29 December 2014

The Chemistry of Quietness

Chemistry is a topic I have often associated with loud noises, horrible smells and polluted environments.  I would probably have found it far more interesting and enjoyable as a child if it had been taught primarily in the context of refining and purification.

Teaching people about science would be so much easier if it could be based on the personalities and interests of learners rather than those of teachers or the providers of an imposed curriculum.

Science is just a cultural search for reality, like any other, though its main purpose, to me, is to create widely shared understandings about various aspects of the world.

Quietness and sound are often regarded as the scientific province of physics.  In a social science and philosophical sense, quietness and sound involve aesthetic, moral and political factors, as well as physical and psychological ones.

For me, a desire for quietness has the purpose of helping me to refine my thoughts, purify my emotions and intentions, and reflect more clearly and productively on my memories, tastes and values.

For health reasons, over the last twenty-five years, I have refused to work in:

  • air-conditioned buildings, 
  • open-plan offices, 
  • anywhere with a television or radio switched on, 
  • anywhere with a scented/chemical product likely to make me feel ill, or 
  • any room without good ventilation and the amount of warmth I need for comfort.  

It would be far too stressful and unproductive for me to work in such environments.  I have been fortunate in being able to make such a choice, even though it has certainly reduced my income considerably.  Many people have not been able to make such a decision and have experienced high levels of stress as a consequence.

I have also refused to work with people I consider to be:

  • aggressively ambitious
  • excessively talkative
  • irrationally impulsive
  • lacking empathy
  • motivated by greed
  • ignorantly opinionated
  • inadequately hygienic

Metaphorically, the chemistry of quietness is useful to consider in a wide range of settings.  In a fair society, the chemistry of a workplace, a neighbourhood and a household, should be refined for the comfort and benefit of all the persons involved.  The chemistry of quietness is particularly important for persons required to use their minds to solve various difficult problems.

In our lives, we often interact with people in their workplaces when we are seeking to have our needs met.  We may even experience life in their workplaces for much or some of our time as customers, clients, residents, patients or guests:

  • hospitals
  • clinics 
  • surgeries
  • homes for the frail aged
  • homes for other people with disabilities
  • schools and colleges
  • universities
  • shops
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • offices
  • government departments
  • banks
  • public transport
  • museums and galleries
  • libraries and archives
  • places of worship

We are much more likely to solve difficult problems when we understand the affinity, and lack of it, we have for various people in various settings.   Some settings are more unnatural and/or unpleasant and/or unhealthy than others.  I know why I enjoy working from home.

It seems I am not the only one who prefers to experience a home-like space to enhance creativity and productivity.  Even when away from home, it should be possible.

Here are a few quite recent Australian media reports about open-plan offices:

Stress and productivity in open-plan offices

Stress and health in open-plan offices

Stress and creativity in open-plan offices

Stress and good manners in open-plan offices

Stress and happiness in open-plan offices

Stress and science in open-plan offices

I have an open-plan living room in which I try to write, yet I cannot write at all when anyone else is here, or even when their activities are annoying me from outside the window.  There is no other space in the house suitable for writing.  I would probably need a job in an open-plan office to pay for an additional space for writing at home, which would mean I would not have the time, quietness - or health - to write at all.

An update on this item.
Thursday 8 January 2015.

I have just come across a more recent article about open-plan offices and their cubicles:

The Economist on 3 January 2015

25 August 2014

Reflecting on the Benefit of Reflecting

Whenever the opportunity arises to enjoy a few quiet moments to reflect on life, it is worthwhile reflecting on the benefits of reflecting.  Whether it is for an hour upon waking or an our before sleeping, or an hour at any other time of the day or night, spending at least an hour reflecting on life is beneficial every day. 

Reflecting helps to calm the mind.  It helps to bring inner peace.  It helps to put problems into perspective.  It balances the confusions that can arise when attempting to solve problems.  It enhances mental well-being.  It helps a person to make better decisions.

By any other name, reflecting is beautiful.

Reflecting on life is a continual journey

Ancestral reflections

Quiet reflections on quieter living

04 June 2014

Catching or Capturing Water

If you have heard of something called a water catchment, what does it mean to you?  Is it something valuable?  Is it something political?  Thinking about the difference between catching water and capturing water may be something to reflect upon when you next wash your hands.

30 May 2014

The World Economy

When you reflect upon the world economy as it has been, how it is and how it might be in the future, what are the words that usually spring to your mind.

07 May 2014

Being a Writer and Writing as an Expression of Being

Writing or talking - which do you prefer?

You may, in fact, prefer to read, and even to read about the process of writing.

01 May 2014

The Environment Industry

The "environment" is a very broad category of activity, which suits my various open-minded pursuits.

Do you equate a better environment with better quality of life?

Does a better environment also include greater respect for health, relaxation and the pursuit of peace?

What does "industry" mean to you?  Does it usually mean polluting factories, noisy environments, meaningless jobs and low wages?

I am not quite sure what is meant by "environment" or "industry" in the Blogger profile categories, but for a while I placed my category of work in the "environment" category of the "industry" section on my Blogger profile page.

In Australia, there are statistics available on something described as "the environment management services industry".   Unfortunately, as with many things to do with science, health, industry and the environment, the information is written in language I find incomprehensible.

As a social entrepreneur, I am mainly involved in making the important-but-incomprehensible into something more easily understood by the general public.  Are you doing the same?

30 April 2014

A Quiet Respect for Great Opera Singers

I am very glad I am not a professional musician, especially as I prefer to have quiet evenings at home.  If you are a musician, how much time do you usually spend at home, and how much do you appreciate quietness?

Whether you sing or play an instrument in a group or as a soloist, with a microphone or without, and whatever your variety of sound, you may not want to have many quiet evenings if music is your main livelihood.  I rarely choose to listen to live performances, or to recordings nowadays, though I try to support musical excellence through my writings.

Unfortunately, other people's musical preferences intrude upon my life quite frequently.  It is through times of silence that I can truly appreciate beautiful or dramatic sounds.

How do you compare sensory experiences?  Perhaps you have never listened to any of the greatest opera singers, or attempted to compare one voice with another.  How would your singing voice sound in a large auditorium with an orchestra and no microphone?

18 April 2014

A Long Way from Italy

As a migrant myself, I am very interested in other people's experiences when trying to build a life in an unfamiliar environment. Even though I spent most of my early life in England and have always spoken English, trying to communicate clearly and accurately has sometimes been a challenge for me here in Australia. 

I am especially interested in the migration experiences of people who have travelled to places where very few people speak their native language.  Perhaps you are such a person yourself, or your parents, grandparents or great grandparents were such people.

Migrating is often a search for peace of some sort, and even peace of mind.  If your ancestors travelled to Australia from Italy sometime between the 1880s and the 1920s, can you imagine what and how they must have thought and felt upon their arrival in unfamiliar surroundings?

Your heritage may include ancestors from Viggiano in Basilicata, in an area once known as Lucania.  Were any of your family members musical at all?  Are you musical yourself?

I have only visited Italy briefly on a few occasions and I do not speak Italian.  Being unable to communicate clearly has, however, been one of the main frustrations during my own travels so I cannot imagine what is must be like to attempt to make a living in an unfamiliar language. 

09 April 2014

Emotional Needs

Do people need happiness at all?

Do they need grief?

Do they need anger or fear?

25 January 2014

Organic Food

Choosing organic food over chemical food is an easy choice for me.  Environmental pollutants do not give me peace of mind.  How do agricultural chemicals affect the people who grow what you eat?