I always loved to read. What I love more is to uncover mystery and rare facts. I remember at my grandma’s, hiding downstairs behind the sofa with the bookshelves, devouring page after page of books that came home from auctions and antiquing. So many would sit shelved, waiting for someone to open up to their knowledge. I always associated that area of the house with learning: My grandpa’s desk and his workroom filled with fix-its to everything, photo albums, the television, my first link to the concept of internet as Web-TV, and eventually a desktop computer. A lot of things I found out down there were before my time, but if it’s true that everything we learn makes us who we are, then the investigative Nancy Drew and all those old cook books really served me well. Among a lot of other things, anyway. Flash forward more than twenty years and I’m still reading, only now it’s several books at a time, and the ingredients (and/or labels) to every single thing I purchase. I can say with certainty that I’m still learning things before my time, and metaphorically, I am still in the basement sifting through all the information that’s kept discreetly. The ingredients, the inner workings, secret recipes, deepest thoughts, private records. Usually people don’t keep things like that for everyone to see or have access. It’s deep in the downstairs, the basement, in a filing cabinet, under or behind the label, in the small print. Out of the way. But, it is there. Some people get offended if they see you looking too closely.
I came across a photo of a chalkboard message outside a business, it quoted: “If you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body won’t either.” What a monumental advertisement! It really is as simple as that. We are living in a time that offers over-exposure to chemicals, having adverse effects on health and wellness- the environment too. Previously denied links between dietary lifestyles and skin health are being reconsidered. The connections between our mind and body are deepening and giving rise to other avenues of exploration, like our digestive system being an intelligent body all on its own.
In a new book discussing this very topic, author Guilia Enders shares a view that resonated deeply with one of mine: “I’m sometimes shocked by the way scientists huddle behind closed doors to discuss their important research results without informing the public about them at all. Academic caution is often preferable to premature publication, but fear can also destroy opportunity.” Enders’ acknowledges that this tactic of research has some flaws and states the motive for her book as wanting “to make new knowledge available to a broad audience and communicate the information that scientists bury in their academic publications.”
Similarly, I am an investigative practitioner with a penchant for shedding light on things that need to be exposed. [Coincidentally, I also have a passion for photography.] To read a medical publication with the intention of gaining insight is somewhat comparable to reading the ingredient labels of products marketed for consumption. They are both filled with terms that the lay-person will have trouble defining. I do not want to say deliberately, but that’s another (conspiracy) topic of discussion.
The more I learn, the more I modify certain behaviors. This is a process that probably will not cease until I stop learning. Most of these behaviors may recieve stereotypical reactions such as free-spirited, new age, hippie, weirdo, etc., but my favorite is “You’re so crazy!” Like my friend commented when I brought a colander of freshly clipped basil from my garden into the store while we ran a quick errand. Unnecessary? Perhaps to someone who didn’t think about coming back to wilting and denaturing basil from the temperature inside the car while sitting in an asphalt parking lot at the peak of a South Florida summer.
The reality of the matter is that shopping for goods and services is increasingly difficult with the amount of available competing options, and lifestyles today are not exactly exemplifying stellar health and wellness. Most products are all shockingly similar and vary in price by brand, packaging, and quality. Resources that are pure are scarce, limited, and therefore expensive considering supply vs. demand and the time it takes to cultivate. Cheaper, more plentiful, and longer-lasting is easier, more convenient and more cost effective. Words used in labeling these products can often be used in the wrong context. Especially when we have multiple names for one chemical, and words that can have more than one meaning. I like literal definitions. When I, or my actions are called crazy, I won’t go as far as to say I like it, but it reminds me that I’m on the right path. I am full of flaws, mad, out of the ordinary, unusual, distracted with desire and excitement, and I am passionately preoccupied. Let’s just call things what they are.
In high school, when I began this behavior of finding different, perhaps more effective ways to getting the desired result, my Spanish teacher was always telling me “Madelina, don’t swim against the current”. Well, lo siento Señor, pero… I know I’m not alone in my opinion of western civilization and most of its objectives being more than a little askew. And I know that by adopting this mentality and choosing unconventional practices that I am swimming against the current. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but it is not impossible. Challenging, yes. Exhausting, at times. Dangerous? Potentially, but learning skills and experience change that. Powerful? You won’t realize until you try it.
Each day comes with new scenarios for reactions. Some chemical, some physical, mental and spiritual. Combinations of chemicals in our body, in our environment, our food, water, and air can influence these reactions. I use the word chemical but I could also say ingredient. Ingredients are chemicals. We have plenty of control over these substances. Like evolution teaches, the atmosphere, the Earth, our food, our water and our species has all evolved differently over time, circumstance, and the course of actions. Some could argue this has changed for the worse.
Bodies, like basements, accumulate things, and lose others. Memories, scars, fat, wrinkles, baggage that’s emotional, things that should be shared but kept concealed, processed and modified food toxins, poor quality supplements, contaminated water, harmful chemicals in our personal hygiene and household cleaning products, pollutants in the air, ultraviolet radiation.
The things we lose are often irreplaceable unless you really have some pretty strong connections, and that could be interpreted a few ways depending how you look at it.
Call me crazy, but we both know there’s a dire need to increase awareness and prevention of these things.