31 October, 2008

This Year’s Word: Trust (3/3)

(This is the last post of this series.)

Until recently, I thought of childhood memories as pieces of a vast puzzle that are neatly stored in my brain. Since my brain’s workings are complex, so is that memory puzzle complex. Often, I’ve felt defeated by how little I remember of my past and how little I use the memories to help overcome day-to-day challenges. Then, a short while ago, a dear friend of mine told me something that pierced my confusion.

She told me about how memory resides in every cell in our bodies. When we remember an incident, for example, we recreate or relive the experience all over again on some cellular level. This concept is not new, but the way my friend describes cellular memory, acted as a key to opening the door to new thought.

The following presentation presents these thoughts in context to trust:

Cellular Trust
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: trust)

I hope you have enjoyed these reflections. They’ll probably be the last for a while, for I’d like to get back to doing more storytelling.

29 October, 2008

This Year’s Word: Trust (2/3)

As I mentioned in the last post, it became evident that it was time to go off and find out what Trust actually is, from both a theoretical, as well as, a practical point-of-view. I gave myself this year to study the scholars, to converse with friends, and to participate in solitary contemplation about the meaning of trust, and its importance in life.

The Oxford dictionary defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. How do I know whom I can trust? How do I decide, not only to what extent I can trust someone, but what this person can be entrusted with?

The easiest answer to the question, “How do I know whom I can trust?” is to ask, “Who do I trust at this moment?” and “Who have I trusted in the past?” If the list of people you trust presently contains the same names as the people you have always been able to trust, you’re probably one happy trooper.

In my case, I tend to trust people near-and-dear to me with information or in situations where I need a shoulder to cry on, or their truthful opinion, or their knowledgeable judgment. Sometimes I have trusted wisely, at other times very unwisely. What I have learnt is that even though it would be wonderful if we could trust our loved ones with everything, it is not always prudent to do so.

This is because trust has many dimensions. First, we must find someone who is equally committed to the outcome of the situation we are entrusting them with, as we are. I trust my husband with my worries about my impending unemployment (my work contract is coming to an end in two months’ time), not only because he loves me and cares about my concerns, but because our financial livelihood is dependent on my contribution.

Secondly, the person we trust has to have the required skill or ability to carry through that which we are entrusting them with. It is not prudent to trust someone with my life-savings, if they’re always living on the brink of financial disaster. Lastly, there is always an element of unpredictability, or risk, when we trust someone to do something. If there weren’t risk involved, then we wouldn’t be entrusting them, but just instructing or informing them.

When I reflect back over the last ten years on situations or persons who have failed to live up to my expectations, I asked myself why did they fail: lack of commitment or lack of skill? And, as it turns out, it is nearly always the lack of skill that is the central cause for the failure. Not only their skill is lacking, but also my sense of judgement. Why would I trust someone with something they have no ability to succeed in?

Going back to the Oxford dictionary definition of trust (a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something), the question is where does that firm belief come from? I can only conclude through experience. Since childhood, I’ve trusted those near to me: my parents, my siblings, and my friends, with aspects precious to my wellbeing. And, the outcome of those experiences becomes memory.

No matter how distorted these memories are, they are all I have to navigate by. Thus, it is important to consider what I remember about these people, particularly their abilities, when I decide to ask them for constructive help and quiet solace. It is as simple as that.

27 October, 2008

This Year’s Word: Trust (1/3)

At the end of last year, the artist Christine Kane wrote in her blog about her ritual of choosing chooses a word to guide her throughout the year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions. She recommended to her readers that we might try this as well. I decided to choose the word Trust to guide me through this year.

The reason that I chose Trust as my word arose from a short conversation I had with a physiotherapist, not long after reading Christine’s blog post was published. The therapist was treating me for tension in my neck and shoulders. She uses a form of massage called Craniosacral, which has helped relieve the tension in the past. It not only works on specific areas of the body, but also on metaphysical organisms. At the end of one session, she tells me she thinks I have difficulties with my kidneys.

According to her, kidneys are sources of energy. They should radiate energy like a warm oven. Mine were hearths of cold ashes. She goes on to explain that in Chinese medicine, each organ is associated with an attribute. Kidneys, apparently, denote trust; did I, she asked, have any problems with trust?

Upon returning home, I made myself a hot cup of tea and asked myself this very question. Surprisingly, I started to cry when I posed the question. And, it became very clear that somewhere along the line, over the last decade, I had lost my ability to trust certain people near-and-dear to me, and, more importantly, I had lost trust in myself, in my ability to overcome existential challenges. It was equally evident, that I had to rediscover this ability.

Yitzhak Rabin said,

If you have the same problem for a long time, maybe it’s not a problem; maybe it’s a fact.”

It was evident that it was time to go off on a fact-finding mission. One whose goal was to find out what Trust actually is, from both a theoretical, as well as, a practical point-of-view. I gave myself this year to study the scholars, to converse with friends, and to participate in solitary contemplation about the meaning of trust, and its importance in life.

