Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Day 90: Spring is here!

What went well? 

  1. Woke up to an update from my mentor on our journal article topic - we're actually going to be reviewing a whole bunch of different approaches to student wellbeing, more broadly, and hopefully bringing together a disparate field and providing some conceptual clarity. Really exciting.
  2. Today was such a warm, sunny and beautiful day. I took a moment to appreciate these flowers in bloom:
  4. Got my sociology of mental illness test back and found that my minimalist strategy of only attending lectures, not doing the readings, and cramming for the test the day before works very well - I did even better than the first test, when I was actually keeping up with the readings. Grade inflation is your friend.
  5. Opera Scenes rehearsal was SO fun. We were trying out a few different interpretations that we'd thought of, and tried synthesising aspects from each of them. My duet partner's ideas were so creative and really fun to act out. I won't reveal any more details at this stage, but will post the video after the concert next week. But it should be good!!! Super excited.
  6. Wrote another 1200 words on my mindfulness/positive psychology paper, and started building my conceptual model. ALSO. The deadline got pushed back 2 weeks, which creates a lot more space. It's kinda ridiculous to be honest, but also somewhat unsurprising. It is a relief though because it means that it's due in 4 weeks, not 2 weeks, so I have a lot more time to really write something that I can be proud of.
  7. This made me laugh like a maniac. Granted, it doesn't take much to make me laugh like a maniac, but I found this particularly hilarious.

What did I learn? 

  • Cream of coconut is not the same as coconut cream. I grabbed the cans off the shelves without reading the label, and it turns out that it was some highly sweetened coconut-based substance that was designed for use in desserts and cocktails. Woops. Anyhow, I went ahead and made a "curry" with it, and let's just say that it's still "edible" (by my low standards of "edibility"). Biggest cooking fail so far, but oh well!
  • Buddhist attitudes to abortion. Basically, they see it as murder, but not in the sense of a morally repugnant act or a sin. Just simply that it's taking away the extremely rare opportunity to lead a human life and therefore a rare shot at working towards awakening. Also, it creates Selves - to see the foetus as separate from the mother. Despite this, they found that in Japan, they had extremely high abortion rates in the 1960s - over 50%!! Yet when interviewed, they said that it was a horrible decision, they felt like terrible people, they regretted. But then, when asked if they would have another abortion if they needed to, they said yes! What the heck was going on here? I'm not sure if this answers that question, but in Japan, they have elaborate rituals (Mizuko Kuyo - for stillborn, miscarried & aborted foetuses), like funerals, for aborted foetuses. The foetus gets named, and grieved over, and buried in a foetus cemetery. It's about acknowledging its existence and maintaining an awareness of the choices involved and the new relationship that has resulted from these choices, instead of denying that anything ever happened. And people, including those who can't have children, visit these cemeteries and give offerings and prayers to the dead children, honouring them and elevating them nearly to the status of gods. The conclusion the professor made was that in this way, religion provides an emotional resource - the space to say, "existence isn't going so well for me, and I need a little help". Things that we think are an inconsequential part of religion - like certain rituals and symbols - actually provide grounding in the world. To end the lecture series (we'll be watching a film & doing another debate to end the course), he concluded that perhaps the study of religion isn't so much about truth and belief - but rather about the idea that we are not alone.

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