The Harp and Healing

rita_w_harp

We just learned that Rita Costanzi will be giving another concert at Hesperus this Sunday, March 4 at 4pm.  (Program here.)  Not only is Rita a remarkable musician – she is always challenging the boundaries of her art , exploring modalities of theatre, healing and personal transformation.

Of particular interest to Hesperus friends is her loving interest in healing and palliative care.  She has collected some related material on her web page: Harp and Healing.

If you’re free Sunday afternoon, I encourage you to come and experience Rita and the harp in person!

 

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Conversation Café – The Sauce Thickens!

The purpose of life is to have a purpose. – Shishir Lakhani

27867385_1210870115713328_4595741080636446194_nIn my previous post, I wrote about the Conversation Café at Hesperus Village.  The Shadowpath team is doing a great job of bringing together creative elders from around the community and stirring the pot.

The first ingredient at the next event on Sunday February 18 is Shishir Lakhani, B.Sc. PQS DTM:

Actively retired and gratefully giving back, Shishir believes that the purpose of life is to have a life of purpose. Born in Africa (of Indian heritage), educated in England, Shishir has made a fulfilling life in Canada. Shishir has an extensive business background of over 30 years.

I’m sure that Shishir will bring lots of spice to the conversation, so come along and taste it!

Register here

Bringing Theatre To Life

profile_alexkarolyi_mainI met Alex Karolyi several years ago, and was really inspired by her energy and enthusiasm.  Her mission of bringing theatre into everyday settings is so relevant and needed!

Her group has produced several programs at Hesperus Village (where I live,) and each time, folks discover new horizons in their lives.  In other words, we’re not just having a good time at an event, but discovering new possibilities for the future.

At the first edition of the Conversation Cafe last month, Alex interviewed Peter Dennis and Mary Warkentin (with her dog.) We often hear older people interviewing younger people, and it’s really refreshing to have it the other way around.  We do have alot to learn from each other!

Oh, and by the way, Alex will have me in the hotseat this Sunday February 11, along with a female guest… Click the link below to register, and to find the dates for future Conversation Cafes:

Registration

A Human Psychiatrist

Tirovolos obit picPsychiatrists are highly trained specialists who play an important role in our healthcare system.  Unfortunately, they sometimes hyper-focus on the technical aspects of their art, and lose touch with the human side.

Costas Tirovolas was a psychiatrist who understood this.  His wife recently wrote a short piece in the Globe, describing how he always brought a human touch to his work.  Although not a patient man, he learned to slow down and listen.  A diverse range of interests – from Bach and Greek language studies thorough to fast cars – ensured that his life was not only about work.  

In other words, by taking care of his own mental health, he was able to help others.

The ROM Re-Invests In The Humanities

Who cares about the Humanities?  Apparently, the ROM does.  At a time when all the “smart” money is going into digital wonders, these folks are going analog…

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Tympanum above the entrance doors

On Tuesday December 12 at noon, there will be a public ceremony re-opening the Weston (University Avenue) Entrance. (See details here.)  Although the Eastern Wing (opened in 1933) is sometimes described as a make-work project to relieve unemployment during the Depression, it is clearly much more than that.  Where else in North America will you find a hand-made building, with detailed finishing by highly-skilled artisans?

The ROM storytellers have a world-class story on their hands.ROM1 (2)

 

Teeth, Spikes, And The Nature Of Thinking

Wiwaxia Flandrin

Predatory threats and defensive responses is a central theme in the Dawn Of Life exhibit at the ROM.  The spiny-backed mollusc, Wiwaxia (above left), is an example of how a peace-loving algae-eater was able to protect itself from hungry predators.  As I view these fossils and the brilliant reconstructions in the Gallery, I reflect on my own carbon unit.  Although I am living a half-billion years later than Wiwaxia, I understand that similar predatory and defensive mechanisms are available to me today – deeply buried, but there nevertheless.

This has led to many deeper reflections about the complexities and mysteries of the human organism.  Thinking Through The Body by Richard Shusterman is proving to be a very helpful guide.  (Young Man By The Sea, by Hipplolyte Flandrin, above right, is featured on the book’s cover.)  Being in touch with the human body opens many doors that remain closed to mere intellectual inquiry.

At one point, Shusterman suggests that our ability to pay conscious attention to what is happening is a uniquely human survival tool – more powerful than sharp teeth and prickly spines:

As human consciousness evolved to help us survive in an ever-changing world, our attention has become habituated to – and requires – change.

Of course, humans also have the capacity to concentrate attention on activity that has nothing to do with their current physical environment.  And on this topic, Wiwaxia is silent.

The Scale Of Life

Burgess Shale

Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park

Some readers may be wondering why I am writing all these posts about the Burgess Shale and the dawn of life. (Link to earlier posts.) What does this have do do with liminality and mental health? Shouldn’t I just stick to my topic?

Well, here’s the short answer: Life is the most precious thing we have on Earth.  Physicist Neil Turok put it this way:

The size of the living cell is the geometric mean of these two fundamental lengths: Planck [really short] and Hubble [really long].  This is the scale of life, the realm we inhabit, and is the scale of maximum complexity in the universe.

This is not the typical language of the physicist, and he challenges us to think differently.  Our normal, ingrained patterns of linear thought are simply not adequate.  What is this scale of life? How do I “measure” these beautiful creatures?  And what about me and you?

Let’s keep asking these questions – we’ll all be better off as a result.