The last frontier

Forget space travel. I wonder what it would be like to dive 1000 meters into obscurity, surrounded by pulsating bodies of bioluminescent sea beasts – the darkness enveloping you in the most comforting, yet terrifying hug you could imagine.

Now imagine how these remote areas would look 30 years from now.

I’ve been going over my post about the documentary Mission Blue and the work of Sylvia Earle. Since writing that original entry, I’ve done some more research and thought it appropriate to adjust the focus. While Sylvia Earle is an amazing, intrepid researcher and conservationist, I think we should be looking to the ‘guardian within’ in order to affect real change when it comes to ocean conservation.

So, why should we care what happens to our blue regions?

71% of the earth’s surface is covered in ocean. These waters regulate climate and weather, and support life on earth through the cycling of vital gases and nutrients. It’s no surprise, then, that our water regions play a huge role in our future. However, as with all things, there is balance at play: knock one element off-kilter, and another inevitably reacts.

Let’s consider our relationship with water on a cellular level. The human body comprises a range of water between 50% to 75%. Babies and children have the highest percentage, followed by adult men, then adult women. Water is the primary building block of cells. It also works as an insulator, regulator, lubricator and shock absorber within the body. Water is fundamental to our survival because of our cellular makeup and our dependence on the larger bodies of blue which regulate earthly forces. Once again, the microcosm meets the macrocosm.

The interconnectedness of life above and below water is highlighted by some alarming statistics. For instance, coral reefs cover only 0.2% of the ocean floor, yet they support an estimated 25% of all marine life. At the present rate of destruction through pollution, damaging fishing practices, tourism overuse, and coral bleaching, it’s estimated that 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within 30 years.

Ocean dead zones: areas that no longer support sea life due to oxygen depletion, are owed primarily to agricultural run-off. The sludge produced by agriculture seeps into our waterways and eventually ends up in our oceans, creating large areas of algal blooms which eventually diminish the amount of concentrated dissolved oxygen in the water. This lack of oxygen suffocates marine life and essentially reduces biodiversity.

When you delve deeper into the issue, it becomes more and more apparent how our daily habits can affect change. What I’ve learned to date certainly makes me question my personal contribution to the issue. So how do we find balance? What can we do as individuals to help protect our oceans?

Perhaps we should start by paying close attention to what we consume, to know the origin of our food and to educate ourselves in conservation.

What I admire about people like Sylvia Earle is their ability to maintain an almost childlike love and enthusiasm for the subject of their cause. Our oceans are certainly worth the admiration. But we need more than admiration to affect change. It will take effort by each of us: a sacrifice of things we consider convenient. Industrialization has not only polluted our earth, it has deluded us if we think our daily burger isn’t part of the problem. Just do the research; it will shock you. Did you know it takes 600 barrels (BARRELS) of water to produce just one hamburger?

Research, education and conservation work are crucial because we don’t see the effect of our oil-spills, ocean-dumping, over-fishing and consumption habits apart from what we observe on the surface. And even then, all is quickly forgotten. What’s happening below the floating ship should concern us all, and that’s the message. “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle

Even so, I wonder which route is more effective now that awareness is growing: to back leading environmental groups through donations, which gives us a warm fuzzy feeling while allowing us to keep a safe distance from our actual role in the issue, or to take responsibility for our daily habits and current beliefs. Perhaps a bit of the first and a whole lot of the second…



‘Mission Blue’ and ‘Cowspiracy’ documentaries on Netflix


Venus doesn’t always have it easy — Venus in Scorpio

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to work on a project that would trigger an inward journey as I explored some pretty expansive ideas and beliefs.

The job was a 440-page coin catalogue layout — the coins were imprinted with various images of Venus. During project downtime, I did my own research into the goddess of love and abundance, which inevitably brought me to the Study of Astrology. I can see my brother palm his face as he reads this — ever the skeptic.

The first step was to input my birthdate and time of birth into a Western natal chart calculator. I used the following link:

Et voila!
Sun: Capricorn

Okay, I knew that, but what I found interesting were the other planetary placements.

Moon: Libra
Mercury: Capricorn
Venus: Scorpio
Mars: Gemini
Jupiter: Aries
Saturn: Leo
Uranus: Scorpio
Neptune: Sagittarius
Pluto: Libra
Lilith: Aries
North Node: Scorpio
Ascendant/Rising Sign: Scorpio (1st house)

I haven’t included the degrees of the planets and the 11 additional houses. I’m quickly veering off topic so I need to reel it in.

