Weekly Quotes 2016

12-26-16 Weekly Quotes: Fra Giovanni’s letter on Christmas Eve

[Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435-1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar. Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513, a perennial favorite in these weekly quotes.]

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.
– Fra Giovanni Giocondo

12-19-16 Weekly Quotes: Poem for Solstice – the Turning of the Dark toward the Light

[A poem I wrote ages ago; the turning of the dark toward the light is perennial; the refuge in good friends is eternal.]

HELIOTROPES

People ask if I’ve been to Hawaii –
I look so tan in winter.
But I’ve only been out to the garden
To warm my face in the sun.

Bundled in fleece, snuggling a cat,
I open my heart to the joy of living
As I turn my face to the sun.

I’m so glad when you answer the phone, dear friend!
Stop by for a chat; send me a poem;
You warm my heart with a hug, an embrace;
I turn my face to your sun.

I’m here when you’re down, lost or confused,
Stumbling alone in the dark.
Nestle in the warmth of a soul that loves you;
Turn your face to my sun.

We turn to each other in mid-winter darkness,
Unabashed heliotropes, every one.
We join our hearts in our precious circle
To heal, to weep, to rejoice, to grow.
We become light to each other’s light and being
As we honor the Source of the sun.

12-5-16 Weekly Quotes: A Letter to the U.S. from John Cleese

[This “letter” was passed on to me by my friend Lynn, honoring her British roots and wicked sense of humor. It does help to have a sense of humor to appreciate this rag on our recent elections; humor is one tool among many to help us cope with the upset of our recent elections. I hope this tickles your funny bone and lightens your heart; there’s much work to be done, and the bonding of shared laughter over a differently skewed perspective can help.]

A Letter to the U.S. from John Cleese

To the citizens of the United States of America, in light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II resumes monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Theresa May, MP for the 97.8% of you who have, until now, been unaware there’s a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America. Congress and the Senate are disbanded. A questionnaire circulated next year will determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid your transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. Look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Check “aluminium” in the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you pronounce it. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’. Likewise you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary.” Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “like” and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up “interspersed.” There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you should not have chat shows.

2. There is no such thing as “US English.” We’ll let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’.

3. You should learn to distinguish English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). Scottish dramas such as ‘Taggart’ will no longer be broadcast with subtitles.You must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon.” If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” e.g. Texasshire Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1.

5. You should stop playing American “football.” There’s only one kind of football. What you call American “football” is not a very good game. The 2.1% of you aware there is a world outside your borders may have noticed no one else plays “American” football. You should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every two seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies) You should stop playing baseball. It’s not reasonable to host event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of America. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders,” which is baseball without fancy team stripe, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

6. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns, or anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because you are not sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you need a permit to carry a vegetable peeler.

7. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday. It will be called “Indecisive Day.”

8. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left. At the same time, you will go metric without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

9. Learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t French, they’re Belgian though 97.8% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

10. The cold tasteless stuff you call beer is actually lager. Only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer.” Substances once known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” except for the product of the American Budweiser company which will be called “Weak Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine.” This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

11. The UK will harmonise petrol prices (or “Gasoline,” as you will be permitted to keep calling it) for those of the former USA, adopting UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon, get used to it).

12. Learn to resolve personal issues without guns, lawyers or therapists. That you need many lawyers and therapists shows you’re not adult enough to be independent. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

13. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.

14. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

* John Cleese [Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers, Sir Lancelot of Camelot (Monty Python & The Quest for the Holy Grail), Torquay, Devon, England]

11-21-16 Weekly Quotes: Bring Gladness to Your Heart – Thanksgiving Week

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
– Meister Eckhart

* * * * *

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.
– Cicero

* * * * *

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.
– E.P. Powell

* * * * *

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year. To the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
– Edward Sandford Martin

* * * * *

He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving,
Comes from the heart.
– J.A. Shedd

* * * * *

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.
– Johannes A. Gaertner

* * * * *

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy

* * * * *

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.
– Robert Caspar Lintner

* * * * *

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
– W.J. Cameron

* * * * *

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
– W.T. Purkiser

* * * * *

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
– Theodore Roosevelt

* * * * *

O lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
– William Shakespeare

* * * * *

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
– Melody Beattie

* * * * *

God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.
– Izaak Walton

* * * * *

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.
– William Jennings Bryan

* * * * *

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.
– Seneca

* * * * *

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
– Aesop

* * * * *

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
– Native American saying

* * * * *

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
– George Canning

* * * * *

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.
– Author Unknown

* * * * *

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”
– William A. Ward

* * * * *

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
– Thornton Wilder

* * * * *

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food. For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * * * *

Dear Lord, we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
Peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.
– Joseph Auslander

11-14-16 Weekly Quotes: Conscience and Integrity – the Bedrock of Resilience

All the world is full of suffering; it is also full of overcoming.
– Helen Keller

[There has been suffering – and overcoming – throughout human existence, in every culture, every nation, every era. Here are offerings of the wisdom that have sustained human beings throughout.]

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
And who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
Who speak the truth from their hearts;
Who have let go of selfish interests
And grown beyond their lives;
Who see the wretched as their family
And the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
And worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the earth,
And their kindness endures forever.
– Psalm 15, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

* * * * *
Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society – its world views, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions – rearranges itself. We are currently living through such a transformation.
– Peter Drucker, Post-Capitalist Society

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr

* * * * *

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only is such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
– M. Scott Peck

* * * * *

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

* * * * *

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
– Vaclav Havel

* * * * *

It always seems impossible until it’s done.
– Nelson Mandela

* * * * *

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
– Margaret Mead

* * * * *

Every single one of us can do something, however small, to make a difference.
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Do all that you can, with all that you have, in the time that you have, in the place where you are.
– Nkosi Johnson, who died of AIDS at age 12

* * * * *

He who saves one life saves the world entire.
– The Talmud

* * * * *

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

Be the change you seek….The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.
– Mohandis K. Gandhi

* * * * *

Abraham Lincoln did not go to Gettysburg having commissioned a poll to find out what would sell in Gettysburg. There were no people with percentages for him, cautioning him about this group or that group or what they found in exit polls a year earlier. When will we have the courage of Lincoln?
– Robert Coles

* * * * *

Until one is committed there is always hesitancy,
The chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness,
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents and meetings
And material assistance which no man could have dreamed
Would come his way.
– W.H. Murray, deputy leader of 1951 Scottish Expedition to climb Mt. Everest

* * * * *

It is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try –
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
-to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
-as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
not the most important one
to have set out upon that road.
Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.
– Vaclav Havel

11-7-16 Weekly Quotes: Wise Perspectives on Current Politics

[Tomorrow is a presidential election day in the United States. Here are some historical perspectives from my favorite online source of quotes – Quote Garden.]

All of us who are concerned for peace and the triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware of how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.
– Albert Einstein

* * * * *

Mankind will never see an end of trouble until….lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power…become lovers of wisdom.
– Plato, The Republic

* * * * *

We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy.
– Martin L. Gross

* * * * *

Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.
– Sydney J. Harris

* * * * *

A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.
– James Freeman Clarke

* * * * *

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal – that you can gather votes like box tops – is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.
– Adlai Stevenson

* * * * *

The politicians are talking themselves red, white and blue in the face.
– Clare Boothe Luce

* * * * *

During a campaign the air is full of speeches – and vice versa.
– Author Unknown

* * * * *

Our presidential race is beginning to sound more and more like Harry Potter’s duel with the ministry of Magic.
– David. J. Beard

* * * * *

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?
– Robert Orben

* * * * *

If the World Series runs until election day, the networks will run the first one-half inning and project the winner.
– Lindsey Nelson

* * * * *

Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike the least.
– Robert Byrne

* * * * *

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
– George jean Nathan

* * * * *

A citizen of American will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.
– Bill Vaughan

* * * * *

Extreme right-wing “tea party” types are a minority of the Republican party. And Republicans are a minority of the country. And yet they are able to have their way because – in addition to other less ethical tactics – they vote! That must we do to get the more reasonable thinking majority to cast their ballots? Step up and save our country. It’s your future.
– S.A. Sachs

* * * * *

Every few years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.
– Charles Krauthammer

* * * * *

Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.
– Jose Maria de Eca de Queiroz

* * * * *

I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.
– Adlai Stevenson

* * * * *

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.
– Richard Armour

* * * * *

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
– John Kenneth Galbraith

* * * * *

Democrats think the glass is half full. Republicans think the glass is theirs.
– Author unknown

* * * * *

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
– Oscar Ameringer

* * * * *

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
– George Eliot

* * * * *

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.
– William Gladstone, 1866

* * * * *

The enemy isn’t liberalism. The enemy isn’t conservatism. The enemy is bullshit.
– Molly Ivins

10-24-16 Weekly Quotes: Healthy, Wise, Skillful Aging

[These quotes are a preview of next Monday’s e-newsletter Preventing, Reducing and Reversing Alzheimer’s. Enjoy the wisdom; take it to heart.]

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
– George Bernard Shaw

* * * * *

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
– Franz Kafka

* * * * *

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
– Frank Lloyd Wright

* * * * *

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

* * * * *

If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied could thus have been kept active through use.
– Charles Darwin

* * * * *

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

* * * * *

In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
– Abraham Lincoln

* * * * *

The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning, you’re not old.
– Rosalyn Yalow, Nobel laureate

* * * * *

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
– John Wooden

* * * * *

Retirement without the love of learning is a living burial.
– Seneca

* * * * *

Learning a new skill can change hundreds of millions of cortical connections.
– Michael Merzenich, neuroscientist

* * * * *

Just the attempt to learn a [new] language is like running different software through the brain.
– Andrew Weil, M.D., Healthy Aging

* * * * *

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
– Henry Ford

* * * * *

Nothing is inherently and invincibly young except spirit. And spirit can enter a human being perhaps better in the quiet of old age and dwell there more undisturbed than in the turmoil of adventure.
– George Santayana

* * * * *

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.
– Betty Friedan

* * * * *

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
– Henry David Thoreau

* * * * *

The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.
– William James

* * * * *

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.
– Benjamin Franklin

* * * * *

Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.
– Benjamin Franklin

* * * * *

In terms of days and moments lived, you’ll never again be as young as you are right now, so spend this day, the youth of your future, in a way that deflects regret. Invest in yourself. Have some fun. Do something important. Love somebody extra. In one sense, you’re just a kid, but a kid with enough years to know that every day is priceless.
– Victoria Moran

* * * * *

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
– Satchel Paige

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Wisdom comes with winters.
– Oscar Wilde

* * * * *

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.
– Robert Frost

* * * * *

Intelligence, goodness, humanity, excitement, serenity. Over time, these are the things that change the musculature of your face, as do laughter and animation and especially whatever peace you can broker with the person inside. It’s furrow, pinch and judgment that make us look older – our mothers were right. They said that if you made certain faces, they would stick and they do. But our mothers forgot that faces of kindness and integrity stick as well.
– Anne Lamott

* * * * *

I’ve enjoyed every age I’ve been and each has had it own individual merit. Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I’ve been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see. Nowadays, I don’t want a “perfect” face and body; I want to wear the life I’ve lived.
– Pat Benatar

* * * * *

It is best as one grows older to strip oneself of possessions, to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.
– Sylvia Townsend Warner

* * * * *

At 11, I could say ‘I am sodium’ (element 11) and now, at 79, I am gold.
– Oliver Sachs

10-17-16 Weekly Quotes: Wisdom from the Talmud

Sexuality is emotion in motion, as Mae West says in the quotes below.

