Thought for the Day: Life Stands Explained


“When we remember that we are all mad,

the mysteries disappear

and life stands explained.”

– from the Bali Advertiser, 21 Jan. – 04 Feb., 2015, p. 39.




About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

8 responses to “Thought for the Day: Life Stands Explained”

  1. Pat says :

    so are we all mad? do you believe that? and how does it follow that life is explained by such a statement? I like the photo of the flower clearly planted near the house but thriving in a kind of bereft, dry end of season non nurturing environment. Perhaps that says more about the human condition than those words I don’t get.

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi Pat and Geri: Thanks for your questions and comments. When I read that blurb in The Bali Advertiser, I laughed, and I wanted you to have that reaction too – because it’s ridiculous, of course, to think we are all just crazy; perhaps it’s just an easy excuse.

      I like your comments about the photographs too. I took the picture of the flower and fence along an ordinary street in Jerusalem, outside the Old City. To me, it could be a symbol of Israel, set in a desert, beset by all sorts of stresses and the real possibility of being uprooted and thrown away, but blooming and bringing beauty.

      However, your input has made me reflect on that Bali Advertiser quotation and what it might mean (for me, anyway) in a deeper way.

      Something is very wrong in the world.

      My friend Ruth just wrote on FB that a “libertarian” magazine is spouting all sorts of Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial – – now in 2015. Why?

      Why is there so much hatred? Why do so many suffer?

      Modern day slavery and sex trafficking are estimated to involve 21-36 million people (young and old) though out the world (in the U.S. too). See Free the Slaves . What’s happened to the 230+ Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram?

      Southern Angola is suffering, just to name one place in the world – from 400 years of slavery, the results of Portuguese colonialism, past military incursions by South Africa into Nambia, guerrilla activity, HIV/AIDS – nearly 20 % of the people in one province are infected . . . See Paul Theoroux’s The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari about his 2011 overland trip from South Africa to Angola.

      In Hawaii, there’s Monsanto, with its uncontrolled use of pesticides in their test and research fields near the aquifer, an elementary, and only middle and high school for the idyllic Hawaiian island of Molokai!

      There’s the growing gap between the rich and the poor. In the US, the stock market is booming, but only 6% of its citizens are protected by unions; our public schools, our infrastructure continue to deteriorate.

      I know you can think of many other examples.

      So if we aren’t all mad, what’s the excuse? Are we too self-centered? Too greedy? Too unconscious? Is it that we don’t know what to do?

      I know that not accepting a straw for my drinks won’t really impact the use of plastic in the world. Being vegetarian may help a bit. Planting trees or growing vegetables is good, but how can any of that really help? Signing petitions, I hope, is good.

      Is it that we give up and don’t even try? Why is there so much suffering? And why is there no end in sight? What do you think?
      Thanks for getting me to question. Aloha, Renée

      • Pat says :

        Hi Renee, Your question about why is there so much suffering is of course age old and the focus of religious scholars and non scholars just asking why God why? I’ve come to understand there IS no answer, that suffering is one of those necessary opposites that exits to balance us, right wrong, happiness despair rich poor, think of the list. it is all perfection, all of it necessary .

        so when are you returning? Here there has been rain past two nights and all day Sunday super bowl day with the typical big waves wind and no beach to walk on at high tide. But the sun is out during the day and warming up nicely this morning. Sending love to you, aloha, Pat

      • Geri Sue Kliegman Rapp says :

        Hi Renee — Thanks, Pat. You worded your response more eloquently than I could have. I would have said the answer to ‘why’ do these things happen is nothing more or less than human nature. Pretty simple. From the very beginning, someone has always wanted to be in charge, have the most, have the control, power, wealth, be head of the cave/the head of the tribe/be pharaoh/emperor/king/president. There is nothing new under the sun as far as human nature is concerned that I can see. I haven’t asked ‘why’ in a long time.

  2. Geri Sue Kliegman Rapp says :

    Hi Pat – Although I don’t know if the photo of the flower was put there purposely, I agree with you as to its possible symbolism. I think that statement taken from something called Bali Advertiser is nothing if not sad. Maybe the person was depressed or smokin’ some funny stuff …?!

  3. reneeriley says :

    Thanks, Pat and Geri: I sometimes like to think that I must have done something good in a past life to have my life now. Poet Wallace Stevens said, “Death is the mother of beauty,” but that thought probably doesn’t help anyone who is suffering the loss of a loved one. I like Washington Carver’s words of “Drop your buckets where you are”; work where you are. There’s plenty to do everywhere.

    Barry and I are here in Bali until March 6 when we fly to St. Louis. We’ll be back on Maui on April 6, so we’ll see you soon Pat. And Geri you’re invited to come visit us. Aloha, Renee

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