May 3 2017 by Dr. Kaminski
It’s springtime, and as nature flares with abundance in my garden, the squirrels are roaming happily, anticipating the prosperity of the coming months. But every fall, as they become busy collecting acorns from the old oak tree and stashing them in their winter pantry, I wonder if they are saying to themselves: “very soon the air will freeze, there will be no food available and the ground would be covered with snow - better collect acorns now and prepare for the winter.” Who knows? But for us, humans, planning ahead is constantly on our mind. We fantasize the future ahead of us: we prepare clothes for tomorrow, we plan our vacation, and we even brush our teeth so they would not decay years from now. The past seems to us, well, in the past… The past is over, immutable, forever frozen in our personal and communal history. But is it...read more
“When a dream comes true, you lose a dream” Dr. K.
July 16 2016 by Dr. Kaminski
The future provides an endless parade of fanciful alternatives. “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” - you say to yourself and suddenly that thought becomes, well, a possibility. We are immersed in figments of our imagination that add false trajectories, existences, and memories. Some imaginings like nostalgia and daydreaming sweeten the memories, and upgrade the present. Other, painful imaginings e.g. anticipatory anxiety, pessimism, bitterness, and vengeance mar our happiness.
Enduring fantasies can feel very real. So real, in fact, that we often experience them as an alternative to our actual life. That alternate “reality” is a cause of many bad decisions and wrong turns into second-rate life trajectories. We can assume therefore that decisions based on reality vs. fantasy are bound to produce choices more beneficial to your life.
Unfortunately, you are by definition totally subjective and biased about your own life. Moreover,...read more
February 7 2016 by Dr. Kaminski
Last week I watched the documentary “ The Hunting Ground”. Ostensibly it deals with rape on American college campuses, but the real accusatory focus is on the shameful behavior of the Universities’ government. Briefly, the documentary claims that when a female student chooses to complain - all too many do not – there is a bias against siding with her.
In one segment, an interviewed male student felt the furor is exaggerated: “so there was a sexual act, he said, and she said no. Does that constitute a rape?” One wants to shout at the screen: Yes!! This is exactly what rape is: a sexual act imposed on an unwilling person.
Hopefully, the interviewed student, so flippant about rape, would come to reevaluate his position when he himself has a daughter.
But perhaps in that inane statement he betrayed the mindset leading to the discrimination against students who are sexually attacked.
While college administrations...read more
November 30 2015 by Dr. Kaminski
Recent terrorist attacks in Europe highlighted the distinction between personal life and life in general. Those closest to the horror: the wounded, the family members, friends, coworkers, experienced a personal sense of loss. The rest have been touched by degrees of distance.
In millennia of human life a small, very present circle was all a person knew. Hunters/gatherers roamed in groups of 100 people. Most have not ventured more than 30 miles radius from the place they were born. The low density of human population made it unlikely for one group to meet another. It seems safe to conclude that early humans knew everyone in their life and that each individual, especially an adult, was quite important.
In our modern world, despite a huge growth in population, social media, swift transportation etc. we seem unable to broaden our circle beyond a relatively handful of people. Research shows that today the average person...read more
July 6 2015 by Dr. Kaminski
“…when you dared not go to sleep for fear of your dreams.” Terry Prachett
Once, many years ago I was rowing in a small French lake with a young Swiss woman I had met on the bus going there. I was twenty, in medical school, and used the summer break to backpack across Western Europe. The day was spectacular, the young woman was lovely, and I was very happy. It struck me however, that this is it. Even if we returned here tomorrow, it would not be the same: I will never be 20 again, on this lake in this boat with this young woman whose name I still remember. Faintly, a poem formed in my mind: A simple, inelegant lament for time lost. The following day, or was it several days later, on the train to Amsterdam, I wrote it down. I still have it somewhere,...read more
April 20 2015 by Dr. Kaminski
I prefer the present to the future: the current moment offers a possibility for course correction, just before it slips back into the immutable past. Surfing on the river of time, requires an appreciation of immediacy; a perpetual closeness to your own self. Conversely, distant aims provide no quarter – your life - inexorably drifting off course.
Inattention to the present robs you of the only slice of time where you truly exist.
Focusing on the past or the future gets you to bypass your actual life, miss instant opportunities, and slowly relegate your life into forgettable smokescreens.
It is very hard to focus on the train of todays, made blurry by the rush of all tomorrows into the waiting yesterday. An eye blink, yet another present is forever lost in the black hole of yore.
Start by paying attention to what is happening now, together with you. I like to think about it...read more
February 16 2015 by Dr. Kaminski
Being disposed to the others’ perceptions of oneself is natural for social beings. When people speak to me about peace of mind they usually mean freedom from imaginary onlookers - the taunting choir of the soul. Never is this torment as difficult as during adolescence. Teenage years, when all
aspects of life are experienced under the magnifying glass of one’s peers, leave us exhausted and determined to stop caring about what the others are thinking. Luckily, except in some specific conditions, we are mostly able to ignore this internal reproach. However, the natural yearning for others’ perceived approval continues to flicker inside. Living with mock tribunal is a price we pay for our consciousness. But life is strewn with insecurity landmines. Trigger one, and you are instantly mired with teenage- like angst, all over again. The demons are not gone, just dormant.
“Success” is an explosive trigger, which instantly awakens the...read more
December 15 2014 by Dr. Kaminski
We pass through life like a sponge, or a sticky surface, picking up bits and pieces of experiences every waking hour. A fragment of a sound, a flitting glimpse, or a powerful moment all enter our memory through the faithful conduits – our senses.
Once inside the memory, all “outside sensory fragments” gets progressively shuffled and reattached into an ever-changing mosaic. This experiential mosaic gets mixed with the “inside sensory fragments” - our perceptions, thoughts, memories of memories and all the fleeting emotions that are being generated at all times. And so, rather than a static perception of your own self, you have an ever changing internal image - a kaleidoscope. This is your subjective image - a fascinating picture of which you are the only spectator. The rest perceive you in a limited and myopic way - devoid of your memories, your emotions, your experiences, your thoughts and perceptions. Consequently,...read more
September 29 2014 by Dr. Kaminski
Frequently, people reveal to me that they invest their lives in what has become a hopeless pursuit. Laboring over doomed initiative, despairing to repair badly broken relationship, undoing what cannot be undone – the possibilities for futile pursuits are endless. I have often wondered what is the underpinning of this behavior. After all, as we all know, letting go is sometimes the best remedy for unsuccessful efforts. In deciding whether to continue or stop a particular endeavor, we struggle with a host of competing forces. We often feel that we have to choose between two options: either stubborn persistence, or premature surrender. Either one does not make sense. Continuing to fight to the bitter end or giving up without trying are both depleting and distressing.
We tend to glorify perseverance in face of the intractable; those who “never give up” are perceived as heroic. Conversely, those who stop trying too soon...read more
August 20 2014 by Dr. K Dr. Kaminski
I like to linger where the inner and the outer worlds meet. The big drama of nature and nurture, the complex veiled interactions and clandestine exchanges, they never fail to fascinate. In my younger years I often stood at that particular precipice and dove into the infinite depth of the subconscious. But now I know, that a lot happens at the place I once thought of as mere passage to the real thing. Most of my insights into human nature are discovered in the gossamer membrane between the worlds. This infinitesimal barrier is holding back our emotional content from spilling outside, and conversely, from the outside world to rush in and overwhelm what has been built in years of patience and struggle.
Most of us treat the juncture between the realms of the self and the collective quite casually. We move fluidly and imperceptibly in eternal circular movement between our inner...read more