A quick reminder, registration for the Busting Myths about Male Sexuality: Implication for Therapy with Men, Women, and Couples closes at midnight Pacific Time tonight, October 17. 15 hours of training with Dr. Joe Kort and 6 other leading experts. If you are at all interested, make sure you at least read about it here.

And please continue reading below for some fairly enlightened perspectives on sexuality.

* * * * *

Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life is the other way around.
– David Lodge

* * * * *

It still strikes me as strange that anyone could have any moral objection to someone else’s sexuality. It’s like telling someone else how to clean their house.
– River Phoenix

* * * * *

Conservatives say teaching sex education in the public schools will promote promiscuity. With our education system? If we promote promiscuity the same way we promote math or science, they’ve got nothing to worry about.
– Beverly Mickins

* * * * *

Sexuality surrounds us like a dangerous aura. The same reverence that is given to the spirit is not given to the flesh. We have had a sexual revolution, but the sexual revolution only has made sex more pervasive. It hasn’t granted the level of reverence and respect that it should have.
– Gioconda Belli

* * * * *

Understand that sexuality is as wide as the sea.
Understand that your morality is not law.
Understand that we are you.
Understand that if we decide to have sex whether safe, safer, or unsafe, it is our decision and you have no rights in our lovemaking.
– Derek Jarman

* * * * *

In elementary school, we should teach nonviolent conflict resolution and healthy communication skills, which will help children cope with issues like rejection and sexuality later in life.
– Jane Velez-Mitchel

* * * * *

It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.
– John Joseph Powell, The Secret of Staying in Love

* * * * *

Most people are slow to champion love because they fear the transformation it brings into their lives. And make no mistake about it: love does take over and transform the schemes and operations of our egos in a very mighty way.
– Aberjhani

* * * * *

Real intimacy is a sacred experience. It never exposes its secret trust and belonging to the voyeuristic eye of a neon culture. Real intimacy is of the soul, and the soul is reserved.
– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

* * * * *

Life without sex might be safer, but it would be unbearably dull. Throttle it, denaturalize it, take it away, and human existence would be reduced to the prosaic, laborious, boresome, imbecile level of life in an anthill.
– Henry L. Mencken

* * * * *

To hear many religious people talk, one would think God created the torso, head, legs, and arms, but the devil slapped on the genitals.
– Don Schrader

* * * * *

It’s not sex that gives the pleasure but the lover.
– Marge Piercy

* * * * *

Sex is emotion in motion.
– Mae West

* * * * *

Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin – it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring.
– S.J. Perelman

* * * * *

There’s nothing better than good sex. But bad sex? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than bad sex.
– Billy Joel
* * * * *

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.
– Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

* * * * *

Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don’t judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.
– Madonna Ciccone

10-10-16 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 Hashanah 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.

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.

10-3-16 Weekly Quotes: Togetherness, Forgiveness, and so much more…

[I am thoroughly enjoying co-teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion class this fall at Spirit Rock Meditation Center with Jane Baraz. And was completely delighted to be gifted with Together, a beautiful collection of poems by a fellow Mindful Self-Compassion teacher, Kaveri Patel. With Kaveri’s permission, I’ve included a few of her poems here; please visit her website, Wisdom in Waves, for more poems and links to her many books. May these bring much wisdom and joy.]

Together

Let’s explore the edges
of our vulnerability together
and not get sucked in its black hole,
holding on to each other’s hands,
holding on to each other’s hearts
in a circle of endless compassion.

No story is too tragic,
too tender in the light
and space of shared awareness.
It is a novel written by us all-
the chapters changing,
characters, settings, and plots variable.

But suffering is all the same,
believing you are a separate star
when you always belonged
to this solar system-
this darkness, this light.

* * * * *

Beyond Character

Compassionate presence is like a stage
supporting all the actors and scenes
long after they’re gone.
It doesn’t judge which performances
are Broadway worthy or best viewed
at a high school in Nonamesville.

It’s the silence between productions
cheering you on at each and every
dress rehearsal, not caring if you
receive a standing ovation
or rotten tomatoes.

It’s the space between actors,
an invisible connection between us-
an invitation to meet in the dressing room
out of costumes and makeup
to see who’s there.

* * * * *

Forgiveness
(from An Invitation)

There’s something new about the world
the day after it rains.
It’s as if an artist
erased the whole palette,
then redrew homes, the trees, the sky
with bolder outlines, and brightened
them with new paint
more vibrant than the old colors.

What if we were all artists
washing away old images of ourselves
with tears of forgiveness?
What if you could see
past outer appearances
and your heart was
your only canvas?
Would you imbue it
with the shades of your love,
or tear it to pieces
to equal
your number of self judgments?

There’s something new about the world
the day after it rains.
An artist erases the whole palette
for the chance to begin again.

* * * * *

Earth’s Eternal Heart
(from The Voice)

in the end all we have is this-
the ebb and flow of breath
our lives mosaics of
seaweed, shells, and stones

let’s not waste time
arguing about who’s right
but meet at the edge
of our misunderstanding

where we can dissolve
all stories of separation
in sand and live in sync
with Earth’s eternal heart

* * * * *

Never Alone
(from The Voice)

I want kindness,
the kind that makes you
want to take all the horror
movies and burn them in a
great big bonfire on the beach
under a full moon, no werewolves
only brave stars to witness
the end of dramatic fear.

I want kindness,
the kind that makes you
pull out your last $20 bill
for the person holding up
a sign, specific words
to their story too long,
too precious for a dingy
4×4 piece of cardboard.

But most of all I want
self-compassion to be
the new drug, more popular
than Lipitor or Lexapro
unclogging arteries hardened
by inflammatory judgments,
balancing see-saw perspectives
weighed down by worry-

one hand taking hold of the other,
reminding you you’re never alone.

9-19-16 Weekly Quotes: Conversation – and a Hilarious British Spoof on “Stop Looking at Your Phones!”

[My friend Deb Dana forwarded this hilarious spoof on “these new-fangled telephones will put an end to civilized discourse” as only the British can do it – the arrival of the telephone at the ‘Downton Abbey’ breakfast table. Enjoy “Stop Looking at Your Phones!” (3.5 minute YouTube) and then ponder the wisdom of protecting civilized discourse – conversation at the family dinner table, anywhere at all.]

Conversation is food for the soul.
– Mexican proverb

Each person’s life is lived as a series of conversations.
– Deborah Tannen

There isn’t much better in this life than finding a way to spend a few hours in conversation with people you respect and love. You have to carve this time out of your life because you aren’t really living without it.
– Real Live Preacher web blog

The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it.
– Frank M. Garafola

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
– Dorothy Nevill

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.
– Margaret Millar

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
– Jeff Daly

Few are agreeable in conversation, because each thinks more of what he intends to say than of what others are saying and listens no more when he himself has a chance to speak.
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou

A friend is someone who knows the song of your soul and sings it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.
– author unknown

Ah, the comfort,
The inexpressible comfort
Of feeling safe with a person.
Having neither to weigh out thoughts
Nor words,
But pouring them all right out, just as they are,
Chaff and grain together;
Certain that a faithful hand
Will take them and sift them;
Keeping what is worth keeping and,
With the breath of kindness,
Blow the rest away.
– Dinah Craik

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

When we shift our attention toward listening, our whole world changes. Learning to listen is equal to learning to love.
– Ruth Cox

An open ear is the [most] believable sign of an open heart.
– David Augsburger

Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.
– Sue Patton Thoele

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people don’t know the difference.
– David Augsburger

The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.
– Richard Moss

The first duty of love is to listen.
– Paul Tillich

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
– Henry David Thoreau

A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.
– Wilson Mizner

Since true listening involves a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the others. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will feel less and less vulnerable, and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the dance of love is begun again.
– M. Scott Peck

9-12-16 Weekly Quotes: Some Truths about Love

[I recently taught in Australia for two weeks; long plane flights there and back; time to read several good books. Among them, Jonah Lehrer’s most recent A Book About Love, which is a deeply rich and provocative exploration about the power and biological necessity of attachment. Since I was teaching clinicians about “Healing Attachment Trauma by Rewiring the Brain” the synchrony could not have been more perfect.

Lehrer explores the deeper aspects of love, how much work it is and how much maturity it takes. An important corrective to romantic fantasies and mis-guided movie plots. The role of love in parenting, in marriage, in fixed marriages, in divorce, in death, in spiritual ecstasy, the ambivalence we experience about love, the triumph of enduring love.

Much good research data for me to use in my trainings: the single most important predictor of happiness in the long-term (70 year) Grant Study at Harvard was the capacity to love and be loved. The single best predictor of children and adolescents doing well in school was time spent talking around the family dinner table. That the opposite of love is not hate (very entwined in the functioning of the brain) but indifference. (Important to remember on this anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11).

I’ve included below quotes used as epigraphs in A Book About Love. Not all of them, not necessarily in this order. Not supplemented by quotes from other sources. But I do recommend the book; I do recommend a sincere and serious exploration of the role that love plays in our own lives – the literal heartbeat and meaning of them.]

God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.
– Hazrat Inayat Kahn

I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong.
– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

What is to give light must endure burning.
– Viktor Frankl

Strongly spent is synonymous with kept.
– Robert Frost

I carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
– e.e. cummings

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
– Pablo Neruda

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
– John 4:16

Faith sees best in the dark.
– Soren Kierkegaard

Consume my heart away; sick with desire and fastened to a dying animal.
– W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”

As we know, love needs re-inventing
– Arthur Rimbaud

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
– Emily Dickinson

And to prove our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love.
– Philip Larkin, “An Arundel Tomb”

9-5-16 Weekly Quotes: For Labor Day – To Be of Use

TO BE OF USE by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy, “To be of use” from Circles on the Water. Copyright © 1982 by Marge Piercy. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

8-29-16 Weekly Quotes: Honor the Wave; Rest in the Ocean

[Our human life is such a dance between honoring the unique, individual expressions of life that manifest as our unique, individual personal self, with each of our quirks, each of our contributions, and the oceanic vastness of consciousness, the divine, the universe that we emerge out of and return to. The wave is inseparable from the ocean, yet emerges from it in such beauty, such a glory. Here are a few poetic tributes to that dance.]

Those who are truly non-attached do not deny the world. They embrace it, for they feel the touch of the eternal hidden within all the changing forms of their lives.
– Sri Sri Anandamurti

* * * * *

A Precious Human Life

Every day, think as you wake up,
Today I am fortunate to be alive,
I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
– HH the Dalai Lama

* * * * *

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment….

