If you are looking for my written posts, hit “Blog Posts” in the menu. This page is a collection of quotes, thoughts, or aphorisms that moved me, made me laugh, were timely, or expanded my way of thinking.
September 12, 2021
Luxury is light, air, space. It is not about the expensive kitchen or imported woods. It is about understanding the quality of shade or a tree. And that can be accessible to all
– Fernanda Canales, Mexican architect
August 19, 2021
My niece is cold because my knees are cold
– Marcel Duchamp
I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.
– Charles Horton Cooley
August 7, 2021
If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing
– Dr.Tachi Yamada, former president of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
July 27, 2021
Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. – Herbert Frank, Dune
July 26, 2021
I have found it of enormous value when I can permit myself to understand the other person. The way in which I have worded this statement may seem strange to you. Is it necessary to permit oneself to understand another? I think it is. Our first reaction to most of the statements (which we hear from other people) is an evaluation or judgement, rather than an understanding of it. When someone expresses some feeling, attitude or belief, our tendency is almost immediately to feel “that’s right,” or “that’s stupid,” “that’s abnormal,” “that’s unreasonable,” “that’s incorrect,” “that’s not nice.” Very rarely do we permit ourselves to understand precisely what the meaning of the statement is to the other person.
– Carl Rogers, psychologist, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy
July 15, 2021
Let’s look at what tends to happen when someone disagrees with you and asks you to explain your thinking. Because you are programmed to view such challenges as attacks, you get angry, even though it would be more logical for you to be interested in the other person’s perspective, especially if they are intelligent. When you try to explain your behavior, your explanations don’t make sense. That’s because your lower-level you is trying to speak through your upper level you. Your deep-seated hidden motivations are in control, so it’s impossible for you to logically explain what “you” are doing. …To be effect you must not let your need to be right be more important than your need to find out what’s true. If you are too proud of what you know or of how good you are at something you will learn less, make inferior decisions, and fall short of your potential.
– Ray Dalio
July 10, 2021
Cézanne believed that drawing each afternoon prepared him “to see well the following day,” according to fellow artist Maurice Denis
June 29, 2021
Leaders are known by two things: the people they hire and bring together and the beliefs they hold to when they really have to choose. You only know what a person really believes in when he chooses to do something even though it costs him– because he really believes it’s the right thing to do.
– Charles D. Ellis, investment consultant
June 25, 2021
A non-anxious presence knows how to slow down.
June 21, 2021
If you lie down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.
– Sidney Weinberg, Former CEO of Goldman Sachs
June 15, 2021
The cheerful heart has a continued feast.
Proust on Friendship
June 11, 2021
It was not for elucidating, egotistically, things that no one was interested in. It was primarily for warmth and affection, which is why, for a cerebral man, Proust had remarkably little interest in having overtly intellectual friendships. In the summer of 1920, he received. a letter from Sydney Schiff, the friend who would, two years later, engineer his disastrous encounter with Joyce. Sydney told Proust that he was on a seaside holiday in England with his wife Violet, the weather was quite sunny, but Violet had invited a group of hearty young people to stay with them, and he had grown very depressed by how shallow these youngsters were. “It’s very boring for me,” he wrote to Proust, “because I don’t like to be constantly in the company of young people. I am pained by their naivety, which I’m afraid of corrupting, or at least compromising. Human beings sometimes interest me but I don’t like them if they are not intelligent enough.”
Proust, cloistered in bed in Paris, had difficulty appreciating why anyone would be dissatisfied with the idea of spending a holiday on a beach with some young people whose only fault was not to have read Descartes.: “I do my intellectual work within myself, and once with other people, it’s more. or less irrelevant to me that they’re intelligent, as long as they are kind, sincere, etc.”
– Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life
June 8, 2021
Don’t bend over backwards to pretend to be someone different, because you’re not able to feel comfortable and confident if you’re always trying to be someone else.
– Laura Behrens Wu, Co-founder of Shippo
June 6, 2021
How you respond to an interruption is who you actually are.
– C.S. Lewis
June 4, 2021
The tough need to learn tenderness, and the tender need to learn toughness.
– Bill Hybels
May 30, 2021
We do not choose as captain of a ship the most highly born of those abroad.
– Blaise Pascal
May 23, 2021
It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted, and ardent, if you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise, nor disgrace, because you know what you are.
– Mother Theresa
May 5, 2021
Writing as if you have unlimited reader attention is also dangerous, because running out of reader attention is fatal to your writing. The goal of most professional writing is persuasion, and attention is a prerequisite for persuasion.
– Erik Spiekermann
May 4, 2021
Seeing people only as members of groups
Inherently reductionist and dehumanizing, a collectivist and ideological abstraction of all that is original and creative in the human being, of all all that has not been imposed by inheritance, geography, or social pressure.
– Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian novelist, “The Culture of Liberty“.
He who is the glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind, for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.
– 1 Samuel 15:21 (NIV)
May 3, 2021
In a clear way, we are bound to our culture. We understand the world because of the way we are taught to see. That’s why we become Americans, we become Indians, we become Eskimos. We see that world because that’s what was installed, almost banged into our heads when we were very, very young. But it’s also possible to step out of that world. For many years I always thought of the music as being separate from these other activities. It was only recently that I began to see it as connected to everything else. I remember talking once to Tomo Geshe Rimpoche, who wanted to spend some time at his place in the Catskill Mountains north of New York City.”Why don’t you come and just do a retreat here?” he asked. “Can I bring my music with me?” “You’re supposed to bring your music with you.” When I got there, he began to place me on different days in every cabin, house, and other building on this property. I wrote music everywhere– that’s what he wanted me to do. At first, it wasn’t easy to accept the idea that my pursuits of these various paths had anything to do with music. But my friends. who are professionals in. this business all said, “No, no, no, it’s the same thing.” I finally arrived at that conclusion, but with some difficulty. Still, even today it’s an idea that does not come to me easily. However the mental concentration and physical stamina that result form these disciplines is virtually identical to that needed in music making and performing. To this point, I can’t even say which comes first. My personal experience is that they nourish and support each other. The question is not how could I have had the time and energy to pursue both personal and musical development, but how could I have done it any other way?
– Philip Glass
April 28, 2021
The musical solution I had found formed the basis of a busy stream of new music that I began to produce. The very next work I composed was a string quartet in which I applied the same technique of structure and discontinuity as the basis of the piece, but this time for four string parts. This was recorded as my String Quartet no. 1 by the Kronos String Quartet almost thirty years later. Clearly this new music was born from the world of theater. “If you’re not a minimalist, what are you?” many have asked over the course of my career. “I’m a theater composer,” I reply. That is actually what I do, and what I have done. That doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I ever did. I’ve written concertos, symphonies, and many other things. You only need to look at the history of music: the big changes come in the opera house. It happened with Monteverdi, with his first opera, L’Orfeo, first performed in 1607. It happened with Mozart in the eighteenth century, Wagner in the nineteenth century, and Stravinsky in the early twentieth century. The theater suddenly puts the composer in an unexpected relationship to his work. As long as you’re just writing symphonies, or quartets, you can rely on the history of music and what you know about the language of music to continue in much the same way. Once you get into the world of theater and you’re referencing all its elements– movement, image, text, and music– unexpected things can take place. The composer then finds himself unprepared– in a situation where he doesn’t know what to do. If you don’t know what to do, there’s actually a chance of doing something new. As long as you know what you’re doing, nothing much of interest is going to happen. That doesn’t mean I always succeed in being interesting. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. But not surprisingly, I found that what was stimulating to me came out of trying to relate music to the theater work of Beckett. That would not have happened if I haven’t been working in the theater.
– Philip Glass
April 26, 2021
The most memorable of Albert’s friends was Ray Johnson, who is still known today as the founder of the New York Correspondence School. Then, and again in the late 1960s, when I was back from Paris, Albert would bring Ray to visit me. He was a most enigmatic character and very quiet. You might also think he was shy. He was slim, of medium height, and completely bald, with bright clear eyes. When he did speak, he would make puzzling, outrageous pronouncements, which I have never forgotten. Once, during these strange visits, and after not having spoken at all, he said, “There is so much time, and so little to do.”
– Philip Glass, Words Without Music
April 25, 2021
We became friends on the spot. He was then an undergrad at Columbia with an aptitude for acting and a love of literature. Michel had an inborn reverence for culture, history, and art, and it was a very European point of view. He began teaching me French right away, so that by the time I went to Paris seven years later I had a working knowledge of the language. He would also introduce me to the work of Louis-Ferdinand Celine and Jean Genet, both whom used a French so rich in argot that I never was able to read them in the original. Besides French and literature, Michel and I discovered all sorts of things together….From the time I moved to New York in 1957 until I left in 1964 (age 27?) Michel was part of my life. …After he earned his degree, Michel would spend the rest of his life as a nurse in a pediatric cancer ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital, working with children that had cancer.I asked him once, “Michel after all the work you’ve done, why don’t you just become a doctor?”“Well, if I became a doctor, I wouldn’t be able to work with the children” was his reply.He wasn’t interested in being doctor, he was interested in doing his work. “What’s it like?” I would ask him. “You must lose kids all the time.” “I lose them all the time and it is very, very hard.”Michel and I knew each other for fifty years, and his life, and his recent death, made a deep impression on me. In his seventies, Michel himself became sick with cancer. The illness lasted long enough so that he would go inland out of chemotherapy, which could be debilitating. But when he came out, as soon as he was able to work again, he would go back to the hospital and resume working with the children. As long as he could move, he continued his work at the hospital. I have met only a few people in my life who had the same awareness and tireless, active compassion as Michel.
– Philip Glass, Words Without Music
April 21, 2021
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
– George Bernard Shaw
April 6, 2021
In the house activities will be of a more general nature to be shared with more people and more things. It will also be used as a returning place for relaxation. and recreation trough reading and music and work– a place of reviving and refilling, a place to be alone for preparation of work, and with matters and concerns of personal choosing. A place for the kind of relaxed privacy necessary for the development and preparation of ideas to be continued in professional work centers. The occupant will need space used elastically where many or few people can be accommodated within the areas appropriate to such needs. Intimate conversation, groups in discussion, the use of a projection machine for amusement and education, and facilities for self-indulgent hobbies, i.e., cooking and the entertainment of very close friends.
