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I have spent the last two days at the famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. To make a long story short, they live up to the hype. They are consistently ranked #1 in hospitals/outpatient clinics. If you live nearby or as in my case, a ways away, and have need of their services, do not hesitate. Don’t let the cold winters scare you off, either.  The entire town has a network of underground walkways that will take you from one building to another. It’s kind of amazing.

I’ve been staying in a hotel that is across the street from the Gonda Building, Mayo’s Cardiology Building. The hotels are incorporated with the clinic buildings, which span several city blocks in all directions. In other words, I have been surrounded by sick people. Even in the clinic buildings, it can be hard to tell who is sick. Frankly, I expected to see a lot more wheel chairs, more people with walkers, and more people on oxygen. I saw these things, but really, not very frequently.

A concept in the game of Poker is “the tell”. A “tell” is a facial expression, mannerism, etc., that provides information to other players. I saw a lot of people at the Mayo Clinic who did not look sick. There was, however, a “tell”. The tell was the gauze wrapped around the crook of the arm. That gauze was put there after blood draws as well as after the removal of an I.V. port.

I was frequently surprised by the wearer of the gauze. They didn’t look “sick”. I don’t look sick, either, nor do I act sick. I learned at this visit that my heart attacks were caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), a condition that causes coronary arteries to twist. They aren’t supposed to look like old style phone cords. Twisted arteries can dissect, which means that they can tear. Then blood can escape from the inner layer of the artery into one of the surrounding layers. Blood can pool and cause blockage. That can cause a heart attack even in someone like me, who has never smoked and has normal blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, etc. To most, even cardiologists, I look healthy, well except for the HEART ATTACKS! Mayo Clinic has been doing research on SCAD since 2010, now. Prior to that time, they saw 10 cases a YEAR. Now they see 10 a month. This means that I was able to see a cardiologist who has reviewed records for hundreds of SCAD patients. She knew what the “tells” are for this particular condition.

There is so much we don’t know about each other as a casual observer or even as an astute observer, who just has no frame of reference.

This seems like a life lesson to me.

Peace friends,


 The Mayo Building


The Gonda Building  It is connected to the Mayo Building. Cardiology is in the Gonda Building. This was a familiar scene from my visit.

Hey, these are Chihuly! A little art from home.


This is the line-up for blood draws at the Conrad Hilton Building. It was like the DMV except faster and friendlier, even accounting for the needle stick.

Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. The Healthy Living Program resides here and is open to everyone. There are programs for employees, patients, and drop-in services. They have a full service spa, which I very much enjoyed. I was lucking that the only openings they had for the week, fit into my schedule.

Following a devastating tornado, Dr. William Mayo was approached by Mother Alfred Moses, founder of the Sisters of St. Francis, with a proposal to build and staff a hospital. This was 1883.

I told you that the blood draw area was like the DMV.


The piano is located in the atrium of the Gonda Building. It was donated for anyone to use for up to 30 minutes with guidelines to play “something soothing”. The woman in the first photo was singing opera. She was approached by two Mayo physicians. If my eaves-dropping skills are intact, they were happy to see her because she is a physician they trained in the past. The woman in the second photo was singing Billy Joel and I later saw her performing at the Rochester street fair.

This charming historical building appears to be the original Mayo Medical School. It is now a student center.

DSC07413I have been working for several months now to reduce the amount of flailing involved in finding more balance in my life. I was working on this before the first heart attack on 4/27 and I’ve attempted to tromp on, one foot in front of another, since the second heart attack on 5/5.

I have been overwhelmed but a month or so, I thought, “Just work on changing one thing.” The change I worked on was increasing the frequency of my walks, which had slipped from five days a week to three days a week. Last week, I walked five times, helped by the long holiday weekend, but I do feel like something has shifted in a positive direction.

