HELP! I’m an Old Person Trapped in a Young Person’s Body

Welcome to a day in the life of a 94 year old 24 year old! This is a sample of my humorous writings, as a mini-break from my Philosophical Musings. Thanks for reading, and see you next week with another Pedestrian Philosophy!

The steam of the kettle warms my face and clears out my ever annoying sinuses as I lean over it, waiting for it to finish boiling so I can add its contents to my poor, abused teapot. My cat meows like a haggard smoker, and stares at his empty white and blue ceramic bowls as if to make something appear from thin air into them. I hobble over and take a bone china teacup down out of my collection; today I’m going to drink from the nice china for once. I sigh, and sit in one of my two chairs by the window, pour the tea that has been brewed for the appropriate amount of time, and contemplate what leftovers I can use for dinner, or whether I have time to get out the sewing machine to touch up the hemlines on my curtains.

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An ideal day.

Now tell me, does this describe a healthy, 24 year old woman to you? It shouldn’t. But it does. Somehow I’ve contemplated attending Aquafit classes, wear orthotic shoes, watch Murder She Wrote, am an avid fan of Agatha Christie murder mysteries, and collect things with cats on them, sometimes to pretend that I can drown my cat in all the things I collect. I have fake flowers on my table, and real flowers in my garden. I don’t drink late, and when I do drink it is Lillet, or some other quality beverage.

Help me, I’m an old lady stuck in a 24yr olds body. This is a body that expects me to run, zumba, taibo, tai chi, tai-knots, whatever the heck they’re doing in the gym these days, or at least move my limbs in some fashion that doesn’t resemble rheumatoid arthritis.

I could play chess, or checkers, or euchre, till the sun set, but then I’d have to go to bed because I can’t stay up too late or I’ll get cranky and tired, dontchaknow.

Unfortunately, I seem to be part of a growing trend of young folks that feel this way – that is, anything except young.

Pinterest is overflowing with knitting, cooking, baking, canning, and anything that is nostalgic, vintage, and “old people” like.

Libraries are regaining in popularity, as are thrift stores, and there is no defense against the vitriol spewed by some of these youngsters against the rise of the “e-book”.

I’m afraid I’m just part of a generation that knows what it wants, and it doesn’t want any of this youthful nonsense. All these pop-stars with their bums hanging out, and now it’s side-boob that’s “in”? How about crocheting afghans. We can all get on that bandwagon, can’t we? Must be much cozier, at any rate.

Well as one wise fellow graduate once impressed upon me, there are some students that know just what they want to do once they graduate; retire.

Happy Retirement class of 2012! It’s been great!


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Emily Towsley

Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project. 


Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.  

It's the End of the World as We Know It...and I Feel Fine

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The End.

The day had to come; there can be no beginning without an end.

Or can there be?

The End has been a point of debate for the philosophers throughout all of history.

The end, nothing, zero. The ancient Greeks debated that such a thing could even exist. How can nothing be something to count?

In a way, this post will be the complete opposite of my original post. Nothing is a no-thing; it is not a thing, and we can’t even properly imagine it. When we try to describe nothingness, we have to use what we know. Since what we know all falls under the category of being some-thing, it is physically impossible to accurately describe a no-thing. Anything that you can describe is, so do describe what is not by an is…is a bit of a mind melder.

Nothing is without reason, according to Leibniz, so it’s no wonder we can’t wrap our minds around it. All things have reason, but something that does not exist, is a no-thing and has no reason. It can’t - there is nothing to attach that reason to. Or, to put it more simply as Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am”. To try to think about absolute nothingness is impossible, for you are still using the cogito, or the conscious thought, to try and understand something that cannot be understood.

Is your brain mad at you yet for trying? I know I tried for a while when I was confronted with this idea. Of course you can think of nothing, that’s the point of TV isn’t it? (I kid, I kid.)

But in reality, nothingness, its concept, and our inability to understand its existence, or lack of existence, causes the human mind much anxiety.

Heidegger believes that nothingness is the number one cause of human anxiety. It is a way of being fearful of nothing in particular. 

The ultimate experience of human anxiety is to confront your own connection to the nothingness, which can also be called considering your own mortality.

This sounds silly to say, but becoming nothingness is something no one has survived. It is something that we literally know nothing about, and yet we will all dissolve into the great nothingness that is the universe once we die.

When we contemplate nothingness, we contemplate our own mortality. However, Heidegger helps us out with our anxiety in the end.

Though the most negative experience is to be negated, we can stand confident and happy in the light that we exist.

We get to exist, this existence is ours, and we are not nothing.

Happy Philosophizing, my Fellows in Existence! 

 


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Emily Towsley

Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project. 


Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.  

Love is Love, Baby. Or Is It?

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It has come to my attention that in the pursuit of gay rights in Western society, some politicians still cling to the belief that the love between one man and one woman is the only love possible, and that it has been this way forever.

I addressed this in one of my papers for university. However, I approached it from a purely biological perspective, investigating the hundreds of thousands of documented homosexual or “deviant” sexual activity in the animal kingdom.

However, we can go back in time to Plato’s Symposium, and investigate the ideas of love, lust, and honour through the lens of the philosophical ancients.

In Plato’s Symposium, some of the most read men in Western Philosophy got together for a drinking party, and fell into the discussion of love.

Plato divided love into either Heavenly or Common. Common love to Plato was based on the body, and the pure sexual attraction between two people. Heavenly love was more pure than Common love, in that it honoured the beloved’s intelligence and wisdom, not only their body.

Aristophanes, known for his comedic take on serious issues, told the Symposium a fable that explained why people are always looking for their “other half”. The original, primal people of earth had two heads, and four limbs, and generally got around by cartwheeling. The heads were either both male, or both female, or the original androgyne - both male and female. Somehow they cartwheeled up to Olympus, and Zeus was more than displeased with his creations coming for an unexpected visit.