– Case Study House #8: Eames House (1945-49) designed by Charles and Ray Eames
March 29, 2021
I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad— as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience, I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth— so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane— quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.
– Jane by Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
I initially read this a year ago, but I revisited them again this morning as I desired to send these to a friend:
March 17, 2021
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw us.
– Timothy Keller
March 16, 2021
Jesus’ life wasn’t about better coverings; it was about shameless nakedness. We forgot who we are, so he recovered the plot. It’s that profoundly simple prayer of Soren Kierkegaard: “Now with God’s help I shall become myself.”. It’s what Mary Karr describes near the end of her trilogy of memoirs: “It feels as if I was made– from all the possible shapes a human might take– not to prove myself worthy but to refine the worth I’m formed from, acknowledge it, own it, spend it on others.
– Tyler Staton, Searching for Enough, pg. 98
March 13, 2021
I was not. I was. I am not. I don’t care.
– nihilistic tombstone inscription
March 11, 2021
Those who stop concentrating on how unhappy they are find that their happiness is growing.
– Timothy Keller
March 10, 2021
Paul Watzlawick’s first axiom of communication—“one cannot not communicate”—puts it very succinctly. If you fail to consider the effect of your message on the recipient, you may inadvertently communicate that you do not care how your message may be received.
– Erik Spiekermann, German typographer and designer, on communication theorist and philosopher Watzlawick’s axiom on communication
March 8, 2021
We are like beggars who try to show other beggars where we found bread.”
– D.T. Niles
March 4, 2021
February 27, 2021
February 19, 2021
I moved up to the woods to learn the things I wanted to learn, and to build what I wanted to build.
– Chris Sacca
February 2, 2021
There are three ways to teach a child: the first is by example, the second is by example, the third is by example.” – Albert Schweitzer, author, polymath, theologian
We teach them by word and deed that money is neither respectable nor contemptible. We owe money no honor, but neither do we despise it. Money is useful, even necessary, but it is not to be esteemed or admired.
– Richard J. Foster
January 31, 2021
January 27, 2021
If you can transform the cost, you can transform the scale of use
– Steve Furber, principal designer of the Acorn RISC Medicine
January 18, 2021
Everything worthwhile is uphill.
– John Maxwell
January 13, 2021
Most of the results come at the end, not at the beginning, but one is almost always looking for the results at the beginning, not the end.
– Shane Parrish, Founder of Farnam Street Blog
January 8, 2021
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
December 27, 2020
December 13, 2020
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their end, each changing place with that which goes before, in sequent foil all forwards to contend.
– William Shakespeare, Sonnet 60
December 12, 2020
A monk of the Thebaid received from God the grace of ministry, to serve the poor as they had need. In a village once he happened to be holding a love-feast. A woman dressed in rags came up to him to receive her share. When he saw the rags, he meant to take a great handful, so as to give her a big helping: but his hand was kept nearly shut, and he took only a little. Another, well-dressed, woman came up and, seeing her clothes, he meant to take a little handful for her but his hand was opened, and he took a big helping. So he asked about the women, and found that the well-dressed woman had been a lady who had sunk to poverty and still dressed well because she felt that she had a standard to maintain for her family. But the other had put on rags so that she would receive more.
– The Desert Fathers
December 9, 2020
Since George’s murder, Martin, Bayard, and Marsha (the fonts) have become a part of the Black Lives Matter Movement: being used for murals, protest signs, and exhibitions from Australia to Germany, England to New York, California to Brazil, and beyond.
Fonts like Eva and Carrie have been used for everything from brand identities for pasta shops and galleries to campaigns for men’s tailor shops, and more. This, to me, reinforces the primary mission of Vocal Type – to diversify design. By using a font inspired by one culture for a project that otherwise has no relation opens up this opportunity for the stories and heritage of an underrepresented culture to be seen and understood by an audience that it otherwise would never come into contact with. It’s proof that our thoughts become words, and these words hold power to become actions when designed.
I don’t believe this has been explored much, but as a designer, I think this is what inclusion looks like. In my mind, the only thing needed to be inclusive is understanding. All you have to do is take an interest in the lives of people who don’t look like you, who don’t speak like you, who aren’t from where you’re from, who don’t share your history, who don’t celebrate like you, who don’t love how you love. Just take a moment to understand. I hope you understand.
- Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type
Create Your Own Way
December 8, 2020
I try to not look at other graphic design. I tend to get blocked by doing that often. It becomes overwhelming. I mean, I want to be updated about my design world but I try not to look at it during the inspiration phase. I get my inspiration from architecture books and music in general. It’s fun to train the eye in discovering layout options in architectural floor plans for example.
There is this book called The Art of Japanese Joinery by Kiyoshi Seike (first published in 1977) that I always enjoy flipping through. There’s great photographs of the different joineries that are interesting to translate into graphic designs. Or at least, a start! But as mentioned before: I need music as well. It can enhance an atmosphere I want to be in while designing. I love to watch the Nowness mini series In Residence and Great Gardens as well. The combination of looking at architecture and art books while listening to music is the magic key to me! – Stephanie Specht, graphic designer
Joy, Peace, and Love
November 25, 2020
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge, its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures
– Proverbs 24
November 19, 2020
Now the current beliefs are as follows: (1) Moral strengths and tenacity are qualities of great moral value and deserve praise, while moral weakness and softness are base and deserve blame. (2) A man who is morally strong tends to abide by the results of his calculation, and a morally weak man tends to abandon them. (3) A morally weak man does on the basis of emotion, what he knows to be base, whereas a morally strong man, knowing that certain appetites are base, refuses to follow them and accepts the guidance of reason.
A person deficient [in his pursuit of the necessary pleasures] is the opposite [of self-indulgent], and the man who occupies the middle position is self-controlled. In the same way, a man who avoids bodily pain [is self-indulgent], provided he does so by choice and not because he is overcome by them.
– Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
November 18, 2020
Meaning is not cognitive. You can argue endlessly in your head about what’s meaningful, but if it doesn’t land in your heart, you don’t get it.
– Russ Hudson, author and co-founder of the Enneagram Institute
November 15, 2020
One of the biggest things holding people back from doing great work is the fear of making something lame. And this fear is not an irrational one. Many great projects go through a stage early on where they don’t seem very impressive, even to their creators. You have to push through this stage to reach the great work that lies beyond. But many people don’t. Most people don’t even reach the stage of making something they’re embarrassed by, let alone continue past it. They’re too frightened even to start.
– Paul Graham, Early Work
November 8, 2020
Mercy is a command of God, yet it cannot simply be a response to a demand. It must arise out of hearts made generous and gracious by an understanding and experience of God’s mercy. It is the hearts of the [people] that must be melted until they ask, ‘Where [or who] is my neighbor?’
– Timothy Keller
But the man who is not afraid to admit everything that he sees to be wrong with himself, and yet recognizes that he may be the object of God’s love precisely because of his shortcomings can begin to be sincere. His sincerity is based on confidence, not in his own illusions about himself, but the endless, unfailing mercy of God.
– Thomas Merton
Election Day, Trump vs Biden
November 3, 2020
I find it so lamentable, The alarming, unwonted ordeal that has come upon us. O demons of unwonted fate. We will stand and face you. We will stand and face you. Through my art I go on manifesting, with all my heart, my reverence and love for the cosmos, the world, and all humanity. Our aspiration for a resplendent future begins with this. Our resplendent hope is sure to be fulfilled.
– Yayoi Kusama
We ask you to teach us, as a nation, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Give us, as your people, the ability to vote, not just with our ballot but with our lives
Extending ourselves for the sake of the powerless.
Loving mercy, acting justly, and walking humbly in you.
November 2, 2020
Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture — which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands — give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” — a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.
October 21, 2020
To the depth to which we embrace how much we have been forgiven, to that degree we can offer God’s mercy to each other.
October 4, 2020
A very special problem with the employees of an advertising agency is that you have to accumulate these creative, high-strung people and that you always find them extremely sensitive. Each one watches the other one very carefully to see if one gets a caret before the other, to see if one has an assistant before the other, or to see if one makes an extra nickel before the other. It isn’t that they want the carpet or the assistant or the nickel so much as it is the recognition of their standing with father.
– Dr. William Menninger
October 1, 2020 (first written down on March 12, 2020)
When your judgements come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
– Isaiah 26: 9 (NIV)
September 22, 2020
September 8, 2020 (first encountered on March 12, 2020)
Know that “God’s great great refusals” can sometimes be the “truest answers to our truest prayer.”
– Pete Greig
September 6, 2020
If you are tired, keep going.
If you are scared, keep going.
If you are hungry, keep going.
If you want to taste freedom, keep going.
– Harriet Tubman
September 4, 2020
Yet there is another story of my life; one that I believe is as inspiring as any other. I wish I had claimed it more publicly and told it more proudly.
– Hillary Clinton
September 2, 2020
Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you.
– Carl Sandburg
September 1, 2020
Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.
– Proverbs 27:2
August 31, 2020
I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty even when my inner eyes still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimes of hatred.
– Henri Nouwen
August 30, 2020
To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.
– Timothy Snyder
Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship… but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul.
August 27, 2020
While complaining about uneasy demands, I felt uneasy when none were made, while speaking about burden of writing [or email writing], an empty inbox made me sad, while fretting about tiring lecture tours, I felt disappointed when there were no invites, while speaking nostalgically about an empty desk, I feared the day that would come true. So in short, while desiring to be alone, I was frightened of being left alone.
– Henri Nouwen, Dutch Catholic Priest, Professor, Writer, and Theologian
August 16, 2020
The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. The suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.
An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment to experience beauty, art, or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in one’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces. A creative life and a life of enjoyment are banned to him. But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.
What makes up that which is human
Under the influence of a world which no longer recognized the value of human life and human dignity, which robbed man of his will and had made him an object to be exterminated (having planned, however to make full use of him first– the last ounce of his physical resources– under this influence the personal ego finally suffered a loss of value. If the man in the concentration camp did not struggle against this in a last effort to save his self-respect, he lost the feeling of being an individual, a being with a mind, with inner freedom and personal value. He thought of himself then as only a part of an enormous man of people; his existence descended to the level of animal life.
