Tag Archive | experience

What’s the buzz?

When you watch someone die knowing they were addicted to socially acceptable legal substances like alcohol and tobacco there is a hollow sense of irony. The questions I am left with are more about how substances are seen as harmful or helpful.

We like to feel good, we seek excitement, we like things that give us experiences, sensations and states that are enjoyable – we are drawn to them naturally. Funny thing is if you look into it, all species are into altered states. I’m not kidding. Young dolphins have been known to seek out poisonous puffer fish, hold them in their mouths then release them in order to experience the effects of the toxins. There are numerous examples in nature of this phenomenon of ‘getting out of it’.

It’s interesting to look at the history of some substances and how they have been seen by cultures and societies depending on their perceived usefulness. From shemanic rituals to religious experiences, traditional herbal medicines to pharmaceutical medical applications, there are histories and knowledges that have allowed some to come through seen as ‘good’ and some as ‘bad’.

You can do your own research about substances from all sorts of perspectives and evidence but the question remains about choice and control. I still struggle with the idea that we can watch people smoking and drinking, advertise alcohol, have it in movies and t.v. while those desperate to seek treatment for seizures with cannabis oil are denied access under our current law. It’s like our eyes are wide shut when it comes to rethinking drugs and alcohol.

But ultimately I think about my uncle who represented Wales in Trampolining in the 1960’s and how he was a thrill seeker. How he replaced one buzz for another but because they were socially acceptable and normalised few people probably expressed concern. I will finish with a question written by Carl Sagan 24 years ago about the war on drugs in America;

“is there something intrinsically immoral about feeling good by taking a molecule”

That question really does blow my mind.

Ice Cream – everyone one loves it…right?

Once upon a time there was an ice cream shop. Now, everyone loves ice-cream (at least in this story) it is part of life from early childhood through all stages of life. So there were many shops selling ice-cream (IC) for obvious reasons.

However – there was only one flavour IC. But people didn’t mind because they were not aware there was any other possibility for flavour. The one flavour on offer was vanilla. Vanilla was delicious and while a lot of people enjoyed it – others were not so fussed but went along with agreeing it was delicious and indeed the best thing in the world.  Read More…

History never repeats…or does it?

After viewing the artwork of Pawel Kuczynski a number of times I hear myself wondering how often do we think we have progressed or somehow learned from history (our collective cultural experience?) only to find ourselves ‘back where we started.’ Or perhaps it isn’t quite ‘going back’ but a kind of social amnesia? This could happen due to time, as generations move through and build on the past. Maybe building is a good metaphor because you can strip something back and keep the framework and rebuild something that looks different but is really the same thing but with a new look.

Another thing we do with history is we assume that we naturally progress or get better with time. How do you measure progress? I suppose technology is a good place to start. It would be hard to argue that we are more technologically advanced but is that the same as progress? Human rights might be another measure of progress, but is this where we see different countries operating versions of rights that seem from another part of history. I find it really difficult to accept that people can be stoned to death in the year 2014.

Above is my favourite Kuczynski piece that provokes a sense of ‘wait a minute…something is wrong with this picture.’

 

Education and training versus experiential learning

Having recently spent the weekend co-facilitating a leadership programme and then attending a job interview  for a part-time communications position at a high-profile charitable organisation, I find myself reflecting on how much I do, and have done, that I haven’t actually been educated or trained to do.

I began learning to facilitate about twenty to 25 years ago, using my counselling training — communicating through questioning and reflective listening one on one — and applying it to a group situation. The process maps almost seamlessly — all that changes is the content, from an emphasis on personal issues and feelings to social issues and opinions (though feelings also often feature predominantly as well).

When deciding to apply for the communications role I realised that, though not specifically, communications has featured in just about every role I’ve undertaken to date, but I’ve never trained in media or communications. From managing publications for the Human Rights Commission in the mid-90s, to promoting myself as a comedian, to writing and managing several blogs and websites for Diversity New Zealand and Diversityworks Trust, I’ve done it it all, from traditional media releases to social media and networking. Read More…