:::this is the way the world ends:::

I am somewhere that I don’t know where I am. Simpson, H.J.

I must begin as is the ritual now with, “very interesting”. 

all the blogs so far are really, truly fascinating.  So difficult to express so much in so few words. 

I think the heart of the matter is context.  it is nearly impossible, to dissect our time, analyse it, and make conclusions which really capture all there is to be captured in the subjective experience.  A person can only write so many words to describe the indescribable, the billions of molecular-level interactions which make up any subjective experience.  Is it a bike ride, or is it a moment of zen, a time when the subconscious goes on auto-pilot, freeing the mind and body to just experience.

I have some definate thoughts about exercise, the human condition, hope and placebos, and my experience.  I have been reading a dog psychology book as of late and it has taken me to some really interesting places.  I think there is a strong correlation between the two on many basic levels.  I also think our conscious mind has taken us far away from our natural state.  By this I mean, in part the exercise for example.  I see many people with mental health concerns daily and have for years.  I pick up on a common theme with many of them.  This is a generalization, to be sure, but most of the people i see with anxiety and depression do not exercise regularly.  Not that they are willing to, even though the research supports its mental health benefits. 

I think we have to look at primitive man, basically on the roam for several hours a day out of necessity.  This is the natural state.  We still have that same basic blueprint.  We have however lived through a tremendous last 1000 years or so.  And even frighteningly moreso in the last 100.  Sure we live longer, but do we live better? 

We are a pack animal, like a dog, completely dependent on the instinctual system we have formed.  No?  How well would any of us do in complete isolation?  This is our hard-wiring, how our brains are designed to function.  mental health concerns increase in society as physical health decreases.  this is not a coincindence; they are connected systems.  I do not think we can do much to change this now, simply to recognize that this is our condition and make decisions based on that. 

I sat through a really intriguing seminar on dying which is a whole other blog.  Yes, we are living longer, but we are not dying in ways which we would prefer. 

Hope — Shotts, I think you are right.  I know you are right.  Hope, when you look at it scientifically is often more effective than any other type of intervention .  Studies have been done, for example, on hair growth formulas where nearly as much hair was grown with a placebo.  hope, expectation are the two biggest contributors to people’s success with treatment,  not the medication, not the fancy intervention; but rather, can the clinician instill hope.  Head to head, exercise performs as well as anti-depressents against depression by the way.  So, is hope of value?  In my experience, it is essential. 

As for plans in the fall, we are in boston until the 13th.  i hope I will see you all at some point after that.  I hope we can play some bocce, smoke a pipe, drink some boulivards and continue our discussions.  best to you all. 



  1. J.E.

    “Natural” is a tricky word. As an invasive species it is natural for us to overrun the planet in an unhealthy way. As an aggressive species it is natural for us to kill one another. It is natural for us to continually improve our technology and natural for us to use it to maximize the size and influence of our family group.

    Frankly, I’m glad I’ve been domesticated. The hunter-gatherer life style choice just isn’t me.

    (Y’all are exhausting! Stop posting interesting things that inspire a response! Please! I need my sleep!)

  2. tobias


    I hope you don’t mind, but I went in and added some paragraph returns to make your entry a bit easier to read. Hope it doesn’t offend, I just wanted to increase ease for all!


  3. Shotts

    Peters and All–

    This is a great posting, and is connected to some of the issues of time, and how to spend it, and how far it sometimes feels we’ve gotten from a “natural” state, whatever that may be. It’s clear to me that our society is hellbent on speed, hours spent at an office, in front of a computer or other screen, so-called efficiency, and other stress inducers. The fact that our society is also self-aware enough to know that those stress inducers contribute to lack of sleep, heart disease, cancer, anxiety, and depression is made incredibly sad by the fact that our society continues on this path DESPITE that self-awareness. It’s telling that heart disease is the number one killer of men and women now, and that this is due in large part to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. Add to that, poor eating habits and poor exercise habits.

    In sum, we don’t know how to live. Or we know how but don’t actually practice it. We largely don’t eat well, sleep well, exercise well. Hence my interest in time and how to learn how to be alive.

    I think Peters’s connections between a lack of exercise and poor mental health are powerful and well said. And it’s inspiring, and I’m trying to make more room for walking or running on a daily basis. No, I don’t want to go back to a hunter-gatherer mentality–I don’t think that’s what Peters is advocating–and I’m glad to be domesticated, as J. E. says. But it’s how to find and MAINTAIN the balance between physical and mental activities that makes us well rounded human beings.

    As for hope and expectation being essential, I concur. I remember reading that many people living in extreme poverty and in the poorest conditions are only capable of thinking no more than fifteen minutes ahead of their present moment. Their needs and appetites are so immediate. They literally have no future.

    Which is interesting, given some of J. E.’s comments on an earlier post, about the need to live only in the present, to focus entirely on where you are and what you’re doing at a given task and moment, and to consider the future betrays the present. I strive for that type of here-and-now mindset–absolutely. But I think Peters point here about hope and expectation and what I say above also have to be taken into consideration. Perhaps it’s that we have to _assume_ a future in order to truly live fully in the moment. And to assume a future is a state of privilege.


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