Parting ways for transfer at camp in Auschwitz
Tears came to his eyes and I tried to comfort him. Then there was something else to do– to make my will:
“Listen, Otto, if I don’t get back home to my wife, and if you should see her again, then tell her that I talked of her daily, hourly. You remember. Secondly, I have loved her more than anyone. Thirdly, the short time I have been married to her outweighs everything, even all we have gone through here.”
Otto, where are you now? Are you alive? What has happened to you since our last hour together? Did you find your wife again? And do you remember how I made you learn my will by heart– word for word– in spite of your childlike tears?
On the unique beauty of every individual and every life (complement with quote by Pete Grieg from March 6, 2020)
This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude.
– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
August 1, 2020
If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.
– Charles de Montesquieu, French judge and philosopher
When I Am Among The Tress
July 26, 2020
When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay while.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say.
“and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”
– Mary Oliver
July 24, 2020
I was on duty when our submarine went into port in Nassau and tied up at the Prince George Wharf, and I was the officer who accepted an invitation from the governor-general of the Bahamas for our officers and crewmen to attend an official ball to honor the U.S. Navy. There was a more private comment that a number of young ladies would be present with their chaperones. All of us were pleased and excited, and Captain Andrews responded affirmatively. We received a notice the next day that, of course, the nonwhite crewmen would not be included. When I brought this message to the captain, he had the crew assemble in the mess hall and asked for their guidance in drafting a response. After multiple expletives were censored from the message, we unanimously declined to participate. The decision by the crew of the K-1 was an indication of how equal racial treatment had been accepted—and relished. I was very proud of my ship.
– Jimmy Carter, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
July 19, 2020
One night the library started closing just as he reached the passage in Emma when it seems like Mr Knightley is going to marry Harriet, and he had to close the book and walk home in a state of strange emotional agitation. He’s amused at himself, getting wrapped up in the drama of novels like that. It feels intellectually unserious to concern himself with fictional people marrying one another. But there it is: literature moves him. One of his professors calls it ‘the pleasure of being touched by great art’. In those words it almost sounds sexual. And in a way, the feeling provoked in Connell when Mr Knightley kisses Emma’s hand is not completely asexual, though its relation to sexuality is indirect. It suggests to Connell that the same imagination he uses as a reader is necessary to understand real people also, and to be intimate with them.
– Sally Rooney, Normal People
July 18, 2020
What can anyone give you greater than now?
– William Stafford
July 13, 2020
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.
– Luke 12:15
July 12, 2020
True restfulness, though, is a form of awareness, a way of being in life. It is living ordinary life with a sense of ease, gratitude, appreciation, peace and prayer. We are restful when ordinary life is enough.
– Ronald Rolheiser
July 9, 2020
Leadership isn’t about coercion and control; it’s about example and invitation
– John Mark Comer
June 28, 2020
One of the most debilitating issues facing the Church is the lack of maturing her members. Churches are filled with children who never become parents. And they’re not expected to.
– Frances Chan
June 27, 2020
The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! Confound him, too,
Who in this place set up a sundial
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions!
– Plautus, Roman playwright
June 24, 2020
To choose the charity that represented the greatest good as I saw it, I had to choose my values.
– Derek Thompson
June 22, 2020
Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised. I affirm this also of the things which are called beautiful by the vulgar, for example, material things and works of art. That which is really beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is such as thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it was not praised? Or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a shrub?
– Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations
June 3, 2020
– James Baldwin
June 2, 2020
You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.
– Rosa Parks
May 30, 2020
We’ve lost so many words to talk about race, we don’t even have a conversation about it, we have lost it. Yet, in the Caribbean, there are more than twelve words that I can come up with to describe people’s skin color, at least in the neighborhood where I grew up in. In some ways I think that is useful, because it helps when it comes time to approach the question of privilege. People don’t claim amnesia. Some can think my uncles are super-backwards because the didn’t go to Ivy League schools, but they don’t cop to any of that ridiculous liberal amnesia. The sort of thing that translates into statements like, “Oh, it’s not race, it’s class.” I think you can’t have class without race. It’s called colonialism. Some people come right off the bat and say, a guy is ignorant. My uncles would never make those claims, but rather say it’s about black people. But I find that level of frankness, even if it’s considered regressive and messed up, a better starting point than the constant.
– Junot Diaz, Dominican American writer
May 25, 2020
I don’t understand why Sammy has not been fully healed (God knows, we have prayed.) I definitely don’t understand why he does some miracles and not others – it often seems so arbitrary. But I am learning to understand that I may never fully understand. I am learning to be a bit more okay with not being okay. Life sometimes hurts, but I’ve discovered that deleting God from the equation doesn’t actually help. It merely removes all meaning and morality from the mess and all real hope from the future. And so I am sort of stuck with God, even when I don’t understand him. Even when I don’t completely like him. Turns out he is all I’ve got. And maybe this is where hallowing actually begins.
– Pete Grieg
May 24, 2020
The fact, and only the fact, that we are mortal, that our lives are finite, that our time is restricted and our possibilities are limited, this fact is what makes it meaningful to do something, to exploit a possibility and make it become a reality, to fulfill it, to use our time and occupy it. Death gives us a compulsion to do so. Therefore, death forms the background against which our act of being becomes a responsibility.
– Viktor E. Frankl, Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything
On Human Nature/ Realities of Living
May 23, 2020
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked — and behold,
duty was joy.
– Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet and philosopher
May 19, 2020
In the thick of battle, you will not rise to the level of your expectations, but fail to the level of your training.
– an elite soldiers’ motto
Food for Thought About Respect & Authority, Particularly Government Authority
May 13, 2020
– John Wesley, English cleric & theologian
May 12, 2020
If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
– John Wooden, Hall of Fame basketball coach
While I disagree with the ideology he grounds all his thoughts on (Unity and New Thought movement), I respect these notes of his.
May 8, 2020
To become too elated with success or too crushed by defeat is indicative of an imbalance. In every setback, we should be buoyed up with the realization that nothing is ever a complete loss. There is always some gain, some growth, humbled with the realization that without the action of forces greater than ourselves, we could not have succeeded.
His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.
– Eric Butterworth
May 4, 2020
Build a home where strangers can come in and take off their strangeness.
– Nicole Johnson
May 1, 2020
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
– James 2
April 30, 2020
There was a very strange connection. One of those odd collisions that happen. We were a little alike; I was an unhealthy child that was kept home. So there was an unsaid feeling between us that was wonderful, an utter naturalness. We’d sit for hours and not say a word, and then she’d say something, and I’d answer her. A reporter once asked her what we talked about. She said, ‘Nothing foolish.’
– Andrew Wyeth
April 27, 2020
Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation of self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.”…[My dark side says,] I am no good… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us to “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen
April 25, 2020
Build your adversaries a golden bridge from which they can retreat.
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
April 11, 2020
There’s no such thing as a small breach of integrity.
– Jim Dethmer, Co-founder of The Conscious Leadership
To never try to impress anybody, never wonder if my life was useful, or my witness meaningful. To never feel I have to do something great–
April 6, 2020
All that is not the love of God has no meaning for me. I can truthfully say that I have no interest in anything but the love of God which is in Jesus Christ. If God wants it to, my life will bear fruit through prayers and sacrifices. But the usefulness of my life is his concern, not mine. It would be indecent of me to worry about that.
– Dominique Voillaume’s last diary entry before his death. How to Pray
March 21, 2020
Is he going to help Himself to your life, or are you taken up with your conception of what you are going to do? God is responsible for our lives, and the one great keynote is reckless reliance on him.
– Oswald Chambers
To keep in front of mind: Chesterton’s Fence (principle)
March 12, 2020
There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
– G.K. Chesterton
March 12, 2020
Some Christians are called to endure a disproportionate amount of suffering. Such Christians are a spectacle of grace in the church, like flaming bushes unconsumed, and cause us to ask, like Moses: “Why is the bush not burned?” The strength and stability of these believers can be explained only by the miracle of God’s sustaining grace. The God who sustains Christians in unceasing pain is the same God – with the same grace – who sustains me in my smaller sufferings. We marvel at God’s persevering grace and grow in our confidence in him as he governs our lives.
– John Newton, former slave trader and author of hymn “Amazing Grace”
March 11, 2020
There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true Self I will find Him.
– Thomas Merton
March 6, 2020 (one of my favorites of 2020)
You are a new song that God has given to the world, a song that no one else can sing. The way you think, the way you see life, and the way you worship are utterly unique! Isn’t it time you stepped out onto the street and threw back your head, and gave the world the weirdest, most wonderful rendition of you?
– Pete Grieg, how to pray
An OG DTR
March 5, 2020
You would have me love you. What shall I love? Your body? The supposition disgusts you. What you have thought & said?… I see no possibility of loving any thing but what now is, & is becoming; your courage, your enterprize, your budding affection, your opening thought, your prayer, I can love, — but what else?
March 2, 2020
They knew they were helpless to do any good for others as long as they floundered about in the wreckage. But once they got a foothold on solid ground, things were different. Then they had not only the power but even the obligation to pull the whole world to safety after them.
– Thomas Merton on the Desert pioneers
February 27, 2020
Why is is that so many people today find themselves drawn to the simplicity of marathon running, long-distance cycling, and fishing (still Britain’s most popular pastime), to practices of mindfulness, yoga, and the cult of “decluttering” (ironically now all multimillion dollar industries)? Why do we binge mindlessly on Netflix at night and gaze like monks before icons at our smartphones on our morning commutes? We seem to be increasingly attracted to activities that put the world’s relentless demands on hold, focusing us to focus for a few eternal motes on a single, simple thing.
– Pete Greig
February 25, 2020 / February 20, 2020/December 1, 2019
“Prayer is more than a lighted candle… it is the contagion of health. It is the pulse of life.” (George A Buttrick). A real relationship with God means walking with him daily like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It means talking with him intimately, like Moses, with whom “the lord would speak… face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” and it means listening attentively to his voice, because, as Jesus said, “my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Lose that sense of prayer as friendship and there’ll be nothing left but theory and technique. As the Ancient Mariner says in Coleridge’s famous poem, “He prayeth well, who loveth well.
