The Science of Hippyness – and the dangerous yet enlightening adventures of fence sitting!


I used to be a hippy.

I know...this may come as a shock to those who only know me through Facebook, and groan over my umpteen sciencey-based article rants daily (yes, it's an illness, this blog is my therapy)! Yet, I assure you, that those who know me nearest and dearest, can attest to my seemingly enduring love affair with floaty sari-skirts. My free-spirited, yoga studying, bindi wearing, herbal medicine experimenting, Wiccan-goddess worshipping, faery card reading, artist-musician loving (and oft-times dating - that's an affliction for a whole other blog post), Jesus-sandal wearing, laid-back camping festival going, political protest rallying, oil paint stained and scented...self.

So what happened? You want the short story or the long story? Well, I'll give you the short story, because I intend to post the long story as a bit of a narrative somewhere in the "I'll eventually get around to that" future. So the short story is:
I finished art school, broke-up with my high-school sweetheart, travelled (parts of) the world, had some "life altering" experiences, came home, studied psychology and neuroscience... and became a skeptic.

So why am I writing a blog about "hippyness" if I'm such a skeptical science nut? Essentially, this blog is my attempt to find some equilibrium between my once relaxed, free-spirited self, and my new science educated, life experience "enlightened", critical, uptight self.

No-one tells you when you start a science degree, that you will never see the world the same again. That everything will become a problem to be solved, that everything you see or read will be questioned with intense scrutiny and that every hypothesis will be tested...whether literally, or metaphorically.

Lately, I have found a longing for my prior-self. My blissfully ignorant, all things artsy, peace-loving, hippy-loving self.

So often we find ourselves sitting on one side of the fence or the other, and it is drummed into us with the repetitive precision of a military marching band, that fence bad. I have finally concluded that this hypothesis, is in dire need of testing!

Lately I have been witnessing what is really happening when we sit firmly and unwaveringly on one side or the other. Blindfolds. No matter which side we are on, we become so wrapped up in our perception of what we know to be right and true, that we become blind to the perfectly valid perspectives of the people on the other side.

This reminded me of when I was a kid, my sister, neighbours and I would play volleyball over our front fence. Now I'm not sure we played by any specified rule book, however, we decided what was fair, was for each team to swap sides, and also team mates, after a few losses on each side...I can't remember the specifics, yet you get the gist, yes? So our yard was a bit higher up and a somewhat flatter surface than our neighbours, their yard ran down a slope and was a bit more hilly, so we seemed to have an advantage. Changing sides and team mates, gave us a different perspective for each game, made it fair for everyone, and all round more enjoyable. We also had a random neighbourhood friend or visitor, sit on the fence to keep score...I was banned from sitting on the fence after falling in my mother's hibiscus bush and badly gashing my leg, and another incident involving fence sitting where I hung from my school dress with it hoisted around my armpits, in the 6th grade, until the boy of my dreams had to come over and lift me down from the fence, (not before practically wetting himself with laughter), braless and with my little boob-buds on display for all to fall to the floor in hysterics over (thank God iPhones did not exist in those days)!

hmmm...maybe fence sitting is not such a good idea for me? But I digress...

So back to my point about fence sitting; maybe I didn't master the art of it in my early volleyball days, and quite possibly the fence-hanging incident of '91 made the idea of planting myself firmly on one side or the other a very appealing prospect, whatever the reasons, I find myself always firmly choosing a side, when quite probably, I would have a better view from the fence.

That is the whole purpose of this blog, to help me get back on the fence, with all of it's danger, and splinters, and the likely possibility of falling into a hibiscus bush, or baring my raw, human development to the find my balance, reconnect with my inner skeptic, my equidistant zen, and hopefully, become a better scientist-practitioner...and general all round person for it.