My meditation practice had also dropped off. My friend, Nancy, and I are now back to taking a walk to and from her house to the Frye Art Museum for their weekly free sitting meditation, which is excellent. I rarely get the chance to socialize with my closest friends let along exercise and meditate, too!

Someone asked me recently, “How is your heart?” I said, “I don’t really know. It’s not like when I had breast cancer and people were checking on my all of the time.” I’ve stayed at the hospital twice, each for two nights, and had a half-hour long outpatient appointment with a cardiologist on June 2nd. That’s it. I remembered something from my June 2nd appointment. My cardiologist asked me if I wanted to do cardiac rehab. At the time, I thought it meant going to group classes to learn stuff I already knew. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely ready to think of myself as a cardiac patient. I am still working on that.

Meanwhile, I’ve been considering seeing a personal trainer to reinvigorate my physical exercise. I would also like to work on my physical strength and stamina. My hesitation in working with a personal trainer is that I am a cardiac patient. Hmm, maybe someone who specializes in cardiac rehab would be helpful?

I checked the website for the Swedish Cardiac Rehab services. Yes, there are some classes but there are individual appointments as well as an individualized health plan. There are many visits. I called and will start after I return from the Mayo Clinic.

I am relieved. They will be able to help me gauge my progress. They will be able to tell me what losing 45% of heart functioning does to a person. They will help me keep on track.

I coped with breast cancer extremely well. (It still sucked, by the way.) I had a really good self-care plan. But I didn’t make all of my life changes at once. I had forgotten that.

Last Friday, I had a moment that I noticed. It was an intense feeling of well-being. It reminded me of moments I had as a child sitting in the grass, picking dandelions, and blowing the seeds in the air. There’s that blissful moment of watching them take flight.

I am reflecting back on that moment today as I begin a new week. I am holding on to the feeling of letting go.

As always, peace to you, friends.


So much of life is waiting for situations to resolve, one way or the other. I received a notification from my insurance company a couple of weeks ago. They requested a medical record review to determine the “medical necessity” of some scans I have scheduled at the Mayo Clinic as part of my diagnostic work-up for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD).

When insurance companies ask for a record review for the kind of procedures I do as a clinical psychologist, the review can take a very long time. When I received my letter, I thought, “Okay, this trip to Mayo may not happen in July, or perhaps ever.”

The Mayo Clinic won’t see me unless I am able to do all of the things they do to assess SCAD. Plane tickets and hotels have been reserved. My schedule is open for the week of hypothetical travel. As a self-employed person, that means I have no income coming in that week.  I’ve invested emotionally, physically, and financially in this trip.

I tried not to think about this too much and I was about 60% successful. My daughter is transferring to Western Washington University in the fall. This is good news but it presents logistical and emotional challenges. She missed the deadline for student housing and needs an apartment. I saw an opening in my schedule to take her for a few days to Bellingham, WA, near the Canadian border, to look for apartments. I talked to John first. He thought it was a good idea. My kid thought it was a good idea, too. I then cancelled three days of work and spent many hours lining up apartment visits.

Meanwhile, all of us were freaking out about the girl moving out, in our own individual ways. The girl freaked out about living on her own. So did hubby. To make a long story short, I was the only one ready to make the trip to Bellingham. I was mad, to say the least. But I wasn’t mad for long. I had a chat with John and told him that apartment hunting was a one-parent job, not a two-parent job, and that I didn’t need to be the parent in charge. He was happy to take over. Then I hit the road and decided to make the three days a personal retreat, something I wanted to do this summer, anyway, and had to cancel due to the stupid heart attacks. I had a great time and came back home refreshed.

Meanwhile, I was waiting on word from either my insurance or the Mayo Clinic. As it is, I used frequent flier miles to book two separate return tickets home. The first ticket is the “evaluation goes as planned” ticket. The second one is later, in case I need two days of extra scans and appointments. The Mayo Clinic suggested that I plan accordingly, so I did. I am hoping to return earlier not just to save money on hotels. The girls’ university orientation/registration/apartment hunting trip is happening on Monday, 7/24. I want to be there.

