Sunday, March 30, 2008
Sci/Consciousness/Conference Day 2
I mean, nothing really bad happened, and plenty of good things transpired. I slept well last night and feel rested today. Yet here I am, unable to discern the good that came my way today. I am reminded of at least two speakers I heard today, who both said almost simultaneously (I was walking from one workshop to another - not quite bilocation), "Lose the distinction between good and bad." It's a false dichotomy, and it leads us into prejudices that we, the planet and her people, don't need right now. Okay, no judgment.
But still, the main event that sticks with me, that I want to share with you, happened in the ladies' room this morning - my last pit stop before going into the keynote session. Another lady was shepherding her two young grandchildren through the obligatory potty stop. As I was primping in the mirror, the young ones were washing their hands at the sink behind me, and I heard a young voice say (of the soap), "Eeeewwwww, this smells like chemicals!" If you want truth, folks, look to a child. Of course Grandma, probably in the interest of getting on with their morning, had to deny it: "Oh, no, it doesn't smell like chemicals." To which I had to let my big mouth have its way. I turned to her and said, "The little girl is right - these soaps are full of chemicals, and that's not healthy." Don't try to give someone an education into the intricacies of chemical sensitivity and global pollution in a 20-second sound bite. It just doesn't work.
Well, we all went on our ways without further incident, but it left me holding my usual bag of wondering what is wrong with our species, that we think it's okay to wash children's hands with toxic substances. We still like to relegate awareness of this problem to people who are "highly sensitive" - and I am one, although not as severe as many others who suffer greatly from our mistreatment of the earth. But this makes it the individual's problem, and I'm tired of that! I've had plenty of "helpful" advice about how to be less sensitive, as if that were even possible, but why would I want to be less sensitive to poison? Because that's what these everyday chemicals are, and we wash our hands with them, dunk our heads in them, eat and drink them, and (God forbid) stink up our bodies and our spaces with them.
Fragrances are big issue with me, and many other people as well. I'm talking strong, perfumed, long-lasting smells. I've experienced some people using hand lotions, of all things, that I could smell from across the room, thereby giving me an instant headache - which I take as a survival-based sign to get the hell away from there. Folks, the ingredients that make your hand creams smell so strong are a class of chemicals called phthalates, and they cause cancer and hormonal disturbances! Why in the world would anyone want to put cancer-causing substances on their hands? I don't get it! Is denial that much of a river in Egypt?
Which brings me back to the conference: I do have something to be grateful for, because it's a fragrance-free event. The company who puts this event on has this much enlightenment going on, that they are willing to respect the needs of the many attendees who are highly sensitive. So you see, in every ordinary day there are miracles.