– Pete Greig
“If we’ll only let him”
And she [Ruth Carter] said the same thing. When problems come, when you are burdened down, when you have tried everything and nothing works, release it to God. That was the key. Release. Release! And I had forgotten to do that. I prayed that day: “Oh, God, I have been trying to solve all my problems alone. I can’t do that. There are too many pressures, too many tasks, too many demands. I release them all to you. They’re yours. Take them, and just let me know what to do.”
– Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady, First Lady From Plains
February 17, 2020
While this brief survey does not exhaust my early lessons about darkness, it is enough to suggest that each of us has a personal history of the dark. A child who was locked in a closet as punishment will not register darkness the same way as a child who looked forward to family camping trips. A child who grew up in an urban housing project will fear things worse than coyotes when she bolts her doors at night. As universal as darkness may be, our experience of it is local. It is also social, cultural, economical, political, since our relationship with darkness is never limited to what we have personally sensed or intuited about it. We have all been taught what to think about the dark, and most of us only have to think a minute to come up with the names of our teachers.
– Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark
While I agree with and am inspired by the truth in this, I also feel one can fall into the falsity of the opposite: “Because you can’t please or exist in harmony with everyone, be YOU! That is where true happiness and fulfillment lies!” In this opposite, there lies too an extreme version of self-centeredness, and I can see the ramifications of this in people’s mentalities, especially of those of my generation, when we just *swing* without sufficient reflection.
“Be Me,” but at the cost of whom?
February 15, 2020
If you cannot please everyone with your actions and your art, you should satisfy a few. To please many is dangerous.
– Gustav Klimt
February 10, 2020
Only with time do we really learn who the other person is and come to love the person for him or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us.
February 9, 2020
In his decades as the boss, David liked to speak candidly to the staff at Christmas, summing up the year’s performance, settling goals for the future, and reaffirming standards. From his talk in 1960:
Before I turn to the future, I would like to preach my perennial sermon on the subject of behavior. I want the newcomers to know what kind of behavior we admire, and what kind of behavior we deplore:
- First, we admire people who work hard. We dislike passengers who don’t pull their weight in the boat.
- We admire people with first-class brains, because you cannot run a great advertising agency without brainy people.
- We admire people who avoid politics— office politics, I mean.
- We despise toadies who suck up to their bosses; they are generally the same people who bully their subordinates.
- We admire the great professionals, the craftsmen who do their jobs with superlative excellence. We notice that these people always respect the professional expertise of their colleagues in other departments.
- We admire people who hire subordinates who are good enough to succeed them. We pity people who are so insecure that they feel compelled to hire inferior specimens as their subordinates.
- We admire people who build up and develop their subordinates, because this is the only way we can promote from within the ranks. We detest having to go outside to fill important jobs, and I look forward to the day when that will never be necessary.
- We admire people who practice delegation. The more you delegate, the more responsibility will be loaded upon you.
- We admire kindly people with gentle manners who treat other people as human beings– particularly the people who sell things to us. We abhor quarrelsome people. We abhor people who wage paper warfare. We abhor buck passers, and people who don’t tell the truth.
- We admire well-organized people who keep their offices shipshape, and deliver their work on time.
- We admire people who are good citizens in their communities– people who work for their local hospitals, their church, the PTA, the Community Chest and so on.
- Edited by Joel Raphaelson, The Unpublished David Ogilvy
February 8, 2020
The sad truth is the truth is sad.
– Lemony Snicket
What Piercing Diplomacy (haha)
An esteemed musician reviews the potential of an aspiring musician who seeks to forgo his traditional career to pursue music full time, after hearing him perform Chopin for her.
January 29, 2020
Finally, Makart delivered her judgment:
“If I thought you had in you the makings of an artist I shouldn’t hesitate to beseech you to give up everything for art’s sake. Art is the only thing that matters. In comparison with art, wealth and rank and power are not worth a straw…. Of course I can see that you’ve worked very hard. It will always be a pleasure to you to be able to play the piano and it will enable you to appreciate great playing as no ordinary person can hope to do.”
– Oliver Sacks, Musicophila
January 25, 2020
I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labor on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
January 21, 2020
The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves.
– Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher
December 31, 2019
The number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without impairment, and rounded to a whole number, is zero.
– Dr. Thomas Roth, Henry Ford Hospital
December 30, 2019
The [older] man in the wheelchair was waiting in the back of the church. He was still staring at me. When everyone else had left, he nodded to the young boy, who quickly wheeled him up to me.
The man’s expression never changed as he approached me. He stopped in front of me, leaned forward in his wheelchair, and said forcefully, “Do you know what you’re doing?” He looked very serious, and he wasn’t smiling.
His question threw me. I couldn’t tell what he was really asking or whether he was being hostile. I didn’t know what to say. He then wagged his finger at me, and asked again. “Do you know what you’re doing?”
I tried to smile to defuse the situation but I was completely baffled. “I think so. . . .”
He cut me off and said loudly, “I’ll tell you what you’re doing. You’re beating the drum for justice!” He had an impassioned look on his face. He said it again emphatically, “You’ve got to beat the drum for justice.”
He leaned back in his chair, and I stopped smiling. Something about what he said had sobered me. I answered him softly, “Yes, sir.”
He leaned forward again and said hoarsely, “You’ve got to keep beating the drum for justice.” He gestured and after a long while said again, “Beat the drum for justice.”
He leaned back, and in an instant he seemed tired and out of breath. He looked at me sympathetically and waved me closer. I did so, and he pulled me by the arm and leaned forward. He spoke very quietly, almost a whisper, but with a fierceness that was unforgettable.
“You see this scar on the top of my head?” He tilted his head to show me. “I got that scar in Greene County, Alabama, trying to register to vote in 1964. You see the scar on the side of my head?” He turned his head to the left and I saw a four-inch scar just above his right ear. “I got that scar in the Mississippi demanding civil rights.”
His voice grew stronger. He tightened his grip on my arm and lowered his head some more. “You see that mark?” There was a dark circle at the base of his skull. “I got that bruise in Birmingham after the Children’s Crusade.”
He leaned back and looked at me intensely. “People think these are my scars, cuts, and bruises.”
For the first time I noticed that his eyes were wet with tears. He placed his hands on his head. “These aren’t my scars, cuts, and bruises. These are my medals of honor.”
– Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy
December 24, 2019
It astonishes me sometimes– no, often– how every person I get to know– everyone, regardless of everything, by which I mean everything– lives with some profound personal sorrow. Brother addicted. Mother murdered. Dad died in surgery. Rejected by their family. Cancer came back. Evicted. Fetus not okay. Everyone, regardless, always, of everything. Not to mention the existential sorrow we all might be afflicted with, which is that we, and what we love, will soon be annihilated. Which sounds more dramatic than it might. Let me just say dead. Is this, sorrow, of which our impending being no more might be the foundation, the great wilderness? Is sorrow the true wild? And if it is– and if we join them– your wild to mine– what’s that? For joining, too, is a kind of annihilation. What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying. I’m saying: What if that is joy?
– Ross Gay, The Book of Delights
December 14, 2019
God walks “slowly” because he is love. If he is not love he would have gone much faster. Love has its speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It is “slow” yet it is lord over all other speeds since it is the speed of love.
– Kosuke Koyama, Theologian, Three Mile an Hour God
November 25, 2019
It is in the movements of emotional crisis that human beings reveal themselves more accurately.
– Anaïs Nin
November 24, 2019
In much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
– Kahlil Gibran
November 20, 2019
On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it– that disgusts me.
– C.S. Lewis on his experiences with grief over the loss of his wife to cancer, A Grief Observed
The Cusp to Pleasure
November 18, 2019
– Wendell Berry, American novelist
November 17, 2019
Hatred often begins in a situation where there is contact without fellowship.
– Howard Thurman, African-American author, social justice leader
November 10, 2019
November 9, 2019
Eala earendel, engla beorhtast,
ofer middangeard monnum sended…
(Hail, Earendel, brightest of angels,
Sent to mankind over Middle-earth.)
– Cynewulf, Crist
November 8, 2019
Yet God my king is from old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.
– Psalms 74:12
November 6, 2019
Our desires lie within our boundaries. Each of us has different desires and wants, dreams and wishes, goals and plans, hungers and thirsts. We all want to satisfy “me.” But why are there so few satisfied “me’s” around? Part of the problem lies in the lack of structured boundaries within our personality. We can’t define who the real “me” is and what we truly desire. Many desires masquerade as the real thing. They are lusts that come out of not owning our real desires.
– Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries
En route to Amsterdam. The taste of these words linger long beyond that of the St. Michel chocolate et grains cocottes I am nibbling on.
November 4, 2019
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
– Benjamin Franklin
November 3, 2019
And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself?
– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
October 31, 2019
Each day, we wake up slightly altered and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?
– John Updike
Words first encountered on March 24, 2016
October 30, 2019
The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow.
– Italo Calvin, Italian journalist and short story writer
Where have these Christians Gone? Leaving this one as a reminder for myself and for my other Christians. An account describing real, Christians.
They love one another, they never fail to help widows. They save orphans from those who would hurt them. If they have something they give feely to the man who has nothing, if they see a stranger, they take him home and are happy as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers, instead through the Spirit, in God.
– Aristedes, A non-Christian, describing Christians to Emperor Hadrian
October 20, 2019
I can hear it. [She says of the Earth] Can’t you.
– Beverly Pepper, artist
Carl Lentz is the man.
October 19, 2019
I shook my head, shut my eyes, and prayed something that at times I regret. But more times I thank God that I did: “From here on out, Jesus, if you open the door, I’m going to walk thru it. I don’t care if I look stupid. I don’t care if I don’t think I’m capable of it. You didn’t save my life for me to hide out in a bathroom stall because I’m scared. This is my pledge, starting now.
I am an example of what God can do with somebody who is not amazing but available. Open to being challenged. Resigned to living a life that is continually out of my comfort zone. It’s not easy, it’s just better.