This is logistical complexity that stresses me out more than a bit. It gives me great empathy for the many folks for whom the logistics of healthcare dominate their lives. They have to live the rest of their lives on the edges, assuming that they don’t sleep through that part. Being sick is exhausting. Getting better from being sick is also exhausting.

I am a woman of some means and a hugely supportive network of friends and family. This experience makes me think about the rest of our country. What the hell, America? People are worth something. Healthy people are worth something, even if one is being selfish and crass. Oh yeah, this whole Trump being president thing is also a chronic stress for me. Imagine if I were an immigrant? Or any other marginalized person?

The good news is that I got my follow-up letter from my insurance two days ago. My scans have been pre-authorized. Some unqualified insurance employee has deemed that the Mayo Clinic can do their job and that I can benefit from their expertise. This is a positive outcome to a negative process. For now, I will focus on my trip to Rochester, MN.

Peace to you, dear friends.

I find myself quiet since my heart attacks. Although I am working about as many hours a week as I was before, I have reduced other responsibilities, which has freed up time and space. Further, my husband is working most nights right now.

At times, I find myself craving more to do, more to fill up the spaces in my life. At other times, I am thankful to have time and place to just be. When I was going through breast cancer treatment, my life was really busy with healthcare appointments but I also had significant amounts of time off from work to recover from surgeries. I did a lot of walking, writing, and thinking. Sometimes I got lonely but often I was in a mindful space where it was possible to feel and be and breathe.

There are more pauses in my life than there were before, especially when I was working my butt off in grad school, moving constantly, and adjusting to motherhood while building a career. The challenges between the pauses, however, are less predictable. Breast cancer at age 46. Almost exactly 5 years later I found myself hospitalized with two heart attacks. The heart attacks were even more surprising than the breast cancer. In terms of cardiac risk, the odds were strongly in my favor.  Even the report of the lipid profile that was run while I was in the hospital the day after HAVING A HEART ATTACK, has a summary at the bottom, “below average risk (female)”.  This estimate is not necessarily wrong, by the way. It does not read, “no risk” or “zero risk”.

When it comes to my physical health, I’ve had an unlucky five years. But I am lucky in so many other ways. One of those ways is the time that I have right now. I am headed to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota next month to have an evaluation for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). I scheduled my appointments to occur when I had planned to take a trip to the beach, by myself.  The part of the trip that is staying the same is that I am going by myself, which is my choice. My husband will attend my consultation with the cardiologist by phone.

Although it is true that I have had more fatigue lately, I honestly feel about 80% of my old self, most the time. Most of the 20% reduction is due to difficulties with my sleep. The daylight hours are long this time of year and with lots on my mind, it is a bit harder to get back to sleep if I wake up from the sunrise or my husband’s snoring. I do, however, continue to have a day or two out of each week that feels like the air was let out of my tires.  Nonetheless, I have returned to working in my garden as well as to the pottery studio. I find both activities highly meditative.

Silence is very important to my healing process. Today I feel a lonely kind of gratitude, but it is gratitude, nonetheless.

I’m coming out of a dip in my mood that started yesterday. I’ve felt disappointed and ripped off. My husband is working a lot of hours right now, which is wearing on me. I miss him and honestly, overwork puts his brain in a different place. I remind myself that the reason I miss him is because he is so wonderful.

I also came to the realization that it is perhaps not a good idea for me to travel to rural areas, far from good hospitals, given that it hasn’t even been a month since my last heart attack. The week long do-it-yourself meditation retreat I was going to do on my own has now been cancelled. I just cancelled a weekend away that was coming up in about a week. This morning, I realized that the camping trip I was excited about going on next month, is a bad idea. This is not the time to be up in the mountains, gazing at the Milky Way, with no cell phone coverage.