There has been much I’ve studied and much I’ve been told. It has been a full year in this concern. Yet, I don’t wish to list the information, but rather I wish to write in the next two posts about two aspects of trust that I have learnt through experience, as well as study.

To be continued...

26 October, 2008

Silly, I know

OK, I know this is really very silly, but this video brought a big smile to my heart.

The First Decisive Measure

One of my favourite books during my teens and twenties was The Once And Future King, by T.H. White. I haven’t read it in the last twenty years, but I pulled it off my bookshelf the other night, and I’ve been reading it in short bits and spurts. (This silly jet lag is causing ruckus to my sleeping patterns.)

I’m very much enjoying reading the book after such a long time. In particular, what draws me is the discussion on war between Merlyn and the newly crowned King Arthur.

There is one fairly good reason for fighting – and that is, if the other man starts it. You see, wars are a wickedness of a wicked species. They are so wicked that the must not be allowed. When you can be perfectly certain that the other man started it, then is the time when you might have a sort of duty to stop him.” (spoken by Merlyn)

Later, there is a discussion between St. Toirdealbhach and Lot’s sons about why he (Toirdealbhach) stopped fighting wars. Toirdealbhach says that when the numbers fighting the war increase to a number where people fighting are no long knowledgeable about the true reasons for fighting, nor do they know who they specifically were killing, he (Toirdealbhach) lost heart.

Which brings me to a conversation I had with a dear old friend of mine in Montreal. She stipulated, if Mr. Obama is elected and if he wanted to send a resounding message to Americans and the rest of the world that America is absolutely serious about taking decisive measures to re-establish its integrity and dignity as a world leader, the first measure Mr. Obama could take would be a fairly easy thing to do. He would just have to close down the prison at Guantanamo. If he did that, he would not only instill great hope to the people of the world, but also achieve great applause.

25 October, 2008

A Notebook

A real work of love. This delightful animation is only about four or five minutes long, but it must have taken forever to produce. What a fine animation it is.

23 October, 2008

The Last Dance

This is the last of the photos I'll print here. After spending hours yesterday going through the ones my son had stored on my laptop, I couldn't resist putting together a slide show about leaves.

The day has risen sunny in Luebeck. Time to get out for a long walk. Maybe it will be possible to shake off some of my jet lag with exercise and sunshine in my eyes.

How long does it take you guys to "land" back into our home and daily routines? I'm still seeing the common sites and luxuriating in my household chores through rarefied lenses.

22 October, 2008

Photos of a Playground

My son takes interesting photos. Or, at least I really think so. I've spent the whole day listening to podcasts* and going through hundreds of photos he took last week in Montreal.

This slideshow is a series of photos he took at a playground near to where my sister lives. I love the fact that he climbs up, or under, or around the playgound and catches the beauty of the slides and climbing equipment from other angles.

* Today's listening include podcasts from: Speaking of Faith, The Moth, The Daily Mayo, Writers & Company, and This American Life.

21 October, 2008


Oh, what luxury! I had the whole middle row in the airplane to myself. This hasn't happened to me since I was traveling to Europe during my studies over 25 years ago. Not that I managed to actually sleep, but the bliss of just lying down and sticking my legs out... now I know what those folks up forward in first class and business class must feel like. Who would have thought that leg room could be such a sweet commodity?

20 October, 2008

Prayers Welcomed

My daughter and I are about to return to Germany. Prayers for a safe and pleasant journey are welcomed. Hope to be back to blogging in the next day or two.

19 October, 2008

Sad Goodbyes, Warm Greetings

Time spent with extended family, distant cousins, dearly departed, newly befriended, and preciously precious...

I am gone now, but will, the gods willing, return sometime this week to writing and reading and commenting again.

16 October, 2008


When we arrived here a few days ago, the sky was blue, the air was crystal clear, and the autumn trees were at their most spectacular.


Then came a day of stormy weather. Winds tore through streets and woods we were walking with the dogs.


Now the winter bareness becomes exposed and it is a sad thought, how brief is the actual passing of the seasons.

15 October, 2008

Enriching Our Lives

A few months ago, I met Rev. Wasike Wilberforce Walubengo of the Benanda Breakthrough Support Mission in Kimilili, Kenya. We decided to collaborate on an endeavour to set up a website and community blog for his organization. We met through Nabuur, an online volunteering platform that links online volunteers with local communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Rev. Wasike had little knowledge about the workings of internet technology and I had even less knowledge about running an organization that cares and educates 250 OVC (orphans and vulnerable children). This did not deter us from forming a working partnership. The work and the communication with Rev. Wasike have altered my perspective of the world concerning poverty and abundance of spirit. Since we met, I’ve been learning many lessons about how enriching meaningful social interaction can be, especially if it is with others living far away.

