Weekly Quotes 2014

1-6-14 Weekly Quotes: Reflections on Recovering from Busy-ness

[A re-post from April 27, 2009; a way for me to recover from busy-ness]

The tragedy with velocity as the answer to complexity is that, after awhile, you cannot see or comprehend anything that is not traveling at the same speed you are. And you actually start to feel disturbed by people who have a sense of restfulness to their existence.– David Whyte

There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.– Gandhi

Are you stressed? Are you so busy getting to the future that the present is reduced to a means of getting there? Stress is caused by being “here” but wanting to be “there” or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It’s a split that tears you apart inside. To create and live with such an inner split is insane. The fact that everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it any less insane.– Eckart Tolle

The Chinese pictograph by ‘busy’ is composed of two characters: heart and killing.– Br. David Stendl-Rast

Even though in principle we may “know better”, we routinely succumb all the same to the incessant, often frantic and unexamined busyness of thinking we have to get somewhere else first before we can rest; thinking we need to get certain things done to feel we have accomplished something before we can be happy.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.– Thomas Merton

In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere – even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others – the corrosive pressure of frantic over-activity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others. A “successful” life can become a violent enterprise.– Wayne Muller

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?– Henry David Thoreau

He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good.– Rabindranath Tagore

The answer to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The answer to exhaustion is whole-heartedness.– Brother David Stendl-Rast

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. – Thomas Merton

One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one’s life has meaning, that one is needed in this world.– Hannah Senesh

Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.– Helen Keller

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. In the depths there is a spring with all the water your heart is thirsty for.– Rumi

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.
Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.– Rabindranath Tagore

1-13-14 Weekly Quotes: Doors and Windows into the New Year

[A friend gave me a lovely Brush Dance 2014 calendar with these marvelous quotes about doors and windows; enjoy!]

January

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves.– Anatole France

February

When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.– Joseph Campbell

March

The doors of wisdom are never shut.– Benjamin Franklin

April

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.– Carl Sandburg

May

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.– Henry David Thoreau

June

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.– Emily Dickinson

July

Art is the window to man’s soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within.– Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson

August

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

September

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.– Flora Whittemore

October

You can do anything you think you can. This knowledge is literally the gift of the gods, for through it you can solve every human problem.– Robert Collier

November

Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.– Herbert Hoover

December

A small key opens big doors.– Turkish proverbs

And a few more…

Whenever God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.– Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sound of Music

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.– Alexander Graham Bell

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.– William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.– Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

1-20-14 Weekly Quotes: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[as timely and as true today…the fierce call to conscience of Martin Luther King, Jr.]

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

2-3-14 Weekly Quotes: Weathering the Winter Storms

[I happen to live in the blessedly benign climate of the San Francisco Bay Area. Many friends and family members in the Midwest and on the East coast, however, have been hit with dreadful, even destructive storms this winter. In honor of their resilience….]

The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.– Joseph Wood Krutch

Winter is not a season; it’s an occupation.– Sinclair Lewis

Every mile is two in winter.– George Herbert

One kind word can warm three months of winter.– Japanese proverb

People get a bad impression of weather by continually trying to treat it as if it were a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you don’t try to predict what.– Katharine Whitehorn

We all accept that no one controls the weather. Good sailors learn to read it carefully and respect its power. They will avoid storms if possible, but when caught in one, they know when to take down the sails, batten down the hatches, drop anchor and ride things out, controlling what is controllable and letting go of the rest. Training, practice, and a lot of firsthand experience in all sorts of weather are required to develop such skills so that they work for you when you need them. Developing skill in facing and effectively handling the various “weather conditions” in your life is what we mean by the art of conscious living.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.– Epicurus

I’m no longer afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.– Louise May Alcott

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.- Marcel Proust
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.– Albert Camus

There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.– George Eliot

For every man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.– George Gissing

Storms make oaks take deeper roots.– George Herbert

If we had not winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity prosperity would not be so welcome.– Anne Bradstreet

The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.– Terri Guillemets

And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree. Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love tinter, for it is the spring of genius.– Pietro Aretino

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.– John Burroughs

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.
– John Ruskin

2-10-14 Weekly Quotes: Patience, Perseverance, and Plowing Through

[My brother Barry, who lives near Ann Arbor, Michigan, hasn’t seen a day when the temperature rose above freezing in more than a month; he clears his driveway every other day with his snow-blower; his dogs wear little booties outside to protect their paws from the ice and snow. This severe winter weather in the Midwest and on the East Coast is a time for cozying up inside and moving into deeper reflections within. This poem, from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us is offered as a guide to that deep within time that needs a full measure of patience, perseverance, and plowing through.]

For the Unknown Self

So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye’s affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.

It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.

It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without every recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life;
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.

It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.

Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,

Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.

At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.

It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;

It as the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to a wholesome ease.

2-17-14 Weekly Quotes: Presidents Day – Lessons in Leadership

[Whether you’ve been inspired by or disappointed in the current administration, here are a few words from our 44th president, Barack Obama, about the responsibilities of leadership and the responsibilities of us as citizens in this audacious experiment called democracy.]

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

True progress is only possible where governments exist to serve their people, and not the other way around.

The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails, it requires vigilance. And we’ll suffer the occasional setback. But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. People of goodwill, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history’s currents. That’s where courage comes from – when we turn not from each other, or on each other, but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That’s where courage comes from.

Complacency is not the character of great nations.

The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.

The premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story. And while we don’t promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity – the idea that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege; it depends on effort and merit.

Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy. Our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. Citizenship demands a sense of common purpose; participation in the hard work of self-government, an obligation to serve our communities.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people. Yes we can.

Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the important of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpened his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his. Then, Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions.

Liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends on the law to constrain those in power.

Peace with justice begins with the example we set here at home, for we know from our own histories that intolerance breeds injustice. Whether it’s based on race, or religion, gender or sexual orientation, we are stronger when all our people – no matter who they are or what they look like – are granted opportunity, and when our wives and our daughters have the same opportunities as our husbands and our sons.

When we respect the faiths practiced in our churches and synagogues, our mosques and our temples, we’re more secure. When we welcome the immigrant with his talents or her dreams, we are renewed. When we stand up for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and treat their love and their rights equally under the law, we defend our own liberty as well. We are more free when all people can pursue their own happiness. And as long as walls exist in our hearts to separate us from those who don’t look like us, or think like us, or worship as we do, then we’re going to have to work harder, together, to bring those walls of division down.

3-3-14 Weekly Quotes: Singing through Grief, Singing for Life

[Several members of my Deepening Joy group sing with the local Threshold Choir, bringing the joy and comfort of music and loving human connection to people on the threshold between living and dying. In honor and reverence for their work, and for the joy of hearts lifted in song anywhere.]

Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?– Rose F. Kennedy

He who sings frightens away his ills.– Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.– Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.– Emory Austin

A friend is someone who remembers the song of your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten the words.– Author unknown

A song will outlive all the sermons in memory.– Henry Giles

God respects me when I work; He loves me when I sing.– Rabindranath Tagore

You can cage the singer but not the song.– Harry Belafonte

[and to honor the power of song to fuel powerful movements for social justice….]

PBS American Masters special The Power of Song about the life and work of Pete Seeger, beloved American folk singer and social change activist.

