Magic Mushroom Monopolies Threaten The Benefits of Psychedelics: The Chicken Who Laid Golden Eggs

Psilocybin has just gotten “breakthrough” status with the FDA. Meaning that magic mushrooms are one step closer to being available to treat a range of mental health conditions, starting with end-of-life existential dread and more general depression. I almost want to get clinically depressed, so I can be eligible for the drug trials. Michael Pollan’s book, How To Change Your Mind, changed my mind. As did a recent panel at the World Science Festival on developing psychedelic research. I believe the science that suggests that psychedelics have the potential to alleviate a great deal of suffering in the world. I believe they also create the possibility of a much-needed shake-up in our current norms of behavior and our priorities for…


Between America and China There Is No “Right” Side: The Wolf Testifying Against the Fox in the Monkey’s Court

The trade war with China escalates. We try to sort out who did what to whom. If we are not knee-jerk patriots, we wonder who is “right”. We attempt to cut through the jungle of contradictory opinions to find the path of resolution. One answer comes to us from the 17thcentury menagerie of Jean de La Fontaine’s fables: A wolf said that he’d been robbed. A fox, his neighbor, with a pretty shady life, was called to court on charges of theft. They pleaded the case before the monkey, no lawyers, each party representing himself. Themis, the Titaness who personified the divine order, fairness and the law, had never had to deal with a more convoluted case. Her emissary, the…


How To Build a Meditation Practice: The Little Fish and The Fisherman

Five months ago, I started a meditation streak. I set out to meditate for 10 days in a row. Then I upped my goal to 30. I just hit 150 days and I don’t have a specific goal anymore. I just want to see how far I can take it. One day at a time. Little by little. Baby steps toward Buddha’s feet. A practice we can extend to much else in our lives, especially in moments when the possibility of change or progress feels very far away indeed. Jean de La Fontaine captures the spirit of our task here, with his talking fish: Little fish grow big, if the universe allows. But to release one in the meantime, well…


Upping Our Environmental Game: The Swallow and The Little Birds

Earth Day was this past week, a time for stepping up our environmental game. I was at my favourite falafel joint with a friend for lunch yesterday. We had both dutifully brought drinks in our own re-usable bottles and when we ordered our take-out, we were careful to say, “No bag, please.” We waited, holding our eco-sac at the ready. The woman popped our falafel sandwiches in a bag and handed it to us. My friend took the sandwiches out of the bag and handed it back to the woman at the counter (very politely and without attitude). The woman grabbed the bag, crumpled it up in front of us and threw it in the garbage. Why wouldn’t she listen…


What Is Feminist? –The Dragon With Many Heads and The Dragon With Many Tails

I’ve been talking and thinking a lot lately about feminism and feminist actions. Most vividly, the topic came up around a play I wrote (Because I Am Your Queen). From the beginning, I wanted to create and foster a feminist project that empowered women both in its development and doing, as well as in its content. In other words, I wanted a play that practiced what it preached, without preaching, of course (I hope)! What are feminist practices in the creation of a play? In its production? In its rehearsal process? For that matter, what are feminist practices full stop? Canadians, for example, have been wrestling lately with the question of what constitutes a feminist government. One might not think…


How Many Years of Life Is The Thigh Gap Worth? –The Melancholic and Death

I watched the television show Fleabag recently (an excellent mix of funny, poignant and wrenching) and was struck by a scene in which a feminist speaker asks her audience, “Would you give up five years of your life to have the perfect body?” The protagonist and her sister raise their hands, but no one else does. We, the television viewing audience, are invited to think the sisters are shallow. We woke viewers understand that life is more important than having the perfect body, as much as we may complain about the latter. This fable of Jean de La Fontaine’s came to mind. A wretched man called out for death to save him every day. The melancholy man said : O…


I Feel and Think, Therefore I Am: The Head and The Tail of The Snake

I’ve had several conversations recently with friends who are taking actions that feel wrong in their gut. Literally. Whether it’s knots in their stomach from stress or new intolerances to foods. Yet, their decisions, from the outside, look rational, reasonable and prudent. We are, as a society, far too Cartesian. Remember, René Descartes (17thcentury French philosopher) and his, “I think, therefore I am”? He famously thought our bodies were mere machines.  I bet he wasn’t much fun in bed. When we ignore the knowledge that our bodies carry, by refusing to include that wisdom in our decision-making process, we intentionally deprive ourselves of useful and relevant information to guide our actions. To find insight into this puzzling behavior, we can…


To Thrive In An Unfair World, Don’t Be A Miser: The Treasure and The Two Men

Conversation got a little heavy at the breakfast table the other day. I was telling my partner about a book I was reading by Phillippe Lançon, one of the survivors of the terrorist attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices on January 7, 2015. Next thing we knew we were revisiting the November 13, 2015 attack at the Bataclan concert venue, which we experienced from a restaurant only a few hundred meters away (and which I wrote about here: A Paris Weekend In November). Then it was Kikkan Randall’s cancer, discovered only months after she won a gold medal for cross country skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Life’s randomness can terrify me over my oatmeal. Fortune toys with us.…


Put Women Back In The Story and Power: The Lioness’ Funeral

I’m at University of Illinois this week, working with their theatre department on a play I wrote, in collaboration with some other wonderful women artists (Barbara Pitts McAdams, Lisa Chess and Jacqui Dugal). The play is a bit of an absurd fantasia featuring six historical-literary queens rewriting their stories in a spa located on a fold of time in a dark matter universe engineered by their physicist spa attendants. With women’s stories on my mind, this fable filtered to the surface of my consciousness again, but from a new angle. The moral has always seemed to be about sucking up to power, a theme that resonates in these amoral Roger Stonian times. What strikes me at this moment is the fate…


How To Make The Most of Your Life: The Old Man and The Three Young Men

My meditation streak hit day 64 today. Without putting too much pressure on myself, I’m hoping to keep up my regular sitting until I hit 100 days. The last time I sustained such a streak was after my father died. Sitting regularly helped me breathe in the face of mortality, my father’s and my own (fewer people ahead of me in line, as if there is a proper order). Meditating on one’s death is a common practice in Buddhism. A mantra might be, I could die today. I don’t actually meditate on death often and when I do, I feel like I’m a fraud. Most days, I still don’t think I’m going to die that day, even as I’m saying…




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