I am, however, gaining in other ways. I made an appointment for a second opinion assessment and treatment review at the Mayo Clinic’s main campus in Minnesota. I am going there during what was to be my retreat week. I am getting pressure from people to take my husband with me. This was supposed to be my retreat week! I want to be by myself. I am just getting a bunch of scans done and talking to a cardiologist. I may change my mind but I am adamant that it is my decision to make. Take that, world!!!

I also had a follow-up appointment with my local cardiologist today. We had a nice chat. I got to keep my clothes on and everything. He was excited when I told him that I was going to the Mayo Clinic. I took that as a very good sign. Also, when I told him about the SCAD Alliance website, he immediately pulled up the site on his computer and started reading it. We reviewed my scans and he explained everything very well. He seems very bright and enthusiastic about his profession. He told me that SCAD was the likeliest cause of my heart attacks. The other possibilities are heart disease and spasm-ing of an artery.

Now that I’ve written about this, I am feeling a bit more upbeat.

I will keep you posted, friends.

I wear two rings, an engagement/wedding ring, which I’ve worn since 1990 and an anniversary ring, which I’ve worn since 2005. I had the anniversary ring appraised after I had it designed. However, I have not ever had my wedding ring appraised. It has been 12 years since I had the other ring appraised. I have NEVER had them checked by a jeweler. That is something that I am supposed to do each year. Oops! Last Sunday, I dropped my rings off at a jeweler to be checked, cleaned, and appraised. I will pick them up next Sunday.

I am re-appraising many things, not just my diamond rings. Most of all, I am re-appraising my lifestyle. It’s the same that happened when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. And guess what? Having two heart attacks, out of the blue, also gives me pause and time to re-appraise my life and how I live it.

I have been coping, so far, rather well. However, I can realistically tell you that I am uncertain. I am afraid. I think these are reasonable reactions. I am working successfully to enjoy each day. I have embarked upon another voyage of ambiguity. This time, however, I may have a quite rare cardiac disease. Fortunately, I have found resources through the breast cancer blogging community, which is connected to other health care advocacy groups. Unlike my breast cancer treatment, in order to find specialists this time, I’m going to need to travel out-of-state.

I am someone who deals better with adversity if I have some past experience dealing with it. I am not grateful for having had cancer in the past, but I’ve got to tell you that I learned a lot in that experience and I am drawing on it now.

Today, it is beautiful and sunny. I’ve had a good work day, part of which included time with a kindergartener. I came home to my loving husband. For now, I will meditate on that.

(Yes, I know. Two posts in one day. It happens.)

I woke up this morning, thinking, “Today’s act of self-care is getting myself to my regularly scheduled Weight Watchers meeting.” I know. I just got home from the hospital. If I hadn’t been up for it, I wouldn’t have gone.

I’m glad I went. There are some very supportive and refreshing people in that Sunday mid-morning meeting. Unfortunately, our regular leader, Jody, was away at a conference. Jody is really quite marvelous. It’s typically chef’s surprise when there is a substitute. The substitute leader had good energy and was funny. However, she did not incorporate group input very well. My husband noted that she talked over people and that the things she said sometimes contradicted themselves.

I wasn’t enjoying her talk and at one point she said that our bodies have “always been loyal to us” but we are not always loyal to them. She also said that we deserved to have “our favorite body”. I have worked really hard against my perfectionistic tendencies as well as the thought that I can control my health outcomes absolutely. One of the other women responded to the loyalty comment, “I don’t know about that.” She is 80 years-old and has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. She is also very active and runs a group foster home for teens. I also piped up, “Yes, so-and-so (the 80-year-old member), has had a chronic health condition since she was a child. Those things happen but they aren’t fair. I’ve had cancer. I felt like my body had betrayed me but I came to look at disease as a natural disaster. Sometimes they just happen.”

