The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber: Book Review

Google Reader supplied me with this quote today:

Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.

Ha ha, look, he poked fun at religion. What a popular and savvy thing to do. So highbrow; religion is for the ignorant masses, and we intellectuals cannot make time for such ineffiency. Now, I know I’m probably not as smart as Bill Gates, but this quote is very depressing to me.

I can think of few things in life (other than work) where the absolute efficiency is the goal. In fact, when it comes to nearly any other activity, I prefer a great lack of efficiency.

Is it better to eat plain bread “on the go” and swallow vitamins because it’s more efficient? Not for me. I want to cook; I want to enjoy the savory smells and frantic sizzling sounds as I deglaze a pan. Is enjoying a home-cooked meal (or any meal eaten at a table) efficient? No. But the company of friends and family makes it enjoyable.

Is it better to take a snapshot of the sun setting, and paste it to the wall for “efficient” referral? No. I want to view it as the colors unfold. I want to sip a glass of good beer and talk with a friend as we inefficiently comtemplate.

Religion is the weary scapegoat of many a modern intellectual. There is a preconception that all of us- all billions and billions– are blindly following a broken, wrong path. Religious experience in their lives may not have always been good, so it is absconded, and all of it labeled “wrong.”

How sad.

In The Marriage of Sense and Soul, Ken Wilber discusses the fact that many people are quickly dismissing religion:

According to the typical view of modern science, religion is not much more than a holdover from the childhood of humanity, with about as much reality as, say, Santa Claus.

Wilber’s book requires deep introspection to read, and the stripping of personal paradigms. This is difficult to do for religious and agnostic alike, but provides for a great reading experience. There were several sections that I had to re-read in order to fully erase my previous assumptions.

I’m not the only semi-intelligent person who has thoughtfully integrated religion into daily life. I propose that the religious individual can be smart, savvy, and diverse in belief and practice. I propose that we don’t all try to impose a strict set of beliefs and judge those who don’t fit our ideas.

I propose that – hey! – we aren’t morons. And that our Sunday mornings, and Friday sunsets, and Monday fastings, and daily prayers (how pedestrian of Gates to suggest worship only occurs one day and time) are a gloriously inefficient but wonderful allocation of our time.

What’s to Eat? How ’bout a Couple of Baby Feet?

WARNING: Amy, there are foot pictures in here!!  I had to post a counterpoint to all the foot hating.

Sweet Little Wrinkly Bath ToesI love feet. I’m fascinated by the differences in people’s feet and the fact that I can already tell my daughter’s feet look just like my husband’s. Some feet are gross, gross, gross, but not mine nor my family’s.

Starting very young, I enjoyed foot rubs. I gave them to members of my family and sometimes they would return the favor. My dad preferred very firm hands; I would use pedicure tools like a foot file and lotion for my mom’s feet; my sister and I would exchange light foot rubs (more of a relaxing rhythm than actual rub) and my brother and I would read books and rub each other’s feet.

As I read that paragraph, I realize that we might look like a bunch of weirdos. But I’ll keep going…

I really like my own feet. Other than the few months of new motherhood, I’ve kept my nails neatly polished since age 14. When I was too pregnant to reach the toes, my wonderful husband applied the polish for me. My poor toes also showed the fact that I was a new mom…my polish was as ragged as I was! I like cute open-toed shoes and very high heels. Amy wonders how I deal with the pain. Easy: I’m an idiot.

My poor, swollen, fat, pregnancy feet.  But cute polish, am I right?!?I wore size 7 or 7 ½ shoes. This was not a small-feet-are-dainty kind of thing; I just assumed my feet were done growing and, admittedly, I wanted to borrow my older sister’s shoes that were much cooler. Her feet are actually size 7 ½. When I was 23, I was professionally measured for steel-toed boots at work and found out I have one foot that’s size 8 and one that’s almost size 9! My poor feet had been shoved into shoes that were too small and I just thought that all shoes (even tennis shoes) were a bit uncomfortable. So now that I wear my actual size of 8 ½, I don’t flinch at a little foot pain. I can even dance in 3-inch heels (low boots are best for dancing- less chance of an ankle twist and no straps to cut into my toes).

I still really love to give foot rubs- even more than receiving them. I’ve found that few people understand how to give a foot rub. I’m one of them the few, and it’s very enjoyable to me. But don’t misunderstand: I love a good foot massage. I’ll even settle for putting my feet in my husband’s lap so he’ll rest his hand on them.

I haven’t had the luxury of time to have a pedicure in over 2 years but my toes are still freshly polished and groomed, even in the winter when nobody can see them. The pregnancy messed with my joints, so my feet have been cracking lately. I hope I’m not in for early fracture!!

Amy mentioned her foot memories that included plastic bags in her moon boots. I, too, suffered from Bread Bag Foot. I have to thank whatever crummy manufacturer made big, hot, clunky boots that weren’t even waterproof. My favorite shoe memory is of my wedding shoes, which I now wear as funky Mary Janes. I was in an airport during the beginning of this whole shoe-bomber nonsense and they x-rayed my shoes, then took them out in a search. Apparently they have metal plates in the sole and vamp, plus two metal rods in each heel! No wonder they’re so heavy.

I’m still searching for the Holy Grail of shoes: four-inch heels that feel like flats. Christian Louboutin can forget it- those things are torture devices. He even once referred to the fact that he didn’t care about anything but how the shoe looked. The famous Manolos and Jimmy Choos are a little better but are now not my first priority where money’s concerned.

So there you have it. I love my feet, and like to dress them like little dolls on the ends of my legs. Um, that sounds icky. Sorry.

Internet Flames: My Hot Sauce Collection

Dead SoldiersYou’ll never catch me flaming someone…unless my mouth is on fire.

