Thinking is bad for you – it bruises the brain

Chilcot reportSo what is next? I keep asking myself this question and I don’t know how to answer it. There is so much going on in the world it’s almost ‘overkill’: The refugee crisis, the Syrian war, the beheadings of innocent people, mass-shootings on home soil, gun control (or lack thereof), terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, and Istanbul. A few days ago it was ‘Brexit’ and now it’s ‘The Chilcot Report’. Does all this digging into the past bring results? It’s shocking for sure to get to know what really happened. What if ‘they’ hadn’t invaded Iraq? Was ISIS born because of it? Was it wrong to kill Sadam Hussein who was a dictator but had “law and order” in his country before all hell broke loose? Is the Chilcot report saying, “Now look what you did! Don’t do that again…” Despite finding fault with certain people, no criminal charges are expected to be brought forward. Even if – would it change something? Doesn’t it ring a bell for what happened AFTER 1945? Churchill had warned “this war is (and later again was) the easiest to avoid…” but nobody wanted to, or did, listen to him. And history writers have a ball writing more and more books about all of it.

Iceland crowdI was talking to a friend in Germany yesterday. Soccer became the main focus of our hour-long telephone conversation. Not politics, not family dramas, not health issues. No – SOCCER! The game where 22 grown men chase a ball was, and is, the most important issue in Europe right now! The fine games the Icelanders played and how important it is now for Germany to win. ‘She’, my friend, has to watch the games because her husband couldn’t bring himself to do so, even if he is the greatest fan. Why? Because he would get a heart attack if he watched it from beginning to end. He was always waiting in the next room until she would tell him “it’s o.k. to watch now…” Discussion of other world affairs was brushed aside with “Oh when the news comes on we switch the TV off… All the politicians do is form new committees and talk and talk and have discussions but there is no end, no solution. It’s all talk…”

Bruised brainSomewhere I read “Thinking is bad for you, it bruises the brain.” So I’ll stop thinking. I’ll play with some proverbs and quotes. YOU can try to attach them to whichever news story YOU think they fit:

“…the rats are leaving the sinking ship.”
“…they want their cake and eat it too.”
“Politicians…promise to build bridges even if there are no rivers.” Nikita Khrushchev
“…talk is cheap.”
“Politic is not an exact science” (Bismarck)
“Politic ruins the character…”
“Follow the three ‘R’s’: Respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions.” Dalai Lama. (Hah! Responsibility? What’s that??)
“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people who want to be important.” T.S.Elliot
“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt
“It is better to be un-informed than ill-informed.” Keith Duckworth

Let me finish with something you should never do: Putting off till tomorrow what you can do today.

“When I consider life, it’s all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on and think tomorrow will repay.
Tomorrow is ‘falser’ than the former day. – “   John Dryden

Have a good day anyway! Enjoy it because we don’t know what tomorrow brings! Laughter is the cure for a lot of ills. Does it always reach the soul? No. But we can pretend. I remember a silly little joke:

Deep in the south of Texas, George asked his drinking buddy: “See those three guys at the bar?”
“What about them?” wondered Jack.
“I really don’t like the one of them ”
“Why? Which one?”
George draws his gun and shoots two of them. “See the one left sitting there? That’s the one I don’t like.”

Thailand – Ties and Elephants

It was interesting watching a documentary on the Knowledge Channel about the illegal dealings and sale of elephant tusks. I was reminded of my experience in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. The documentary was filmed in Africa. I got the shivers when I saw the burning of hundreds of tusks, representing millions of dollars (yes, millions!) when the population is starving and hundreds of elephants were killed for the precious ivory. I visited China just after 9/11 and couldn’t help but admire the art of ivory carving, the intricate patterns and the ‘balls within balls’, each one carved with incredible designs. How did they do it? Those carvers are true artists. I knew it was ‘verboten’ to take any ivory out of the country and the producers of the ivory were on the endangered species list: The elephants. One is not allowed to hunt them and kill them. So how do the artists get the ivory to do their craft, sell the items for hundreds of dollars to the specialty shops and these, in turn, offer them for thousands of dollars to an, apparently, international market? Very large specimens are priced at million dollars or more.

I am shaken to learn of the still ongoing killings. The tusks have become smaller since the elephants don’t live long enough to develop those earlier magnificent tusks. They are hunted, to this very day by illegal means. The hunters take the chance to get caught but the hope to get rich is stronger. The number of elephants worldwide is going down. If they were not protected in large areas and parks they would probably be a lost species already. And forever is forever.

Elephants playing soccer

Elephants playing soccer

My first personal encounter with elephants was in a ‘Sanctuary’ in Thailand. I watched them play soccer and cheered with the rest of the visitors when one got the ball across the field and it was kicked back by another. The elephants looked so very happy, ran back and forth like humans do and seemed to be smiling. I tried to snap photos and I think you’ll like this one.


image0-001Another incredible encounter was in the ‘Art Class’. Elephants were drawing pictures using their trunks. They looked at their teacher and chose colours as if they really knew what was needed. Did they, do they know? The combination of colours and designs were comparable to some of the modern human artists, some maybe even better. The paintings were about 30 by 40 inches and were sold for twenty US dollars and went like hot cakes. I was tempted to buy one too but figured it would be crushed in my luggage.

The most fun was when the elephants were told “it’s bathing time”. Boy, did they ever hurry and plunge into the stream running through the sanctuary! They helped each other with splashing and rinsing, they looked after the young just like human mothers after their kids.

There was also a lecture for us, the visitors. Sitting on crudely made rows of benches we learned that each animal drinks about 300 litres of water a day and needs tons of food. We learned that their memory is incomparable and life-long. No dementia. Once, not too long ago, the sanctuary had hired a new care giver. One of the elephants looked at him, recognized him as his previous owner, rushed towards him and before anyone could stop him, he trampled him to death. The elephant had been abused and mistreated by this man. Elephants never forget! And no, the elephant was not ‘put image0down’. He was part of the soccer team. At the end of the lecture the speaker asked for a volunteer to sit on the entwined trunks of two elephants. Nobody dared – I did! I felt a bit apprehensive – but looking into the elephants eyes, it seemed they ‘invited’ me to do it. They were behind a flimsy fence, trunks over towards me. One lifted me up and deposited me on their by then entwined trunks. Most of the other visitors snapped pictures, one also with my own camera.

The fitting end of our visit was a ten minute ride on a huge elephant through the jungle, down a hill side and then along the stream back to camp. Unforgettable!

When thinking of Thailand I think of food. I could live on their food. The spicy aroma is in the air. Another experience was an original ‘Thai Massage’. Would I have one again? No. It hurts. The fingers go deep – the therapists also ‘walk’ on you. Some men in our group liked it. Masochists! But then, the massage therapist was a light, beautiful young Thai girl.

One of the last evenings was spent wandering through a night market. I bought silk pyjamas for myself and an interesting tie for my son. The front of the tie was ‘let’s call it a traditional design’ but if the wearer moved it could happen that the tie moved as well and showed the backside, a beautiful nude girl, tastefully done. My son was required to wear a tie daily for his work. One of his co-workers saw the tie ‘move’ and asked “where the h… did you get that tie?” The true answer was “My mother bought it for me in Thailand.”

His friend was surprised but exclaimed, “I know that shop, it is right behind Sears in the Town Shopping Centre. But I have never seen a tie like that in ‘Tie Land’.