In response to the “favorite body” phrase I said, “Although that might be a helpful frame for other people, it doesn’t work for me.” Then she said, “I’m going to challenge you on that.” I replied, ‘You can’t challenge me on that. “Favorite” is subjective and determined by me, not by anyone else. I work to be happy with the body I have. I’m 51. I’ve had cancer. I will never have my favorite body. I was healthier and fitter when I was 20 and that’s the way it is.’ She replied by saying that “favorite” didn’t mean comparing. I said, “But favorite is comparative.” She didn’t get it and I could tell that she wouldn’t get it. It was clear that nothing was going to come out of the conversation so I stopped challenging her.

One of the points she made was that she was really talking about attachment. You have a “favorite body” like a kid has a favorite stuffed animal, no matter what it looks like or how it wears out over time. The use of the word “loyalty” also refers to relationship and trust, just as attachment does. Maybe it would have made more sense to talk about having “The Velveteen Body” after the book, The Velveteen Rabbit. I’m not sure the analogy works for me but it at least gives me something interesting to think about.

I do like that a Velveteen Body is one that is much loved, one that provides comfort, and one that is real.

I attended the March for Science on April 22nd. I was also a member of the national Facebook group for the march. The page has a lot of members, from diverse backgrounds. There were mostly very interesting and supportive posts in this group. Some members had beliefs very different from my own, for example, the member who claimed “emotions aren’t real.”

We tend to separate our brains from the rest of our body and our emotions from the rest of our being. Perhaps, emotions are tied to concepts such as spirituality, which are seen to float around and exist apart from us. From a mental health/science perspective, however, the brain is very much a part of the body and emotions are very much a part of the brain and central nervous system.

Stress isn’t an emotion but it is tied to strong emotional states and certain life situations. Stress can be acute or chronic. Stress can be motivating. Stress can harm our bodies when it is excessive.

Last Thursday afternoon, while finishing up with my last patients of the day, I felt sudden achy pain along my upper back, accompanied by nausea. I was able to finish and then felt the same achy feeling under my arms, and in my chest. Although not the smartest thing to do, I drove myself home. When I walked through the door, my husband looked up, gave his beautiful smile, and said, “Hi Sweetie! How was your day?”.  I replied, “I am not well. Call 9-11.”

The fire department arrived less than 5 minutes later, closely followed by paramedics, the latter of which had a portable EKG machine. I was impressed by the professionalism and kindness of the first responders. They didn’t seem incredibly concerned about the readings but recommended that I go to the hospital E.R. rather than wait to follow-up with my primary care physician in the upcoming days. I agreed.

The achy pains had lessened some with the extra oxygen I had been getting since the firemen hooked me up to an oxygen tank at the house. It was rush hour in Seattle. The ambulance driver expertly dodged through traffic. Fortunately, an outstanding aspect of my city is that drivers are very quick to get out of the way of emergency vehicles.

I was admitted to the E.R. I changed into a gown and my blood was drawn for the first of what would be eleven needle jabs over less than a 48 hour period. They were testing my troponin levels and they were able to do the test bedside, instead of having to send it to the lab. Troponin is an enzyme released by the heart when it is damaged. When my nurse returned to the room, he saw the test results. (The test had been started by a phlebotomist.) He said, surprised, “This is elevated. Is this YOUR test?” He confirmed that it was.

Although no one said this outright until I was discharged, from this point until the following morning, the assumption was that I’d had a heart attack. By 6:30 pm, my pains were totally gone. I had an EKG that night followed by subsequent blood draws, one at midnight, one at 2:00 am, and another at 5:00 am. I was surrounded by kind and skilled medical staff. The night nurse, Lorenzo, was particularly good. He was kind, personable, and knowledgeable. (By the way, one thing I love about my hospital, Swedish Medical Center, is that I’ve always had wonderful night nurses. I’ve heard horror stories about other hospitals.) Lorenzo was also excellent at  communication with me as well as with the other services. Continuity of care is a huge challenge in hospitals and he was excellent in his efforts.