In my twenties (ah, youth!), I started liking hot sauce. Wellll, I developed an affection for hot sauce. OK, obsession. I put hot sauce in or on almost everything I ate. I used one packet of hot sauce on each bite of a fast-food burrito. I discovered lots of sauces that were not just heat, but flavor.

I started collecting the sauces from vacations and specialty shops. I had tasting notes on various sauces and different dishes for using chipotle versus habanero-based sauce. I didn’t collect full bottles anymore- I saved empties. Why let those wonderful sauces sit unused??

I grew my own peppers. I learned that peppers are hotter if watered less frequently so my garden was a desert. One day, I decided that it would be fun to eat one of my habanero peppers whole. These things are about 300-400 times hotter than jalapenos, by the way. I chomped down on the pepper’s tip, the least-hot part of the pepper. Hmm, not bad. Delicious flavor and needle-like heat. I decided to go for the hot part- veins, seeds, all of it (ah, youth!).

The flavor disappeared behind searing heat. My mouth watered uncontrollably. Standing alone in my kitchen over the sink, my mouth watering like a leaky faucet, I groaned from the delicious pain. Oh, it hurt. Oh, it really hurt. But the experience was worth it.

I recently read a blog about simplifying life and focusing on things that increase rather than decrease her family’s pocketbook. My hot sauce collection is not a big money drain, but it does cost money and even more, it costs time to maintain and precious space in my home. I haven’t looked at the collection in three years other than pulling out a bottle to use. It has sat in a dark closet wasting space.

Now, I don’t grow my own peppers. I trade a few bottles of my homebrew for a neighbor’s freshly grown peppers and homemade sauce. Less waste, less cost, and it builds a friendship too.

My collection is growing more and more into a bunch of empty bottles. I used up these two bottles in the picture and was going to write up tasting notes, clean them, and add them to the collection. But it wasn’t worth my time. I don’t need those bottles anymore. So I rinsed them and put them in the recycling bin. This weekend, the rest of the ~150 bottles are going in the bin.

It’s such a small, small thing. But it represents a little piece of me. I used to have the time to do it and now I just don’t. My job is more demanding; my family is more demanding; I’d rather spend the time with friends and family, not polishing some bottles of a collection that nobody sees but me. It is the right thing to do but it just reminds me that I’m not so young and free anymore.

Thoughts on Seven Months

Drinking Water for the First TimeSince my last “Thoughts on…” post, Ainsley has hit so many milestones. On 18 January, she started sitting unassisted. It was like a light switch; one day she’s a tripod, the next, she pulls up to sitting. She won’t crawl though! She’s walking with assistance and motors across the floor. On 31 January, she drank water from a glass. She turns the pages of books when I say “Ainsley, turn the page.” She has two little front teethies, starting two Fridays ago. She started eating solid foods. I wonder what the personalities of other babies are, because right now I just assume they all act the same. She’s often smiley and giggley, but can be superfussy if you’re standing between her and a nap. She loves Daddy most of all, and I love to see her wiggle with excitement at seeing him. He can make her squeal with delight, too.

Walking with her Doll PramThe road has been satisfyingly unbumpy from the perspective of her, but I decree my personal February to match Mymsie’s 2007 status. We were without our regular Montessori teacher and it was really hard. Carlton and I did a lot of working from home and we leaned a lot on family as well. I couldn’t be happier that school is back in session now!

We had another first of sorts…first illness. It was mild but shocking. Ainsley awoke screaming, and I mean screaming, at about 3AM. I flew to her room to find her crib and garments soaked- she’d thrown up her dinner in her sleep sometime earlier in the night. I cradled her in my arms and nursed her- she drank like she was starving. Carlton changed the crib sheets and then cleaned Ainsley after she was done eating. She recovered very quickly and went to sleep happily in her crib, and was fine the next morning. It reminded me of the difficulties some parents face and how fortunate we are that Ainsley’s so healthy.

Now that she’s eating solid food, she doesn’t drink as much milk but I’m still following the AAP guideline for healthy babies: nurse for at least one year. I estimated that I’ve nursed her directly 950 times; I’ve pumped for someone else to feed her 250 times; due to her feeding issues early on, I’ve pumped, then fed her from a bottle another 200 times. If you figure a conservative 30 minutes for each of these sessions, the time starts to compile quickly! Oh yeah, that’s where my spare time went.

Having a child has been a joyful challenge. I’m starting to handle my temper better, but it’s still not ideal. My self-esteem is still pretty shaky. My ability to give selflessly has increased and expanded to other non-Ainsley areas. Carlton and I were lLook at those Teeth!ying with her and he was making her giggle out loud and I said, “the part that hurts my heart is that not all kids get to start life this happy.” I want Ainsley to grow up knowing that Mommy and Daddy (and she) do our best to help other people.

Happy seven months out in the world, little girl. May you always giggle this much!

I’m Gilbert Grape

Everything was eating me today. I was cranky about little stuff. I had a whiny, typically blogoshperey-crabby post all composed in my head.


I decided to write this one instead. Here’s what’s making me happy today:

  1. The security guard at work who, when I said “have a good night,” responded with “you too, sweetie, have a good night,” in a tone that made me feel like one of her very own children.
  2. The Montessori school teacher who, despite all odds, returned to teach my little girl.
  3. The best friend who made me dinner and shared a wonderfully impromptu evening with me. (And didn’t wince when I showed her the baby. I might have. 🙂 )
  4. The peer at work who thanked me for my hard work.
  5. My husband who supports and nurtures me.
  6. The baby who.  Who everythings.

The Bale Girls

Look how un-glam I am!  And yet publishing the photo.  I think my joy is prettier than makeup.  Thanks, little Ainsley.