3-10-14 Weekly Quotes: Stories Are the Currency of Human Contact

[Last week I learned from Fred Luskin (Forgive for Good) that his 16 years of directing the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University had taught him that true forgiveness included changing the story. Stories are powerful shapers of our beliefs about ourselves, our identities, our relationships, our culture. Fred reported on research that found people actually learn to be more empathic, and thus perhaps more forgiving, from reading literature than reading self-help books. These weekly quotes are testament to the power of sharing, and sometimes even the necessity of changing, our stories. ]

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.– Harold Goddard

If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. – Siberian Elder

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.– Ursula K. LeGuin

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.– Muriel Rukeyser

Story is far older than the art of science and psychology, and will always be the elder in the equation no matter how much time passes.– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.– Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

Stories are the currency of human contact.– Robert McKee

The shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.– Anthony de Mello

Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Consequently, stories often pack more punch than sermons.– Janet Litherland

All human beings have an innate need to hear and tell stories and to have a story to live by. Religion, whatever else it has done, has provided one of the main ways of meeting this abiding need.– Harvey Cox
The Seduction of the Spirit

It’s no coincidence that just at this point in our insight into our mysteriousness as human beings struggling towards compassion, we are also moving into an awakened interest in the language of myth and fairy tale. The language of logical arguments, of proofs, is the language of the limited self we know and can manipulate. But the language of parable and poetry, of storytelling, moves from the imprisoned language of the provable into the freed language of what I must, for lack of another word, continue to call faith.– Madeleine L’Engle

When the bond between heaven and earth is broken, even prayer is not enough; only a story can mend it.– Ba’al Shem Tov

When stories nestle in the body, soul comes forth.– Deena Metzger

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.– Salman Rushdie

If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life.– Jean Houston

Those times of depression tell you that it’s either time to get out of the story you’re in and move into a new story, or that you’re in the right story but there’s some piece of it you are not living out.– Carol S. Pearson

A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick. Without stories we would go mad. Life would lose its moorings or orientation….Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart larger.– Ben Okri

Their story, yours and mine — it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them.– William Carlos Williams

The Celtic peoples, for example, insisted that only the poets could be teachers. Why? I think it is because knowledge that is not passed through the heart is dangerous: it may lack wisdom; it may be a power trip; it may squelch life out of the learners. What if our educational systems were to insist that teachers be poets and storytellers and artists? What transformations would follow?– Mathew Fox

Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories. – Mary Catherine Bateson

We are the first generation bombarded with so many stories from so many authorities, none of which are our own. The parable of the postmodern mind is the person surrounded by a media center: three television screens in front of them giving three sets of stories; fax machines bringing in other stories; newspapers providing still more stories. In a sense, we are saturated with stories; we’re saturated with points of view. But the effect of being bombarded with all of these points of view is that we don’t have a point of view and we don’t have a story. We lose the continuity of our experiences; we become people who are written on from the outside.– Sam Keen

Story is a medicine which strengthens and arights the individual and the community. Stories set the inner life into motion, and this is particularly important where the inner life is frightened, wedged, or cornered. Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our trouble, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives.– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history, that dreams are more powerful than facts, that hope always triumphs over experience, that laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.– Robert Fulghum

3-17-14 Weekly Quotes: Celtic Wisdom on this Most Irish of Days

[In honor of my part-Irish heritage, with deep bows to the wisdom found in Celtic poetry, philosophy, and blessings.]

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life. Without this subtle quickening our days would be empty and wearisome, and no horizon would ever awaken our longing. Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life. This shy inner light is what enables us to recognize and receive our very presence here as blessing. We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us and will now enfold, nourish, and sustain us. The gift of the world is our first blessing.

It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing. The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable. Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench that inner light of providence.– John O’Donohue,
To Bless the Space Between Us

Blessing the Space Between Us

May the presence and power of spirit surround, support and guide us and keep us safe.
May we remember the deep love we have for each other.
May we greet our emerging differences with tenderness and tolerance.
May we call on our courage to speak our truth, and reveal our vulnerabilities.
May we reflect back to others without blaming or shaming.
May we hear the truth others speak with compassion.
May we have patience with their process and emergence.
May we pause, breathe, and let ourselves settle.
May we stand in love and strength together.
May our rough edges be doorways to healing.– Bette Acuff, with bows to John O’Donohue

It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.– Irish proverb (via Mary Pipher)

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you
In the hollow of his hand.– traditional Irish blessing (via my brother, Barry)

3-31-14 Weekly Quotes: Nourishing the Soul in Spring

[I’m late with the Spring quotes this year, but then Spring itself is late this year in many parts of the country. May you find the joy of your own “I can.”]

As long as the earth can make a Spring every year, I can.
And as long as the Earth can flower and produce nurturing fruit, I can.– Alice Walker

I am sick of four walls and a ceiling! I have need of the sky; I have business with the grass.– Richard Hovey

Listen, can you hear it? Spring’s sweet cantata. The strains of grass pushing through the snow. The song of buds swelling on the vine. The tender timpani of a baby robin’s heart. Spring!– Diane Frolov

Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment. – Ellis Peters

Springtime is the land awakening.– Lewis Grizzard

Earth laughs in flowers.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.– Albert Schweitzer

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?– Maurice Maeterlinck

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.– Beverly Nichols

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.– Terri Guillemets

If you pass by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it, God gets real pissed off.– Alice Walker

Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn’t room for any other thought?– Sophie Scholl

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.– Chinese proverb

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.– The Koran

If of thy mortal goods thou are bereft,
And of thy meager store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.– Sheikh Mushli-uddin Saadi, Shirazi

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.– Walt Whitman

Little flower, but if I could understand what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.– Alfred Lord Tennyson

If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?- G.K. Chesterton

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.– William Blake

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Today the spring has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.
Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.– Rabindranath Tagore

4-7-14 Weekly Quotes: Taxes – A Challenge to Resilience

[We call upon our resources for recovering resilience any time we face the unknown, the uncertain, the unpredictable. Even though Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes,” many of us are faced with truly daunting surprises when we actually face our income/expenses/tax deductions for the year. May these offerings of gallows humor provide some levity as you navigating the challenges, maybe even crises, of this tax season.]

The taxpayer – that’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.– Ronald Reagan

I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.– Arthur Godrey

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation….For imposing taxes on us without our consent…We, therefore….solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states.– the Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies, 1776

In 1790, the nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren’t much happier about taxation with representation.– Lyndon B. Johnson

Rightful taxation is the price of social order. In other words, it is that portion of the citizen’s property which he yields up to the government in order to provide for the protection of all the rest. It is not to be wantonly levied on the citizen, nor levied at all except in return for benefits conferred.– Journal of the Senate of the State of Ohio, December 6, 1847

Taxation is the price which civilized communities pay for the opportunity of remaining civilized.– Albert Bushnell Hart, 1903

People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can’t live within its income.– Robert Half

Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?– Peg Bracken

Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages.– H.L. Mencken

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing.– Jean Baptist Colbert

The United States has a system of taxation by confession.– Hugo Black

A fine is a tax for doing something wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right.– author unknown

Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.– Herman Wouk

Today it takes more brains and effort to make out the income tax form than it does to make the income.– Alfred E. Neuman

There is an ancient belief that the gods love the obscure and hate the obvious. Without benefit of divinity, modern men of similar persuasion draft provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.– Martin D. Ginsburg

Our tax code is so long it makes War and Peace seem breezy.– Steven LaTourette

The nation should have a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.– William Simon

All the Congress, all the accountants and tax lawyers, all the judges, and a convention of wizards cannot tell for sure what the income tax law says.– Walter B. Wriston

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax. This is a question too difficult for a mathematician. It should be asked of a philosopher.– Albert Einstein, about filling out his income tax form, 1944

I shall never use profanity except in discussing house rent and taxes.– Mark Twain

Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is really quite as satisfying as an income tax refund.– F.J. Raymond

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.– author unknown

A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it.– author unknown

There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.– Dan Bennett

Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list.– Charles M. Schulz (Snoopy)

[P.S. I do my best to be accurate in researching quotes for these posts; “borrowing” wisdom from previous sources has a long and ancient history:

Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in the world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.– Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 1789, translated from the French

Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.– Daniel Defoe, The Political History of the Devil, 1726]

4-28-14 Weekly Quotes: Every Day is Earth Day

[A belated reprise of quotes for Earth Day, still an urgency to respond skillfully and compassionately to the challenges of climate change and environmental destruction. May this week’s quotes inform and inspire.]

