When I was at school, around the age of 13, we had to go through a process at school called “picking subjects”. It isn’t as ominous as it sounds, just us 13 year olds, deciding what to do for the rest of our lives! (or so I thought at the time). These were the school subjects that we carried forward to the next stages, and we chose the things that some of us would eventually base our career choices on. I chose Science and Food, French and History, and this actually gives you a very good snapshot into what my mind was filled with at the time. I always wanted an explanation of everything in a concrete scientific way – I was young and had already had experiences in life which I was longing to explain and science was my comfortable place. I also liked food, and found cooking and baking cured a multitude of ills, and was very stress relieving, and I became obsessed with weights and measures, and the joy of following the recipe precisely to give perfect results. I wanted order and predictability. I loved certainty, and hated surprises, and to a certain extent, I am still like that today. I almost break out in hives if I have to cook or bake something without a recipe, and I actually started hyperventilating once when I realized my scale had stopped working, and I wanted to bake something, and someone suggested I just “wing it!” I actually started to twitch!
Of course, as I progressed through school and university, I continued along the science tract, and had a very conventional “medical” education where I learned that almost everything could be explained, and how things worked in the world, and in the human body. And what strikes me now when I think back on it is how everything that was taught was stated as absolute fact. It never occurred to me that there was any ambiguity in what was known about the body. I really enjoyed having such certainty, and I would get very frustrated when things at work were not predictable, because I thought science should be able to explain everything!
However, in recent times, particularly in the last 2 or so years, I have developed a healthy respect for things unseen, unmeasurable, unexplainable by conventional science. I could not possibly go into all of the reasons how or why I grew this appreciation (none of us has time for that) but suffice to say I became strongly convinced that there were some things outside the realm of conventional science’s explanation, and that some of the things I learned in school were just plain wrong. Most importantly, I learned that our “scientific truths” are limited by the tools we have to measure, and just because we cannot measure something, does not mean it isn’t there, or isn’t possible, or doesn’t matter.
The entire experience – becoming more open to these things and then trying to discuss them with other people (who disagree) as well as some of the difficulties I had (and still have sometimes) in opening my mind to certain concepts has also made me aware of how loyal we are to our first belief about something, and how hard it can sometimes be to let this go, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. This of course is another story for another time, but it certainly was eye opening!
As for me – I have had the pleasure of learning the joy and relevance of things unseen. I have discovered the importance of intuition and listening to my gut (the subject of an upcoming post). I have found that I can meet someone and feel instantly connected to them for reasons I cannot explain, while I could be completely repulsed by someone else (also for reasons I cannot explain although these often become obvious if I ignore my gut!). I have developed deep connections with persons far across the seas, and sometimes even with complete strangers. I have realized that the feelings we feel of regret, of sorrow and of disappointment, as well as joy and peace and love can change and affect us physically. I have realized that sometimes what we think is physical pain is sorrow, or tiredness, or loneliness and longing. I have realized that children have even stronger abilities to sense these things, and that as we get older and are schooled in the ways of being polite, and politically correct, and giving people a chance that we stop listening to our inner wisdom. I have discovered that food made with love ACTUALLY tastes better (even when no recipe was involved)! I have found that sticks and stones can break our bones, but words can physically destroy us and leave wounds far deeper than sticks and stones, and can also heal and calm. I have realized that breakups can cause identical illnesses to viruses and bacteria. I have found that reality and logic are actually relative, and more heavily affected by our opinions, experiences and how we view the world than we can ever possibly know, and that this is true for all of us – which means that news isn’t necessarily reality (and neither is research) – unless we believe it to be so. I have realized that despite all of our scientific discoveries and medical advances, there are some things about the human body and the world around us that we simply do not understand. I have come to believe strongly in the placebo effect, and think it is a great thing because sometimes – if we think that we feel better, then we are better, and our body follows suit! I have discovered that life is duality – that things can be equally wonderful and terrible, and that the exception always makes the rule. I have discovered that community and connection to those around is is extremely important and is one of the biggest influences on how we behave, what we believe is truth and how we live our life. I have realized that things are not always as black and white as we think, and the joy in the colourful uncertainty that is life! And I have come to recognise that things unseen are just as relevant as things unseen, or unmeasurable.
I could go on and on, but I will simply end by repeating that I have a strong respect for things unseen, and that I find equal importance in these things that we do not understand with the things around us that we are so completely sure of. It has vastly increased my wonder in the world around me. I never thought that I would drift away from my rigid scientific background, and that I would have so much fun doing it!
However, in spite of my love for the unmeasurable things in life, I still need a recipe when I cook…
And on that note, I bring you endless amounts of big love from a small island!
PS a view on the 12 apostles in Cape Town.