Oh grant me my prayer, that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the one in the play of the many.
– Rabindranath Tagore

* * * * *

HONEY

reminds me
of sweet results
from the incredibly,
intricate, interconnected web
of nature

the smells

of flowers, color
and pollen, queens,
drones, and hard workers

all

buzzingly interact
in minute exactitude
to create such nurturing
sweetness and health—–

just like

the inquiring mind
the incredibly, intricate
human neuro-network

interacting with divine nature,

with conditioned subjective mind,
with nurture
and fate

through a life span

of influences,
and with
diligent loving hard work
produce the sweetness of a
conscious life.
– Marianne Stefancic

8-15-16 Weekly Quotes: The Healing Power of Journaling

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.
– Christina Baldwin

* * * * *

Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.
– Mina Murray

* * * * *

A personal journal is an ideal environment in which to “become.” It is a perfect place for you to think, feel, discover, expand, remember, and dream.
– Brad Wilcox

* * * * *

The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.
– David Hare

* * * * *

Journal writing provide a place for self-expression where one can afford to take a risk, experiment with ideas and materials, and even make a mistake.
– M. Joan Lickteig

* * * * *

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.
– William Makepeace Thackeray

* * * * *

What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps us sort this out.
– Michael Hyatt

* * * * *

Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not.
– Martina Navratilova

* * * * *

Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.
– Robin S. Sharma

* * * * *

Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind.
– Natalie Goldberg

* * * * *

I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I – nor for that matter anyone else – will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.
– Anne Frank

* * * * *

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

* * * * *

I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences. I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.
-Helen Keller

* * * * *

I do not like to record my dull, heavy moments in my journal. I would like for it to record nothing but brightness and sunshine, but life is made up of life and shadows, and mine is no exception.
– Ella Gertrude Clanton

* * * * *

What a comfort is this journal. I tell myself to myself and throw the burden on my book and feel relieved.
– Anne Lister

* * * * *

The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I might suffocate.
– Anne Frank

* * * * *

Writing is medicine. It is an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion for any difficult change.
– Julia Cameron

* * * * *

As the number of studies increased, it became clear that writing was a far more powerful tool for healing than anyone had ever imagined.
– James W. Pennebaker

* * * * *

Whatever it is that you write, putting words on a page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime.
– Dina Raab

* * * * *

Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things – childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves – that go on slipping like sand through our fingers.
– Salman Rushdie

* * * * *

Thoughts are created in the act of writing. It is a myth that you must have something to say in order to write. Reality: You often need to write in order to have anything to say. Thought comes with writing, and writing may never come if it is postponed until we are satisfied that we have something to say. The assertion of write first, see what you had to say later, applies to all manifestations of written language, to letters as well as to diaries and journals.
– Frank Smith

* * * * *

Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.
– Charles de Lint

* * * * *

You are unique, and there may be incidents in your experience that are more noble and praiseworthy in their way that those recorded in any other life. There may be a flash of illumination here and a story of faithfulness there; you should truthfully record your real self and not what other people may see in you.
– Spencer Kimball

* * * * *

You need to keep a journal. First of all, your life really is interesting. You are unique, and your experiences are different from anyone else’s. You don’t have to see miracles or change the world to have something worthy to record in your journal – your thoughts and feelings are exciting enough.
-author unknown

* * * * *

Hoping they’d been inspired by the examples of Anne Frank and other teens who had turned negative experiences into something positive by writing about them, I handed out notebooks for my students to journal about their lives. There was some initial resistance. But then the stories poured out of them, full of anger and sadness.
– Erin Gruwell

* * * * *

Primary children are taught that journal writing reinforces the idea that each person is important. His or her experiences and feelings are valuable and are worth recording so they are not lost.
– Valiant B, Primary manual

* * * * *

Documenting little details of your everyday life becomes a celebration of who you are.
– Carolyn Hamilton

8-8-16 Weekly Quotes: Poetry for Modern Mindfulness

These delightful, charming, playful verses by Jenny Allen appeared in the July 27, 2016 New Yorker. Enjoy!

[I will be teaching practices of mindfulness, in the Fall 2016 Mindful Self-Compassion class at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, September 13-November 1, 2016, and at the Mindfulness and Compassion in Therapy and Society conference in Freiburg, Germany, September 23-25, 2016. These verses remind me to bring a similar light-heartedness and joy to the practice.]

DRIVING THE CAR

Getting into my car, I vow that I will drive with
Mindful care and caution.
If, in fact, this is my vehicle.
For I often step into
Someone else’s car
By accident.
If I have done so now, here in the parking lot of Stop & Shop,
May I smile with self-compassion,
And not curse my cluelessness,
As the cars where I live are all Subarus, And all the same model, and all the same “jasmine green,
“A bewildering forest of Foresters.

GOING TO THE MOVIES

Taking my seat in the movie theatre,
I am excited to be here,
And offer my heartfelt hope that it is not A film like “Carol”-Beautiful, but so boring.
I loved the period costumes
But wearied of the endless shots of the movie stars gazing soulfully
At each other
Or staring into space,
Like mute people.
“I love talking to you,” one of the women says to the other in one scene, which is strange,
Because they hardly talked at all.
May this be a movie with more dialogue,
And fewer close-ups,
And way better sex scenes.

USING THE PHONE

Breathing in, I call the operator to report
A suspicious voice mail from a person claiming to represent
My credit-card company.
Then I remember that there are no operators anymore, as there is
No “phone company.”
Breathing out, I use this moment of agitation to reflect on how everything changes,
And remind myself of other bygone things I used to complain about but now sort of miss:
Rockefeller Republicans,
airplane meals,
Sonny Bono,
Tom Carvel,
Times Square when it was Nasty, And men who leered at me on the street.
On second thought,
Maybe not Sonny.

SWIFFERING

Swiffering my floor, I offer thanks to the Procter & Gamble company For a marvelous cleaning product, although I know that
Some people think P. & G. got the idea of electrostatic cleaning cloths from a Japanese firm,
And that the Swiffer Sweeper is based on the “razors and blades” model-that is: I must keep buying expensive new replacement cloths endlessly.
Nevertheless!
I love its silence, so unlike the infernal noise of the vacuum cleaner.
This silence has changed my life,
Allowing me to clean my house,
A chore I do not enjoy,
While talking to my friends on the phone.
A win-win for me.

DOING THE DISHES

Breathing in, I wash the dishes,
Aware of their usefulness in holding
Nourishing meals that have sustained my family for many years.
I wonder why it is always, always me doing the dishes
By myself,
And whether, interconnected as all human beings are,
This may be the one exception.
Breathing out, I release my feelings into the universe, ever hopeful that someone, somewhere,
Will sense my need,
And offer to help.
I open my heart to the possibility of this miracle.

AT THE WORKPLACE

Today, I vow to regard my co-workers serenely, with
Loving-kindness and without judgment.
This one, who appears not to bathe and has a pungent odor,
That one, who leads the e-mail clique trash-talking the rest of us,
Are merely creatures caught in dukkha, or suffering.
May they one day be made whole and not so messed up,
Or at least be transferred to another department.

8-1-16 Weekly Quotes: Time in a Garden – Antidote to the Stresses and Strains of Life

[I’ve posted in last month’s newsletter and last week’s RRR post the importance of detoxing our brains from too much time on our screens, especially for the developing brains of young children, suggesting that spending time in nature – on a walk, in a park, in a garden – is one of the best ways of all time to restore a calm equilibrium in the brain, especially for children. True, I’m creating these weekly quotes on my computer, but I am working on my laptop at the picnic table in my garden as I do so, and time in my garden – weeding, planting, mulching, or even talking on the phone, writing, working on a project – is what keeps my life in balance, even as I move through it some days at hyper-speed. May these quotes inspire your own time in the quiet serenity of growing things; good for the eyes-body-brain; good for the soul.]

When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.
– Minnie Aumonier

* * * * *

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.
– Benjamin Disraeli

* * * * *

Cares melts when you kneel in your garden.
– Author Unknown

* * * * *

All my hurts my garden space can heal.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * * * *

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.
– German proverb

* * * * *

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.
– Author Unknown

* * * * *

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?
– Robert Brault

* * * * *

If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends and nature, and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.
– John Burroughs

* * * * *

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.
– Hugh Johnson

* * * * *

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
– Iris Murdoch

* * * * *

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.
– Lindley Karstens

* * * * *

I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.
– Robert Brault

* * * * *

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
– Rachel Carson

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To me the lowliest flower that blows can give thoughts that often lie too deep for tears.
– William Wordsworth

* * * * *

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.
– Abram. L. Urban

* * * * *

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in a garden.
– John Erskine

* * * * *

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.
– Robert Brault

* * * * *

Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.
– Mary Cantwell

* * * * *

To see things in the seed, that is genius.
– Lao Tzu

* * * * *

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.
– Georgia O’Keefe

* * * * *

If you could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, your whole life would change.
– Buddha

* * * * *

She who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see a plant, believes in God.
– Author Unknown

* * * * *

Just tickle earth with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.
– Douglas William Jerrold

* * * * *

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
– Dorothy Frances Gurney

* * * * *

I want death to find me planting my cabbages.
– Montaigne

7-18-16 Weekly Quotes: Shakespeare – 400 Years Ago – on Tolerance of Immigrants and Refugees

William Shakespeare penned the speech below, to be spoken by Sir Thomas More during the reign of Henry VIII at a time when Englishmen were rioting in protest of sheltering French Huguenots (Protestants) seeking asylum in London. The play Henry VIII was never finished, but this speech is the last surviving script written in Shakespeare’s own handwriting.
I heard this speech recited by famed Shakespearan actor Sir Ian McKellen last week in a film of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s April 23, 2016 celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Given the current refugee crisis all over the world, the speech is both powerful and prescient. It’s written in a vocabulary we no longer use, but which shaped, even created, the vocabulary we do use. It’s long, but it’s stirring, and a poignant reminder of the complex currents of the human heart.

At the end are additional quotes on tolerance from more contemporary wisdom thinkers. The need for tolerance is universal and eternal.

* * * * *
MORE

Look, what you do offend you cry upon,
That is, the peace. Not one of you here present,
Had there such fellows lived when you were babes,
That could have topped the peace, as now you would,
The peace wherein you have till now grown up
Had been ta’en from you, and the bloody times
Could not have brought you to the state of men.
Alas, poor things, what is it you have got,
Although we grant you get the thing you seek?

GEORGE.

Marry, the removing of the strangers, which cannot choose but much advantage the poor handicrafts of the city.

MORE

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.

DOLL.

Before God, that’s as true as the Gospel.

LINCOLN.

Nay, this is a sound fellow, I tell you. Let’s mark him.

Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
On supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears. First, ’tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And ’twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.

ALL.

Marry, God forbid that!

MORE.

Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising ‘gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? What do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this. What rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,-
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.

ALL.

Faith, ‘a says true. Let’s do as we may be done to.

LINCOLN.

We’ll be ruled by you, Master More, if you’ll stand our friend to procure our pardon.

MORE.

Submit you to these noble gentlemen,
Entreat their mediation to the king,
Give up yourself to form, obey the magistrate,
And there’s no doubt but mercy may be found,
If you so seek.
To persist in it is present death. But, if you
Yield yourselves, no doubt what punishment
You in simplicity have incurred, his highness
In mercy will most graciously pardon.

ALL.

