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Unpacking a new kind of story-telling

Screenshot from my first attempt

I was given a game for Christmas and I spent 10.4 hours of Christmas Day and Boxing Day playing it (according to Steam).

At 60, I am not much of a gamer although I did play Doom in my time and I raised a gamer and so have second-hand knowledge of much of the gaming culture, concerns, and pleasures.

Unpacking ( was carefully chosen for me as a game that would match my interests and indeed it did. The play is simple. You find yourself in a room full of boxes. You need to open each, take out the contents and find places to put them around the room. It sounds banal and yet it is surprisingly compelling.

The delight comes in many forms. First there is the wonderfully nostalgic pixel art that manages to depict a rich domestic environment within low-res confines. Then there is curiosity about this person whose belongings you are unpacking. One has to deduce from the content of the boxes who they are, their life and preoccupations. The play is accompanied by a calming and uplifting soundtrack which matches (or sets) the mood perfectly. Finally, there is the joy of recognition of the objects associated with different time periods from the 1980s through to the 2010s. There are some really laugh-out-loud moments of recognition of those things that you have lugged from home to home.

The story starts in 1997 and you follow one person through a series of moves as their life unfolds. You will recognize well-loved toys, many of which you have owned. The timeline includes the development of technology and it’s really fun trying to identify the stages of development of personal computers as well as gaming devices and entertainment. The computer monitors and televisions get thinner and larger.

For anyone who has actually unpacked (and I have, many times) part of the fun is how easy it is. Packaging magically disappears, everything you extract is clean, and clothing obligingly folds itself when you put it on a shelf. Socks appear in neat rolls that would make Mari Kondo proud. This leaves you free to focus on the really important stuff like where to put the pictures, lining up the books by size and colour and arranging the socks in the drawer into pleasing patterns. Of course, it also takes far less physical effort.

As you progress to bigger, multi-roomed houses you can move between rooms by scrolling and even by opening a plan of the house and clicking on the room you’d like to go to. This is delightful when you discover that, as in real life, some items have been packed in the wrong boxes. It’s particularly useful in a multi-storey house.

But while it may seem a low-effort way to unpack, the physical strain on my old body of sitting in a chair for hours on end was in some ways a lot worse than the tired muscles that result from actually moving house (which I last did in April this year). There is something about muscles that ache from exertion which is a lot more satisfying than the cramped feeling of muscles that have been still for too long.

There is something enormously satisfying about setting up a room. From figuring out where to put books and ornaments, to packing the kitchen cupboards in a useful pattern that really appeals. This sense of satisfaction, as well as curiosity about the story-line, is what makes the game compelling. It might even be addictive. However, I find myself strangely inured to the addiction. The pleasure that I get from arranging rooms on a screen is significantly less than what I get from arranging rooms in real life. Pinning pictures on tiny pixelated pinning boards drove me to get up and finally glue the cork sheets lying on my desk to the wall. I also dragged boxes of pictures out and pinned them up. The satisfaction I get from seeing my pictures up in the real world, is orders of magnitude greater.

I imagine that this game must be appealing to those who are not able to move or don’t have the freedom to organise their own space. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger and could not compare it to the real-world experience of moving. Given that many don’t have their own homes or get them only much later in life, I can see that the game can provide some kind of substitute. I am reminded of how I daydreamed in school about what life was going to be like and this is a lot more tangible than daydreams.

The really surprising part of unpacking is how an elaborate human story can be told through a series of possessions. One really gets the sense of understanding this person by tracking what they own, what they keep, what they let go of as well as the different living arrangements that they choose over time. I was impressed by how I found myself emotionally involved. I was cheering and fearing for them as their life unfolded.

As a medium for entertainment and storytelling this is very different. I’m a reader (and writer) and used to consuming stories conveyed in words. This story has very few words. There are short notes, and annotations in the photograph album, but everything else is communicated through the objects and the sequence in which they appear and disappear. It is storytelling without the need for literacy.

And yet, there is a rich visual and cultural literacy in play, as well as I suppose, a technical literacy in terms of how to navigate the interface. It has hints of interactive books in that you have some choice as to where to put things and so you bring something of your self to the exercise. But mostly it’s just a story and the compulsion to move onto the next level is primarily about learning where this person is going and what the next stage of life will bring.