We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.– Terri Swearingen

One planet, one experiment.– Edward O. Wilson

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is – something that we must hold in our arms and care for.– Margaret Mead

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise, what is there to defend?– Robert Redford

The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.– John F. Kennedy

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.– E.B. White

This is a beautiful planet and not at all fragile. Earth can withstand significant volcanic eruptions, tectonic cataclysms, and ice ages. But this canny, intelligent, prolific, and extremely self-centered human creature has proven himself capable of more destruction of life than Mother Nature herself….We’ve got to be stopped.– Michael L. Fischer

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.– Rachel Carson

If you really want to define civilization, it should be a culture that doesn’t destroy its environment. If you burn down the kitchen on day and expect to eat the next, it is not even intelligent, let alone civilized.– Sting

Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible – or even sinful – that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!– Paul MacCready, Jr.

[here begins the “Oh, dear!” section]

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.– Henry David Thoreau

There’s so much pollution in the air now that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all.– Robert Orben

The packaging for a microwavable dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes, and a landfill dead-time of centuries.– David Wann

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: “Look at this Godawful mess.”– Art Buchwald

O Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticide grain,
For strip-mined mountains’ majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.– George Carlin

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.– Cree Indian proverb

Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.– Alan M. Eddison

You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem.– William D. Ruckelshaus

We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.– David Suzuki

[and hope for the beginning of the way out….]

All in favor of conserving gasoline, raise your right foot.– author unknown

The ecological crisis is doing what no other crisis in history has ever done – challenging us to a realization of a new humanity.– Jean Houston

The earth is what we all have in common.– Wendell Berry

When the soil disappears, the soul disappears.– Terri Guillemets

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.– H.G. Wells

Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.– Rene Dubos

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.– Albert Einstein

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.– Marshall McLuhan

Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.– Chief Seattle

The frog does not drink up the pond is which it lives.– Chinese proverb

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.– Native American proverb

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of your kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.– Native American wisdom

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.– Carl Sagan

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.– Galileo

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.– Charles Lindbergh

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.– John Burroughs

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.– John Muir

He that plants trees loves others beside himself.– Thomas Fuller

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.– John Muir

5-5-14 Weekly Quotes: Remembering

Apropos of the May 1, 2014 Resources for Recovering Resilience on The Experiencing Self vs. the Remembering Self

We do not remember days; we remember moments.– Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.
– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.– From the television show The Wonder Years

It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.– Edward de Bono

Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume.– Jean de Boufflers

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.– P.D. James

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.– J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food.– Austin O’Malley

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.– Saul Bellow

All our lives we are engaged in preserving our experiences and keeping them fresh by artificially sprinkling the water of memory over them. They have ceased to retain their original smell and fragrance. Do you call it life- this effort at the preservation of a phantom freshness in something that is withered and gone?– Vimala Thakar

It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. A year impairs, a luster obliterates. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are rekindled for a moment – but who can be sure that the Imagination is not the torch-bearer?– Lord Byron

And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses – would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories?– Rainer Maria Rilke

A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction.– Carol Shields

Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me. Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories.– Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.– Friedrich Nietzsche

You can accept a falling out that changes your plans, but it’s hard to accept a betrayal that changes your memories.– Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

The happiest memories are of moments that ended when they should have.– Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

5-12-14 Weekly Quotes: Mothering: the World’s Toughest Job

[Mother’s Day was yesterday; the tribute is lifelong.]

This short 4-minute video is such a moving tribute. Watch it through to the end for the deep truth of the world’s toughest job. And then enjoy the quotes.

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers.– Jewish proverb

When one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet…Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.– Virginia Woolf

And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see – or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.– Alice Walker

What are Raphael’s Madonnas but the shadow of a mother’s love fixed in permanent outline forever?– Thomas Wentworth Higginson

One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.– Chinese Proverb

Mother – that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries.– T. DeWitt Talmage

I cannot forget my mother. She was my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely.– Renita Weems

If I was damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine.– Rudyard Kipling

An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.– Spanish proverb

One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.– George Herbert

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.– Washington Irving

But the mother’s yearning, which is the essence of real human love, feels the presence of the cherished child even in the debased, degraded man.– George Eliot

Mother’s love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved.– Erich Fromm

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.– Honore de Balzac

A mom forgives us all our faults, not to mention one or two we don’t even have.– Robert Brault

The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks.– Carrie Latet

The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men – from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms. Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall. A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.– Marion Garretty

Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother.– Moorish proverb

My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
Though everything I write
Is a poem to my mother– Sharon Doubiago

5-26-14 Weekly Quotes: War and Peace

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.– Agatha Christie

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.– Omar N. Bradley

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.– David Friedman

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.– Dwight D. Eisenhower

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”– Bertrand Russell

We tend to think the problem is human beings have this natural tendency to kill, and yet in the middle of World War II, “good war,” as it were, the US army was astonished to learn that at least three out of every four riflemen who were trained to kill and commanded to kill, could not bring themselves to pull the trigger when they could see the person they were ordered to kill. And that inner resistance to violence is a well kept secret. – William Ury

Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”– Carl Sandburg

War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”– Thomas Mann

There never was a good war or a bad peace.– Benjamin Franklin

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”– Dwight David Eisenhower

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.– Martin Luther King., Jr.

Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice.– Spinoza

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.– HH the Dalai Lama

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.– George Bernard Shaw

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.– Mother Teresa

If there is light in the soul,
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world.– Chinese proverb

6-2-14 Weekly Quotes: Creativity Previewed and Revisited

I continue to explore creativity as a resource for recovering resilience. [Next Monday’s e-newsletter will be “Uncommon Genius – Tracing the Creative Impulse.”]

These quotes are from The Creative Spirit, the companion to the PBS series “Creative Spirit,” and a few more.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.– Larry Wilson, Pecos River Learning Center

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.– Albert Einstein

If one advances in the direction of his dreams, one will meet with success unexpected in common hours.– Henry David Thoreau

Creative people are committed to risk. The creative person always walks two steps into the darkness. That’s where you discover ‘other things,’ the things that defy description.– Benny Golson, jazz musician and composer

Most of history’s great creators didn’t just have their hands in one basket. They would have lots of different things going on. If they ran into obstacles in one area, they put it aside for awhile and moved on to something else. By having multiple projects, you’re more likely to have a breakthrough somewhere…you’re always moving along.– Dean Simonton, psychologist

[and a few more from previous posts]

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual– Arthur Koestler

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.– George Lois

I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts.– Albert Einstein

It is better to create than to be learned; creating is the true essence of life.– Barthold Niebuhr

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.– Alan Alda

How odd that creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.– Virginia Woolf

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.– Scott Adams

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.– Edward de Bono

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.– Dee Hock

Creative minds are rarely tidy.– source unknown

The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity.– Margaret Wheatley

The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that it practically always doesn’t, matter not a jot.– Monica Baldwin

Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.– Abraham Maslow

Deep play precedes deep work.– Jeremy Rifkin

Play is by its very nature educational. And it should be pleasurable. When the fun goes out of play, most often so does the learning.– Joanne E. Oppenheim

[Talking about his first computer] Like all kids we not only fooled around with our toys, we changed them. If you’ve ever watch a child with a cardboard carton and a box of crayons create a spaceship with cool control panels, or listened to their improvised rules, such as “Red cars can jump all others,” then you know that this impulse to make a toy do more is at the heart of innovative childhood play. It is also the essence of creativity.– Bill Gates

6-16-14 Weekly Quotes: Fathering

Jack Kornfield tells the story of when he had a chance to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but he had already committed to attending his daughter’s high school play. He missed the Dalai Lama; he went to the play; he deepened his fathering because of the deep love of his daughter. [Jack will be teaching an online course in June 2014 on “The Power of Mindfulness to Radically Change How You handle Life’s Most Challenging Circumstances” through NICABM. Click here for access to the introductory interview with jack and more information about the course.]

And enjoy these quotes of wise views about fathering:

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”– Harmon Killebrew

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.– Elizabeth Stone

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.– Josh Billings

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.– Clarence Budington Kelland

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.– Robert Fulghum

It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it.– Robert Brault

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.– Roger Lewin

The guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.– Frank Pittman

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.– Anne Sexton

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger les.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.– Diane Loomans

6-23-14 Weekly Quotes: Savoring Summer Solstice

Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.– Henry James

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.– Ada Louise Huxtable

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.– John Lubbock

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability– Sam Keen

No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer– James Russell Lowell

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.– James Dent

Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.– Sydney Smith

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.-Violette Leduc

In summer, the song sings itself.– Williams Carlos Williams

[and because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is so woefully true….]