Please remind yourself that nobody is interested in your potential. Potential has never changed the world. I don’t think God who created you is interested in your potential. I think the God that I believe in is not in search for “perfect,” people. He’s on the search for available people.
October 14, 2019
Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
October 10, 2019
To live according to the ideals you espouse.
The way things are is not necessarily the way they have to be.
– Shane Parris
Kindness sometimes does win.
October 9, 2019
October 6, 2019
Maybe to be in a garden and feel awe, or wonder, in the presence of an astonishing mystery, is nothing more than a recovery of misplaced perspective, perhaps the child’s-eye view; maybe we regain it by means of a neurochemical change that disables the filters (of convention, of ego) that prevent us in the ordinary hours from seeing what is, like those lovely leaves, staring us in the face.
– Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind
October 4, 2019
Don’t be naive about dishonesty.
– Ray Dalio, Principles
September 29, 2019
So many of the specific insights gleaned during the psychedelic journey exist on a knife-edge poised between profundity and utter banality. Boothby, an intellectual with a highly developed sense of irony, struggled to put to words to the deep truths about the essence of our humanity revealed to him during one of his psilocybin journeys.
I have at times been almost embarrassed by them, as if they give voice to a cosmic vision of the triumph of love that one associates derisively with the platitudes of Hallmark cards. All the same, the basic insights afforded to me during the session will seem for the most part compelling.
What was the philosophy professor’s compelling insight?
“Love conquers all.”
Turner is now an ordained Zen monk, yet he is also still a physicist, working for a company that makes helium neon lasers. I asked him if he feels tension between his science and his spiritual practice. “I don’t feel there’s a contradiction. Yet what happened at Hopkins has influenced my physics. I realize there are just some domains that science will not penetrate. Science can bring you to the big bang, but it can’t take you behind it. You need a different kind of apparatus to peer into that.
– Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind
September 24, 2019
One of the things that commends travel, art, nature, work, and certain drugs to us is the way these experiences, at their best, block every mental path forward and back, immersing us in the flow of a present that is literally wonderful– wonder being the by-product of precisely the kind of unencumbered first sight, or virginal noticing, to which the adult brain has closed itself. (It’s so inefficient!) Alas, most of the time I inhabit a near-future tense, my psychic thermostat set to a low simmer of anticipation and, too often, worry. The good thing is I’m seldom surprised. The bad thing is I’m seldom surprised.
– Michael Pollan, How to Change your Mind
Words from 1868-1869. The timelessness of some truths, the opposite for some others.
September 22, 2019
Jo went and sat on one arm of the chair, looking as if she thought they were about to join in some very solemn affair. Holding a hand of each, and watching the two young faces wistfully, Mrs. March said, in her serious yet cheery way…
“I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chose by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy o the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”
“Poor girls don’t stand any chance, Belle says, unless they put themselves forward,” sighed Meg.
“Then we’ll be old maids,” said Jo stoutly.
“Right, Jo. Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running around to find husbands,” said Mrs. March decidedly. “Don’t be troubled, Meg, poverty seldom daunts a serious lover. Some of the best and most honored women I know were very poor girls, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. Leave these things to time. Make this home happy, so that you may fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my girls. Mother is always ready to be your confidant, Father to be your friend, and both of us hope and trust that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives.”
– Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
September 20, 2019
Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
– sons of Korah
September 12, 2019
A walk down Arundel Street in London remains, after all, the best introduction to philosophy. Keep your eyes to the left as you descend toward the river from the Strand. You will observe that the Christian World is published at number seven, and a few yards further down, at number nine, the Feathered World. By the time you have reached the Embarkment you will find yourself involved in the most abstruse metaphysical speculations.
The Christian World, the Feathered World — between them a great gulf is fixed… The values and even the truths current in the world of number seven Arundel Street cease to hold good in that of number nine.
The world of Christians and the world of the feathered are but two out of a swarm of humanly conceivable and humanly explorable worlds. They constellate the thinking mind like stars, and between them stretches the mental equivalent of interstellar space — unspanned. Between, for example, a human body and the whizzing electrons of which it is composed, and the thoughts, the feelings which direct its movements, there are, as yet at any rate, no visible connections. The gulf that separates the lover’s, say, or the musician’s world from the world of the chemist is deeper, more uncompromisingly unbridgeable than that which divides Anglo-Catholics from macaws or geese from Primitive Methodists. We cannot walk from one of these worlds into another; we can only jump. The last act of Don Giovanni is not deducible from electrons, or molecules, or even from cells and entire organs. In relation to these physical, chemical, and biological worlds it is simply a non sequitur. The whole of our universe is composed in a series of such non sequiturs. The only reason for supposing that there is in fact any connection between the logically and scientifically unrelated fragments of our experience is simply the fact that the experience is ours, that we have the fragments in our consciousness. These constellated worlds are all situated in the heaven of the human mind. Some day, conceivably, the scientific and logical engineers may build us convenient bridges from one world to another. Meanwhile we must be content to hop. Solvitur saltando. The only walking you can do in Arundel Street is along the pavements.
– Aldous Huxley, Meditation in Arundel Street
September 11, 2019
We keep inventing new things that make new longings, new holes that must be filled.
– Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Shape Our Future
September 10, 2019
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”‘ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has an eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
– G.K. Chesterton
August 30, 2019
A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, as these sweet spring mornings have, which I am enjoying with my whole heart. I am alone and rejoicing in my life in these parts, which were created for just such souls as mine. I am so happy, dear friend, so absorbed in this feeling of peaceful existence, that my art is suffering.
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
August 23, 2019
On the final night the weather was stormy. The rain was coming down hard, the rain was heavy, bashing down on top of our little boat. Darkness, darkness everywhere. I saw Parnya. She was sleeping in her mother’s arms. Her mother, Shokoufeh, had also passed out. I saw Parnya’s face under the yellow light from that damn lamp, that weak lamp, the lamp hanging from the ceiling knocking back and forth. I saw her face, which seemed bluish from where I was standing. It seemed she had fallen into an eternal sleep while in her mother’s embrace. The violent waves had beseiged us; they were bent on pulling Parnya into the sea, pulling her together with her mother and her brother, who was also sleeping on his mother’s lap, pulling all of them into the abyss of that dark ocean. The boat was shaking violently. Firouz With the Hazel Eyes (the father/husband) was a thin man, unable to assist his family… terrified, he looked over at them and said, “My children are going to die.” He just cried.
Now they’ve been imprisoned on Nauru. I’m sure Parnya can’t fathom this life of affliction in any way, this life she finds herself in. A life that could break the will of the most macho of mails. She has no idea what the prison was built for, she has no idea why a harmless child has to be there, why a children with no bad intentions has to be held there. She has no idea why she has to be locked up.
The mood of sorrow that has tormented us all over the last few days emerges again/ Once again sorrow bears down oppressively /
Once again the questions smash against the rim of my mind /
Why does the Australian government have to exile little girls of six or seven years old? /
Where in the world do they take children captive and throw them inside a cage? /
What crime are those children guilty of? /
And thousands more questions that have no answers /
Thousands more questions that cause me more headaches /
Even greater headaches.
I am on a large ship /
A ship that resembles a British tanker /
A ship like the one that rescued us and brought us here /
In the middle of the ocean is a small, vivid, green, and bountiful island /
Encircled by dangerous waves /
It is rocking /
The waves are shaking it /
Exactly like that rotting boat from the stormy night /
The boat that was captured by the belligerent waves in the ocean /
There are little children on that island /
They are terrified /
Their arms are raised /
They are pleading with me for help /
There are tall coconut trees growing on the island /
The children wrap their arms firmly around the tall, smooth tree trunks / I get closer
Nilou (refugee child, youngest kid of a family he once crossed paths with traversing camps) is there /
She is wearing an outfit patterned with many, many flowers /
Yellow and red, like the flowers growing next to the coconut tree /
Parnya (another refugee child he watched from afar and thought fondly of) is also there /
Standing there with her hair in pigtails /
And there are other children I don’t recognize /
The island is getting smaller and smaller /
The waves are getting higher and higher /
The waves are swallowing up Nilou and the other children / I can only hear their voices /
No matter how I try to dive into these waves, I can’t move /
Like a stiff nail, I can’t move at all /
That island submerges into the spinning ring of waves /
The children are still on it /
The island sinks into the abyss of ocean /
The coconut trees have linked hands, but they too drown.
– Behrouz Boochani, No Friend But the Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison
August 20, 2019
I departed the airport looking like a tourist. I honestly didn’t have a thing that was worth even a cent. If it weren’t for my fear of the officers. I would have left like an empty-handed vagabond.
I was probably the lightest travel in the history of all the world’s airports. It was just me, the clothes on my back, a book of poetry, a packet of smokes, and my manhood.
Now I am meters away from completing my long arduous journey. I have my soaking wet book of poetry in my hands. I have lost my shoes, and my clothes are full of thousands of holes.
The tugboat arrives at the pier. The waves along the shore are tame. A little blonde girl is bathing there, playing in the water; she isn’t paying the slightest attention to us. She takes no notice of the weary and worn-out people, no notice of those standing on the pier. The image of that little girl playing is still fresh in my memory. She is laughing she has drifted into the kindness of the inviting waves. In the world view of the child there is no place for affliction. In her world, there is no space for the hardship that comes from injustice.
I am dwelling in these childish imaginings when they finally open the cage. They allow us to go to the toilets. The toilets also hav CCTV cameras. It’s really hard to relieve yourself when there’s a camera staring down at you. Especially if you consider that right now there are a few sets of eyes belonging to unfamiliar people monitoring you, watching you on the screen connected to that camera. Perhaps they are laughing at you and discussing your sexual organs, loudly, for all to hear. However, these immature imaginings are always replaced by even more immature imaginings: Maybe that CCTV camera is there to scare us– so that we won’t do anything.
– Behrouz Boochani, No Friend But the Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison
August 18, 2019
When our broken love is the only love we can have, we are easily thrown into despair, but when we can live our broken love as a partial reflection of God’s perfect unconditional love, we can forgive one another our imitations and enjoy together the love we have to offer.