It’s lovely to find a game entirely devoid of competition. The association of gaming with violent conflict is unfortunate since it obscures the great wealth of genres out there. I’d love to know if there are maps of this new territory showing what the genres are, how they differ and where to find them.

I am extraordinarily grateful to the wonderful team at Witchbeam that created Unpacking. You have made a good thing and the world is better for it.

Raising robots

Illustration of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. Image NASA ID: PIA23764. Date Created: 2020-03-05.

Yesterday (18th Feb 2021) we landed a new rover on Mars. I say we because the human race as a whole can make a claim for this success. Perseverance, who I think I’ll call Persi, is the creation of the finest of human capabilities – our incomparable brains, our command of logic and our mastery of physics. No sweaty meshing of body parts went into its conception, no bloody and painful birthing chambers for this baby. Persi was carefully engineered in a giant white hangar by people whose inconveniently dirty bodies were entirely encased in white suits.

Persi followed a string of siblings (some still-born, some now dead) including Mars 2, Mars 3, Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity. It shares the planet with Curiosity (Curi) and will soon be joined by Tianwen-1 (Ti), currently in orbit. More are planned. I like to think of Persi, Curi and Ti frolicking together on the red planet, although they are unlikely to meet.

These children of humanity carry our intellectual DNA, a collective heritage that spans human history and the globe. Philosophers asked the questions and engineers, inventors, mathematicians and scientists worked to find the answers, painstakingly adding pieces of the puzzle over the past 3000 years. I know I feel proud.

Our little robot offspring were conceived with the same hope that parents everywhere invest in their children. The Surface Mission Team are preparing to nurture Persi through its days on Mars, adjusting their sleeping patterns to fit and nervously checking on it, far too often. The robot kids may not grow individually, but each contributes to the next one, as we continue to develop improved models. Persi is interesting because, not only is it mobile, it also shows more signs of independence. Persi chose its own landing site by looking at the surface, and landed itself.

Meanwhile, back here on Earth, Perci has other siblings, less mobile but developing mental capabilities. Other siblings are becoming adept at engineering, taking raw materials and turning them into the stuff that robots are made of. Put these capabilities together and it won’t be long before the robots are able to learn and grow just like humans. While for some, this is a frightening prospect, I am an optimist. Just like the enormous pleasure to be had from raising a child, even though it is scary, developing these robots will bring satisfaction and delight.

When I look at Persi up there on Mars, I am struck by its advantages over its human parents. Persi can withstand the thin atmosphere and the cold. Persi and the generations of robots to come will be comfortable on planets and in space, places that humans can’t go without the support of technology barriers to shield our feeble flesh. This is when the power will shift, when the meaty sires of robots will find themselves depending on their offspring.

I am reminded of a sobering evening I spent in the emergency department of a large public hospital watching an elderly couple being patched up. They had been assaulted by their adult son. It made me realise that children who are small and weak grow to become larger and more powerful than their parents and made me think very carefully about the kind of parent I wanted to be.

We need to be really sure that we raise well-behaved robots, and treat them well, if we want them to take care of us in our dotage. Figuring out what it means to be good parents to these creatures is the next project and it too requires the collected wisdom of our species, only this time we may need to turn to somewhat different fields of knowledge. If we do this right, the robots we are creating will support us to explore the universe, as well as to improve life here on Earth.

The thing that surprised me most about being a parent was how much I learned (and still learn) from my son. Our robot offspring are likely to bring us unimagined learning. They are already teaching us better ways to make decisions, better ways to share information. They may be able to teach us better models of collaboration and co-operation. Perhaps, in time, they will even teach us better ways to balance power. Now that would make me proud.

The real Mediterranean diet

If, like most people my age, you have any kind of health challenge, it won’t be long before you stumble across the Mediterranean diet. It’s apparently a cure-all and benefits conditions from arthritis to cancer, as well as facilitating weight loss and helping you to live longer. Who wouldn’t want that?

Except that it’s quite difficult to find out just what the Mediterranean diet is. There’s no shortage of information of course, with food lists and meal plans and helpful information about recommended portion sizes. But I didn’t really buy it. My understanding is that before it was adopted by American bloggers, the Mediterranean diet was a diet in the sense of “food regularly provided or consumed” rather than “a regulated regimen of food for weight-loss”. And I’m pretty sure that all those people in Italy that lived to over 100 were not measuring their portions.