At 5:30 am,  I started having back and chest pain again. It was incredibly small but Lorenzo had told me to report any pain, however minor. It was also in the same location as previously. I was given nitro glycerin and when that did not totally eliminate it, I was given morphine. The pains gradually lessened and were gone by 7:30 am.

Due to the recurrence of the pain and my blood test results (the troponin levels had increased over night as well as another enzyme used as a marker for heart attack), I underwent cardiac catheterization. I was taken to the Cath Lab and the procedure was carried out by a cardiologist and a team of four others. A catheter (small tube) was inserted through an artery in my wrist and threaded up to my heart. Contrast dye was also pumped into my body through the catheter, allowing imaging of my heart and circulatory system. I was sedated, but alert, during the procedure. (By the way, it was not nearly as awful as it sounds.) About midway through, the cardiologist asked, “Has something really stressful happened to your recently?” I told him that something had happened. You see, although he could see that my heart was not compressing normally, there was no evidence of a heart attack or heart disease. As two members of the cath team wheeled me back to my room, they were visibly happy for me.

The cardiologist made a preliminary diagnosis of stress cardiomyopathy, also known as, Takosubo cardiomyopathy or more poetically,”broken heart syndrome”.  This diagnosis was corroborated by the results of an echocardiogram. Excessive cortisol, a stress hormone, can affect the heart muscle, preventing it from being able to contract fully. This results in symptoms similar to a heart attack. Unlike a heart attack or heart disease, the heart damage cause by stress cardiomyopathy typically heals in 1-4 weeks.

I was put on three new medications, two of which can have a blood pressure reducing side effect. My regular blood pressure is about 110/70. It got really low after the medications so I stayed another night at the hospital.

I was discharged yesterday afternoon. My treatment was top-notch but being in a hospital is neither restful nor fun. John had been by my side the whole time, spending nights at the hospital. We were so glad to leave!

It is now time to implement a new self-care program. These are difficult times in my country. I think they are causing chronic stress for many. I know it has for me and I’ve been left with a smaller reservoir with which to deal with new stresses that come into my life. I have left a message with the psychologist I saw during my breast cancer treatment. There are some things I really need to process as well as a need to return to a more consistent mindfulness practice.

Having a caring heart is mostly a wonderful thing but it can also be a burden. Life brings unwelcome surprises like chest pain and welcome ones like looking into a woman’s heart and not finding heart disease and blockage.

On the day of the March for Science, I wore a sign demonstrating my ongoing commitment to the importance of fostering caring hearts. Without them, there is no love, no laughter, no curiosity, no passion, and no motivation. We would also not work to protect ourselves from possible harm. Without emotions, there is no humanity.


I remember playing the game, Risk, with my brothers when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about it except that I think the goal of it is world domination. That’s probably why I stopped playing it. I don’t like, Monopoly, either. Go ahead, call me a socialist. What I do remember is that the game board is a map of the world. Being a word lover, I was taken with some of the place names. One of them was “Kampuchea”.

I haven’t thought about the word, “Kampuchea” for a long time until recently, like last month. I was in Cambodia and silly me, I did not know that the Cambodians call their country, “Kampuchea”. When I was informed of this, I thought back to the game.

I also thought of the risks people take in life. We hired a driver in Cambodia, Tong. Tong is a man in his 30’s, married, with two children. He was obviously smart, knowledgeable, and very personable. Tong had to work full-time on the family rice farm after he finished elementary school. His parents were from Phnon Penh and had lived through the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, the genocides of the Killing Fields, a secret (not to them) war waged by the U.S., and civil war.

Cambodia has been through unspeakable horror. Although they are currently in a period of stability, they are still a country with four millions landmines, yet to be located. Every year, people are harmed or killed by landmines, leftover from the past. Tong told me that his parents do not like to talk about war times or the genocides that they witnessed first hand. Tong, however, took the risk of telling me about it. He took us to a Killing Fields outdoor memorial exhibit in Siem Reap. Tong told me the stories. He told me the details. I asked questions. At one point, he gently asked me to speak more softly.