We yield, and desire his highness’ mercy.
They lay by their weapons.

MORE.

No doubt his majesty will grant it you:
But you must yield to go to several prisons,
Till that his highness’ will be further known.

* * * * *

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as member of the herd.

– Bertrand Russell

The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people’s differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience.

– Jerome Nathanson

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.

– Voltaire

The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor’s shortcomings as he is of his own.

– Eric Hoffer

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it behooves all of us not to talk about the rest of us.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.

– Paul McCartney

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.

– Eric Hoffer

Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.

– Rene Dubos

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.

– Ralph W. Sockman

The problem to be faced is: how to combine loyalty to one’s own tradition with reverence for different traditions.

– Abraham Joshua Heschel

All religions show the same disparity between belief and practice, and each is safe till it tries to exclude the rest. Test each sect by its best or its worst as you will, by its high-water mark of virtue or its low-water mark of vice. But falsehood begins when you measure the ebb of any other religion against the flood-tide of your own. There is a noble and a base side to every history.

– Thomas Wenthworth Higginson

It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty.

– Mohandas K. Gandhi

7-11-16 Weekly Quotes: Poems from the Pond

[I was teaching at the Cape Cod Institute last week and came upon the wonderful poetry of Peggy Freydberg, a long-time resident of the Cape who began writing poetry when she was 90 years old and wrote until she died at 107. Here are three poems from her Poems from the Pond: 107 Years of Words and Wisdom – The Writings of Peggy Freydberg. Each of them a gem.]

CHORUS OF CELLS

Every morning,
even being very old,
(or perhaps because of it),
I like to make my bed.
In fact, the starting of each day
unhelplessly,
is the biggest thing I ever do.
I smooth away the dreams disclosed by tangled sheets,
I smack the dented pillow’s revelations to oblivion,
I finish with the pattern of the spread exactly centered.
The night is won.
And now the day can open.

All this I like to do,
mastering the making of my bed
with hands that trust beginnings.
All this I need to do,
directed by the silent message
of the luxury of my breathing.

And every night,
I like to fold the covers back,
and get in bed,
and live the dark, wise poetry of the night’s dreaming,
dreading the extent of its improbabilities,
but surrendering to the truth it knows and I do not;
even though its technicolor cruelties,
or the music of its myths,
feels like someone else’s experience,
not mine.

I know that I could no more cease
to want to make my bed each morning,
and fold the covers back at night,
than I could cease
to want to put one foot before the other.

Being very old and so because of it,
all this I am compelled to do,
day after day,
night after night,
directed by the silent message
of the constancy of my breathing,
that bears the news I am alive.

* * * * *

FALLING IN LOVE

What kind of an instrument was I,
when he found it,
and, because his blood impelled him to,
daringly, for caution was very strong,
reached a broad, square finger
and plucked for the first time
one of its strings?

I could have called myself a Stradivarius
for though I of course was just an ordinary violin,
waiting,
ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,
primed to be played,
mobilized by all my busy genes
to become music –
when first I felt the quiver
if its stirring sound,
I became, imparadised,
the most priceless stringed instrument
on the face of the earth.

After all those years
of lying in the curvaceous coffin of a velvet-lined violin case
snapped shut,
unborn, but
fully contoured waiting to emerge
and breathe to make my destined music –
one day he came
and dared to pluck a string.

Life made its first whole sound.

* * * * *

A LETTER TO MY FAMILY, EXPLAINING HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY CATS

Dearest family:

Fortunately, I can stand beside myself,
and see the gauge of my immoderate behavior
rising,
and can clearly see,
with fascination,
and without the self-reproach I ought, perhaps, to feel,
how overwrought,
how even pitiable,
my Niagara Falls of feeling for my cats
may look to you.
And I can see how you may worry
about this revelation
of starvation.

For that is what it is.
The hunger of an ancient woman’s
unassuaged maternity?
Or, the hunger for the man?
Or, a longing for her kin,
who live so far away?

Yes.
All those hungers.
For all those feasts.
Yet it is something so extravagantly more,
as you will see.
And so I write to you
with a convinced Hosannah,
with ground so solid under me,
that I am newly rooted,
newly upright.
And I proclaim to you,
I shout to you,
that I was never conscious of what I think it is to love,
until I had my two white cats.

I will explain:

One day,
as I sat looking at my cats,
I felt a new, soft, opening space
around my armor-plate of rib-cage –
like a warm wind
melting snow.
It was a feeling
of such sweet comfort,
there around my middle.
Breathing had another name.

Oh. But more than that.
For if unhappiness
feels like weights upon my chest,
and has the color of the night,
loving my cats
feels like the weights removed,
and daylight there.

And so,
with huge, benevolent laziness,
I sit and watch my cats.
I notice,
for the first time,
the way the sun shines pinkly
through their little, pointed ears.
I notice –
and with maudlin marvel –
as at the miniatureness and perfection
of a new-born baby’s fingernails –
that cats have tiny eyelashes,
just like people’s.

I see the beauty of their royal ermine coats,
their owl eyes,
their fluid motion –
only music,
only curves –
sparing me the jolt of human nature’s sharp-edged
squares.
I watch them pounce to kill a mouse –
so soundlessly, so innocently,
so necessarily murderous.
Although I don’t think murderous entirely,
I also think Pavlova and Nijinsky.

They sit and stare at me,
and wait,
and wait,
and wait,
with food-fixated eyes.
(I’ve come to know that look.)
Long columned legs
flow down to little paws
set so exactly,
so immaculately,
together.

Oh little lovely cats,
pouncing to devour so ravenously
the food that I’ve put down for you.
I wish you did not need to be dependent,
you of such heroic independence.
How do you keep your excellence,
your equanimity,
when all you do
Is wait,
and wait,
and wait, for what you need?
How do you settle for subordination
with such grandeur?

It comes to me,
that what has made my looking,
loving,
is not the limbic lilt of seeing beauty,
though that is there.
It is the recognition of the character of a cat,
which is so anciently,
so perseveringly
so unchangingly,
substantial –
Darwin’s fittest
in two white cats.

7-4-16 Weekly Quotes: Preserving Freedom

[How fitting that today’s Monday Weekly Quotes on Preserving Freedom falls on America’s actual Independence Day, July 4. And how timely that we focus our awareness on the deep commitment to freedom fought for and treasured by Americans from every race, creed, gender, and class; indeed, by people in every age from all over this world.]

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
– Adlai Stevenson

* * * * *

Freedom is not worth having it if does not connote the freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.
– Mahatma Gandhi

* * * * *

Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake, of searching and experimenting, of saying No to any authority – literary, artistic, philosophical, religious, social, and even political.
– Ignazio Silone

* * * * *

There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought.
– Charles Kingsley

* * * * *

Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

* * * * *

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.
– Jean Paul Sartre

* * * * *

Freedom means choosing your burden.
– Hephzibah Menuhin

* * * * *

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
– George Bernard Shaw

* * * * *

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.
– William Hazlitt

* * * * *

No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.
– Frederick Douglass

* * * * *

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
– Abraham Lincoln

* * * * *

If to be free is the most important goal of all, then to help someone else to be or to become free, must be the most sublime and rewarding of human endeavors.
– Elie Wiesel

* * * * *

The pillars of truth and the pillars of freedom – they are the pillars of society.
– Henrik Ibsen

* * * * *

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.
– Rosa Luxemburg

* * * * *

If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise, we do not believe in it at all.
– Noam Chomsky

* * * * *

Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, the chance to argue over them – and then, the opportunity to choose.
– C. Wright Mills

* * * * *

It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.
– Molly Ivins

* * * * *

For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.
– Lillian Hellman

* * * * *

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor Frankl

* * * * *

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
– Eugene V. Debs

* * * * *

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.
– Baha’u’llah

* * * * *

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?
– Pablo Casals

* * * * *

To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.
– Buddha

* * * * *

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.
– George Santayana

* * * * *

It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective – as a single, small globe against the stars.
– Arthur C. Clarke

* * * * *

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.
– Eugene V. Debs

* * * * *

If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.
– Montesquieu

* * * * *

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.
– James Bryce

* * * * *

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.
– Harry Emerson Fosdick

* * * * *

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.
– William Lloyd Garrison

* * * * *

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
– Blaise Pascal

* * * * *

The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born.
– Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

* * * * *

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
– George Bernard Shaw

* * * * *

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
– Marya Mannes

* * * * *

If patriotism is “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” it is not merely because evil deeds may be performed in the name of patriotism, but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether.
– Ralph B. Berry

* * * * *

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.
– Malcolm X

* * * * *

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches it arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
– Rabindranath Tagore. beloved poet of India
Nobel Laureate, 1913

6-27-16 Weekly Quotes: For All the Fathers – a Belated Father’s Day Poem

[A friend sent this poem on Father’s Day; too late for me to post last week but too good to pass up altogether. Deep bows to the loving, strenuous, often unrewarded work of fathering, and to all the fathers who do the best they can.]

For All The Fathers

For all the fathers with us and gone,
the ones who worked in factories
and taught us to drive cars,
the ones who knew how to put a worm on a hook
and how to get a fish, flopping, off of it.

For all the fathers, lonely on their couches,
ash trays on their bellies, the smell
of cigarettes on their hands, the blare
of the television drowning out the voices
of those too difficult to remember,
even some of those still living and breathing
in the same room.

For all the fathers reaching for their books
turning to the pages of poetry that give music
to the sounds trapped inside them, turning
the pages of manuals that informed their hands
on how to make furniture for the family, toys
for the grandchildren, cradles for the neighbor’s children
adopted from Vietnam.

For all the fathers who once, when boys, looked up
to see their own fathers standing in the place
of the men who came before them, men
who loved a good story, a certain spring flower,
the smell of dust rising after a rain.

For all the fathers who could not give
what was expected of them
and showed this by their absence, gone
in a bottle, gone on a rampage, gone
on an assignment. Gone. Gone. Gone.

For all the fathers who lifted and carried groceries
over water, babies up mountains, children off to bed,
war stories untold for decades, and memories from childhood
they could not speak of even to the ones they loved.

For all the fathers in good health and ill, for their strength
and their weariness, the dwindling away of possibility
into the wrinkles and bald spots we remember
before the final good-byes. For all the fathers,
the silent, the speaking, and the fathers
all of their young boys will become.

– Ann Arbor

6-20-16 Weekly Quotes: Celebrating Summer and 100 Years of National Parks

[August 25, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service. 100 years of providing people from all over the world safe access to the beauty and sanctity of wilderness. I have long nourished and replenished my own soul and spirit by hiking, camping, backpacking in majestic mountains, rafting rapid rivers, soaking my feet in the quiet waves of a national seashore. Recovering resilience and well-being every blessed moment.

Today is the official opening day of summer. I hope these quotes celebrating the magnificent wilderness the National Park Service protects and preserves for all of us will inspire you to find a few moments of celebrating-enjoying-honoring yourself in wilderness this summer.]

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
– John Muir, founder, founder, the Sierra Club

* * * * *

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.
– Joseph Wood Krutch

* * * * *

If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it. Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.
– President Lyndon B. Johnson

* * * * *

There is delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it mean protection.
– President Theodor Roosevelt

* * * * *

What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.
– Mollie Beattie

* * * * *

The supreme reality of our time…is the vulnerability of the planet. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.
– President John F. Kennedy

* * * * *

Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness.

Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. American developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges.

If we lose wilderness, we lose forever the knowledge of what the world was and what it might, with understanding and loving husbandry, yet become. These are islands in time – with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas, it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.
– Harvey Broom, co-founder, The Wilderness Society

* * * * *

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.
-Sir John Lubbock, vice chancellor, University of London

* * * * *

The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.
– Nancy Newhall

* * * * *

The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal form the husks of an artificial life.
– Ellen Burns Sherman

* * * * *

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.
-John Muir

* * * * *

Great things are done when men and mountains meet;
This is not done by jostling in the street.
– William Blake

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

In a civilization which requires most lives to be passed amid inordinate dissonance, pressure and intrusion, the change of retiring now and then to the quietude and privacy of sylvan haunts becomes for some people a psychic necessity.
– Bob Marshall, co-founder, the Wilderness Society

* * * * *

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
– John Muir

* * * * *

Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean….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. As age comes on, once source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.
– John Muir

* * * * *

Laws change, people die; the land remains.
– Abraham Lincoln

* * * * *

We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope. Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned in to comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads thought the last of the silence, so that never again will American be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.
– Wallace Stegner

* * * * *

Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on?
– Margaret Murie

* * * * *

If one pine were placed in a town square, what admiration it would excite! Yet who is conscious of the pine-tree multitude in the free woods, though open to everybody?
– John Muir

* * * * *

It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness so untouched so that a tree will rot where it falls, a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity, a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water, and moderns may at least see what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.
– Bernard De Voto

* * * * *

And this, our life exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
– William Shakespeare

* * * * *

Wander here a whole summer, if you can. Thousands of God’s wild blessings will search you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted. If you are business-tangled, and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy-laden year, give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make your truly immortal.
– John Muir

* * * * *

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
-John Muir

6-13-16 Weekly Quotes: Curiosity Improves Memory and Predicts Longevity

[In the article “Curiosity: The New Secret to a Healthy Brain” in the current issue of Mindful magazine, science writer Sharon Begley cites research that demonstrates that curiosity improves memory and predicts longevity – which is quite a gift to our brains and our health. May you be blessed with a vigorous curiosity and long, healthy life.]

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

* * * * *

Millions saw the apply fall, but Newton asked why.
– Bernard Baruch

* * * * *

Curiosity has its own reason for existing. The important thing is not to stop questioning. I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
– Albert Einstein

* * * * *

Only the curious will learn and only the resolute will overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient.
– Eugene S. Wilson

* * * * *

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
– Samuel Johnson

* * * * *

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
– Voltaire

* * * * *

I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
– Rudyard Kipling

* * * * *

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.
– Franklin P. Adams

* * * * *

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
– Ellen Parr

* * * * *

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life of the marvelous structure of reality.
– Albert Einstein

* * * * *

Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.
– William Arthur Ward

* * * * *

A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.
– Smiley Blanton

* * * * *

Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
– Ken Robinson

* * * * *

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
– James Stephens

* * * * *

If you are hungry for food, you are prepared to hunt high and low for it. If you are hungry for information it is the same. Information is all around us, now more than ever before in human history. You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.

No one asks how to motivate a baby. A baby naturally explores everything it can get at, unless restraining forces have already been at work. And this tendency doesn’t die out; it’s wiped out.
– B.F. Skinner

* * * * *

There is no cure for curiosity. It must be outgrown or endured. A child is born with its mouth in position to utter the word “Why?” and when, at some later date, it is punished for asking too many questions, it thinks up enough additional questions during its punishment to make the Encyclopedia Britannica look sick.
– Boston Sunday Post, 1915

* * * * *

There are no foolish questions, and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions.
– Charles Proteus Steinmetz

* * * * *

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
– Ralph W. Sockman

5-30-16 Weekly Quotes: What Do We Remember on Memorial Day?

[Memorial Day began as Decoration Day after the Civil War, to honor soldiers who died in that war. The day expanded after World War I to honor any soldier who died in any American War. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971, continuing to remember and honor any military personnel who died in any American war.

Many of us now relate to Memorial Day as the long weekend that opens the season of summer vacations, just as Labor Day has become is the long weekend that closes it.

On previous Memorial Days, I have posted quotes about War and Peace, fitting for the occasion of remembering both. This year, I’m posting quotes about memory itself, the convolutions and mystery of what we remember and what we don’t. I do hope your Memorial Day today brings you many experiences you will be joyed to remember; deep bows to any of us remembering loss and deaths of loved ones as well.]

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.
– Tennessee Williams

* * * * *

We do not remember days; we remember moments.
– Cesare Pavese

* * * * *

The true art of memory is the art of attention.
– Samuel Johnson

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

God gave us memories that we might have roses is December.
– James M. Barrie

* * * * *

It is said that God gave us memory so we could have roses in winter. But it is also true that without memory we could not have self in any season. The more memories you have, the more “you” you have. That is why, as Swift said, No wise man ever wished to be younger.
– George Will

* * * * *

Every man’s memory is his private literature.
– Aldous Huxley

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

We each need to make peace with our own memories. We have all done things that make us flinch.
– Lama Surya Das

* * * * *

You can fall ill with just a memory.
– Paolo Giordano

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison.
– Marcel Proust

* * * * *

Memory is more than a dustbin of time, stuffed with yesterday’s trash. Rather, memory is a glorious grab bag of the past from which one can at leisure pluck bittersweet experiences of times gone by and relive them.
– Hal Boyle

* * * * *

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past, even though some are painful. I don’t understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.
– Sophia Loren

* * * * *

Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember.
– Seneca

* * * * *

Life is a rough biography. Memories smooth out the edges.
– Terri Guillemets

* * * * *

We cannot change our memories but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us.
– David Seamands

* * * * *

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
– Lewis B. Smedes

* * * * *

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.
– Margaret Fairless Barber

* * * * *

The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust.
– French proverb

* * * * *

Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features.
– Primo Levi

* * * * *

I’m always fascinated by the way memory diffuses fact.
– Diane Sawyer

* * * * *

The existence of forgetfulness has never been proved. All we know is that recollection may not be within our power. Up to the present we have filed that gap in our power with the word “forget,” just as if it were another addition to our list of faculties.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

* * * * *

There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.
– Josh Billings

* * * * *

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
– Mark Twain

* * * * *

The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the palest light of all. I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware of the unreality, the evanescence of the world, and fleeting images in the moving water.
– Eugene Ionesco

* * * * *

It is singular how soon we lose the impression of what ceases to be constantly before us. There is little distinct left without an effort of memory, then indeed the lights are re-kindled for a moment. But who can be sure that imagination is not the torch-bearer?
– Lord Byron

* * * * *

Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.
– Willa Cather

* * * * *

The charm, one might say the genius of memory, is that it is choosey, chancy, and temperamental. It rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust.
– Elizabeth Bowen

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Memory is the greatest of artists, and effaces from your mind what is unnecessary.
– Maurice Baring

* * * * *

Not the power to remember, but its very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence.
– Sholem Asch

* * * * *

Each day brings its petty dust our soon-choked souls to fill, and we forget because we must, and not because we will.
– Matthew Arnold

* * * * *

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.
– Jorge Luis Borges

* * * * *

Why is our memory good enough to recall to the last detail things that have happened to us, yet not good enough to recall how often we have told them to the same person?
– Francois de la Rochefoucauld

* * * * *

I always have trouble remembering three things: faces, names, and – I can’t remember what the third thing is.
– Fred Allen

5-23-16 Weekly Quotes: Dreams – Gateway to Wisdom and Well-Being

[I’ll be writing the June 2016 e-newsletter on Kat Duff’s book The Secret Life of Sleep, a wondrous source of wisdom teachings from around the world as well as the latest scientific discoveries about sleep and dreaming. A preview:]

Sleep is when all the unsorted stuff comes flying out as from a dustbin upset in a high wind.
– William Golding

* * * * *

Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it we available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare.
– H.F. Hedge

* * * * *

The best reason for having dreams is that in dreams no reasons are necessary.
– Ashleigh Brilliant

* * * * *

I honor health as the first muse, and sleep as the condition of health. Sleep benefits mainly by the sound health it produces; incidentally also by dreams, into whose farrago a divine lesson is sometimes slipped.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * * * *

Dreams say what they mean, but they don’t say it in daytime language.
– Gail Godwin

* * * * *

Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.
– Edgar Cayce

* * * * *

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.
– The Talmud

* * * * *

Writer Stephen King referred to dreams as a kind of “mental or spiritual flatulence.” They do seem to display a digestive process at work, breaking down our daily lives into fragments that are mixed, remixed, and gradually disintegrated. It is a process that does not require our conscious involvement and appears to proceed happily without it.
– Kat Duff

* * * * *

Dreams are the most curious asides and soliloquies of the soul. When a man recollects his dream, it is like meeting the ghost of himself. Dreams often surprise us into the strangest self-knowledge. Dreaming is the truest confessional, and often the sharpest penance.
– Alexander Smith

* * * * *

Our dreams disturb us because they refuse to pander to our fondest notions of ourselves. The closer one looks, the more they seem to insist upon a challenging proposition: You must live truthfully. Right now. And always. Few forces in life present, with an equal sense of inevitability, the bare-knuckle facts of who we are, and the demands of what we might become
– Marc Ian Barasch

* * * * *

That which the dream shows is the shadow of such wisdom as exists in man, even if during his waking state he may know nothing about it. We do not know it because we are fooling away our time with outward and perishing things, and are asleep in regard to that which is real within ourself.
– Paracelsus

* * * * *

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt-marvelous error!-
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.
– Antonio Machado

* * * * *

Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.
– Marsha Norman

* * * * *

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.
– William Dement

* * * * *

A night mare is only a dream that hits turbulence.
– Terri Guillemets

* * * * *

In a sense, we get what we ask for – or find what we are looking for – in our dreams. If we want to understand ourselves more fully, our dreams hold up mirrors. If we want to know the creatures around us better, they come to us in our dreams. If we want to make peace with the ancestors, our dreams tell us what to do. A hospice nurse once told me that people die the way they live; I suspect the same is true of the way we dream. We dream the way we live.
– Kat Duff

* * * * *

Dreams are free therapy. Consult your inner Freud.
– Terri Guillemets

* * * * *

I occasionally dream that I am someone else of another age, sex, or circumstance. I have been an aged trader in Turkey, a young woman in the time of Jesus, a deaf-mute tied to a tree, a mother who has lost her child -even a bear coming out of hibernation. Sometimes I dream someone else’s life story as if I were watching a movie.

