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The Examined Life – Ideas of Philosophy from Someone Too Young to Have a Philosophy

11 Nov

This week when I met with a gentleman at the Max the Mutt Animation Studio in Toronto, I got a bit of an ego stroking. He told me, “Chantalle, I loved your essay so much I read it twice. I don’t often see so much philosophy in the entrance essay”. I was a little caught off guard. I hadn’t thought I had included much philosophy, but then I remember that I had written this little gem.

“Wanting something with everything that you are is the definitive act of being human. When we strive for our goals with tireless ambition, we often relate ourselves to Gods, when in actuality, we couldn’t be more as men.”

…and I suppose I can understand what he meant by philosophical. I’ve spent much of my young life hearing from people that I was “wise beyond my years”, and let somehow I never managed to believe that I was.

A good friend of mine gave me the reality check I needed when I sat down in the car, frustrated that despite my best efforts, the school would not accept me without seeing more of my art (which I didn’t have). She asked me: “Why do you rely on other people to tell you something about the way you are? Just believe it for yourself and you’ll never need anyone to stroke your ego”. She then promptly told me to get rid of my ego all together.

Well, that’s another topic all together, and a much larger pill to swallow, let me tell you.

Sometimes even I’m surprised with what comes out of my mouth. I once had someone tell my mother that I had an “old soul”, and regardless of my lac of spirituality, that nameless woman’s opinion of my (which was in my infancy, I might add), has followed me around my entire life.

Further on in my essay, there was the line…

“Art is something I’ve always loved. To me there’s something phenomenal about taking a physical, tangible object, and using it to make you express something completely intangible. Our eyes follow lines, assess colours, we reminisce, we become nostalgic, we appreciate, and this is how art captures us. Artists have a depth of being that they want to share with the rest of the world. Whether through music, or paintings, or any other medium, connecting with an audience on a deeper level is always the aim of any artist.”

I suppose that’s why I always wanted to be an artist. I believe that I see the world in a different way than most people. Maybe my ego has something to do with that opinion, but then again, maybe it doesn’t. We all see the world through a different set of eyes. Is there a sense of superiority in believing that the artist’s is worth sharing more than that of the average Joe? Possibly, but there’s a lot of shitty art out there now-a-days; just look at the Jonas Brothers.

Truth be told, I examine my life on a regular basis, and I think it’s important to know where you stand, and ultimately be able to describe the world you see through your eyes to others, so that they might share your perspective, or see things from a different angle.

Plato said that a life unexamined is not worth living. I’ll go a step further and say that an unshared examination of one’s own life is not lived. Sharing who we are, and how we perceive our world is the only way to really connect to other people, and in the end, the only thing that truly enriches our lives is how we connect with others.

… but then, as a master of short quotes, that may have been too much of a mouthful from Plato.

When I left high-school, I saluted by English teacher, quoting the Walt Whitman poem: “O Captain, my Captain!”, because he made me see the world from a different perspective and opened me up to books and stories that would further facilitate the broadening of my horizons. I hope one day to be able to do that for others as well, and I hope that I can do it through my attitude, through my writing, and through my art.


This Ain’t No Disney Park Ride, Boy! – Why the world our parents grew up in is not the world we live in today.

16 Sep

Recently having watched a documentary on the dangers of anti-depressant use in children, I speculated for a moment exactly why problems like Autism, ADHD, and other behavioural issues have only reared their heads in recent years.

But let’s take a step back for a moment.

I see and speak to my Great-Grandmother on a fairly regular basis. I visit her about once a week, and we talk about topics as light as the weather, to as heavy as life and death. Recently we’ve been speaking a lot more about health, and in particular, cancer. Now, to most people my age, cancer is something we hear about and see every day. We’re constantly reading in the news about cancer rates spiking, or hearing about some new kind of cancer impervious to treatment. So, imagine my surprise when she says, “I don’t get it! When I was a kid, none of the old people died from cancer. None of the young people, neither. Cancer was just something no one ever worried about.”

I think at this point, we know what the cause of most major disease is – modernization. Back when my Great-Grandmother was a child, plastic was a very rare thing. You certainly weren’t cooking your meals in it, nor were you drinking your water out of it. Plastic was an industrial product, and companies didn’t start benefiting from it’s convenience until much later. It wasn’t until the 40’s that we started using plastics to preserve our meals. and right up until the 60’s Coca-Cola bottled all their beverages is glass. Now, Coke’s been in the market for over 100 years… but it’s only recently that they’ve started using modernizations like plastic and HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup). I’d say if it was only the Coca-Cola company who was using these products, then it’s no big deal! Take a minute and look around your house. You can probably spot ten things in the room you’re in alone that are created using plastic.

Oil’s been called a lot of things, one of my personal favourite’s is the “Devil’s Blood”. People don’t seem to realize how much havoc it’s reaping in our lives. Oil runs cars and machines that pollute the air, their bi-products create plastic which pollute the ground, the oceans and our bodies. And when I tell my Great-Grandmother this… she just shakes her head and looks out the window. Her view is of the hospital where my Mother received her cancer diagnosis.

“They don’t care about us,” she tells me rather sadly. “They care about money, but they don’t care about us.” Then with a defiant finger, she points up the sky and raises her eyebrows over the rim of her massive old-lady glasses and says, “Their money won’t save them from God.”

To which I replied, “Grandma, that’s the most badass thing you’ve ever said.”

But, I digress. I wonder what would happen to the state of the world and the state of our health if we abandoned these modern conveniences. They say if you have pain, that’s just a symptom of a bigger issue. Well, I suggest to you that diseases like cancer, ADHD, maybe even Autism (who’s rates have surged since the 1980’s) are symptoms of a sick society. Our society has been made sick by oil, and the greed of a few rich men.

Perhaps my Grandmother is right… they really don’t care about us. So, if they’re not going to care, then we need to start taking care of ourselves. All I can do is hope that there is a God, because the greedy can’t evade justice forever… and as I remember, greed is a deadly sin.