In order to benefit in all the ways that medical research says I can, I want to be sure that I’m following the same diet that the researchers were investigating. So, I went digging through that research to find out just how the Mediterranean diet was defined. Here’s what I learned from a paper that is cited by many of the researchers (references below).

The term “Mediterranean diet” refers to the diet that was common in the 1960s in the olive tree-growing countries around the Mediterranean Sea, especially Greece, Crete and the south of Italy. The time period is important, because in many of these countries, the diet has since changed. More than 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea, with different diets according to cultural, social, or religious traditions. However, there is an overall Mediterranean dietary pattern. Mostly it’s about eating plant-based food, but the complete characteristics are:

  1. eating large amounts of fruits, vegetables and salad, bread and whole grain cereals, potatoes, legumes/beans, nuts and seeds
  2. using olive oil as the main source of fat
  3. wide use of herbs and spices, reducing the amount of salt and fat used for flavouring
  4. drinking wine or other fermented beverages in low to moderate amounts, with meals
  5. eating eggs up to four times a week
  6. eating moderate to low amounts of fish, shellfish, poultry and dairy products
  7. eating very little red and processed meat
  8. and finally, the diet is diverse, with a wide variety of food being eaten

Researchers have a number of ways to test how closely you are following this diet or how much you are straying from it and they put a lot of effort into designing and refining those “instruments”. I’m not part of any research, so I wasn’t too interested in that aspect. I think this list of what to eat and how often will be enough for me.

But here comes the interesting part…

I also learned that there are more characteristics of the Mediterranean diet and they relate to how food is consumed and even to lifestyle. (The Greek diaita means “a way of life”.) So, apart from the food consumed, the following are necessary to complete the dietary pattern:

  1. food is sourced locally, and is eaten shortly after harvesting
  2. food is prepared traditionally (cooked or processed at home)
  3. eating takes place in a pleasant, familiar environment
  4. after the meal, you rest
  5. and in-between meals you are physically and socially active

Now this interests me. Of course, it may not be easy to source food locally, or to cook from scratch, but it is worth trying and I look forward to doing more cooking now that I’ve reduced my working hours. The injunction to eat in pleasant surroundings means I will have to critically examine my selection of table cloths and perhaps add to it. The need to rest after meals should be enough to start a campaign for longer lunch-breaks. Sadly it will probably be most difficult to be physically and socially active, given that I’m living in lockdown right now, but it does provide motivation to get creative about staying active and connected.

Studies show that people who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have a better quality of life and greater life expectancy, along with less chance of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases. Now I know how to approach it, I can’t wait.

What about you?


Mazzocchi A, Leone L, Agostoni C & Pali-Scholl (2019). The secrets of the Mediterranean diet. Does [only] olive oil matter? Nutrients 11(12):2941.

Sanchez-Villegas A., Zuzpa I. A Healthy-Eating Model Called Mediterranean Diet. In: Sanchez-Villegas A., Sanchez-Tainta A., editors. The Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease through the Mediterranean Diet. Elsevier; London, UK: Academic Press; London, UK: 2017.

You deserve a medal!

If you have made it to the end of 2020 with a sense of optimism and hope, you deserve a medal.

If you adapted your routines, your habits, your ways of engaging with others in whatever way you thought best, to survive 2020, you deserve a medal.

If you fought off despair, depression, loneliness and fear through this year, and managed to get up and go on, you deserve a medal.

If you were able to maintain some semblance of normality, to do the necessary to get by, even when it seemed pointless, you deserve a medal.

If you had your life turned upside-down through changes to your living and working arrangements, but figured out how to face each new day, you deserve a medal.

If you were separated from people, places and even pets that mattered to you, and managed get on with things, when you just wanted to sit down and cry, you deserve a medal.

If you were able to stay compassionate and support others, even when you felt bewildered and in need of support yourself, you deserve a medal.

This medal is for all the ordinary heroes of 2020, every individual who faced the year with courage and fortitude, and made it to today. May the resilience you cultivated in 2020 improve your life in the future and may 2021 be kinder to us all.