When I wake up, I often feel slightly altered, as if the streams of experience I dreamed were actually my own. My sense of self becomes a little more open and elastic, and I feel affinities with people, animals, countries, and situations I never really had before. The next day I might look for the plant with the pointed leaves I saw in my dream or visit with the neighbor whose daughter died in a car accident with more ease. I treasure these dreams because they enlarge my empathy and lend me a host of experiences I could not get any other way.
– Kat Duff

5-9-16 Weekly Quotes: Poetry as a Life-Cherishing Force, Creating Vitality and Resilience

[I’m behind. April was National Poetry Month, and I deeply respect the power of poetry to guide us and buoy us through the most difficult of life’s difficulties, and evoke the greatest joy when we’re blessed with life’s joys. Here’s a poem very much speaking to the power of poetry to bring us most fully alive, and then additional quotes reminding us of the power of poetry to recover our resilience and well-being.]

On Memorizing A Poem – Max Reif

In the beginning was the Word–
there’s creativity involved,
not just duplicating
a page of print
in your brain.

You can’t clip
these unique flowers
of the ages
and stuff them in
some mental vase.
You have to plant them
inside.

First reading scatters
seeds, atoms,
whirling with life,
even ones that
seem inert.

Repetition becomes
a steady hand holding
a watering can.
Imperceptibly, every word
germinates and sprouts.

Tendrils begin to reach out,
join hands, solidify
a clause, link it with the body
of a sentence, until
each word is tropically bonded,
no longer exists alone.

A stanza coheres. The force
flows on, spirit leaps
across a gap to the next stanza,
back to the one before!

Each reading, connections firmer.
New ones arise, flourish
like bougainvillea. Roads appear.
Signs. Turn Left Here.

Paths and gardens of knowing
form in the brain. Flowering vines
perfume the air above the brain!

Finally, a world
lives inside to be invoked,
called forth like genie
from bottle.

Every poem or story
made one’s own
initiates its keeper
into the long line
stretching back
to ancient campfires.

Every teller chants with Homer,
Valmiki, bards whose names
we do not know, carries
the Light in eyes
onward.

* * * * *

Great poetry calls into question not less than everything. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind. It amazes, startles, pierces, and transforms us. Great poetry happens when the mind is looking the other way; the heart opens, we forget ourselves, and the world pours in.
– Roger Housden

* * * * *

Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed.
– Mary Oliver

* * * * *

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
– William Carlos Williams.

* * * * *

There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.
– Gustave Flaubert

* * * * *

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
– Khalil Gibran

* * * * *

A poem written three thousand years ago

about a man who walks among horses
grazing on a hill under the small stars

comes to life on a page in a book

and the woman reading the poem
in her kitchen filled with a gold metallic light

finds the experience of living in that moment

so vividly described as to make her feel known
to another, until the woman and the poet share

not only their souls but the exact silence

between each word. And every time the poem is read,
no matter her situation or her age,

this is more or less what happens.
– Jason Shinder

* * * * *

A word is dead
When it is said
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.
– Emily Dickinson

* * * * *

Poetry is the language of our time. It is a verbal excavation, digging us into and under that which is inarticulate, that which cannot be said but can be felt, that which cannot be stated but can be conjured. Poetry is a form of revolution. It rearranges our thinking, our perception, our dialogue. It takes us out of the literal so that we can see what is real.
– Eve Ensler

* * * * *

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
– Plato

* * * * *

The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse…the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars.
– Aristotle

* * * * *

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.
– Robert Graves

* * * * *

Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
– John Keats

* * * * *

And it was at that age…Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and mouthing started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.
– Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize Laureate

5-2-16 Weekly Quotes: A Message of Fierce Resilience for Mother’s Day

[A client forwarded this message to me; I find it so appropriate for the challenges of being a mother, being devoted, being courageous, being resilient.  Deep bows to every mother who has ever had to be.]

4-18-16 Weekly Quotes: True Love – by David Whyte

[The Truelove is one of David Whyte’s most beloved poems, offered here as a counter-balance to last week’s post on Pain is not Pathology and the power of love to heal even in the deepest darkness. May it be so.]

The Truelove

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of the baying seals,

who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them,

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly,
so Biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love,

so that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t

because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

David Whyte (House of Belonging)

4-11-16 Weekly Quotes: Every Moment Is a Moment

[Last week I was gifted with the journal Every Moment is a Moment, a collection of lively, joyful wisdom from Charlotte Selver, who live for 102 years and who devoted over 75 years of her life to sharing the mindfulness practice of Sensory Awareness with students from around the world. Fleeing to New York from Nazi Germany in 1938, Charlotte helped transform the cultural landscape of the United States, becoming a catalyst in the formation of the Human Potential Movement. She was a marvel…and she opens us to our own marvelousness. Savor…and transform.]

Every moment is a moment.

We have been thoroughly deprived of trusting the inner wisdom which each person has in him or herself. There lies great unused richness in us, which we gradually have to dig out and develop.

When you get to it, you will be astonished by what comes into the open which you didn’t know was there.

* * * * *

There is something in us, deep in us, which knows.

So the question would be: is there a state possible in which we can be without watching and without judging…simply awake?

You are already created, and you are beautifully created. However, you can live so that the creation which you are is unrecognizable, and one doesn’t know who you are…and you don’t know who you are, because you are so full of habits and what other people have told you.

So what we have to do now is bring you into a state of curiosity and deep interest for what gradually may emerge out of the sum of many conditionings.

* * * * *

We are the ones who have to crack the nuts In the moment in which I am living for what in genuine, I have to recognize what is ungenuine, and that is the cracking of the nut.

* * * * *

There is a certain relationships which I have to have with my inner functioning – that of respect and that of wonder.

Through the most simple things which we do all the time, we can feel out to which degree we honor everything with our inner attention.

* * * * *

A person can get heart disease by climbing a mountain, but also can get rid of heart disease by climbing a mountain. It depends on how we climb.

So in our life, we can sharpen our equipment by living every moment. Whoomph! And we can also wear ourselves out. It depends on how we do it.

* * * * *

Be ready in any moment to bow before what becomes important.

Life does not flow in any particular way. But in the moment that I can accept what it doesn’t flow always the way I want, I can allow gradually, a little more the possibility, to meet it as it is. Then, perhaps, through this allowing, conditions change.

I wish you would once in a while look into the eyes of a healthy baby, and would see with what earnestness, interest, great power of concentration – a basic saying “Yes” such a child has.

The child doesn’t yet want anything special; it is equally interested in everything that comes. When the child takes something and looks at it from all sides, or when somebody goes through the room and the child’s whole attention flows, that’s how we started And it is also what we can come to – when this natural inner drive for full relating is unearthed and set free.

We wouldn’t’ be all the time so full of expectations and wishes, but we would be seeing more clearly than any world in which we live can be as astonishing as the world of the baby. And then all things are precious.

* * * * *

Every day brings very different moments, and in every moment there is a possibility of responding or not responding. We can be there and discover that.

Our energy can become very powerful at times when we need to have powerful energy, and we an become very easy when at times, we need to have less.

So the energy flow and the possibility of perseverance and strength is constantly changing in us according to what we are meeting in the moment.

* * * * *

We do what is in us to do. We can only offer what we have. Whether anyone accepts it is another matter.

We have to take a chance with that.

* * * * *

When we are on the way to going deeper, deeper than we have been going, we meet many obstacles. Many of us let the obstacles defeat our going deeper. We lose interest. We get discouraged. The experience of awakening is not always agreeable. When one feels more, one feels more in all ways. One cannot choose what one feels.

So that it could be that we become much more conscious of certain things that we have till now simply swallowed, or shut off. For such recognition we should be very grateful, because then something new can start.

Actually, something is always happening. People who don’t love the moment are always trying to achieve something, but when is on the way, every moment is “it.”

4-4-16 Weekly Quotes: There Is No Monster Inside You

When fear-anger-shame take over how we would like to respond to any crisis or challenge in life, we can feel so badly about ourselves that we become paralyzed, not taking risks, not going places, not asking for jobs we really want, not finding the love we longingly seek. We know, from decades of research, that the shutting down of fear-anger-shame are fueled, in part, by self-doubt and self-judgment; a deep lack of self-acceptance and self-love.

Tara Brach will be directly addressing that lack of self-acceptance and self-love in her new NICABM series, Awakening the Fearless Heart. Tara is one of my own beloved teachers; her generous spirit and wise nature makes her one of the most gifted, renowned, and trusted mindfulness teachers of our time. I encourage you to check out Awakening the Fearless Heart to ease away from self-criticism, transform negativity, and radically change your response to fear.

And for immediate healing and awakening…a client sent me the quotes below from a newer meditation teacher Jeff Foster. May they speak to you deeply and clearly, and inspire you as they have me.

Friend, throughout these precious years
I have come to discover
that our humanness is not ‘less than’
our divine nature; it is her expression and her fulfillment.
It can be such a profound relief to recognize
that ‘spiritual awakening’
has very little to do with transcending thoughts and feelings,
denying our vulnerable humanity
and attempting to escape into
some state of pure awareness, some higher realm, some other dream.

Instead, we bow to our sorrow,
embrace it tenderly in our arms.
We hold our doubts close as we walk the path of today.
We see the sacredness in our fear,
the joy in our confusion,
the freedom in our anger.
We bow to life in all her forms,
not just the ‘pretty’ ones.

We discover a deep inner permission to be as we are.

The most alive people I have ever met
are actually the most human.
The most ‘awake’ ones often talk little of spirituality.
Often they are not the teachers,
spouting stale words about the separate self, the ‘truth’,
and making promises of happiness they cannot actually live.

In my humble view, the most ‘awake’ ones
are the ones who have cultivated
a deep warm compassion within,
a profound self-kindness,
and who radiate that delicious empathy into the world.

One foot in nondual awareness,
the other foot dancing and playing
in the glorious mess of relative existence;
courageous enough to receive both ecstasy and agony
with the same kind of humility.
I know no spirituality that is unwilling to bow
to the broken heart and saturate it with attention, breath;
to flood the darkness with light.

So we are no longer numb.
So we can meet each other in the fire.
-Jeff Foster

* * * * *

THERE IS NO MONSTER INSIDE YOU

Fall in love with the darkness.
With the piss and the sh*t of life.
The shadows, the hidden parts.
The bits we hide out of shame.

Fall in love with the innocence.
Our childhood fears of the dark.
Of being exposed. Of showing ourselves,
being seen, coming into the light.

The doubts, the secret pains,
our strange fantasies, feelings we
just don’t know what to do with.
Terrors of the night-time.
The rage that bubbles just under the surface.
The fear that we are not lovable.

The feelings and thoughts we conceal
to maintain the image of ‘me’.
To be good, to be nice, to be spiritual.
To be ‘the one who can hold it all together’.

Fall in love with this secret humanity.
Know that darkness is NOT darkness,
only scared fragments longing to come into the light,
beings who want love, and attention,
and breath, and inclusion in the larger picture of Self.

Do not seek the light, friend.
Simply be the light. Be what you are.
The light of life.
And have the courage to shine fully
on the sore places, the tender places.
Illuminate. Radiate.
Make it safe for the little monsters
to come out of hiding.
Let them know they are beautiful.
And worthy.
And not monsters at all.
– Jeff Foster

* * * * *

Love is not something you search for.
Love is not something you wait for.
Love is not coming ‘one day’.
Love won’t ride in on horseback.

