Declaration has them.

That’s why once you understand what is really important, in hard times as well as in the good, easy, light-hearted ones, you will come to realize that Einstein was right:

“Strive not to be a success, but to be of value.”

Love – Human, Basic – Eternal?


Love is a human emotion. It’s one of the five basic ones. But its shapes are numerous: There’s friendship across and among the sexes, there’s love between parents and children and there’s romantic love, as well as bodily love, as the more ancient term has it.

Why would it be considered eternal?

Two very basic experiments and their results come to mind:
There was an ancient king, if I remember correctly, who was part of Greek mythology, although unfortunately his name escapes me at the moment: He wanted to know what babies really need to survive. He put a number of them into a secluded spot, where they were fed and clothed and taken care of – but not loved. They all died.

Now, as a myth, my readers might think, well…

But, in recent decades this has been confirmed in a most sad way: After WW II many babies were orphaned because of the war. Sometimes, just ‘lost’. But the same thing occurred and apparently people concerned found out by sad trial and error:
Babies that were kept warm, clean, clothed, well-fed, but unloved, not caressed or talked to, died. Healthy.

Consider what happens to grown-ups: when they feel ready to despair of love; lonely, depressed and devoid of hope, they suffer heart attacks and die. They may, tragically, commit suicide.

Hope is an emotion that is based on the idea that good will come. The confidence and trust that loved ones can invoke.

So, yes, in all the hard times that can be laid on human beings, and for all the hard ones I’ve seen, I still think, and consider myself lucky:

I’ve seen friendship, love, care of parents and relations. I’ve learned what helped me. Close to despair one day I met a person who without any apparent reason smiled at me, a warm smile. And suddenly I realized, what makes the sun rise in my heart:
Love, unconditional, in all its shapes.

The sound of it seems to be captured in the wonderful recording of Antonin Dvorak’s “From The New World”, his symphony no. 9, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay.
An excerpt of the most beautiful parts in the first movement here:

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Storms of Life – Peace of Mind and in the World….

In this day and age many people are surrounded by more and more digital as well as analogue devices and consequently, by impressions, news and ideas. Articles and blog posts (such as this one…) are added to the already huge amount of data every other minute.
I am glad that we have the possibility to retreat into ourselves. At least, I am one who appreciates it.

People on this earth are raised according to regional cultural tradition, to family tradition, sometimes religious ideas and last but not least, according to the latest global trends, as they are published on so-called ‘social media’. In actual fact, some of these trends are just born from the fear of not ‘fitting in’, not be part of the majority.
I’ve posted about this similarly before.

I have to admit I pity people who are unable to relish peace and quiet, because they cannot bear the thoughts inside. The ‘stream of consciousness’ that so many of us feel, sometimes more, sometimes less noticable.

Worries and sorrow can sometimes be hard to bear. There are numerous good ways though, to find rest for the mind. Sometimes it can be necessary to consciously look at all the thoughts that bother or worry us. Let them ‘float past’ though, without holding on to them.

Sometimes emotions can become so strong as to overwhelm us. Depending on what we have learned, it can be more easy to deal with that alone. In the company of people it may become difficult to just let go and have ‘a good cry’, for fear they might be worried.

But the laughter also, and the conscious use of wisdom, comedy and humour are crucial, especially in hard times.

I consider myself to be privileged in many respects: I have a job I like doing (see also my ‘About’). I have enough free time from it to follow other favourite pursuits, such as cooking, digital video editing, reading, music and many more.

I feel that exchanging ideas with like-minded people can be fruitful and joyful at the same time. Like-minded people do not ‘grow on trees’. That’s why I like both: talk – and peace and calm around me.

I also believe that any peace we have the chance to actually ‘live’ in our daily lives can help to increase world peace as well.
An African saying I like a lot, is said to run like this:
“When many little people in many little places around the world do many little good things they can change the face of the world.”

So, greets to all of you ‘little people’ with big hearts and minds out there.
Peace to all.