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.– Mark Twain

6-30-14 Weekly Quotes: The Resource of Reverie

[Summer has officially begun. Some will travel; some will play; some will replenish their souls through reverie.]

When ideas float in our mind without any reflection or regard of the understanding, it is that which the French call revery, our language has scarce a name for it.– John Locke

Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.– Victor Hugo

Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plenitude of the soul.– Gaston Bachelard

A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.– W.H. Auden

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.– Neil Gaiman

One man’s daydreaming is another man’s novel.– Grey Livingston

Sit in reveries and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All religions will pass, but this will remain: simply sitting in a chair and looking at the distance.– V.V. Rozanov

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in reverie.– Henry David Thoreau

People don’t come to church for preachments,of course, but to daydream about God.– Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

It is a good idea to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presence may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.– James Douglas

7-7-14 Weekly Quotes: Families – Havens and Heartaches

[I’ve spent the last ten Fourth of July’s watching the fireworks with my two godchildren and their parents; a lovely tradition as the children grew up (teenagers now!) It’s only the pressures of my traveling/teaching schedule that interfered with that this year. And I missed that innocent bonding time. Hence the appreciation of families – and recognition of challenges and difficulties, too – in this week’s quotes. May you find support and healing in your own families, those by birth and those by choice.]

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.– Erma Bombeck

Family: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space.– Evan Esar

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.– Jan Howard

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and son.– Johann Schiller

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.– Paul Pearshall

The great advantage of living in a large family is that early lesson of life’s essential unfairness.– Nancy Mitford

The advantage of growing up with siblings is that you become very good at fractions.– Robert Brault

The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst.– Marge Kennedy

In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry.– Margaret Laurence

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.– Shirley Abbott

The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, every quite wish to.– Dodie Smith

The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you.– Kendall Hailey

Family is just accident. They don’t mean to get on your nerves. They don’t even mean to be your family; they just are.– Marsha Norman

Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way to do. With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.– Margaret Mead

The thing about family disasters is that you never have to wait long before the next one puts the previous one into perspective.– Robert Brault

If you don’t believe in ghosts, you’ve never been to a family reunion.– Ashleigh Brilliant

Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others. Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps; that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.– Mignon McLaughlin

At the end of the day, a loving family should find everything forgivable.– Mark V. Olsen and Will Sheffer

The family is a haven in a heartless world.– Christopher Lasch

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.– Thomas Jefferson

Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie – not perfect but who’s complaining?– Robert Brault

In time of test, family is best.– Burmese proverb

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.– George Santayana

Having a place to go – is a home. Having someone to love – is a family. Having both – is a blessing.– Donna Hedges

7-14-14 Weekly Quotes: Exercise – Good for the Brain, Heart and Soul

[Exercise is essential for a healthy brain [it causes the brain to release brain-derived neurotrophic factor which causes the brain to create new neurons], healthy heart, healthy body, and healthy soul. May opportunities abound all summer; may the benefits last all year.]

Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart.– Gene Tunney

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.– Carol Welch

Nothing happens until something moves.– Albert Einstein

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.– Plato

Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.– Edward Stanley

If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.– Joey Adams

The only exercise some people get is jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, side-stepping responsibility, and pushing their luck!– Author Unknown

A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time – pills or stairs.- Joan Welsh

I am pushing sixty. That is enough exercise for me.– Mark Twain

Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.– Robert M. Hutchins

7-21-14 Weekly Quotes: Procrastination

[A natural follow-on to the article I posted on the Greater Good Science Center blog last week: Can Self-Compassion Overcome Procrastination? I encourage you to check out the additional resources available through the Greater Good post, including videos by Robert Sapolsky on the psychology of stress and Kristin Neff on mindfulness and self-compassion.]

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.– Eva Young

Not to decide is to decide.– Harvey Cox

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.– William James

Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing so futile.– Bertrand Russell

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.– William James

The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.– Rita Emmett

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.– George Claude Lorimer

No task is a long one but the task on which one dare not start. It becomes a nightmare.– Charles Baudelaire

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.– Seneca

A man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.– Hesiod

Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.– Charles Kingsley

Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.– Victor Kiam

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.– Sydney Harris

He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.– Horace

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.– Thomas Huxley

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.– Pearl S. Buck

When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.– Author Unknown

Begin while others are procrastinating. Work while others are wishing.– William Arthur Ward

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.– Anne Frank

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Think of all the years passed by in which you said to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and how the gods have again and again granted you periods of grace of which you have not availed yourself. It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe, that you are born of Nature itself, and to know that a limit has been set to your time. Use every moment wisely, to perceive your inner refulgence, or ’twill be gone and nevermore within your reach.– Marcus Aurelius

Procrastination is the thief of time.– Edward Young

Procrastination has been called a thief – the thief of time. I wish it were no worse than a thief. It is a murderer; and that which it kills is not time merely, but the immortal soul.– William Nevins

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.– Wayne Gretzky

You must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.– HH the Dalai Lama

If we accept and internalize the fact of our own mortality, then, by definition, we have to deal with the essential questions of how we live and spend our allotted time. We have to stop procrastinating, pretending that we have forever to do what we want to do and be what we long to be.– Lama Surya Das

We must be diligent today. To wait until tomorrow is too late. Death comes unexpectedly. How can we bargain with it?– Buddha

Procrastination is the seed of self-destruction.– Matthew Burton

Delay is the deadliest form of denial.– C. Northcote Parkinson

Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.– Sandra Day O’Connor

By one delay after another they spin out their whole lives, till there’s no more future left for them.– Robert L’Estrange

Days are lost lamenting over lost days.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Time destroyed is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.– Edward Young

When you say, “Wait a moment,” you are bound by your karma; when you say, “Yes, I will,” you are free.– Shunryu Suzuki

The habit of always putting off an experience until you can afford it, or until the time is right, or until you know how to do it, it one of the greatest burglars of joy. Be deliberate, but once you’ve made up your mind, jump in.– Charles R. Swindoll

How soon “not now” becomes “never.”– Martin Luther

By the streets of “by and by” one arrives at the house of “never.” – Miguel de Cervantes

I’ve spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.– Rabindranath Tagore

One of these days is none of these days.– Henri Tubach

Someday is not a day of the week.– Author unknown

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.– Spanish proverb

He who puts off nothing till tomorrow has done a great deal.– Baltasar Graci

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.– Author unknown

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.– Don Marquis

Procrastination if like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.– Christopher Parker

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.– Abraham Lincoln

A year from now you may wish you had started today.– Karen Lamb

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination. Never put off till tomorrow what you can to today.– Lord Chesterfield

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.– James A. Michener

Anger is the only thing to put off til tomorrow.– Slovakian proverb

Everything in human character goes to wreck, under the reign of procrastination, while prompt action gives to all things a corresponding and proportional life and energy.– William A. Alcott

Well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.– Sir Isaac Pitman

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.– M. Scott Peck

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for time is the stuff life is made of.– Benjamin Franklin

Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.– Jean de La Bruyere

Time wasted is existence. Time used is life.– Edward Young

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?– Mary Oliver

8-4-14 Weekly Quotes: Hang in There!

[One of my favorite sources of quotes over these many years is The Quote Garden. Wise, pithy, illuminating. Here are quotes, almost verbatim, from their category Hang in There!]