As punishment, Zeus split these creatures, dooming them to be separate from their other half for all time.

This explained the presence of both hetero and homosexual relationships in the Symposium. Aristophanes concluded that when you worked with the God of Love, you could find your other half, and live in wholeness.

Socrates, as always, had the last word. The only true love for Socrates was wisdom. Only by searching for wisdom in someone else can you truly find love. This love will bring intelligence into the world, and there is nothing better than a love that brings knowledge. The gender of the person within whom you find that wisdom does not matter.

To Socrates, and much of the symposium, homosexual relationships were not a surprise, or even something of which to be ashamed.

Aristophanes believed that one’s other half would make one whole, regardless of gender, while Plato and Socrates favoured finding love in wisdom and intelligence.

For a society that has been built on the philosophies of these ancient men, a little retrospect would be helpful before jumping to conclusions about the “degeneration” of our society. For all they know, this could be another enlightenment, and they’re just on the wrong side of history. 


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Emily Towsley

Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project. 


Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.  

The Golden Way Through Life

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Last week I unburdened the meaning of the word “Being” - and rather than diving back into the meaning of being, let’s lighten this up a bit with some Aristotle. 

Aristotle’s means to be exact. 

As a Gen Y, Gen Rent, Gen Homeless, or whatever other stressful title my generation has, I found great comfort in Aristotle’s Theory of the Means. 

This ancient philosopher asked us to imagine a ship sailing on the ocean. On either side of the ship are cliffs, or the extremes of emotions or feelings.

These cliffs, or rough seas, are the either side of any virtue. While the “golden mean” can be courage, if taken to excess it would be considered recklessness, and if it’s not enough, it would be cowardice. Therefore, the ideal would be to keep your little ship balanced between the two, and drive it straight through the golden mean of courage. 

Let’s see if we can work out any other golden means together. Another virtue that everyone seems to desire is patience. Patience is the golden mean, so the cliffs of excess that our ship has to avoid are “irascibility, otherwise known as being quick to anger, and the opposite - a complete lack of spirit. In order to avoid these two rough seas, guide your ship down the golden mean of patience. 

I find myself applying this to more than just old philosophical virtues, in my everyday life. It is too hard to live life at 100 percent on all your projects, every day. I compare this to sailing your ship into the cliffs of extremity. I find it impossible to be a student, barista, reader, sister, daughter, best friend, yogi, bicyclist, cat mom, and apartment maid, all at full-time hours. There aren’t enough hours in the day, let alone energy in my body.

On those days when I feel like I’m falling short of my expectations, I remember I need to steer my ship down the golden mean, and avoid the extremes. Don’t do too much, don’t do too little - do just enough. 

In order to keep everything “smooth sailing,” the ideal course for your life would be straight down the middle. The best life is lived while balancing your little ship as best as you can between the extremes. Aristotle even accommodated for those of us who find ourselves blown into the rocks - just head back towards the middle. Or as Dory in Finding Nemo once said, “just keep swimming.


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Emily Towsley

Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project. 


Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.  

To Be or Not to Be...Is Not a Real Question

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When I look up at the stars above, I ask the same question many others do around the world. "Why?" Why am I here, why am I the way that I am, why are things the way that they are? I took that feeling one step further, and pursued an education in the Liberal Arts. That's where you go to university to hear about what a bunch of old men and women thought could be the answers to our "whys," and I found the pursuit of these answers oddly soothing. And so I found myself turning to Aristotle, Hegel, or Boethius, when the going got tough. But I could not give the same sense of comfort to my friends, who had not spent four years studying life's answers from these men. I found myself giving advice and comfort through the sages of the ages, rather than any life experiences of my own - after all, 24 years doesn't give me that much wisdom over my peers. I felt that those who had shaped our culture through the ages with their mythologies, theologies, and philosophies held the keys to living a successful, fulfilling life more than I, or any pseudo life coach could ever promise. Therefore here we are. Come with me, on my five-part journey into the world of philosophy as it applies to the real world today. 



I'm going to start with the most basic, and yet most complicated part of philosophy: Being. The fact that we are something, and are not a nothing, has fascinated philosophers throughout the ages, as well as starstruck little girls trying to find their place in life. According to Heidegger, we are the only being who "is there" : open towards his experiences, and asking questions about what surrounds him.            

Thanks to Sartre, we also have the classification of being Néant, or no-thing, which also means that we are everything. We can place ourselves above the physical objects of the world, and name them for our own use. For example, I can look around the room and say, "That is a chair, it is not me," while the chair doesn't have such an opportunity. Even my cat has questionable faculties to address such a question. Neitzsche, in his ever optimistic fashion, considers this self-consciousness a sickness. Man is the only animal that can distance himself from his world enough to examine it.

Since we can distance ourselves from the world, we can relate with the world in new, and fascinating ways. If it weren't for our self-consciousness, how would we be able to "own" a cat like it was a daughter or son? How could we look at the sunset and imagine how infinite the wonders of our universe are, and how we fit into the big picture that is life? Because humans are beings of possibility, we can relate - which leads to us imagining, interacting, and really anything in which we can perceive ourselves as a separate, conscious being. Isn’t that awesome?!


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Emily Towsley

Emily Towsley, can be found either teasing her cat, or philosophizing with a customer over coffee in her second-life as a barista. Messages of support regarding her addiction to Netflix, and news of vintage teacup sales can be left on her twitter. Her spare time is spent reading copious amounts of books, or working on her latest pinterest project. 


Tune in next week on the next philosophical breakdown from your average pedestrian. And feel free to leave her questions on her twitter - she's also up for suggestions on her next topic.