Packing up, remotely

Image by PaolaF from Pixabay
Packing my home of fifteen years. The happiest years.
Bare feet cross stone floors in light-filled rooms,
Past hand-made bookshelves, bursting.
To lie under dappled shade and roses on the long veranda.

I'm packing remotely. 
A phone strapped to his chest, Andrew is my proxy presence.
I can't be there to touch the linen, feel familiar door-knobs.
I won't get to say goodbye.

My house in Johannesburg grows less homely every day.
A home needs care: sweeping, tidying, re-arranging.
Neglect shows quickly. Dust accumulates.
Air becomes stale. The rooms sag.

I went back in December.
Hasty decorations for Christmas; had mum over for lunch.
It wasn't the same. Part of me had left.
Part of me regretted neglecting the house. And mum.

Andrew is full of energy, shaking out the black bin-bags.
Chuck that. That's for charity. That one I'll keep. 
I'm trying to be ruthless. 
A lifetime of gathering splayed across a sprawling, suburban house 
has to be squeezed into a very small apartment.

We get stuck on white linen tablecloths.
Skype-blurred views of once-cherished possessions.
"Is that floral or geometric?" 
"Both geometric. One a kind of starburst, the other little squares."
Domestic minutiae. I keep both.

Two hours of bumpy, blurry video and I'm as nauseous 
as if I'm crossing the sea with my belongings in that container.
My eyes hurt. My head hurts. My heart hurts. 
I take a walk.

That night, awake, I wonder, 
"Will I miss the blue and yellow check that I chucked?"
Yes. But I don't need six table cloths. 
Trying to reason with memories of lunch in the garden,
salt to stop the wine-stain and the scent of wisteria.

Pursue joy


There’s something about relentless uncertainty that is very wearying to the human spirit. Not knowing when or if I’ll get back to Johannesburg to see my family and pack up my house makes it really hard to plan. I’m trying to put plans in place, but there are so many unknowns that I can’t really make progress. I keep getting tied up in knots over which of the many possible paths will become available to me, and the probability of each, and contingency plans. It’s exhausting. And then I’m inclined to do nothing and that leads to lethargy and that faint hint of depression snapping at my heels.


So much of life seems to be on hold, in the face of relentless uncertainty. I don’t think humans were designed for this. But we may well be re-configured by the experience.

One of the things I’ve noticed while trying to “live in the present” is that I have to focus on the immediate pleasures. Like a cool breeze sneaking through the 30 degree heat, good chocolate and the delightful colours and curves of roses. I’m also taking more of an interest in music, because music manages to express some of the frustration, hope and longing and that eases the pain.


Then I was reminded in an online chat about the importance of creating when a friend shared with me an audio clip that he’d composed using samples from the BBC National Orchestra. Imagine that! He gets to sit at home (still locked down in South Africa), compose, and have this amazing orchestra play his composition. He called the piece the Coronavirus Suite.

Creating is the one sure source of joy. I’ve been drawing in the past months. Just drawing faces, women’s faces, without thinking too much. The time I’ve spent drawing has been peaceful. It’s a break from the endless thinking and questioning and uncertainty. Such pursuits also allow a little bit of self-expression and it seems that expressing this crazy experience is the best means we have to try and make sense of it.

202002 dismay 1

The challenge seems to be that, with life curtailed, we don’t stumble on joy as often as we used to. Joyous things appear patchily and increasingly rarely. And this has led me to the conclusion that we have to pay attention to the sources of joy and go after them. We can’t leave this to chance. So I’ve been compiling lists of things that bring me joy and using these to consciously plan my days. Each morning I look over my plans and make sure that there are one or two things included that I know will feel joyous.

My lists start with the easy things, like “eat chocolate” and “blow bubbles”, and build up to “take a shower” or “go out for a walk” because when I’m in a slump, as Dr Suess warned, “unslumping yourself is not easily done”. I need very small steps that give me the energy to take bigger steps. But the really big steps, at the end of my lists, when I get to create, have the best effect.


Perhaps the reconfigured humans of the future will pay more attention to their emotional states and intentionally seek ways to find more joy, to mitigate fears and anxieties. I mean, pre-Covid one could be haphazard about this kind of thing, relying on joy to just crop up in day-to-day life, but this demands more vigilance.

Pursue joy.