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.~ Fernando Sabino, translated from Portuguese

Fall seven times, stand up eight.~ Japanese Proverb

If you’re going through hell, keep going.~ Winston Churchill

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.~ Latin Proverb

A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.~ Author Unknown

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.~ Mother Teresa

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.~ Jewish Proverb

Man performs and engenders so much more than he can or should have to bear. That’s how he finds that he can bear anything.~ William Faulkner

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.~ Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.~ Barbara Bloom

I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.~ William Stafford

The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.~ Author Unknown

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.~ Agatha Christie

When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.~ John F. Kennedy, address, 12 April 1959

Problems are only opportunities with thorns on them.~ Hugh Miller, Snow on the Wind

It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.~ Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

That some good can be derived from every event is a better proposition than that everything happens for the best, which it assuredly does not.~ James K. Feibleman

Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.~ Edwin Markham

Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.~ Author Unknown

The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.~ Max Lerner, The Unfinished Country, 1950

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.~ William Shakespeare, Othello

God uses suffering as a whetstone, to make men sharp with.~ Henry Ward Beecher

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted, but getting what you have, which once you have got it, you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.~ Garrison Keillor

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!~ Dr. Seuss

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.~ James Russell Lowell, “Cambridge Thirty Years Ago,” Literary Essays

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.~ John Aughey

The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.~ Bernard M. Baruch

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.~ Edmund Hillary

8-11-14 Weekly Quotes: Rachel Carson – Wonder and Mystery

[I use this quote from environmentalist and author Rachel Carson (Silent Spring)
in Bouncing Back and in workshops to teach about how easy it is to overlook the resources of wonder and beauty around us:

“One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of night in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.”– Rachel Carson

On my way to teaching at Cape Cod Institute last week, I visited with a friend who lives 5 minutes from the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve in Wells, Maine. Walking through such natural beauty of woodlands and salt marsh inspired me to discover more of Rachel Carson’s wisdom about a sense of wonder and the resources of nature to restore and replenish us. Here are some of the discoveries.]

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.

To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.

Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.

The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves. Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, “What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?

It is not half so important to know as to feel.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years.

8-18-14 Weekly Quotes: Mary Oliver – It Isn’t a Miracle But the Common Thing

[The Mary Oliver poem below arrived in my e-mail inbox two weeks ago when I was teaching at the Cape Cod Institute. (The source – Panhala – Panhala-subscribe@yahoogroups.com – is a wonderful free resource of inspiring poetry and photos.) Mary Oliver has lived on Cape Cod for many years. Two days after I received this poem I was walking early, early in the morning through the Audubon Sanctuary on the shore of the bay, and while crossing a boardwalk, flushed a heron who rose so gracefully above Goose Pond. There was the moment: experiencing how the clasp of nothing can take us in. With deep bows to Mary Oliver for lifting us from the ordinariness of our existence into the mystery; may you find such miraculous moments in the common things.]

Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself —
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– Mary Oliver
(What Do We Know:Poems and Prose Poems)

 

9-1-14 Weekly Quotes – Meaningful and Purposeful Work

[for Labor Day]

It’s more important to know that words don’t move mountains. Work, exacting work, moves mountains. – Danilo Dolci

Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night. – Marian Wright Edelman

Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled. – Barack Obama

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. – Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation (excerpt)

Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose. – Leonardo da Vinci

The purpose of a life is a life of purpose. – Robert Byrne

Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living. – Buddha

One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one’s life has meaning, that one is needed in this world. – Hannah Senesh

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away. – David Viscott

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him. – Viktor Frankl

Nothing on earth is more gladdening than knowing we must roll up our sleeves and move back the boundaries of the humanly possible once more. – Annie Dillard

In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it. – Marianne Williamson

I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all. – Leo Rosten

This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. – George Bernard Shaw

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. – Theodore Roosevelt

To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth. – Pearl S. Buck

Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something completely great. – Willa Cather

Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs. – Frederick Buechner

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. – Nelson Henderson

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. – Helen Keller

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences, that we often cannot foresee. – Marian Wright Edelman

In a world where there is so much to be done, I feel strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do. – Dorothea Dix

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
Edward Everett Hale

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. – John Wesley

Every noble work is at first impossible. – Thomas Carlyle

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose-not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember. – Anne Sullivan

It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement. – Mabel Newcomber

Stop allowing your day-to-day life to be clouded by busy nothingness. – Steve Maraboli

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. – Peter Drucker

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. – Albert Einstein

Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere. – Barack Obama

But there is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you’re fighting for. – Paulo Coelho

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. – The Talmud

What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma – the science of the heart…the capacity to see, to feel, and then to act as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does. – Bill Moyers

Live your beliefs, and you can turn the world around. – Henry David Thoreau

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. – Saint Augustine

9-8-14 Weekly Quotes – Digital Detox – Such Serenity and Inner Peace

[I chose to go on a digital detox at the end of the summer. Hiking in rugged mountainous regions where cell phone reception would be spotty and internet access sporadic anyway, it was the perfect opportunity to unplug and experience my mind, my whole being, settle into an inner peace I had almost forgotten.

The upcoming September e-newsletter will focus on Daniel Levitin’s new book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload, a brilliant guide to how we can use our digital devices to support rather than distract the magnificent power of our minds to think, plan, and create. In the meantime, here is an offering reflecting the serenity and inner peace I did experience on that digital detox.]

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
– Henry David Thoreau

There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.
– Mohandis K. Gandhi

In the relentless busyness of modern life,
we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.
Our culture invariably supposes
that action and accomplishment are better than rest,
that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing.
Because of our desire to succeed,
to meet these ever-growing expectations,
we do not rest.

Because we do not rest, we lose our way.
We miss the compass points that would show us where to go.
We bypass the nourishment that would give us succor.
We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom.
We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.

Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere,
even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others,
the corrosive pressure of frantic over-activity
can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others.
A “successful” life can become a violent enterprise.
– Wayne Muller

Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn

A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I AM that is deeper than name and form. You are the knowing, not the condition that is known.
– Eckhart Tolle

Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.
– Morgan Freeman

Do you have the patience to wait
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
Till the right action arises by itself?
– Tao Te Ching

Just become quiet, still, and solitary, and the world will offer itself to you to be unmasked; it has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
– Dana Hawksister

There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.
– Henry David Thoreau

Still Point

Leaving home
for work
each day

I hear the trees
say “What’s your hurry?”
Rooted, they
don’t understand

how in my world
we have to rush
to keep in step.

I haven’t even time
to stop and tell them
how on weekends, too,
schedules wait
like nets.

It’s only on a sick day
when I have to venture out
to pick up medicine

that I understand the trees,
there in all their fullness
in a world unpatterned

full of moments,
full of spaces,
every space
a choice.

This day
has not
been turned yet
on the lathe

this day
lies open, light
and shadow. Breath
fills the body easily.
I step

into a world
waiting like
a quiet lover.

– Max Reif
(thanks to Jody Bol)

9-22-14 Weekly Quotes: It’s Hard, Sometimes….

[As I’ve researched quotes over the years, one person whose aphorisms come up again and again (on over one million websites, it turns out) is Robert Brault. So I googled him: Brault is a free-lance writer who has contributed to American magazines and newspapers for 40 years. His book Round Up the Usual Suspects: Thoughts on Just About Everything, published in June 2014, offers a collection of his sayings over those years.

[I learned someone in the world tweets a quote of his every seven minutes.]

….Here’s a sample of some of my favorites from his blogsite]

“Hope is not a plan, except when hope is all you have left, then it’s a plan.”

“It’s hard, sometimes, when nothing’s stopping you, to know what’s stopping you.”

“May it be said of you that you had your shortcomings, but being stopped by your shortcomings wasn’t one of them.”

“Usually, when you can’t overcome the obstacles in your path, it’s not your path.”

Once heard: “They were happy days, those days of struggle. I know it now, and what I will always thank God for, I knew it then.”

“Life is a series of tasks that absolutely must get done before they don’t matter.”

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

“Never let your emotions rule, but always let them testify.”

“There is no mind-altering experience like using a little common sense.”

“People aren’t ignoring you. They are busy with their lives. And the way to stop feeling ignored is to get busy with yours.”

“Yes, I take a afternoon nap. I just think the human race faces challenges for which it is critical to be well-rested.”

“There are times when two people need to put on the brave face they show to the world, and show it to each other.”

“I think, if we ever succeeded in simplifying our lives, we’d realize that most of our happiness was in the complications.”

“I don’t think most people want to be unhappy. It’s just something they’ve gotten good at.”

“If you don’t watch out, putting on your unhappiness in the morning can become as instinctive as putting on your clothes.”

“Two people can have a middling day, but one rounds up and the other rounds down.”