– Henri Nouwen
August 16, 2019
If, as they say, the greatest happiness is to be found in longing.. and if true longing must always be directed to something unattainable, then everything conspired.. to make the youth whose fortunes we are following the happiest mortal on earth.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, on self
August 14, 2019
What pitiable cant to say ‘She will live forever in my memory! Live? That is exactly what she won’t do. You might as well think like the old Egyptians that you can keep the dead by embalming them. Will nothing persuade us that they are gone? What is left? A corpse, a memory, and (in some versions) a ghost. All mockeries or horrors. Three more ways of spelling the word dead. It was H. I loved. As if I wanted to fall in love with my memory of her, an image in my own mind! It would be a sort of incest.
– C.S. Lewis, On Grief
August 9, 2019
You are not the work you do. You are the person you are.
– Toni Morrison
August 7, 2019
Man the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not negate suffering, he wants it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a to-this-end of suffering. The meaningless of suffering. The meaningless of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse thus far stretched over humanity.
– Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, III: 28
August 6, 2019
[There is an] inside/outside blur that can enshrine frontiers, and borders real, metaphorical, and psychological, as we wrestle with definitions of nationalism, citizenship, race, ideology, and the so-called clash of cultures in our search to belong.
African and African American writers are not alone in coming to terms with these problems, but they do have a long and singular history of confronting them. Of not being at home in one’s homeland; of being exiled in the place one belongs.
– Toni Morrison
I also wish he had gone deeper on the main conclusion of his book: that every human being on earth has more in common than not. It raises big questions, like how we can leverage that commonality to get things done. Can we really get 7 billion people to work together and solve big problems like climate change? Are our similarities powerful enough to overcome the few differences we do have?
Christakis doesn’t answer these questions, but he does imply that the answer is yes by showing that we have an innate capability and need to cooperate. A lot of people are fascinated by the differences between us—but the differences are actually pretty minor compared to the similarities. In that regard, Blueprint is a fundamentally optimistic book.
– Bill Gates on Nicholas Christaki’s book, Blueprint
August 3, 2019
This whole mess/
In the darkness of midnight/
Looks like death/
Smells like death/
The knocking about/
The sounds of the small children/
The heart-wrenching and painful sounds of the little children/
These sounds transform the chaotic boat into hell.
– Behrouz Boochani, No Friend But the Mountains
August 2, 2019
I am afraid of being the disruptive woman.
And of not being disruptive enough. I am afraid. But I am doing it anyway.
Early one Sunday morning in 2013 my father began to vomit blood. He was hemorrhaging from a hole in the wall of his esophagus, a hole burned by decades of alcohol abuse. He sent me a panicked text, telling me he was bleeding. I was still in bed. I heard the phone beep, I saw the message. And then I lay there for a while, wondering what it would take to ignore him. It is hard to love an addict. It is harder to walk away.
A few years ago, while traveling in Southeast Asia, I treated myself to a full body massage at a beauty salon. It’s kind of a funny story, and it may seem incongruous to tell it here, but bear with me. I didn’t speak the language and the salon staff didn’t speak English, but we smiled and nodded, and a young woman, my masseuse, led me to a private room. She gestured for me to get undressed. I shyly left my underwear on and, seeing this, she laughed. I took my pants off, tried not to think about how hairy I was, and lay on the table. And then she started to stroke me, rubbing my sore muscles, and covering my skin with an aromatic paste. When she wrapped me in towels and left me to relax, I exhaled. Okay, I thought, this isn’t so bad.
Then I began to warm up. Heat up, really. The paste was spicy and itchy and hot. With a few minutes, my skin was on fire. The towels were tucked too tightly and I quickly realized that I couldn’t move without the risk of throwing myself off the table onto the floor, and the floor, looked kind of far away. Think of something else, I told myself. Something not itchy. But I couldn’t not think of the itch. “Breathe,” I told myself, but the deep breathing made the fire burn better. I considered calling out for help, for the masseuse to come back and rescue me from being a spicy, itchy, giant kebab. But I imagined the staff’s wonder at my inability to enjoy– or endure– the treatment. How exposed would I feel then? I didn’t call out.
At least the masseuse returned to remove the towels. She helped me off the massage table and led m over to the corner of the room. Where she proceeded to hose me down. With cold water. I shuddered but said nothing, just smiled through teeth that were now chattering. And after I was dry and clothed and walking away, I actually felt great.
But I also felt something else, something unpleasant: I felt humiliated. Not by the staff, or the nakedness, or the paste, or even the hosing down. I was ashamed of my inability to call the masseuse back, to ask for help, to object to the cold water. Too scared of being perceived as weak, I had given up my power and my voice. And though the spicy massage was a unique event in my life, in some ways it was not an isolated occurrence Because lined up right next to it are all the other examples of how I have acted as if my body is just too embarrassing. From the fear I have felt at revealing my period to a friend or a boyfriend, to the times I have shaved under my arms for the sake of appearance, from the ridiculousness to the health-threatening, I have repeatedly denied my body, its importance, and its pain. I have had sex without a condom because I simply could not say. the word “condom” out loud. I have stayed silent during a smear test, trying to ignore the pain caused by a badly wielded speculum. I have stayed equally silent, refusing to allow myself to cry out, during an excruciating ultrasound of my womb, as if I thought my silence might improve the test results. And I have risked a cancer diagnosis because I could not take my top off.
– Emilie Pine, Notes to Self
July 29, 2019
In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary. It is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life– the definitive act of will.
– Hunter S Thompson
July 28, 2019
When humans struggle over territory/
It always reeks of violence and bloodshed/
Even if the conflict is over a location the size of one body/
The Toothless Fool, who is a Christian fleeing persecution, makes the sign of the cross with his hand with every wave that smashes against the boat. A choir of crosses and hymns, verses in Arabic, in Farsi, in Kurdish and so much more… an echo chamber of chilling recitations.
I remember the obnoxiousness of the Kurdish man from the track – now he holds his little bastard of a song in his arms and sobs. His anguish seems partly for the terrifying waves and partly for his terror-stricken child. I see that in this moment when everything is about to come to an end, his wife is ashamed of his tears. She looks around, confronting the disdain on the faces of the others, and nudges her husband’s side with her elbow so he will stop humiliating them both. It’s interesting to see how she cleaves to the demands of convention, even now, during this breathtaking crisis.
The musical sounds of the spiritual odes infuse horror/
The cacophony of religious recitations is deathlike/
The haunting performance of lament evokes anxiety/
An alarm into the atmosphere, and into the hearts and minds of the travellers/
The harrowing harmony holy verses brings Judgement Day down to earth from the heavens.
More than anything, prison makes on terrified of loneliness/
This is the most shocking paradox in the life of a prisoner/
Time dissolving before you/
And perhaps the wedding of eternity with the thousands upon thousands of faces/
Smiles, sobs, tears/
And bitter dreams.
– Behrouz Boochani, No Friend But the Mountains
July 25, 2019
Social Awkwardness in the form of Angst + Teenage Years + Love
Oscar after his “date”:
When he returned to the house his sister said, Well?
Did you fuck her?
Jesus, Lola, he said, blushing.
Don’t lie to me.
I do not move so precipitiously. He paused and then sighed. In other words, I didn’t even get her scarf off.
Sounds a little suspicious. I know you Dominican men. She held up her hands and flexed the fingers in playful menace. Son pulpos.
– Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
I read “I do not move so precipitously” and I died laughing.
July 23, 2019
A small, shy, determined person, with that strength dictated by absolutely impersonal ambition: she was not trying to ‘make it’ — she was trying to keep the faith.
– James Baldwin of Lorraine Hansberry
July 20, 2019
Do we choose God or psychedelics?:
Scientific research on the effects of LSD and psilocybin has shown clearly that the states of consciousness involve striking changes in perception, emotions, and ideas, and also in the ways they are described: time, space, and the experience of self are dramatically altered. These changes are comparable only with other extreme states of consciousness such as occur in dreams, in mystical and religious ecstasy, or in acute psychotic phases in the early stage of schizophrenia. The dimensions of mystical experience include oneness of the self with the universe, the feeling of timelessness and spacelessness, the most intense feelings of happiness, and the certainty of experiencing a sacred truth which is, however, indescribable. The latter is the feeling of looking behind the veil of reality and seeing the immutable (that is, timeless and spaceless) truth of the world in its entirety.
On Creative Flow:
On the one hand we have achieved something that will be permanent — writing this text, solving a syntax problem in programming — but our life as a whole has almost disappeared for minutes or even hours. We were concentrating fully and completely on the matter at hand, but in doing so we did not notice ourselves: a loss of the experience of both self and time. Expressing it negatively this way also shows how the perception of self and that of time are jointly modulated.
In boredom we are completely time and completely self — inner emptiness. Now I am I and nothing else — a surfeit of being oneself, in most cases when one is alone, but sometimes also being lonely when being with others.
– Marc Wittmann, Psychologist and chronobiologist
July 19, 2019
When it comes to crossing Rubicons, just how much of a Caesar am I prepared to be?
– Sebastien Bailey
July 18, 2019
I only want to sing, if I sing with everything, if I sing for you my King.
I can’t imagine why I’d do this all to be high
I do this all to lift you high.
– Hillsong Young & Free, Only Wanna Sing
July 13, 2019
I like to tell people that, first and foremost, I’m an architect. I’m immersed to [many] cultures. I’ve been studying biomimicry for the last two years and giving lectures at Stanford on how to apply it to user experience design. The beautiful thing about biomimicry is we’ll never be able to fully replicate nature. You’ll never fully be able to replicate organic matter. But you can do your best to replicate, assimilate, interpret, or simulate it. You know who the best creative director is?can study nature and how it creates efficient systems all across the board, on a low level and a high level. Free information, very cost-effective. Water wears down mountains.
– Iddris Sandu, Surface
July 12, 2019
I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few years about what is it that I want my kids to be able to do. I want my kids to be able to see someone else’s point of view even when they feel strongly the other way. I want them to take responsibility for what they contribute to the problem, to own their part and to apologize and work to fix it.
– Sheila Heen
July 9, 2019
I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, in order to give their children the right to study painting, poetry and music.