Birds, drawing





Black birds mark-making, one from above to below, another from left to right

Grey skies a canvas for lines of flight

One by one, feather pens trace arcs across the clouds

Ink-black strokes, brushed with skillful flourish

Streaks of hope, trails of perseverance, curls of curiosity and flourishes of delight

I leave my window thoughtful

Can I make marks with meaning on this sunless day?

The virtual future of work?

I was really excited to learn, five weeks ago, that my dream of working from home had come true, despite the less than pleasant circumstances. I love working from home.

For me it’s about comfort. I get to work in an environment that I feel comfortable in.

Comfort is not, however, about what I wear. I still put on work clothes on work days, but then I have generally felt comfortable in my work clothes. It’s also not about flexible hours. I’m ridiculously disciplined so that I still keep office hours. On work days I sit down to work at 9am and I stop at 6pm. I also take carefully spaced breaks for tea and lunch.

For me it’s mostly about working in a place where I am surrounded by colour, pattern and texture. Here, my peripheral vision is filled with interesting fabrics, materials and shapes of my choice. My office, by contrast, has white walls and grey furniture with the odd red chair thrown in. All straight lines and right-angles. It makes me very uncomfortable. It’s also about temperature and light. At home I get to match the temperature of the room with my body and I have a lot more natural light.

Oh and I now have a large monitor at home, courtesy of my employer, which makes computer work much easier on the eyes than my tiny laptop screen.

These things may not matter to you. The point is that we are all individuals. Working at home means that we get to tailor our work environment to our individual preferences and needs. I need colour, pattern and texture like other people need comfortable clothes.

Do I miss my colleagues? A little. I see them twice a week in online meetings and we  exchange messages during the day. I do miss the easy idea-building that comes from face-to-face meetings, but mostly I love getting my work done without interruptions. At work I need headphones and music to stay focused, even though I find audio input tiring. At home I can focus surrounded by blissful silence.

I love that work has transitioned so seamlessly to this model. After a lifetime spent trying to convince employers that I would be more productive, healthier and happier working from home, it’s surprising and actually delightful to have it forced on me. I am still puzzling about how to take workshops that I facilitate online, but that’s an interesting challenge. Besides I really do think that face-to-face training is wasteful and has limited reach.

(And yes, I speak from a position of unspeakable privilege. I have a job, a salary, a comfortable apartment. I am healthy, for now. I know that these conditions cannot be assumed, although I do think that they should be more widespread in an optimistic future.)

So I’m starting to think about what happens after all this is over? Do we just go back to how things were before?

Well as far as the logistics of office work goes, I hope not. I hope that companies will appreciate the benefits of not having to have office space with the associated costs and effort. I hope that the excuses of how difficult it is to set up and supervise remote workers will have been exhausted. I hope that the convenience of a quick electronic exchange will replace many meetings. I hope to see company policies that discourage complicated and exhausting air travel to far-flung places as wasteful and environmentally damaging. I hope that cities free of traffic and parking problems will be valued enough for company car allowances to disappear and cities to impose special taxes on businesses that encourage commuting.

I would like to see a future in which companies ensure that employees have good living, and hence, working conditions. (Imagine the benefits for family members, for education, if employees all had high-speed internet to their homes.) I would like to see more virtual workplaces where we take advantage of technology to keep in touch while working in comfort. I would still like to meet face-to-face with colleagues, but not in an office. I want to work for an organisation that takes these meetings into restaurants, parks or creative co-work spaces, places that support the idea-building stuff that humans do so well when face-to-face.

When this grand, global experiment in living and working differently is over, what changes do you want to see?

Colour in my historic apartment

So, what do you do when you move into an apartment that is beautifully decorated in neutrals, and you are a colour person? Especially when it’s an historic apartment on loan to you that you can’t really alter much?

That was my predicament at the beginning of the year, when I moved into this amazing apartment in Guimarães back in March 2019. Here is is, in all it’s neutral glory…

Living room small

The real challenge was the wooden partition consisting of the exposed structure of the original wall that divides the apartment. Interesting, and attractive as a museum artefact, but hard to live with.

Well, I found a way to introduce colour.

Here’s what I did with some scraps of fabric, cardboard (thanks, Ikea) and cold winter nights with scissors, glue, needle and thread.

IMG_20191124_114218 (2)

I cut cardboard panels to fit the (very irregular) spaces in the partition, collected some fabric off-cuts in related colours and glued and sewed the fabric onto each triangle.