“You won’t find happiness by increasing the number of things you possess that have nothing to do with it.”

“Nothing about you matters less to posterity than whether you gained social acceptance in your lifetime.”

“Society is forever trying to convince you that there are obligations you agreed to when you volunteered to be born.”

“The most fundamental decision you make in life is whether the word “everybody” includes you.”

“How slight a nod it would take, how bare a smile, to give everyone you meet today a sense of worth.”

“If you want my advice, here it is: Seek out someone who wants to make you happy and let them.”

“Sometimes we don’t know what we want, and we blame our unhappiness on someone who doesn’t know, either.”

“In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you. There just has to be someone who wants to.”

“No matter how sure you are that a friend will be there for you, it’s still the greatest feeling when the time comes and there they are.”

“An important thing to get to know about a person is the unspoken ways they say they’re sorry.”

“I have found that winning isn’t everything, and, in fact, in the relationships I most care about, it isn’t anything.”

“You can misunderstand a friend, but you really have to be related to someone to get them completely wrong.”

“As important in a relationship as shared memories is the silent agreement that certain things never happened.”

“Love is not about grand intentions. It is about small attentions.”

 

9-29-14 Weekly Quotes: Wisdom from the Talmud

[A steady moral compass can be found in every wisdom tradition. In this season of reflection for many, from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur, here are quotes from the Talmud to illuminate and guide wise and resilient living.]

A quotation at the right moment is like bread to the famished.

For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned it is the season of the harvest.

Who is a wise man? He who learns of all men.

Examine the contents, not the bottle.

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

God said: you must teach, as I taught, without a fee.

There are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.

Loving kindness is greater than laws; and the charities of life are more than all ceremonies.

He that gives should never remember; he that receives should never forget.

Who is rich? He that rejoices in his portion.

A person will be called to account on Judgment Day for every permissible thing he might have enjoyed but did not.

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.”

Do not decide that someone is good until you see how he or she acts at home.

A person who seeks help for a friend, while needy himself, will be answered first.

Be eager to fulfill the smallest duty and flee from transgression, for one duty includes another and one transgression induces another transgression.

The end result of wisdom is good deeds.

Man has three friends on who company he relies. First, wealth – which goes with him only while good fortune lasts. Second, his relatives – they go only as far as the grave and leave him there. The third friend, his good deeds, go with him beyond the grave.

Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.

Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

10-6-14 Weekly Quotes: Walking to Restore the Soul

[I’ve walked through woods, through wilderness, up and down mountains, along shorelines, all my life – to find refuge and resourcing in the spacious stillness; to wash my spirit clean, as John Muir says. Having had the privilege of walking through wilderness for a week at the end of this past summer, I offer these quotes from a “Wanderlust: Trekking the Road Less Traveled” calendar published by Amber Lotus. May you be inspired to find the time and space to discover, as Walt Whitman did, “I am larger than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness.”]

Keep close to Nature’s heart…and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
– John Muir

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.
– Aldous Huxley

Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actually existing world and it’s wholeness.
– Gary Snyder

No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom and independence which are the capital of this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker.
– Henry David Thoreau

It takes days of practice to learn the art of sauntering. Commonly we stride through the out-of-doors too swiftly to see more than the most obvious and prominent things. For observing nature, the best pace is a snail’s pace.
– Edwin Way Teale

Walking is a man’s best medicine.
– Hippocrates

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
– Henry David Thoreau

It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.
– Horace Kephart

The closer you get to real matter, rock, air, fire, and wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is.
– Gary Snyder

Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.
– Erich Fromm

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
– Khalil Gibran

The longest journey begins with a single step.
– Lao Tsu

Song of the Open Road (excerpt)
By Walt Whitman

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me.
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune. I myself am good-fortune. Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth – that is sufficient;
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are;
I know they suffice for those who belong to them…

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute.
Listening to others, considering well what they say.
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will,
Divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of air;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth…

Allons! Whoever you are! Come travel with me!
Traveling with me, you find what never tires….

Allons! Whoever you are, come forth!…

Allons! The road is before us!

10-13-14 Weekly Quotes: Falling into Autumn

[The full harvest moon has been such a glory this past week. May these quotes of harvest and autumn bring peace and contentment with this changing season.]

October is a symphony of permanence and change.
– Bonaro W. Overstreet

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always– and a full moon every night.
– Hal Borland

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.
– William Cullen Bryant

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.
– Stanley Horowitz

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.
– Yoko Ono

If winter is slumber, and spring is birth, and summer is life, than autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down, the harvest is in, the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year, and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.
– Mitchell Burgess

Autumn wins you best by this: its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.
– Robert Browning

How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
– John Burroughs

It is customary to understand autumn as synchronous with old age. In the autumn-time of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one. If you can come to aging as the harvest of your soul, you will learn that aging can be a time of great strength, poise, and confidence. To understand the harvest of your soul against the background of seasonal rhythm should give you a sense of quiet delight at the arrival of this time in your life. It should give you a strength and a sense of how the deeper belonging of your soul will be revealed to you.
– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruits.
– Samuel Butler

In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.
– Rose Kingsley

Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time.
– William Cowper

Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of this world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?
– Hal Borland

10-20-14 Weekly Quotes: Portable Wisdom

[I’ve been posting weekly quotes for almost seven years now. One of my favorite sources is www.quotegarden.com. The host, Terri Guillemets, has been posting quotes for sixteen years. This week’s quotes are an homage – actually a brief essay – to quotations themselves. “A quotation at the right moment is like bread in a famine.” ~Yiddish Proverb]

All of us encounter, at least once in our life, some individual who utters words that make us think forever. There are men whose phrases are oracles; who can condense in one sentence the secrets of life; who blurt out an aphorism that forms a character, or illustrates an existence.
– Benjamin Disraeli

The words that enlighten the soul are more precious than jewels.
– Hazrat Inayat Khan

Most collectors collect tangibles. As a quotation collector, I collect wisdom, life, invisible beauty, souls alive in ink.
-Terri Guillemets

Collect as precious pearls the words of the wise and virtuous.
– El Amir Abdelkader

Like your body, your mind also gets tired, so refresh it by wise sayings.
– Hazrat Ali

The study of proverbs may be more instructive and comprehensive than the most elaborate scheme of philosophy.
– Attributed to Motherwell in Pearls of Thought by Maturin M. Ballou, 1882

There is hardly a mistake which in the course of our lives we have committed, but some proverb, had we known and attended to its lesson, might have saved us from it.
– Richard Chenevix Trench, Proverbs and Their Lessons, 1905

A vast meaning is unfolded in each line, with such power that a sentence only a line long would suffice for a whole life’s training.
– Rufinus (translated from Latin), about The Sentences of Sextus

Short sentences are drawn from long experience.
– Miguel de Cervantes

In phrases as brief as a breath, worldly wisdom concentrates.
– Willis Goth Regier, Quotology, 2010

The best aphorisms are…. portable wisdom, the quintessential extracts of thought and feeling. They furnish the largest amount of intellectual stimulus and nutriment in the smallest compass. About every weak point in human nature, or vicious spot in human life, there is deposited a crystallization of warning and protective proverbs.
– William Rounseville Alger, “The Utility and the Futility of Aphorisms,” The Atlantic Monthly, February 1863

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced-even a Proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.
– John Keats, letter to George and Georgiana Keats, February 24, 1819

Who knows but that all the men to whom reference has been made, and a multitude of others who lived in by-gone ages borrowed their wise sayings from the talk of the firesides and the conversations of the market places; so that the origin of many proverbs now flippantly quoted in the converse of men is lost in the mists of forgotten centuries.
– Dwight Edwards Marvin, The Antiquity of Proverbs, 1922

Proverbs are the literature of reason.
– French Proverb

A proverb is to speech what salt is to food.
– Arabic Proverb

What flowers are to gardens, spices to food, gems to a garment, and stars to heaven; such are proverbs interwoven in speech.
– Hebrew Proverb

Epigrams succeed where epics fail.
– Persian Proverb

A wise man who knows proverbs reconciles difficulties.
– Yoruba Proverb, quoted in Curiosities in Proverbs: A Collection of Unusual Adages, Maxims, Aphorisms, Phrases and Other Popular Dicta from Many Lands by Dwight Edwards Marvin, 1916

Do not shun this maxim because it is common-place. On the contrary, take the closest heed of what observant men, who would probably like to show originality, are yet constrained to repeat. Therein lies the marrow of the wisdom of the world.
– Arthur Helps, “Chapter IV,” Companions of My Solitude, 1851

The common sayings of the multitude are too true to be laughed at.
– Welsh Proverb

An epigram often flashes light into regions where reason shines but dimly.