Tong later explained to me that the area was a temple and the monk that is in charge of the temple has close ties to the Communist Party.  Although Cambodia is supposed to be a democracy, it is not. It is controlled by the People’s Party and the elections are not fair. There is no freedom of speech in Cambodia. Tong, from the safety of the inside of his car, explained to us that he has to have “pineapple eyes”. Telling us about his concerns of corruption on every level of government, even in the public school system. (School is supposed to be free but the teachers charge the families money.)

Sometimes we seek out risks. Other times, we cannot escape them, because of war, violence, natural disaster, or disease. It is fascinating to me how the scared part of my brain can put all risks into the same undifferentiated category. I am learning to get perspective. All risks are not created equal.

Some risks just involve getting past discomfort or manageable amounts of stress. To be honest, though I love to travel, I had put off taking a trip to Asia. The flight seemed way too long, I don’t know any of the languages, and Asia is crowded! Further, Cambodia is an extremely poor country. Though it’s economy is growing, the average annual wage is $7500 USD. I had to face the discomfort of my own wealth and privilege, which is really just luck.

I got past this and we had a fabulous vacation. I also contributed to the economy of countries that need it. As for Tong, the tip that we gave him paid for three terms of school for his daughter. He is working for more opportunities for his children. Tong is making sure that they learn English and Mandarin, for example.

Maybe I’ll even start playing, “Risk” again. It’s not real world domination. It’s just uncomfortable. It’s just a game.

DSC06455 revDSC06459 revDSC06474 revDSC06478 revDSC06493 revDSC06497 revDSC06546 revDSC06565 revDSC06588 revDSC06653 revDSC06668 rev

DSC06061I am two weeks into our trip to Thailand and Cambodia. The current time is 14 hours ahead of Seattle. The current place is 500 miles north of the Equator. It is almost always tomorrow here. This is the closest I have been to summer, while still being in winter.

There is much about time and space here. There are so many sacred spaces. I have visited amazing temples of the past and the present. Some of the temples are centuries old and currently in use.

One of the things I have noticed is that there is often clock next to the main buddha statue. Some clocks are antique. One that I saw was a large electronic clock with green L.E.D. letters, surrounded by antiquities. I thought, “What is THAT doing there?”

To my sensibiities, it didn’t fit. It was an anachronism that harmed the aesthetic and spirit of a holy place. Then I started wondering about many similar scenes that I’ve witnessed during this short time in southesast Asia. I started asking questions about my own culturally influenced aesthetic. I observed how different I am about having my photo taken in front of antiquities. I appreciate having maybe a photo for the day to remember how I felt about the experience, but mostly I think of inserting myself into the scene as detracting from it’s beauty. I am an anachronism in my performance sneakers and modern dress.

Tourists from many Asian countries are vastly different. Getting one’s photo taken in front of every key area of a building is very common. People wait in long lines to do so. There is usually two or three young Chinese women at each major site wearing fancy modern dresses, getting many pictures taken at each stopping point, model style, by a young man taking the photos with a smart phone. I will admit that in addition to bemusement, by week two of having the frame of my shot blocked by an amateur model making five poses in a doorway, I felt minor irritation.

In the west, we treat time differently, I think. The past is something to be preserved and unchanged. It is something to be worked for in the future. It is fascinating to me to think about how this view may have impacted our aesthetics, our sense what belongs where.

I did a Google search about the clocks in the temples, by the way. I don’t know if the little bit of information I found is true or not but it indicated that the clocks are there to help monks avoid meditating through meal times. The anachronistic clock helps the monks keep the past in the present.

Peace to you, friends.


George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (


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Run to the Bear!

The Sarcastic Boob

Determined to Manage Breast Cancer with the Same Level of Sarcasm with which I Manage Everything Else


Life after a tango with death & its best friend cancer