– John Adams
July 8, 2018
I owe it to me at least to try
So basically, I gotta make a sincere effort to be
all that you called me to be.
I just don’t wanna stay here, living beneath
I owe it to me at least try,
So Im gonna try – Jonathan McReynolds, Try
July 7, 2019
The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less.
– Annie Dillard
July 5, 2019
Something I’ve observed in myself at times in the past 2 months – arguably one of the most tolling months of my adulthood:
As long as the weather is calm and the path is smooth, the rider can feel in excellent control. But unexpected sounds or threats from other animals make the horse bolt, forcing the rider to hold on for dear life. Likewise, when people feel that their survival is at stake or they are seized by rages, longings, fear, or sexual desires, they stop listening to the voice of reason, and it makes little sense to argue with them.
Being able to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions (an ability I’ll call mindfulness throughout this book) and then take our time to respond allows the executive brain to inhibit, organize, and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions preprogrammed into the emotional brain. This capacity is crucial for preserving our relationships with our fellow human beings. As long as our frontal lobes are working properly, we’re unlikely to lose our temper every a time a waiter is late with our order or an insurance company agent puts us on hold. (Our watchtower (the MPFC – medial prefrontal cortex) also tells us that other people’s anger and threats are a function of their emotional state.) When that system breaks down, we become like conditioned animals. The moment we detect danger we automatically go into fight-or-flight mode.
– Bessel Van Der Kolk
June 25, 2019
What gen Zers all have in common is an intuitive relationship with social platforms and digital tools that are continuously evolving. Gen Zers are overwhelmingly embracing new digital tools and features from platforms like Snapchat, but many also recognize the need to take a break from the internet’s immersive influence and wield the creative power of the analogue and IRL.
They’re the hyper-connected, highly opinionated generation, moved to activism as the internet and social media landscape has made them acutely conscious of and concerned about world events. Having lived in an era of overall progress when it comes to issues like marriage equality and body positivity, they’re forging new territory in broader conversations about identity; this is the cohort of gender fluidity and inclusivity in all its forms.
Worth noting, however, is that while 56% of JWT Intelligence survey respondents use social apps to express themselves creatively, only one-fifth say they are using social media to develop or create their brand. Nearly half (46%) are doing what they do because it’s a passion, and most don’t consider themselves to be a brand.
Perhaps this is a reflection of the fluidity of this generation. Gen Zers are not single-taskers. They are poets, visual artists, and musicians, using social channels and multiple mediums to create and manipulate their image and connect with others. As such, they live in a space of multiplicity, both in identities and craft—one
that’s simultaneously an authentic representation. Nearly 60% of survey respondents say their output on social apps represents the real, everyday version of themselves.
June 24, 2019
I read this book, and it makes me cry. Reliving Trauma; continuing on in healing, understanding, and forgiveness.
Here is the association Kathy reported after the first eye-movement sequence: “I realize that I have scars– from when he tied my hands behind my back. The other scar is when he marked me to claim me as his, and there [she points] are bite marks.’ She looked stunned but surprisingly calm as she recalled, “I remember being doused in gasoline– he took Polaroid pictures of me– and then I was submerged in water. I was gang raped by my father and two of his friends. I was tied to a table; I remember them raping me with Budweiser bottles.” My stomach was clenching, but I didn’t comment beyond asking Kathy to keep these memories in mind. After about thirty more back-and-forth movements I stopped when I saw that she was smiling. When I was asked what she was thinking, she said, “I was in a karate class; it was great! I really kicked butt! I saw them backing off. I yelled, ‘Don’t you see you are hurting me? I am not your girlfriend.’ I said,”Stay there,”and began the next sequence. When it ended, Kathy said: “I have an image of two me’s– this smart, pretty little girl… and that little slut. All these women who could not take care of themselves or me or their men– leaving it up to me to service all these men.’ She started to sob during the next sequence, and when we stopped, she said: “I saw how little I was– the brutalization of the little girl. It was not my fault.” I nodded and said, “That’s right– stay there.” The next round ended with Kathy reporting: “I’m picturing my life now– my big me holding my little me– saying, ‘you are safe now.'” I nodded encouragingly and continued.
The questions continued: “Who made the rules at home and enforced discipline?” “How were kids kept in line– by talking, scolding, spanking, hitting, locking you up?” “How did your parents solve their disagreements?” By then the floodgates had usually opened, and many patients were volunteering detailed information about their childhoods. One woman had witnessed her little sister being raped; another told us she’d had her first sexual experience at age eight– with her grandfather. Men and women reported lying awake at night listening to furniture crashing and parents screaming; a young man had come down to the kitchen and found his mother lying in a pool of blood. Others talked about not being picked up at elementary school or running home to find an empty house and spending the night alone.
When Marilyn finally began to access her memories, they emerged as flashbacks of the wallpaper in her childhood bedroom. She realized that this was what she had focused on when her father raped her when she was eight years old. His molestation had scared her beyond her capacity to endure, so she had needed to push it out of her memory bank. After all, she to keep living with this man, her father, who had assaulted her. Marilyn remembered having turned to her mother for protection, but when she ran to her and tried to hide herself by burying her face in her mother’s skirt, she was met with only a limp embrace. At times her mother remained silent; at others she cried or angrily scolded Marilyn for “making Daddy so angry.” That terrified child found no one to protect her, to offer strength and shelter.
It took Marilyn a long time before she was ready to talk about her abuse. She was not ready to violate her loyalty to her family– deep inside she felt that she still needed them to protect her against her fears. The price of this loyalty is unbearable feelings of loneliness, despair, and the inevitable rage of helplessness. Rage that has nowhere to go is redirected against the self, in the form of depression, self-hatred, and self-destructive actions. One of my patients told me, “It is like hating your home, our kitchen and pots and pans, your bed, your chairs, your table, your rugs.” Nothing feels safe– least of all your own body.
She woke up in a panic, thinking that she was surely going to die. Her dream reminded me of the nightmares war veterans had reported to me: seeing the precise, unadulterated images of faces and body parts they had encountered in battle. These dreams were so terrifying that they tried to not fall asleep at night; only daytime napping, which was not associated with nocturnal ambushes, felt halfway safe.
During this stage of therapy Marilyn was repeatedly flooded with images and sensations related to the choking dream. She remembered sitting in the kitchen as a four-year-old with swollen eyes, a sore neck, and a bloody nose, while her father and brother laughed at her and called her a stupid, stupid, girl. One day Marilyn reported, “As I was brushing my teeth last evening, I was overcome with feelings of thrashing around. I was like a fish out of water, violently turning my body as I fought against the lack of air. I sobbed and chocked as I brushed my teeth. Panic was rising up out of my chest with the feeling of thrashing. I had to use every bit of strength I had not to scream, “NONONONONONO,” as I stood over the sink.
Trauma is not stored as a narrative with an orderly beginning, middle, and end. As I’ll discuss in detail in chapters 11 and 12, memories initially return as they did for Marilyn: as flashbacks that contain fragments of the experience, isolated images, sounds, and body sensations that initially have no context other than fear or panic. When Marilyn was a child, she had no way of giving voice to the unspeakable, and it would have made no difference anyway– nobody was listening.
Over the past three decades psychiatric medicines have become a mainstay in our culture, with dubious consequences. Consider the case of antidepressants. If they were indeed as effective as we had been lead to believe, depression should by now have become a minor issue in our society. Instead, even as antidepressant use continues to increase, it has not made a dent in hospital admissions for depression. The number of people treated for depression has tripled over the past two decades, and one in ten Americans now take antidepressants.
Being cautious of the chemical imbalance narrative
The brain-disease model overlooks four fundamental truths: (1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being; (2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning; (3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and (4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive.
Bessel van Der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
June 20, 2019
Intense, ruthless, and hard-fought.
Well it means step by step ferociously and it’s the motto for Blue Origin. Basically you can’t skip steps, you have to put one foot in front of the other, things take time, there are no shortcuts but you want to do these steps with passion and ferocity.
– Jeff Bezos
On Depression & Spiritual Lethargy
June 16, 2019
– John Keats
June 15, 2019
General Alexander’s commentary on the ways of American troops in Tunisia during WWII:
mentally and physically soft, and very green. It was the old story: lack of proper training, allied to no experience in war, and linked with too high a standard of living.
On Executive Leadership: Eisenhower to his friend Leonard Gerow:
“Considerations of friendship, family, kindness, and nice personality have nothing to do with the problem…. You must be touch.” He learned the importance of training and discipline, and how to deploy airpower and massed armor, particularly when confronting German’s superior panzer formations. – biographer
When “Just Ship It” Maketh Sense: lessons in entrepreneurship in stories of wartime:
Brute force prevailed. As General Lucius D. Clay, who headed all U.S. military procurement in World War II, noted: “We were never able to build a tank as good as the German tank. But we made so many of them that it didn’t really matter.” Rommel made a similar observation. “The battle is fought and decided by the quartermaster before the shooting begins.
– Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace
June 14, 2019
You’re neither more or less inclined I would search and stop at nothing You’re just not that hard to find
In the highlands and the heartache all the same.
June 10, 2019
lol – Charles de Gaulle to Winston Churchill during WWII
It is a strategic error to place oneself in a situation contradictory to the moral character of this war,” de Gaulle reminded Churchill. “We are no longer in the eighteenth century when Frederick the Great paie the courtiers of Vienna in order to take Silesia, nor in the Italian Renaissance when one hired the myrmidons of Milan or the mercenaries of Florence. If France one day discovers that because of the British and the Americans her liberation consists of Darlan, you perhaps can win the war from a military point of view, but you will lose it morally.
– Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace
June 9, 2019
A dislike of enthusiasm is one of the greatest hindrances to revival
June 3, 2019
Come, the pastures we call grace
So I will praise you on the mountain,
I will praise you when the mountain’s in my way.
You’re the heaven where my heart is in the highlands and the heartache all the same.
– Hillsong United, Highlands (Song of Ascent)
May 29, 2019
Where is the American dream
If only one percent knows what it means
To really be ok
Tell me is that ok?