Your job is not to seek love, then,
but to be it,
know it as your essence,
feel it infuse your very being,
hear it drip from your in-breath,
and shimmer through your out-breath.
Call off the search. Love is You.
– Jeff Foster

3-21-16 Weekly Quotes: Nourishing the Soul in Spring

[Many parts of the country are just coming out of the deep freeze of winter, spring ushering itself in with floods and wicked weather. Nonetheless, spring is a “perpetual astonishment.” May you find spring blossoming in your soul, whatever the conditions outside.]

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

* * * * *

Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.
– Virgil Kraft

* * * * *

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
– Doug Larson

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.
– e.e. cummings

* * * * *

Springtime is the land awakening.
– Lewis Grizzard

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes –
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
– Iris Murdoch

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refresehed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring…these are the rewards of the simple life.
– John Burroughs

* * * * *

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

3-14-16 Weekly Quotes: A Positive View of Negative Emotions

The Pixar film Inside Out won the 2016 Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Dacher Keltner, founder of the Greater Good Science Center at U.C. Berkeley, was a science consultant to the filmmakers on the physiology and purpose of emotions.

Emotions are now understood by neuropsychologists to be powerful motivators of skillful actions that support resilience – anger to protest against injustice or betrayal, fear to move away from dangerous or toxic situations or people, sadness to pull in comfort and support.

May these quotes on the wisdom of all of our emotions help us re-think, and re-feel, our experiences of emotions.

* * * * *

There’s no such thing as a bad emotion, only an unprocessed one.
– Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

* * * * *

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we fell we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
– Pema Chodron

* * * * *

One reason we’re so attuned to others’ emotions is that, when it’s a real emotion, it tells us something important about what matters to that person. When it’s suppressed or toned down, people think damn it, you’re not like us, you don’t care about the same things we do.
– James J. Gross, psychologist at Stanford University.

* * * * *

Grief can awaken us to new values and new and deeper appreciations. Grief can cause us to reprioritize things in our lives, to recognize what’s really important and put it first. Grief can heighten our gratitude as we cease taking the gifts like bestows on us for granted. Grief can give us the wisdom of being with death. Grief can make death the companion on our left who guides us and gives us advice. None of this growth makes the loss good and worthwhile, but it is the good that comes out of the bad.
– Roger Bertschausen, Beyond Absence

* * * * *

There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
– Carl. G. Jung

* * * * *

One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often,
– Erich Fromm

* * * * *

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
– Kahlil Gibran

* * * * *

Grief is itself a medicine.
– William Cowper

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

Anger is a signpost showing us where change is needed.
– Diana Rico

* * * * *

Healthy anger requires us to define ourselves and to be the best expert on what values, priorities and desires are not negotiable under relationship pressures. It requires us to change our part in the relationship patterns from which our anger springs…..Healthy anger requires self-focus, so we can observe and change our part in the patterns that keep us stuck, rather than dissipating our energy trying to change another person who doesn’t want to change.
– Harriet Lerner

* * * * *

Anger is not bad. Anger can be a very positive thing, the thing that moves us beyond the acceptance of evil.
– Joan Chittister

* * * * *

The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.
– Bede Jarrett

* * * * *

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.
– William Arthur Ward

* * * * *

The Guest House

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness come
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Rumi

* * * * *

Happy the man who can endure the highest and the lowest fortune. He, who has endured such vicissitudes with equanimity, has deprived misfortune of its power.
– Seneca

* * * * *

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
The still surface on the well of grief

Turning downward through its black water
To the place we cannot breathe

Will never know the source from which we drink,
The secret water, cold and clear,

Nor find in the darkness glimmering
The small round coins
Thrown by those who wished for something else.
– David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

3-7-16 Weekly Quotes: Spotlight on Truth

The film Spotlight won the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture. (Click here for the New York Times review of the film.) People will say the subject was the sexual abuse of young children by Catholic priests, which is true in part, but the real subject was the power of investigative journalism to uncover that abuse and the cover-up by higher-ups in the Church of that abuse.

I saw the film three times. As a proud undergrad major in journalism at Northwestern University, I rejoiced in the award. I have long known the power of investigation, research, writing, and perseverance in the search for truth to open wide the doors to social change and redemptive healing.

This post is a deep bow to the integrity and perseverance of the original reporting staff of Spotlight at the Boston Globe (winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for their good work) and for the courage and perseverance of the filmmakers/actors in bringing truth to public light again.

May the seeking of truth be a powerful force in promoting your own resilience and transformation in your community.]

* * * * *

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.
– Henri-Frederic Amiel

* * * * *

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.
– Gloria Steinem

* * * * *

The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.
– Herbert Agar

* * * * *

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

* * * * *

Men stumble over truth from time to time but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.
– Winston Churchill

* * * * *

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please – you can never have both.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * * * *

Facts are facts and will not disappear on account of your likes.
– Jawaharlal Nehru

* * * * *

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
– Aldous Huxley

* * * * *

Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton

* * * * *

As long as people believe absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.
– Voltaire

* * * * *

All great truths begin as blasphemies.
– George Bernard Shaw

* * * * *

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once heretical.
– Bertrand Russell.

* * * * *

All truth passes though three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
– Arthur Schopenhauer

* * * * *

Truth, in its struggles for recognition, passes through four distinct stages. First, we say it is damnable, dangerous, disorderly, and will surely disrupt society. Second, we declare it is heretical, infidelic, and contrary to the bible. Third, we say it is really a matter of no importance either one way or the other. Fourth, we aver that we have always upheld it and believed it.
– Elbert Hubbard

* * * * *

What you need is sustained outrage…there’s far too much unthinking respect given to authority.
– Molly Ivins

* * * *

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
– George Orwell

* * * * *

The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.
– William Sloane Coffin

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

2-29-16 Weekly Quotes: A Deeply Wise Re-writing of the Song “My Favorite Things”

[At a birthday celebration for my dear friend Marilynne, we all got to sing her version of “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music. The original version is a classic and still a favorite after 50 years. Enjoy this wise update, or enjoy creating your own.]

My Favorite Things
To the tune of “My Favorite Things”

Plumbing the depths of the heart and the soul
Moon shine and kitties and dance, rock n’ roll
Vastness of ocean and essence of being
These are a few of my favorite things.

Sweetness that touches the tongue and the heart
Morning song joy of a friend or the lark
Hummingbird hovers and soars of the hawk
Delightful discoveries on wilderness walks

Kisses and otters and heartful embraces
Flowers and laughter and beautiful spaces
Artistic expression, creative cuisine
These are a few of my favorite things.

Leisurely time with my sons and loved ones
Forests and rivers and alpenglow sun
Exploring and play that’s both wild and serene
These are a few of my favorite things.

Basking in sunshine and shushing through snow
Snorkeling, kayaking, and biking down roads
Yoga, backpacking, and horseback riding
These are a few of my favorite things.

Wisdom, compassion, kindness and love
Solitude, silence and sacred above
Rapture and wonder and being surprised
Learning from life and from those who are wise

Evening sun filtering down through the trees
Life work and life change brings me to my knees
Living and dying and all that’s between
These are a few of my favorite things

Chorus:

When life change stings
Losing everything
When old ways dissolve
I simply remember my favorite things
Surrender, transform… evolve.

~ Marilynne Chöphel ~
2009

2-15-16 Weekly Quotes: Wisdom from the Wisest of Men

[I grew up in Illinois, the land of Lincoln, back in the day when Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, and George Washington’s birthday, February 22, were both celebrated as national holidays. Today, February 15 is a combined President’s Day and for many folks the beginning of a week-long “ski week” break from school.

I’m glad my earliest values and vision were shaped by the wisdom of a President who led his country through a civil war and out of slavery. May his words be inspiring still.]

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.

If I cared to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.

I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.

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

You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm.

I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.

When I’m getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.

We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that’s my religion.

If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

A house divided against itself cannot stand — I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.

I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.

There can be glory in failure and despair in success.

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

There are few things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of government policy, is an inseparate compound of the two so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.

The people – the people – are the rightful masters of both congresses and court – not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its right by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

I am nothing; truth is everything.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits that strict justice.

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.

A tendency to melancholy…let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.

Do not worry; eat three square meals a day; say your prayers; be courteous to your creditors; keep your digestion good; exercise; go slow and easy. Maybe there are other things your special case requires to make you happy, but my friend, these I reckon will give you a good lift.

Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I though a flower would grow.

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count it’s the life in your years.

2-8-16 Weekly Quotes: Chinese New Year – Chinese Proverbial Wisdom

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been privileged to count among my good friends many of Chinese ancestry who have taught me again and again of the resilience of Chinese immigrants whose labor built the transcontinental railroad and whose quick-thinking among those “shanghaied” – brought illegally from their homes in China to become forced labor- when the 1906 earthquake destroyed official paper records, could claim to have immigrated here legally and eventually they or their descendants becoming citizens.

I was also privileged to travel in China in the late 1980’s, just as China was recovering from years of totalitarian domination by the Communist Party, moving quickly from conditions where the entire city of Shanghai (14 million people at the time) was in total darkness because there was no electricity, where the phone book for the entire country was 1/2 in thick, where 20-story buildings were built with bamboo scaffolding, where a model car was on display in Shanghai so ordinary folks, the city’s entire population riding bicycles, could have their family photograph taken with it, to a booming, if polluting, entrepreneurial, joint-venture economy that is dazzling, if not frustrating, the rest of the world.

Chinese New Year 2016 – the Year of the Monkey – is being celebrated around the world today. The resilience of the zodiac figure of the monkey contains many contradictions:

“People born in the year of the monkey are believed to be energetic, versatile, bright, mischievous, quick-witted, sociable and self-assured, particularly when it comes to making decisions about their careers and finances.

Weaknesses of those born in the year of the monkey include being cunning, selfish, arrogant and jealous. They have several shortcomings, including a short temper and a tendency to look down on others.”

5,000 years of Chinese proverbial wisdom also reflects many of the contradictions that are part of resilience. Take to heart whatever is useful; there is much to be treasured here.

* * * * *

A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.

* * * * *

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

* * * * *

Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.

* * * * *

Dig the well before you are thirsty.

* * * * *

Be the first to the field and the last to the couch.

* * * * *

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

* * * * *

Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind.

* * * * *

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

* * * * *

A book tightly shut is but a block of paper.

* * * * *

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

* * * * *

The palest ink is better than the best memory.

* * * * *

A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books.

* * * * *

Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

* * * * *

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.

* * * * *

If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.

* * * * *

Not until just before dawn do people sleep best; not until people get old do they become wise.

* * * * *

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

* * * * *

A rat who gnaws at a cat’s tail invites destruction.

* * * * *

If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.

* * * * *

When you drink the water, remember the spring.

* * * * *

A little bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.

* * * * *

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

* * * * *

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

2-1-16 Weekly Quotes: The Power and Art of Conversation

[Last month’s e-newsletter, Reclaiming Conversation generated a lot of conversation indeed; granted, the newsletter was posted through the internet and the commentary arrived via the internet.  Still, we’re conversing, sharing stories and ideas, and it’s gratifying.  Hence, following up with this week’s quotes on conversation, again granting that I did the research on the internet.

