Monday, March 31, 2008

Dangerous thing when you start thinking

I have been quite ill over the past couple of weeks suffering from Vertigo. I don’t know what caused it although it now appears that it may have been a simple ear infection and more importantly I didn’t realise what it was.

Many of my friends across the Internet have sympathised with me and my various ailments as I tried to pin down exactly what the problem was. I knew I was being sick, constantly and I knew I was getting dizzy, sometimes falling over as a result and I made all sorts of perfectly valid deductions which led me inexorably up the wrong path.

I was simply very tired. I had a touch of food poisoning. I had become allergic to one of the many prescribed drugs I need to take. But at no point did I think – oh – dizziness, being sick - that’ll be vertigo.

The situation deteriorated over a period of time until eventually I agreed that a doctor be called. Now I live in France but English is my first language so there were some words I needed to look up in the dictionary to find the equivalent French word in preparation for this rare treat, a visit by the doctor.

And there it was - the French word for dizziness – Vertige - means vertigo - and suddenly everything fell into place. The doctor arrived and I told him I thought I had vertigo. He then checked me out pretty thoroughly before looking fairly serious and saying – I think you’ve got vertigo! He prescribed a remedy that I am taking and which, after 3 or 4 days, seems to be working well.

All this gave me some time to think. Lying in bed feeling awful is a good time for sorting out your brain. So, I thought, I planned, I considered, and when I could, I came back to my trusty laptop and connected with the world outside.

I thought a lot about communications and the fact that I could struggle to my laptop, without the energy to even dress and send off a message which would be received as if I was in the best of health.

I thought a lot about the possibilities of faceless communication, which the internet now provided.

I thought a lot about Internet blogs and groups and forums.

And I thought a lot about how easy it was to be misled by the very medium that was supposed to be opening up communications.

And then I got to thinking about my own posts on various forums, discussion threads and blogs.
About how often I have realised that what I have said has been completely misinterpreted by the reader - sometimes because I have expressed my self badly, and sometimes because the reader and I simply speak a different version of English.

Then I got to thinking about gardening for food and I thought about some of the mantra’s now being pushed out in front of us and how they too were being slightly misunderstood – either by the reader or often by the speaker.

I thought about globalisation and globalisation of the food chain which is almost universally abhorred.

I thought about my own attempts to eat locally, grow my own food, buy from farmers at our wonderful markets, go to the farm and collect food or wine.

But then I remembered a report someone had made me aware of which said that the carbon footprint of a leg of New Zealand lamb being eaten in the US was LOWER than that of a leg of lamb raised and eaten in the US. And while thinking of that I thought of the tea I drink, of the coffee I drink.

Yes, a lot of what I consume is grown locally but some is not and cannot be.

Do I want to give up drinking tea and coffee – a simple solution. I should encourage all my European and American friends to give up drinking tea and coffee immediately. But what happens to the people who grow that tea and coffee, who rely on me drinking it to feed their families?

We have a very involved and complex society and far too many people are trying to give us one size fits all solutions. I think I just want to say:

It’s not that simple.

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