A few announcements before we get on with the (ir)regularly scheduled program!
1. Based on your overwhelming response to her post about trusting atheists, fluidfyre is joining us a regular contributor! Look for more from her in future.
2. gapingwhole can now actually be contacted. And by that I mean you can email gapingwhole [at] hotmail [dot] com with all your overwhelming thoughts and feelings.
3. I was recently asked to guest post about why it is important to hone your gaydar. Check it out!
Now to a lovely guest post about things that sound like STI’s but aren’t!
Weltschmerz and Arrhostia and what do they have to do with anything anyway?
My mother was a champion speller, and unfortunately, those genes were not expressed in my phenotype. None-the-less, I have long been a fan of the Scripps National Spelling Bee!
I think the defining moment that captured my heart was a few years ago, when it was down to two contestants, a Canadian girl, my favorite since an earlier round, and an American girl. They battled back and forth until the Canadian girl was asked to spell “Weltschmerz!” Unfortunately, she began the spelling with a V. Second place is no small accomplishment!
Weltschmerz is simply defined as a “world sadness.” It is the feeling that one has when thinking of an ideal world compared to the actual world that exists around us. I suspect many of us share that sadness. We live in a challenging world where a little more kindness and understanding would go a long way.
I don’t know how many of you have had the chance to watch the National Spelling Bee in recent years. The kids are amazing with their extensive knowledge of memorized words and a thorough comprehension of linguistics, including the nature, structure and variation of language, as well as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics and pragmatics.
Although there has been some controversy about exposing these young children to the intense scrutiny of being on television, it all has worked out quite well. The contestants are fabulous, the parents and examiners are wonderful, and the event makes for fascinating theater. I recommend it as a fun event to witness.
I suppose the only thing that puzzled me was why none of the children seemed interested in a language-related field as his or her future career . One year’s winner expressed an interest in going into medicine — becoming a doctor, of all things! Someone needs to have a serious talk with that girl!
I don’t think I could have spelled any of the words asked in the show, although I have heard in the south that even a blind hog can find an occasional acorn. Fortunately, doctors don’t have to spell that well, and with our handwriting, who would know anyway?
The word that resonated with me another year was “arrhostia.” Arrhostia was defined on the Bee as: “An evolutionary product or trend that appears to be more or less pathological (as the immense size attained by certain dinosaurs).”
My major undergraduate studies before medicine were in the areas of evolution and ecology. Although I now feel that survival of the fittest has been superseded by too much survival of the less fit, the principles of evolution, in my opinion, still hold sway on our future. Our obesogenic environmental lifestyle has created a trend in our species that, in my opinion, is quite pathological, and does indeed fit the definition of arrhostia.
I realize that as humans, with our creation of civilization, we have, fortunately, evolved sufficiently to follow a kinder evolutionary path than nature’s original pure survival of the fittest, but we must do better than we are presently if we are to continue to prosper and live well. The alternative future may not be pleasant.
Certainly, if our species will not do anything about it as a whole, we still can as individuals. Years of not paying attention to our unhealthy living will take its toll! It is something that we must be vigilant of when we are younger if we are to make a difference in how it plays out for each of us as we age. Of course genetics has a role, but how you age and how you deal with the mental and physical challenges of aging is, for the large part within your control.
If your diet is poor, and your activity level is inadequate, the adage is, you will grow old before your time. Actually, you will grow old at exactly the time you have made for yourself. The variation of aging is dramatic. People, perhaps beginning at 35 to 40 years of age, will start diverging toward a healthy aging process, or a very unhealthy aging process, with everything in between.
Is there a large difference between the ideal that you would like to be versus the you that you really are? Of course, for most of us it is natural to wish for a little more or less of this or that, but unlike the feeling of weltschmerz, we can feel hopeful. We can make a significant difference in our reality if we are willing to put the effort into learning and applying what it takes to do so.
The choices you make will make a difference!