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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dead guys

When I got my master's degree, my brother Christopher handed me a book and said,
"All graduate students should have a basic understanding of philosophy...this is a good start."
The book was Sophie's World, written by Jostein Gardner.

At first, I was a bit insulted; of course I had studied philosophy in my course work.  I had a basic understanding of the classical philosophers and had studied a few modern ones as well.  But I thought, he did have a point, it had been ages since I had read anything for just pure pleasure.

So I read the book.  Honestly, some people don't like it BUT if you want a good crash course in philosophy, Chris was right (thanks Chris, you're a rock star!).  It was a good start.

I was really interested in David Hume, who featured in the book and he was born right here in Edinburgh.  His work spanned many topics but I loved that he questioned the absolutism of science and that logic cannot be removed from human emotion, nor can morality.  And that human belief is stronger than logic.  Oh and soooo much more...he inspired generations of economists, philosophers, scientist, psychologists, historians and hobbyist intellectuals.

I saw his grave today and I let out a little "eeeee!" when I saw it.

Another grave I saw was Adam Smith.  Now, I'm not as much of a fan of Adam Smith (I think he work has occasionally been taken to the extreme and out of context) but he still shaped the world we know today.  Bonus: him and Hume were homies.  Word. (that was for Katie Dzombar, by the way).  So much has come from here, it blows my mind and these guys inspire my poor atrophied mind, sick on the junk food of the internet, gossip magazines and television, to learn more.

Edinburgh is such an amazing city, it literally takes my breathe away.  This history, the buildings, the beauty.  I walked up all around Holyrood Park, climbing up Whinny Hill, the Dasses and Crow Hill (was going to do Arthur's Seat but I had no water or food and I just was feeling a bit tired at that point.  Will do it tomorrow).

I was walking on the Dasses, a large ridge looking over the city.  A falcon soared up in the air with a group of sparrows.  As they danced and glided in the wind, I honestly was so over come with emotion, I almost burst into tears.  Their beauty, grace and ease was so magnificent; with the beautiful city as a back drop and the sun poking confidently out of the clouds, I thought I had never seen anything so lovely.

After walking down off the hills, I walked passed Holyrood Castle.  The roads were cordoned off...I ordered some soup at a small cafe and sat outside.  As I was eating, a parade of horses and riders (what is it with this trip in parades?  First dogs in Iceland, now horses) passed by.  The riders were in full regalia. I asked the owner of the cafe what was going on.  He shrugged and said, "Must've killed another poor wee fox.  Wankers."  Clearly, he was not much of a royalist.

Actually the Queen herself is coming for a visit on the 16th!  I think she heard I was in town and wanted to catch up.  Good thing I packed an extra pair of heels in my bag...and a dress...wouldn't want to meet her wearing pants!  Now that would be a scandal...


I met Eddy nine years ago today.  I don't usually recall the day I meet people but its hard to forget the day I met Eddy.  I was 23 years old and had just left the U.S.  September 11th happened while I was flying over the Pacific and I was on the last flight to leave for the states from N.Z. for weeks.

I cannot express the anguish I felt as I saw the two towers getting struck, knowing how much fear, grief and upset was in the states.  I could not be there with my family, to provide comfort and in turn be comforted.  The television station, where I had previously worked, called my parents, asking if I could come back to work but my mother had to tell them I had already left.

I felt completely useless and alone in that moment, realising that maybe I had made a terrible mistake.  The reason why I left was because I was working three jobs and going to school for almost a year and I was burned out.  I was in a relationship where I was paying for the livelihood of my boyfriend Brian, who was a nice guy, but ultimately selfish.  He didn't really care that I was burning out, working myself into the ground to put food on his table or pay his bills or help him with school.  Instead, he just resented me, ignored me, pointed out my failings as a person everyday and treated me like crap, pretty much.  The more I tried to help, the most distant he I gave up.

I think he confused me with his mother and in the end he only really cared about his art and his friends; I was just the stupid girlfriend who was killing herself trying to make him happy.  I was ultimately unsuccessful in this because I found out, painfully again recently, you cannot make anyone else happy nor can you give so much of yourself to ensure their love for you.  People either love you or they don't.  No amount of giving, hard work or sacrifice can win the heart of another.

I realised this back then.  So I fled overseas to New Zealand, instead of just breaking up with him, because I needed a change.  I went to stay out on a farm in Waipara, where Eddy was a farm hand.  Eddy was a young kid from Scotland, barely 18 and on his own for the first time.  I took Eddy under my wing, after all I was 23!

Eddy and I became fast friends...we purchased a 1979 Ford Cortina together.  Eddy taught me how to drive a manual on the other side of the road (a real challenge!)  We looked after each other for the seven months I lived on the farm.  I hadn't caught up with Eddy for three years; the skinny shy boy I knew became a marine, went to Afganistan, travelled around the world and decided to go back to University to become a scientist.

I'm really proud of Eddy, he is an awesome guy and its great to see how he had made his life into a great adventure.  Eddy is a pure scientist at heart so he appreciated the rest of my adventure in Shrewsbury.

I did a walking tour about Shrewsbury about the life of Charles Robert Darwin.  Shrewbury is the birth place of Darwin and his family lived there and he spent many of his years there (although he went to the University of Edinburgh, Eddy likes to remind me!).  This was the place he started getting passionate about science.  He loved the geology of Shrewsbury and this is where he left for the Beagle to sail around the world for five years.

When Darwin came back, he thought about getting married to his cousin Emma.  He made two columns, one to marry and one to not marry.  The pros in the marry column were "companion for a lifetime; probably better than a dog".  The cons were: "less money for books" and "lots of time wasted".  He eventually figured out that the column for marry was better and got hitched with Emma.  They had 10 children; two died in infancy, another at age 10.  After the death of his ten year old daughter, Darwin stop attending church services, his faith in god had been destroyed.

On his deathbed, he did not recant his findings about evolution, as some people thought but instead told Emma what a wonderful wife she had been to him and how much he loved her.  He also told her how much he loved his children.  This great man of science last words were not of his own achievements or of self pity for his death but were of love and appreciation for those who had endeavoured to make his life better.  What amazing gifts this man has given us, not only in science but as an example of loving those who are in our lives, to be grateful and kind to them.

Nine years after meeting Eddy for the first time, I feel in some ways that I have repeated a cycle, leaving a similar relationship, where I gave even more of myself, sacrificed so much again to similar results as with Brian.  Realising that the person you have given everything for does not love you or care for you is painful beyond all belief but there is healing.  And life moves on.

I'm travelling around the world again, but this time, I'm not stopping in one place like I did before.  There is another disaster in my home, effecting the people that I love and I cannot help them or comfort them.  It is a very lonely feeling not to be able to help.  So, yeah it does feel like I'm starting from the same place.

I believe we can evolve, we can change and not repeat the mistakes of the past.  We have to adapt, to change and hope that next time we can really find love, support, kindness, charity and forgiveness in our relationships.

I'm enjoying Edinburgh so far; the sun is out (yes the sun does shine in Scotland!!!) and Eddy is a great host. He made me fish last night and we baked an apple and blackberry pie together.  Eddy has always been into home baking; he had a fresh loaf of fruit bread ready this morning for us to eat.

All right, off to take of the city...wish me luck!