The Secret To Growth Is Curiosity


I heard the word “curiosity” mentioned in two different contexts last week. The first time was at Clementine Ford’s book launch in Sydney, for her new book “Boys Will Be Boys;” and the second was in an article in The Guardian by Celia Dodd here, about retirement.

Inevitably, “retirement” is somewhat of a buzzword in my community at the moment, and I know that I must be secretly starting to get anxious about it from the way I furtively check out the fitness of old people on the bus.

Most of our friends are on the cusp of the transition, and they share similar concerns to us – which are mainly finance-related. Will we have enough money, or will we need to downsize to escape the rising cost of living in Sydney, seems to be the biggest question on most people’s lips. And then there’s that other fear – shared by some of the men – about how they will survive this next stage of change, with no fixed routine.

Research has shown us that there is a genuine danger that some men will sink into depression in retirement unless they find new purpose in their lives. It was something I worried about the old man when he began his semi-retirement, (as I mentioned in this post), until I realized that hitting a ball each day and the daily update of his guide to how to stack the dishwasher, would keep him busy.

In Celia’s article, she argues that to thrive in retirement, we don’t need to be a lawn bowls champion, but we do need the curiosity to try new activities or listen to new ideas – rather than “filling time on life’s scrap heap until you die.” We need to keep on growing as people. Interestingly, however, she does refute “the assumption that you have to be constantly busy to achieve anything.”

I, too, see a direct correlation between curiosity, growth and the continued enjoyment of a fulfilling life, no matter what our age.

Clementine’s use of the word “curiosity” was in relation to Trump’s blinkered vision when it comes to abused women, and the appalling lack of empathy, compassion, and (above all) curiosity, he showed last week for a man in his position of power. Several times, the US president has shown a disinterest in listening to public opinion or in the evolution of new ideas or change – in much the same way, (Celia says), that we latch so easily onto one of the biggest myths about retirement – which is that it is “a static phase during which nothing much changes.” 

Not true. The curiosity that has come with aging has made me the woman I am today: a woman that strives to hear the voices of others in order to educate and improve myself; a woman who is aware of the gaps in her knowledge and experience, but keeps going, in the hope that someday she can use it to improve the lives of others with less privilege – whether that’s through writing or in the donation of her time.

Which is not to say that I always get it right. We are not a perfect race, and never will be – and we are certainly nothing like the narrow-minded white vision of fascism – thank God!  And yet, I hope that I listen, absorb and am respectful of the opinions of others. I continue to be curious about this crazy world and its colorful range of inhabitants, and I am more aware now than ever about my responsibility as a small cog in the very large wheel of society.

Curiosity is the key to positive change, understanding others and finding purpose at every stage of our lives. Those that choose to switch it off, remain stagnant, as the world rotates around them, and we have seen over the past week how very dangerous that can be.

I’m More Concerned About Trump’s Policies Than The Size Of His Dick

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There’s been a lot of talk about fruit and veg in the press this week. First, about the loonies here in Australia that think it’s funny to put needles in strawberries, and then there’s Trump’s mushroom-shaped penis, the image in my head of which, I can’t unsee.

It’s not that I actively sought out the flagrant details of the US president’s knob, but they are hard to avoid on Twitter.

Albeit a feminist, I’m not a fan of the “kiss and tell” or tit for tat memoir, and I’ll admit to something close to the stirrings of a loose bowel movement when snippets of Stormy’s passionate (?) affair with the President first came to light. Personally, I believe that if you are going to “tell,” a “less is more” approach can be far more salacious. And frankly, the detail of Trump’s tiny manhood – while deservedly humiliating for him – doesn’t alter my opinion of him. I’m more interested in the man’s policies than the size of his dick – although, it’s true that it would be hard for my opinion to sink much lower.

In a very sad way, perhaps the size of his todger is a tiny excuse for his behavior – “small man complex,” and all that.

But you have to admire Stormy, who must surely be cognisant of the avalanche that she has triggered in the media, and which is certain to descend upon her once they get over the titillation of her lover’s small cock. Give her a few days grace before they cut her back down to size and force her to pick up the mantle of the fallen woman again, in spite of Trump’s infidelity and his proclamations about the virtues of family life.

Monica Lewinsky has never walked away from the smear campaign against her, while Bill continues to be canonized for his roving eye. So I hope that Stormy is as strong as her name suggests, or that the revenue from her book is worth the wrath that she has ignited in the White House – particularly if Trump gets re-elected.

