The Buddha taught that all living beings ultimately want to be happy and to avoid suffering. He took this to be a fundamental truth, and had the psychological savvy to notice that many of us choose a road to happiness that wends through a perversely seductive landscape of suffering and victimization. For quite a few […]Read More Worshipping at the martyr’s cross: The temptation and trap of chronic masochism
“What do you think of this?” I ask hopefully, as I place my perfume-scented wrist near my friend’s face. When her nose wrinkles and she pulls away, I hear a scale descending into a minor chord. I am disappointed. “What IS that?” she asks, and, as all hope that she will share my pleasure is […]Read More Respecting the tastes and opinions of others: Is tolerance really the best we can do?
The most arresting moment for me in the video game What Remains of Edith Finch is not the scene when I am a shark, matter-of-factly stalking, and devouring, sea lions, but when I am a little boy on a swing. With one foot in a cast and another in a shoe from the early 1900’s, […]Read More The queerness of being Super Mario: On simultaneously being and not being oneself
You know someone, don’t you, who can be counted on to go “blech!” when they try to eat anything new to them. Whether it’s kohlrabi or Brazil nuts or hummus, the “ick!” is out of their mouth almost before the food has gone in. It’s the sort of reaction we might expect from children, but […]Read More When perfume becomes a doorway into mindfulness
To those who are disgusted by so-called “dirty,” “skanky,” or “animalic” perfumes — and many mainstream folks may never actually have smelled one — it can be utterly baffling that anyone would find them appealing. And this may be more than a trivial difference about individuals’ attraction to particular notes, of the “I like lavender […]Read More Skanky perfumes in the Age of Febreze
As a doorway into the complex nature of beauty and attraction, you couldn’t do much better than experience complex perfumes. Though many of them are merely pretty, or even achingly pretty, those that lodge in our consciousness, that call us back for another sniff (and then another and another) often aren’t “pretty” at all. In […]Read More Beyond the binary: The ugly-beautiful dance of complex perfumes
Even though we humans are accustomed to celebrating sincerity, honesty, authenticity, genuineness, and the like, we also know that, in reality, we have little tolerance for these qualities in large or consistent doses. Functioning as the kind of social animals we are seems to require softening, calibrating, sweetening, and filing down. Unbridled intensity and unblunted […]Read More Dishonest dogs and the human pretense of authenticity