– Edwin P. Whipple, lecture delivered before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, October 1846, quoted in Lectures on Subjects Connected with Literature and Life

Maxims are texts to which we turn in danger or sorrow, and we often find what seems to have been expressly written for our use.
– Attributed to George Eliot in Sayings: Proverbs, Maxims, Mottoes by Charles F. Schutz, 1915

There are but few proverbial sayings that are not true, for they are all drawn from experience itself, which is the mother of all sciences.
– Miguel de Cervantes

Good sayings are like pearls strung together.
– Chinese Proverb

Proverbs are potted wisdom.
– Charles Buxton

As proverbs are meant to be portable, it is essential that they should be packed up in few words…
– “Proverbs Secular and Sacred,” The North British Review, February 1858

The proper proportions of a maxim: a minimum of sound to a maximum of sense.
– Mark Twain

An aphorism is a single sentence that totally exhausts its subject.
– Robert Brault

Aphorism or maxim, let us remember that this wisdom of life is the true salt of literature; that those books, at least in prose, are most nourishing which are most richly stored with it; and that it is one of the great objects, apart from the mere acquisition of knowledge, which men ought to seek in the reading of books.
– John Morley, Aphorisms: An Address Delivered Before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, November 11, 1887

A single gnomic line can come to resonate with centuries of subsequent wisdom.
– Gary Saul Morson, The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture, 2011

One man’s wit, and all men’s wisdom.
– John Russell, definition of a proverb

The more an idea is developed, the more concise becomes its expression: the more a tree is pruned, the better is the fruit.
– Alfred Bougeart, quoted in A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness collected and translated by J. De Finod, 1880

The apothegm is the most portable form of Truth…. It is thus that the proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly expended in the air.
– William Gilmore Simms, Egeria: Or, Voices of Thought and Counsel for the Woods and Wayside, 1853

Stronger than an army is a quotation whose time has come.
– W.I.E. Gates, quoted in Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Times by Laurence J. Peter

The short sayings of the wise and good men are of great value, like the dust of gold, or the sparks of diamonds.
– Attributed to Tillotson in A Dictionary of Thoughts: A Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern by Tryon Edwards, 1908

Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence, they take all the colours of life, they are often exquisite strokes of genius, they delight by their airy sarcasm or their caustic satire, the luxuriance of their humour, the playfulness of their turn, and even by the elegance of their imagery, and the tenderness of their sentiment. They give a deep insight into domestic life, and open for us the heart of man, in all the various states which he may occupy-a frequent review of Proverbs should enter into our readings; and although they are no longer the ornaments of conversation, they have not ceased to be the treasures of thought.
– Isaac D’Israeli, “The Philosophy of Proverbs,” Curiosities of Literature: Volume V

Of course, talking only in proverbs would be impossible. Proverbs are full of poetry and twists. They are made up of words that have been molded for centuries, if not milleniums, until a minimum of words carry an extraordinary potential for meaning.
– Gaston Kaboré

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
– Niels Bohr

I told you that capital thing I heard her say about Craig-that he was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow. Now that’s an Æsop’s fable in a sentence.
– George Eliot, Adam Bede

Say what you want without saying it yourself: quote. Very useful, this, sometimes lovely, and versatile, too: big thoughts in small pieces, neatly wrapped and bundled in bulk, in different flavors for different tastes.
– Willis Goth Regier, Quotology, 2010

You may get a large amount of truth into a brief space.
– Attributed to Beecher in Edge-Tools of Speech by Maturin M. Ballou, 1899

Quotations are the backbone of much of literature, and of the transmission of art and thought more generally…. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote.” The delight is our natural response to the monuments of creativity and wisdom, kept alive by quotations, a communal bond uniting us with past culture and with other lovers of words and ideas in our own time.
– Fred R. Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006 (Introduction)

I feel a reassuring oneness with other people when I find that even my most intimate, anguished, socially inadmissible emotions and desires are known to others…. Kindred souls-indeed, my selves otherwise costumed-turn up in books in the most unexpected places. Discovering them is one of the great rewards of a liberal education. If I quote liberally, it is not to show off book learning, which at my stage of life can only invite ridicule, but rather to bathe in this kinship of strangers.
– Yi-fu Tuan, “Intimate: From Justice to Love,” Who Am I?: An Autobiography of Emotion, Mind, and Spirit, 1999

Unless created as freestanding works, quotations resemble “found” art. They are analogous, say, to a piece of driftwood identified as formally interesting enough to be displayed in an art museum or to a weapon moved from an anthropological to an artistic display…. The presenter of found art, whether material or verbal, has become a sort of artist. He has not made the object, but he has made it as art.
– Gary Saul Morson, The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture, 2011

The ancients, who in these matters were not perhaps such blockheads as some may conceive, considered poetical quotation as one of the requisite ornaments of oratory.
– Isaac D’Israeli, “Quotation,” A Second Series of Curiosities of Literature, Volume I, second edition, 1824

Many moons ago dictionaries of quotations may have been less needed than they are today. In those good/bad old days, people walked around with entire poems and all the Shakespearean soliloquies in their heads….
– Joseph Epstein, Foreword to Fred R. Shapiro’s Yale Book of Quotations, 2006

Books of quotation are not only of importance to the reader for what they contain of matured thought, but also for what they suggest. Our brains receive the spark and become luminous, like inflammable material by the contact of flint and steel.
– Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech, 1886

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.
– Winston Churchill, Roving Commission: My Early Life, 1930

A proper collection of quotations is the whole world digested.
– Terri Guillemets

The only way to read a book of aphorisms without being bored is to open it at random and, having found something that interests you, close the book and meditate.
– Prince Charles-Joseph de Ligne, 1796

I believe it was Gayelord Hauser, the nutritionist, who said that “you are what you eat,” but if you happen to be an intellectual, you are what you quote.
– Joseph Epstein, “Quotatious,” A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays, 1991

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.
– Marlene Dietrich

We who are quotatious are never truly alone, but always hear the cheerful flow of remarks made by dead writers so much more intelligent than we.
– Joseph Epstein, “Quotatious,” A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays, 1991

Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author?
– Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Intellectual Life, 1873

People will accept your idea more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.
– David H. Comins, quoted in The Washingtonian, Volume 14, 1978

“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is my own.”
– Michel de Montaigne, “Of Phisiognomy,” translated by John Florio

To quote copiously and well, requires taste, judgment, and erudition, a feeling for the beautiful, an appreciation of the noble, and a sense of the profound.
– Christian Nestell Bovee, “Thought,” Institutions and Summaries of Thought, 1862

I protest, for about the hundredth time, against the slipshod method of quoting a mere author’s name, without any indication of the work of that author in which the alleged quotation may be found. Let us have accurate quotations and exact references, wherever such are to be found. A quotation without a reference is like a geological specimen of unknown locality.
– Walter William Skeat, Notes and Queries, 6th ser., vol. ix., p. 499, quoted by William Francis Henry King in Classical and Foreign Quotations, 1889

Anatole France frankly advised, “When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”

Seek not to know who said this or that, but take note of what has been said.
– Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, translated from Latin

The discoveries of ages gone by belong less to their first authors than to those who make them practically useful to the world.
– Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, translated from French, quoted in Treasury of Thought: An Encyclopædia of Quotations from Ancient and Modern Authors by Maturin M. Ballou, 15th edition, 1894

We are as much informed of a writer’s genius by what he selects as by what he originates.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Quotation and Originality,” Letters and Social Aims, 1876