Telling the truth at the expense of a man’s reputation is a risky business for women, and stronger women than Stormy have sunk under the weight of their aggression in a duel. The #notallmen retaliation suggests that men are fighting back against what they believe are unfair accusations by women – even though it is only abusers that are being accused, so I’m not sure what the majority of them have to worry about.

In a world in which leadership positions are dominated by men, (and for the main part, by white men), women do not fare well when they stand up for their rights; particularly against powerful men, as proven by those female Liberal MPs brave enough to speak out after the government spill and the cartoon of Serena Williams in the Australian press.

Trump is not known for his forgiveness. He is now known for his mushroom-shaped dick, which, however vulgar that might sound, is still (sadly) unlikely to contribute to the worst parts of his legacy.


The Power Of The Voice

crawl-1076324_1920I shared an article on my MY Midlife Mayhem Facebook page the other day, written by Clementine Ford, called “We need to move past the idea that everything is up for debate”.


For those who don’t know Clementine, she is a writer, a leading feminist and advocate for equal rights in Australia, as well as a graduate of gender studies. She has had several books and numerous articles published on the subject. The reason behind this particular article was her dismay at being pitched against a panel of similar experts (?) in the field recently, in front of a live audience, that turned out to be completely ill-informed on the subject.


As she says, ‘fair and balanced commentary around, say, climate change does not mean that we have to counter the weight of an actual scientist and their quantifiable research with the opinions of someone who loftily refers to themselves as a “climate change sceptic. It’s an insult to the time and energy spent by people working at the forefront of their fields to suggest their expertise is little more than one side of the story.’


Thanks to social media, each of us has a voice now as well as a forum to use it, which fundamentally, I still believe to be a good thing. Even if the majority of Trump’s tweets make us wince at their ickiness and ignorance, some insight into the machinations of the crazy brain that is currently leading the Western world has to be useful. (Let’s ignore the Trolls for a moment – the bullies and aggressive naysayers, who have nothing to contribute but bile ie. the abuse of the empowerment provided by technology).


NC and I were at a talk the other night by Anna Krien,.who recently published an essay about climate change called The Long Goodbye. She raised a similar point on this topic when challenged (again – yawn) about whether climate change is real. For a lot of reasons – many of them political and therefore the result of spin – some people still continue to argue against the scientific evidence behind global warming that has been determined by years and years of research and government investment and carried out by the top brains of our countries. These people believe that because their voices are louder – or because they have the verbal dexterity to spin their words better than the average nerdy scientist locked up in a lab all day – that what they say is right.


I have a similar analogy as the parent of a child with ADHD, and the cynicism from teachers, medical professionals, and FRIENDS levelled at the condition and its validity – that, in spite of the millions spent on research, the documented evidence of the condition since the early twentieth century, or indeed its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It seems that if the Daily Mail says the condition is a myth that has been a) invented by bad parents or b) created by the large pharmaceutical companies, then it must be so. I do wonder if the same journalists that have poured petrol on the fire ever consider what that cynicism does to the parents of these kids, who are already falling apart at the seams?


For the record, I parented NC as badly as I have Kurt, and she is now model child material.


Not that we want the pendulum to swing the other way or for our voices to be shut down. Anyone who is lapping up The Handmaid’s Tale like I am and trying to ignore the uncomfortable comparison of the Republic of Gilead to our own society will understand how dangerous it can be when that happens.


What I am trying to say, (and as Clementine Ford much more eloquently put it), is that we are entitled to an opinion and we have a voice to air it publicly. However, that opinion needs to be substantiated; to be informed by facts and evidence.


I’m not saying that every scientist is right all the time. They make mistakes, too. You only have to look as far as the atom bomb and Thalidomide to know that. (And let’s hope Bill Gates isn’t right this time in his prediction that bioterrorism could wipe up out 33 million people in less than a year).


Now, I am no expert, but the following are facts – substantiated by research:


Fact: The Barrier Reef will die, no matter how many plastic bags we replace with paper. If we do switch to renewable energy, we might save twenty percent of it – max.


Fact: ADHD is a real condition. The naming of the condition is unfortunate, granted – and I will hit the next person that tells me how active their child is – but these children’s brains do not function in the same way as ours, in much the same way that the schizophrenic’s mind doesn’t.


Fact: Trump is a racist, bigoted c**t.