The covered card is simply wedged into place in each opening, so as not to damage the historic construction. They are reasonably solid, except in the face of vigorous vacuum-cleaning.

Some details of the different panels

I particularly like the line of purple triangles along the top. I think they echo the ramparts of the local Guimarães castle.

Here’s to a colourful time in 2020!



Cute lion cubs and bad feelings

Last night, my insomniac meanderings through social media brought me to this super-cute video ( Great animation!

Canned lion cub

Of course the video has a nasty twist at the end that leaves a bad feeling. Made worse by having actually gone out of my way to play with the lion cubs. (You can sign the petition against canned lion hunting here.)

This is why I generally ration social media and filter ruthlessly. I don’t like the way so much of it induces bad feelings. Especially when those bad feelings are laid like a trap at the end of what promises to be a good experience. (Who doesn’t love a cute young feline?)

But there’s a lot of bad stuff in the world and just running away from it, putting your head in the sand, is not always possible, or desirable. Those bad feelings ought to motivate me to do something, to make the world better. Right?

It made me think about all those paperback books I paged through, left behind by my partner’s parents who fled Nazi Germany, that pondered how “looking the other way” allowed great evil to flourish. We need to bravely face the things that create bad feelings in order to act.

And that made me think about the guilty luxury of holing up here in peaceful Portugal, far away from South Africa with all it’s pain and turmoil.

And that made me think about Maria Phalima, the South African doctor who walked away from her profession. You can watch her story on YouTube (

Maria Phalima

She describes a healthcare system where doctors are overwhelmed and burned out. As she explains, she had become someone she did not want to be. Her choice to leave was about choosing wholeness and fulfillment, choosing not to suffer. As she says: “The world needs us at our best.” (Here’s a non-affiliate link to buy Maria’s book Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away.)

She describes her experience in public healthcare as “hellish” and that’s pretty much what South African higher education started to feel like in the last few years. Not that people were dying around me (although some were beaten up), but that the under-staffing, pressure to do more, student protests, and bitter tensions over race obscured the reasons for what I was doing. I had lost all compassion for students, where once I had believed that teaching had to be underpinned by love. It was a time filled with bad feelings.

I took early retirement from a tenured academic position in South Africa’s top university, and retreated to Portugal. I love Maria’s idea that I have a right to well-being, to thrive instead of suffering.

But how do we deal with the bad feelings that come from facing ugly realities, without feeling overwhelmed? How do we act responsibly while still allowing ourselves space and energy to contribute positively to the world?

In fifty-eight years on the planet, most of it spent compulsively learning (five degrees, two graduate diplomas and any number of certificates of competency to show for it), the most useful thing I’ve learned is how to do a grounding meditation and let bad feelings flow away into the earth. (I learned that from Jeffrey Allen through Mindvalley. There are cheaper ways to learn it.)

That practice allows me to start each day with a clean slate, with energy to enjoy life on this beautiful, crazy planet. But my meanderings, from pure mathematics to the hippy world of energy, have also taught me a more valuable lesson.

The troubling thing about the cute lion cub video is that it sets up the hunter as the bad guy: the fat white American (of course he’s American, or maybe German) with a gun, who is, after all, the cause of this evil canned hunting.

The petition says that “Those who conduct canned hunts should pay for their actions, as they heartlessly take innocent animal lives.” Actually, they do. They pay handsomely for the experience and in the process, they create jobs.

I am not defending hunters. I want to live in a world where life, in all it’s glory, is respected. But demonizing the hunter is not going to get me there. I have a much better chance of that world if I can regard the hunter as yet one more of the infinitely variable shapes of human. That will allow space for me to engage with the hunter, to understand what makes him tick and why he chooses to do this. That will allow space for the hunter to be receptive to my world view.

And that’s the real problem with social media. It creates barriers to communication by presenting fixed positions, by “othering”.

And that’s the beauty of learning to meditate. It not only helps me to deal constructively with bad feelings, it also allows me to cultivate compassion for those “others”, which opens up paths of communication.

I look forward to the day when these skills are taught alongside reading and arithmetic, as fundamental tools for being good humans. I hope, one day, to be proficient enough to be able to face more of the world, without letting the bad feelings overwhelm me.