The research was interrupted by a phone call from a dear friend, needing to postpone our getting together for conversation later that afternoon because she had to see her doctor on an emergency basis for a tweaked back.  In the brief conversation to reschedule, as I mentioned I was in the flow of creating this post, she commented, “May the flow be with you.”  That’s it.  That’s the emergence that spontaneously happens in conversation.  Not “May the force be with you,” but “May the flow be with you.”

May you be inspired to strike up a conversation with someone and enjoy the flow of exchange and exploration.]

It is not what we learn in conversation that enriches us.  It is the elation that comes of swift contact with tingling currents of thought.
– Agnes Repplier

* * * * *

Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation – what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.
– William Lyon Phelps

* * * * *

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.
– Rene Descartes

* * * * *

A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

[Longfellow was probably quoting the centuries-old Chinese proverb: A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books.]

* * * * *

In my opinion, the most fruitful and natural play of the mind is in conversation.  I find it sweeter than any other action in life; and if I were forced to choose, I think I would rather lose my sight than my hearing and voice.
– Michel De Montaigne

* * * * *

The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken to what is said and to answer to the purpose.
– Benjamin Franklin

* * * * *

The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit.
– Sir William Temple

* * * * *

In conversation, humor is worth more than wit and easiness more than knowledge.
– George Herbert

* * * * *

The great gift of conversation lies less in displaying it ourselves than in drawing it out of others.  He who leaves your company pleased with himself and his own cleverness is perfectly well pleased with you.
– Jean de la Bruyere

* * * * *

The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.
– Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

* * * * *

Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know.
– Andre Maurois

* * * * *

Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty.
– Joseph Addison

* * * * *

The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered but a general effect of pleasing impression.
– Samuel Johnson

* * * * *

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.
– William Shakespeare

* * * * *

Polite conversation is rarely either.
– Fran Lebowitz

* * * * *

Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.
– Emily Post

* * * * *

The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than what others are saying.
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

* * * * *

Never talk for half a minute without pausing and giving others a chance to join in.
– Sydney Smith

* * * * *

It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
– Yogi Berra

* * * * *

Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.
– Author unknown

* * * * *

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.
– Margaret Millar

* * * * *

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
– Jeff Daly

* * * * *

Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.
– Mark Twain

* * * * *

There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for.  And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.
– James Nathan Miller

* * * * *

The opposite of talking isn’t listening.  The opposite of talking is waiting.
– Fran Lebowitz

* * * * *

A sudden silence in the middle of a conversation suddenly brings us back to essentials: it reveals how dearly we must pay for the invention of speech
– E. M. Cioran

* * * * *

Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero

* * * * *

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
– Dorothy Nevill

* * * * *

Nothing lowers the level on conversation more than raising the voice.
– Stanley Horowitz

* * * * *

Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

* * * * *

A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.
– Andre Maurois

* * * * *

Love without conversation is impossible.
– Mortimer Adler

* * * * *

A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

* * * * *

With thee conversing I forget all time.
– John Milton

* * * * *

Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.
– Edward Gibbons

* * * * *

Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.
– Robin S. Sharma

* * * * *

I usually write away from home, in coffee shops, on trains, on planes, in friends’ houses. I like places where there’s stuff going on that you can lift your eyes, see something interesting, overhear a conversation.

– Jonathon Safron Foer

* * * * *

Whether a plane to Singapore, a subway in Manhattan, or the streets of Cincinnati, I search for meaningful conversation wherever I may travel. Without it, I believe we lose the ability to not only understand others, but more importantly, ourselves.
– Dhani Jones

* * * * *

I’m still learning a lot as a songwriter. I try to write down and make a note of ideas that I cross paths with on a day-to-day basis, whether it be a conversation or something I hear on the radio, seeing a movie, or just thoughts in my head as I’m walking down the street.
– Sam Hunt

* * * * *

As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction.
– Stan Getz

* * * * *

You know how sports teach kids teamwork and how to be strong and brave and confident? Improv was my sport. I learned how to not waffle and how to hold a conversation, how to take risks and actually be excited to fail.
– Emma Stone

* * * * *

Veterans report that service dogs help break their isolation. People will often avert their eyes when they see a wounded veteran. But when the veteran has a dog, the same people will come up and say, ‘Hi’ to pet the dog and then strike up a conversation.
– Al Franken

* * * * *

Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.
– Deborah Bull

* * * * *

Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.
– Robert C. Gallager

* * * * *

The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child’s home.
– William Temple

* * * * *

I like to talk to people. I’ve got one assistant, one Blackberry. That’s my overhead. I don’t text that much or email. I like to sit down face-to-face and have a conversation with you. I’m old-fashioned.
– Mark Wahlberg

* * * * *

Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.
– Regina Brett

* * * * *

Tweets? That stuff kills conversation.
– Robin Williams

* * * * *

People are totally overusing LOL and a wink – also picking up the phone and having a conversation speaks volumes.
– Carly Pope

1-18-16 Weekly Quotes: Conscience and Integrity – the Bedrock of Resilience

[For however you choose to remember today the force for conscience and integrity of Martin Luther King, Jr., and for however you are called to your own conscience and integrity in any given moment:]

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all thou shalt not be a bystander.
– Holocaust Museum, Washington, D.C.

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.
– Dante

* * * * *

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
– Abraham Lincoln

* * * * *

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

Abraham Lincoln did not go to Gettysburg having commissioned a poll to find out what would sell in Gettysburg. There were no people with percentages for him, cautioning him about this group or that group or what they found in exit polls a year earlier. When will we have the courage of Lincoln?
– Robert Coles

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only is such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
– M. Scott Peck

* * * * *

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

The inability of those in power to still the voices of their own consciences is the great force leading to change.
– Kenneth Kaunda

* * * * *

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Psalm 15 translated by Stephen Mitchell

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
And who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
Who speak the truth from their hearts;
Who have let go of selfish interests
And grown beyond their lives;
Who see the wretched as their family
And the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
And worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the earth,
And their kindness endures forever.

The greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness – each system only too delighted to find that the other is wicked – each only too glad that the sins give it the pretext for still deeper hatred and animosity.
– Herbert Butterfield

* * * * *

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.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
– Eleanor Roosevelt

* * * * *

Every human being has a work to carry on within, duties to perform abroad, influence to exert, which are peculiarly his, and which no conscience but his own can teach.
– William Ellery Channing

* * * * *

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.
– Mohandis K. Gandhi

* * * * *

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try –
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
–to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
–as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
not the most important one
to have set out upon that road.

Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.
– Vaclav Havel

1-11-16 Weekly Quotes: Determination and Resolve as We Continue in the New Year

[May you be inspired to find your own inner determination and resolve for the coming year, trusting the power of your own radiance to change the world around you.]

Solar by Thomas Centolella, from Views from Along the Middle Way

On a gray day, when the sun
has been abducted, and it’s chill
end-of-the-world weather,
I must be the sun.
I must be the one
to encourage the young
sidetracked physicist
working his father’s cash register
to come up with a law of nature
that says brain waves can change
the dismal sky. I must be the one
to remind the ginger plant
not to rest on the reputation
of its pungent roots, but to unveil
those buttery tendrils from the other world.
When the sky is an iron lid
I must be the one to simmer
in the piquant juices of possibility,
though the ingredients are unknown
and the day begins with a yawn.
I must issue forth a warmth
without discrimination, and any guarantee
it will come back to me.
On a dark day I must be willing
to keep my disposition light,
I have to be at the very least
one stray intact ray
of local energy, one small
but critical fraction
of illumination. Even on a day
that doesn’t look gray
but still lacks comfort or sense,
I have to be the sun,
I have to shine as if
sorry life itself depended on it.
I have to make all the difference.

1-4-16 Weekly Quotes: New Year’s Resolutions That Will Make You Happier

[In a rare reversal (the resources posted on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve were actually more like quotes), this week’s quotes are actually a resource post from my colleague Christine Carter, posted through the Greater Good Science Center at U.C. Berkeley. Good wisdom, an excellent way to dive into 2016.]

3 New Year’s Resolutions that Will Make You Happier

This year, skip the New Year’s diet and do something fun.

You want to lose weight. Get out of debt. Stop smoking. Eat more kale. Call your grandma more often.

I do understand why people don’t like New Year’s resolutions: They can be a source of failure, year after year. Folks often pick resolutions that are inherently unrewarding, that necessitate relentless hard work, or that remind them of their mortality in a way that makes them feel small instead of grateful.

I know because I’ve made all of those mistakes. But now? I love New Year’s resolutions. I use them to transform myself in small increments, taking turtle steps toward new habits. I begin slowly around the winter solstice, and inch myself toward a newer, better self. By spring, my new habits have taken hold, and the green leaves of growth unfurl.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot of tricks for successfully keeping my resolutions. And in the last three years, the science around willpower and habits has made great advancements, which helps a lot. The first and most important factor in keeping your resolutions is to make the right resolution. Make the wrong one and you won’t keep it; you’ll just add another habit to the “fail” list. This year, pick just one resolution that research shows will make you happier. Here are are three of my favorites:

1. Spend more time with friends. Study after study shows that we tend to be happier when we feel connected to our nearest and dearest, when we feel like we are a part of a group or a clan. Even introverts don’t like to feel lonely; this may seem like the science of the blazingly obvious, but it bears repeating. Do you frequently feel isolated or lonely? Make a resolution to routinely reach out to others. Not sure how, or feel too busy? Join or start a group that meets regularly-maybe on the first Monday of the month, or every Friday at lunch. Some of my closest friends have come from book clubs, church groups, and standing family dinners. When we routinize our friendships, we remove the hassle of scheduling, and increase the odds that we’ll actually spend time with people we love or want to get to know better.

2. Everyday, find a way to give something to somebody. My favorite happiness booster is to give thanks: to a higher power for the abundance that surrounds me; to my dad for taking my kids to ice cream; to my main squeeze for all the ways he supports my work. Equally good is to give something else-a helping hand, a compliment, a much needed $5 bill-even if it is just a tiny act of kindness. In a world that is more focused on getting than giving, a New Year’s resolution to do one kind thing each day, or to give thanks in one small way, is a pretty radical act. When we make giving a habit, we make gratitude and kindness central themes in our lives. In so doing, we transform our lives with joy.

3. Get more sleep and exercise. I know, that’s not one resolution, it’s two, but the science around these physical happiness boosters is pretty compelling. Studies are clear: You’ll be less stressed, less sick, and less grouchy in the New Year if you get more shut-eye. Try increasing your sleep 10 minutes a night for a week, and then another 10 the next week, and so on until you are regularly getting your eight hours.

If you aren’t active, you want to lose a few pounds, or you frequently feel a bit depressed, try adding more activity into your life in a way that feels fun or luxurious. I like to hike with my friend Jen and her ecstatically joyful dog Lou. It takes a couple hours out of my day (that’s the luxurious part, since I’m so strapped for time) but it leaves me feeling as bright and happy as Lou. On days when I don’t have time for a hike, I walk on a treadmill while watching Modern Family. This is luxurious and fun because I don’t watch TV at any other time.

It is miraculous to me that people can change themselves simply because they want to. New Year’s resolutions are an amazing act of creation, an art form where the canvas is the self. Cheers to making 2016 your happiest year yet!

© 2012 Christine Carter, Ph.D.