Working on gratitude, air conditioning (finally), my sweet tennis champion, improving sex education, and our nuclear nature park
by Rob Tiller
Recently I’ve been working on gratitude, and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve gotten some leads from the Calm meditation app, which has a series of gratitude lessons by the wonderful Tamara Levitt. Levitt approaches the subject from various angles, but the toughest, and most timely, is gratitude for difficulties. She suggests looking at unhappiness as a teacher, and seeing what can be learned.
We finally got our new air conditioner installed and working three days ago, after weeks without AC. Most of the windows in our apartment don’t open, and there are a lot of them facing south and west, so it got hot. It was fairly miserable, but I’m proud to say we kept whining to a minimum, and made it through. Our AC technicians had a tough time installing the new unit — it took four days to get it fully operational — and I thank them.
Right after they got the AC operational, Sally went with her tennis team to the N.C. state tournament, so Rita (our cat) and I kept each other company. Rita is a pretty calico cat who purrs a lot, but also complains a lot, and needs a lot of petting. She meows, rubs against my leg, and swats me over and over with her tail. I like petting to a point, but that point is generally not quite enough for Rita.
We were both very happy to get Sally back this afternoon. Her team is the new state 4.0 women’s champion! Sally has always been a focused and determined competitor, and she wins a lot at the local level, but this is her first state tournament victory. She said there were a lot of good competitors and close matches. She was beaming.
Like all of us, my dearest Jocelyn followed the drama of the Kavanaugh confirmation process closely, and had some strong things to say about it. I liked her proposal that we take this opportunity to consider and improve how we talk about sex. Sex is a fundamental driver of all human cultures (one thing Freud got right), but talking about it in America is highly taboo. We don’t do much sex education in our schools, and if anything we do less in our homes. As briefly as possible, we warn our daughters and sons not to do it, cross our fingers, and hope for the best.
Jocelyn noted that our prevailing norm is that respectable girls should resist sex, while boys will continuously seek it. This sets up a dangerous disconnect: boys expect that girls will resist, but think that resistance shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Adding to the complex dynamics of social pressures and passing moods, in a given encounter neither player may be quite sure of their own true preferences. Misunderstandings are rampant, and even with good intentions, traumatic mistakes happen. Jocelyn suggested a new rule: boys and girls agree that they will only have sex when they come to agreement that the objective is their mutual pleasure.
I took these pictures yesterday at Harris Lake Park in southern Wake County. The lake provides cooling water to the Shearon Harris nuclear plant. As I was heading down US 1 to get there, it started raining hard, but it stopped just before I got to the park. The lake was peaceful. The cooling tower had a disturbing aspect, but that was mitigated by birds, grasses, bushes, and trees. There were a few people fishing from the shore and from a few boats, and me.