One of the key lessons I’ve learnt is just how simple it is to interact with others. Online communities like Nabuur, Roots & Shoots, AIDG, Change.org, Architecture for Humanity, etc. makes it remarkably easy for us to connect to other people all over the globe. Even though I am fortunate to work together with people within my circle of friends, my family, and community, reaching out further, to people living in countries I’ve not visited, had been transformational.

In particular, I see such global volunteer platforms as potentially being of great help for those of us, who seek creative and constructive interaction with others. If we could all become engaged to some extent or another with social communities, we would not only enrich other people’s lives, but we would enrich our own.

14 October, 2008

Early Morning


(photo taken by my son down by the lake near to my sister's home)

There is fog out this morning. The occasional car driving by is muffled in its early morning secrecy. Off to work. Back to school after the Thanksgiving celebrations of yesterday.

The bodies and spirits, are also muffled after all the eating. Thank heavens I'm vegetarian; there is only so much potatoes and veggies one can eat. It was a lovely and enjoyable fête.

The gods willing, we are off to visit with friends today. The children, when they were small, really enjoyed being together. It will be interesting to see if a commonality remains.

13 October, 2008



It's Thanksgiving Day in Canada. There is next to no activity going on in the kitchen. As far as I know, the turkeys (yes, there are two) are not yet thawed out and the rest of the food is still lying in wait. Think I might start cutting the vegetables or washing the potatoes, just to send a subtle message.

12 October, 2008

Safe and Sound


The trip went well. We had those new individual entertainment centers at each seat. What I noticed was that most people chose The Nanny Diaries, Nimm Island, and Indiana Jones as the first few movies to watch. As the eight-hour flight continued, people started channel skipping. The one film that only came up on two or three screens, was Eddy Murphy's film, Meeting David. Other people seemed to go through all of the other music video clips rather than turn this film on.

Trip over Greenland, Labrador, and down the east coast of Quebec was too beautiful to describe.

The photo above is a vertical panorama of the lake shore view near my sister's place. Photo taken by Nomad Son. I love the reflection of the clouds in the water at the lower right corner of the photo.

10 October, 2008

Going Back


My children and I are going back to visit my family in Montreal. It's the first time, in far too long a time, I will be back there in autumn: my favourite season in that area of the woods.

In all the years of living in Germany, I've changed my preferences. Spring is the season that I truly love. For spring here takes place over months and months and it is always aspiring towards creating beauty.

Maybe, this is also why I like autumn back in Quebec. It starts somewhere in August, perhaps only with a whiff in the air, and progress somewhere into November. Even if a warm spell happens, a startling Indian summer, or a rash snow storm, autumn is still a drawn out endeavour.

08 October, 2008

07 October, 2008

Choosing with Care

One of the aspects of Mr. Obama's political journey that has impressed me these last two years, is his obvious ability to choose people well. The very fact that he is where he is at the moment is, in my estimation, in large part due to the people who are working for him, advising him, and supporting him.

In times like these, this is what the world needs. Not a Mr. Graham whose viewpoint on deregulation are disastrously relentless. Not a Ms. Palin who obviously is not in a position to understand the crisis, let alone lead us out of it.

I've tried to not say anything negative about Mr. McCain on this blog. Still, enough is enough.

06 October, 2008

The Times They Are A Changing

So much of the news these days is discouraging. And, like so much of what is happening, whether it's environmentally or economically, it is much our doing.

Here are two projects that are intrinsically different, but both articulate and inventive in their own way.

30 Reasons is a 30-day email and internet campaign to encourage people to vote for Barack Obama. Our goal is simple: Use design to build a logical, multi-faceted argument for Obama and make it easy to share each reason with another person.

Carrotmob organizes consumers to make purchases that give financial rewards to those businesses who agree to make socially beneficial choices.

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

I don’t know if these projects make you feel better, but they did me.

04 October, 2008

Too Much Fun

Sorry, guys, I'm having too much fun in Berlin at the moment to drop on by your blogs, let alone write anything of consequence in this one. The sun is shinning! My son is due to arrive any moment now. My friends are wandering the streets, museums, and monuments of this great city. I have an appointment with a new collaborator in our art project. This is just one fine day. Hopefully, it is the same your way.

01 October, 2008

Seen from the Train

A large car wash and garage called Auto-Kneipe, or Car Bar.

(Knowing the way some of the fellows I work with think about their cars, I can see that the image of going off with their cars for a drink might hold some appeal.)

In the one strip of sunlight on the journey down to Berlin, there is a harvested field, green with a light powdering of grass, spotted with sea green/blue plastic-covered hay rolls. The herd of cows in the foreground are dwarfed by the size of the hay bails. It looks like a painting of rural modernism for the Tate Museum. As the train rides past, a fleet of birds fly up high, adding a poetic accent to the surrealistic landscape.

A tennis club’s clay courts lie lonely on this late autumn afternoon. Fallen autumn leaves are sprinkled over their wet surfaces. There is so much rainwater on the courts that the clay shines an intense orange-red hue.