To select well among old things is almost equal to inventing new ones.
– Nicolas Charles Joseph Trublet

Good quotes are vitamins for the brain!
– Patrick Driessen

In ancient days, tradition says,
When knowledge was much stinted-
When few could teach and fewer preach,
And books were not yet printed-
What wise men thought, by prudence taught,
They pithily expounded;
And proverbs sage, from age to age,
In every mouth abounded.
O Blessings on the men of yore,
Whom wisdom thus augmented,
And left a store of easy lore
For human use invented.
– Blackwood’s Magazine, 1864, quoted in
Curiosities in Proverbs: A Collection of Unusual Adages, Maxims, Aphorisms, Phrases and Other Popular Dicta from Many Lands by Dwight Edwards Marvin, 1916

11-3-14 Weekly Quotes: Winning and Losing

[The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last week. Joy here in the Bay Area, disappointment for fans of the Royals. I’m glad the Giants won; I’m glad so many of my friends/colleagues/clients were very glad. And…the local excitement prompted these musings on winning and losing. As a meditator in the Buddhist tradition, I respect the wisdom of the teachings about equanimity: to hold the cycles of success and failure, gain and loss, praise and blame, pleasure and pain in a large enough perspective that the groundedness and balanced view leads to a deep resilience.]

Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.
– Wilma Rudolph

As a tennis player, you have to get used to losing every week. Unless you win the tournament, you always go home as a loser. But you have to take the positive out of a defeat and go back to work. Improve to fail better.
– Stanislas Wawrinka

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.
– Robert Green Ingersoll

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
– Winston Churchill

I love to win; but I love to lose almost as much. I love the thrill of victory, and I also love the challenge of defeat.
– Lou Gehrig

There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.
– Malcolm X

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.
– Wendell Phillips

There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
– Michel de Montaigne

Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.
– Edwin Markham

The difficulties of life are intended to makes us better, not bitter.
– Author Unknown

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Success is moving from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchill

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.
– Henry Ford

We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
– Samuel Smiles

The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.
– Howard Cosell

Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.
– Mahatma Gandhi

11-10-14 Weekly Quotes: Thoreau on Neuroplasticity

A participant in my “Brain Care is Self-Care” workshop last weekend shared this prescient quote from Henry David Thoreau, beloved American author, poet, philosopher and transcendentalist(1817-1862):

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

A metaphor for neuroplasticity almost two centuries before its time. This prompted me to offer other quotes from Thoreau, some familiar, some new. May some of his wisdom guide our lives, too.]

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.

He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

Many go fishing without knowing it is not fish they are after.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruits, and resign yourself to the influences of each.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.

Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself is what determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

It is never too late to give up your prejudices.

To regret deeply is to live afresh.

It is as hard to see one’s self as to look backwards without turning around.

If once advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.

We much have infinite faith in each other. If we have not, we must never let it leak out that we have not.

11-17-14 Weekly Quotes: Listen to Your Life

Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs. – Frederick Buechner

Will Pye used the quote above in Chapter 5: The Gift of Purpose in his book Blessed with a Brain Tumor: Realizing It’s All Gift and Learning to Receive that I featured in last week’s Resources for Recovering Resilience.

I’ve used that same quote, too, in my September 1, 2014 Weekly Quotes on Meaningful and Purposeful Work. That got me interested in Buechner himself and what else he might have to say. A Presbyterian minister, now 88 years of age, Buechner has had quite a bit to say. Below are sample quotes of his wisdom about life and listening to it deeply.]

In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never ally be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.

Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality – not as we expect it to be but as it is- is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.

When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.

Pay mind to your own life, your own breath, and wholeness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death.

You can’t be too careful what you tell a child, because you never know what he’ll take hold of and spend the rest of his life remembering you by.

11-24-14 Weekly Quotes: Giving Thanks for – The Inner History of a Day – John O’Donohue

No one knew the name of this day;

Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

– John O’Donohue

12-8-14 Weekly Quotes: No Mud, No Lotus – the Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh

[A member of my Fall 2014 Mindful Self-Compassion course gave everyone a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s True Home – 365 gems of wisdom from a most beloved Buddhist teacher as reminders/nudges for our daily practice. Thich Nhat Hanh’s latest book – No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering – will be released next week. [No Mud, No Lotus – how appropriate for recovering resilience!]

News of this venerable teacher’s stroke last month has brought to the fore how precious his teachings have been to millions. Here are a few offerings from his 88 years of life experience and practice.]

My actions are my only true belongings.

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.

Our own life has to be our message.

There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.

The kingdom of God is available to you in the here and now. But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom. Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so that it can manifest in the here and the now. You don’t need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so.

You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.

If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.

Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world turns.

If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the really miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.

Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.

Around us, life bursts with miracles – a glass of water, a ray of sunshine a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles but they are always there.

Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive – that you can touch the miracle of being alive – then that is a kind of enlightenment.

The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.

Life is a miracle, and being aware of simply this can already make us very happy.

In mindfulness, one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.

When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

The most precious gift we an offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love they will bloom like the flowers.

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.

I am determined to practice deep listening. I am determined to practice loving speech. Compassion is a verb.

Many people think excitement is happiness….But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.

Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are must ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.

The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.

Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.

When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural – you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.

Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.

We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come.

Anyone can practice some nonviolence, even soldiers. Some army generals, for example, conduct their operations in ways that avoid killing innocent people; this is a kind of nonviolence. To help soldiers move in the nonviolent direction, we have to be in touch with them. If we divide reality into two camps – the violent and the nonviolent – and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves. We must work on ourselves and also with those we condemn if we want to have a real impact.

Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we are learning nothing.

In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.

[having just returned from teaching in Jerusalem…]

Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.

12-15-14 Weekly Quotes: Kindness Is More Important than Wisdom

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of that is the beginning of wisdom.”
– Theodore Rubin

The above quote is one of my favorites of all time, most recently when I was teaching two weeks ago in Jerusalem. My voice gave out after the keynote and the first workshop. Participants were so quick to offer thermoses of hot tea and throat lozenges; I was able to finish the second workshop with a lot of gratitude for the kindness shown so spontaneously.

Here are a few more quotes from Theodore Rubin, American psychiatrist and author:

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.

Have you considered that if you “don’t make waves,” nobody, including yourself, will know that you are alive?

Feeling angry is a universal human phenomenon. It is as basic as feeling hungry, lonely, loving, or tired. The capacity to feel angry and to respond in some way to that feeling is in us from birth.

Sometimes the routes leading to feelings of anger are so convoluted and circuitous that it takes enormous skill to discern their original course, or fountainhead. But regardless of the reason for or the source of the anger or the relative ease or complexity in perceiving either the anger or its source – everybody, but everybody, gets angry.

Health is relative. There is no such thing as an absolute state of health or sickness. Everyone’s physical, mental, and emotional condition is a combination of both.

I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, love and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.

12-18-14 Weekly Quotes: Winter Solstice

[Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter; may you enjoy this season of inner reflection and renewal, and the marking of the turning of the dark toward the light.]

The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
– John Updike

The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of Nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost either upon the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread.
– John Burroughs

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.
– Andrew Wyeth

What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…no longer the canvas and the pigments but the marble and the chisel.
– John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers, 1866

Storms make oaks take deeper roots.
– George Herber

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scatted abroad upon the face of the earth.
– Hugh Macmillan, Rejuvenescence, 1871

Our destiny often looks like a fruit-tree in winter. Who would think from its pitiable aspect that those rigid boughs, those rough twigs could next spring again be green, bloom, and even bear fruit? Yet we hope it, we know it.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter….in winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.
– John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers, 1866

We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.
– Philip Pullman

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness
– Adeline Knapp

There is a privacy about winter which no other season gives you. In spring, summer and fall, people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.
– Ruth Stout

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
– Edith Sitwell

Winter is the time of love and of taking the light within.
– Terry Lynn Taylor

The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.
– Terri Guillemets

One kind word can warm three months of winter.
– Japanese proverb

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.
– Vista M. Kelly

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snowmen
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.
– Ogden Nash