So let’s get back to the planet archetypes — the juicy one, Venus in Scorpio.

Venus represents love, abundance, life’s pleasures and the female counterpart to Mars — planet of action and desire.

When the planet associated with love and pleasure is met with the sign associated with sex, purging and regeneration, these people are said to attract intense romantic situations and partners. From what I’ve experienced, this interpretation isn’t far off the mark.

I consider myself a pretty keen observer when it comes to interactions with people — gleaning information through a person’s tone of voice and cadence of speech, noticing how they sit, stand and touch their face during conversation. Of course, the eyes tell the ultimate story. You name it, I take note. And I take my time in the initial stages. A cool head mixed with an intense underlying passion make for interesting, dynamic interactions and relationships. However, when the fire is gone and there is nothing left to learn, it’s time to move on — though, believe me, it takes a lot for that to happen. With my North Node (my life purpose), Uranus (the planet of transformation) and Rising Sign (my mask to the world) also in Scorpio, it seems I’m doomed! But yeah, I temper these concepts with a grounding belief in free will.

Astrologists attach energies and archetypes to individual planets, interpret energies between the planets depending on their placement in the sky and try to connect these energies to us as individuals. However, we are not our signs — it’s all about energy. We ultimately determine our paths through action.

I guess it comes down, once again, to connection. And even though I’m skeptical, I can’t deny my fascination. If nothing else, it’s fun trying to fit squares pegs in round holes.

Connection, Nana Soup and the Cosmos


We all seek it, crave it. When I was much younger, I would get my spoon, dip it into a bowl of soup — preferably my mom’s ‘Nana soup’ — and would try to proportionately match the contents of the spoon to the contents of the bowl. I can’t be the only kid to have done this. Anyhow, I would think about this every now and again and have come to appreciate how a simple meal can so sweetly illustrate the microcosm of the universe, or rather, our need to find a connection to something greater. Every thing is linked — carefully structured energy veiled in material form, existing as a spoonful of soup in reflection of the larger bowl that is the cosmos, if the cosmos could be contained. Damn, I could really go for a bowl of soup.

The skewed social media

I’ve never been much of a social media junkie. I’ve always felt somewhat overwhelmed and exposed when online, mostly due to the sheer volume of information. Mix that with a tendency to shy away from the light and airy, and my social media experience has been rather stop-and-go.

From a young age, we’ve been taught to value consistency because a consistent person is viewed as reliable, and a reliable person is valuable. Social media exacerbates this programming through a feedback system comprised of likes, comments, followers and subscriptions. We crave the quick validation provided through online applications and we’re encouraged to create surface bonds with as many people as possible.

For the immediate highs that social media provides, life doesn’t begin and end online, and we know this. It’s a tool — a facilitation for the mask we wear for social acceptance. It isn’t true connection.

True connection begins at the point when you can look someone directly in the eye and experience the nuances that make up their expansive character. Through face-to-face interactions, we cultivate genuine connections with each other. We are not our social media profiles — we are vastly greater than what could ever be captured within an online application and yet we treat each other as though the opposite were true. Are we okay with this shift in collective functioning? Maybe we’ve confused ‘connecting’ with ‘collecting’. Perhaps we’ve bought into the myth that marketing the best, or even the craziest possible online versions of ourselves — as long as we’re consistent — is the only way to be valued in today’s society.

Sure, many of our most innovative ideas and marketing opportunities are owed to the onset of social media. Our ability to function effectively in a world increasingly governed by these online tools is a matter of balance between the minutes/hours spent among the various names and snapshots in time, and the constant flow of awareness while connecting with a person face-to-face.

Maybe a tool is best used as such — neither as a distraction nor as a mirror of self-worth. And the line, she is fine — if that line even exists.

Searching for Sugar Man — The Story of Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez, Jesus Rodriguez, Rodriguez — before yesterday evening, I’d never heard these names in reference to popular music.

The documentary Searching for Sugar Man tells the unlikely story of Rodriguez — a hard-working, Detroit-based folk singer — long forgotten in the US, yet celebrated as a cult figure in South Africa since the 70s.

The story begins in Cape Town as two long-time Rodriguez fans embark on a quest to uncover details of his life and mysterious death. Their search eventually leads them to the United States, where the story takes an unexpected twist. You won’t find any spoilers here. If you can set aside an hour and a half one evening, I would encourage you to check out a story of a humble man with a catalytic gift. It’s a film full of surprise, inspiration and a healthy dose of perspective.

photo credit: Who is Rodriguez? via photopin (license)