– Kirk Franklin, OK
May 22, 2019
My dear Major,
I desire to place on official record this special commendation for excellent work of a highly important nature which you have just completed under my personal direction. You not only accepted this assignment wilingly— an assignment which involved much hard work— performing it in addition to your regular duties in the office of The Assistant Secretary of War, but you gave me a most acceptable solution within a minimum of time.
This is not the first occasion when you have been called upon to perform a special task of this nature. In each case you have registered successful accomplishment in the highest degree.
I write you this special commendation so that you may fully realize that your outstanding talents and your ability perform these highly important missions are fully appreciated.
Chief of Staff.
– Douglas MacArthur (then Chief of Staff) to then Major Eisenhower
The Trappings of Cultural Mythologies
May 18, 2019
Pearlita was doing her best to pile her hair as high as hair could go. She said that, surely, having the tallest hair in the world would make you the most beautiful woman, and being the most beautiful would make you the happiest.
Paloma was sewing extra bows onto her dress, because she thought that, surely, having the fanciest dress in the world would make you the most beautiful woman in the world, and being the most beautiful would make you the happiest. They weren’t very happy, because they were worried that someone might have higher hair or more bows than they did. Which, probably, someone did. Usually someone does.
But there isn’t actually a most beautiful person in the world, because there are so many kinds of beauty. Some people love roundness and softness, and other people love sharp edges and strong muscles. Some people like thick hair like a lion’s mane, and other people like thin hair that pours down like an inky waterfall, and some people love someone so much they forget what they look like. Some people think the night sky full of stars at midnight is the most beautiful thing imaginable, some people think it’s a forest in snow, and some people… Well, there are a lot of people with a lot of ideas about beauty. And love. When you love someone a lot, they just look like love.
– Rebecca Solnit, Cinderella Liberator – a retelling of the Cinderalla story with characters free from the constrictions imposed on them by society and cultural doctrine.
May 14, 2019
If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than they should make vows they do not mean to keep.
– C.S. Lewis
Read in early 2015
May 13, 2019
Every poem is a coat of arms. It must be deciphered. How much blood. How much blood, how many tears in exchange for these axes, these muzzles, these unicorns, these torches, these towers, these martlets, these seedlings of stars and these fields of blue!
Free to choose the faces, the shapes, the gestures, the tones, the acts, the places that please him, he composes with them a realistic documentary of unreal events. The musician will underline the noises and silences.
– Jean Cocteau, Le Sang d’un poete
May 13, 2019
There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. – C.S. Lewis
May 5, 2019
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love… I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart.
– Charles Finney
May 3, 2019
To recognize one’s insanity, is of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.”
– Eckhart Tolle
May 1, 2019
In the case of a flower, a crystal, precious stone, or bird, however, even someone with little or no Presence can occasionally sense that there is more than the mere physical existence of that form, without knowing that this is the reason why he or she is drawn toward it, feels an affinity with it. Because of its ethereal nature, its form obscures the indwelling spirit to a lesser degree than is the case with other lifeforms. The exception to this are all newborn lifeforms – babies, puppies, kittens, lambs, and so on. They are fragile, delicate, not yet firmly established in materiality. An innocence, a sweetness and beauty that are not of this world still shine through them. They delight even relatively insensitive humans.
– Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
April 27, 2019
Of course you’re having a crisis. Everybody is having a crisis all the time. Everybody is basically doing what they want and they’re in crisis. Life is the crisis of doing what you want. The only thing that can free us is some kind of true sense of direction.
April 22, 2019
The key is not to get stuck on something that you have effectively no chance of succeeding at. We are all for aggressive and world-changing goals. Please do fight City Hall, Oppose injustice. Work for women’s rights. Pursue food justice. End homelessness. Combat global warming. But do it smart. If you become open-minded enough to accept reality, you’ll be freed to reframe an actionable problem and design a way to participate in the world on things that matter to you and might even work. That’s all we’re after here– we want to give you the best shot possible at living the life you want, enjoying the living of it, and even making a difference while you’re at it. We are going to help you create the best designed life available to you in reality– not in some fictional world with less gravity and rich poets.
– Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
April 20, 2019
Possibilities will always present themselves and most of the mistakes I observe in the market are based on short-term decisions. I aspire to brands like Hermès and a world of timeless luxury; that was a big part of the DNA I was trying to create. I was scared that if it peaked too fast it would become a moment — that was the opposite of what I was trying to create.
At the time we launched, it was an industry very much controlled by marketing,” recalls Gorham. “I had nothing beyond what I felt was an authentic, personal approach. I remember people asking, ‘what’s the sound-bite, the kicker?’ I felt as long as I kept the honesty and truth, I didn’t need the marketing. Striving to be unique is extremely difficult when you try to create a commercial vehicle in an existing marketplace on a global scale.
What does it mean to sell to a store in Hong Kong, what can go wrong and how much time will you have to spend fixing it? When you’re catching up and running a business, you’re on the clock, and that may compromise quality. That was learning-by-doing and at times very costly.
– Ben Gorham, Byredo founder, BoF
April 19, 2019
A well-designed life is a life that is generative– it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is always the possibility of surprise. You get out of it more than you put in. There is a lot more than “lather, rinse, repeat” in a well-designed life.
– Bill Burnett, Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
April 14, 2019
It is hard to contemplate the human appetite without wondering if we have any say over our lives at all. We believe in will– in the notion that we have a choice over such simple matters as whether to sit still or stand up, to talk or not talk, to have a slice of pie or not.
– Atul Gawande
On Ioannis Ikonomou, Polyglot
April 14, 2019
Among the more than 2,000 full-time linguists in Brussels, only a few can operate from eight or more of the 24 official EU languages. Ikonomou works from 21 of them– Estonian, Maltese and Irish are his exceptions. In all, he speaks 32 living languages — and has studied many ancient ones, from Old Church Slavic to Sogdian. (Reading the hieroglyphics in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo is, for him, “the closest thing possible to a mental orgasm”)
April 10, 2019
Caught up in my own hesitation
Don’t want to get caught in the motions
I don’t know how the story ends
But I know that you finished it
I’ll close my eyes and just let go
The only thing I know is
God you’re in control
In every little detail
You are close
On Yuna Kwon
April 7, 2019
“She hears music on a level that rarely people do,” Wilson commented to Kirk and Lease. “She is never off of her music — ever. Like it’s intrinsically in her.”
March 25, 2019
Tell me do you believe in miracles?
March 23, 2019
Beauty always has an element of strangeness. I do not mean a deliberate cold form of strangeness, for in that case it would be a monstrous thing that had jumped the rails of life. But I do mean that it always contains a certain degree of strangeness, of simple, unintended, unconscious strangeness, and that this form of strangeness is what gives it the right to be called beauty. It is its hallmark, its special characteristic.
– Charles Baudelaire
March 22, 2019
Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, who every says to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
– Mark 11:22
March 21, 2019
We are here to drink beer.
We are here to kill war.
We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.
We are here to read these words from all these wise men and women who will tell us that we are here for different reasons and the same reason.
– Charles Bukowski, poet
March 20, 2019
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
– Annie Dillard
March 19, 2019
It was pastoral, it was nice, it was an extended family. I don’t know why I felt such an affinity with the natural world except that it was available to me, that’s the first thing. It was right there. And for whatever reasons, I felt those first important connections, those first experiences being made with the natural world rather than with the social world.
– Mary Oliver
March 17, 2019
Don’t let anyone tell you reading makes you anti-social. That’s what my grandmother said when I was young. I was an extreme case, bringing books with me everywhere– to dinner, on a sleepover– and she thought I should play more with the other kids. What she didn’t get was that reading was play. I made some of my best friends in books: Holden Caulfield, Billy Pilgrim, Stuart Little, Harriet the Spy. They meant (still mean) everything to me… and even more important, that there were people who would never htink and feel as I did, that the world was big enough for all.
– David Ulin, Guggenheim Fellow
March 10, 2019
Melzack and Wall’s most startling suggestion was that what controlled the gate (“Gate Control Theory of Pain”) was not just signals from sensory nerves but also emotions and other “output” from the brain. They were saying that pulling on the rope need not make the bell ring. The bell itself– the mind– could stop it.
– Atul Gawande
Speeches to parliament, speeches to soldiers at war–all these things will pass away and be forgotten. But every act of her devotion to me (to Jesus) will be written in the everlasting book.
Though she have no station, no name, no wealth in this world in heaven there will be a memorial for her.
– author unknown
March 7, 2019
If you follow the norms of the system, the results you get are likely to be the norm. When you play a different game, a metagame, you have the opportunity to outperform.
– Farnam Street Blog, The Metagame: How Bill Belichick and Warren Buffett Play a Different Game
March 6, 2019
Friend, do what you came to do.
– Jesus to Judas Iscariot, Matthew 26
March 3, 2019
True action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains. It grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell. It grows out of the suffering which you have not yet learned to suffer.
Solitude is the path over which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself. Solitude is the path that men most fear. A path fraught with terrors, where snakes and toads lie in wait… Without solitude there is no suffering, without solitude there is no heroism. But the solitude I have in mind is not the solitude of the blithe poets or of the theater, where the fountain bubbles so sweetly at the mouth of the hermit’s cave.
– Hermann Hesse, German poet, novelist, and painter (1877-1962)
February 24, 2019
Suffering simplified is when things that we want, things that we love, things that we desire and enjoy are taken away from us.
when we lose somebody we love
divorce: when a spouse no longer loves
when we lose health
when we’re struck with disease or pain
February 19, 2019
Illusions are to the soul what atmosphere is to the earth. Roll up that tender air and the plant dies, the colour fades.
– Virginia Woolf
February 8, 2019
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
How divinely sweet, the scent of success.
– Therese Ann Fowler
February 3, 2019
I want to pick a fight because I want someone else’s suffering to matter to me. I want to slug it out where I can make a meaningful difference. God says he wants us to battle injustice, to lookout for orphans and widows, to give sacrificially. And anyone who gets distracted with the minutiae of this point of that opinion is tagging out of the real skirmish.
– Bob Goff
January 31, 2019
I don’t think it at all likely that God requires the ill-informed (and contradictory) advice of us humans as to how to run the world. If He is all wise, as you say He is, doesn’t He know already what is best? And if he is all good won’t He do it whether we pray or not?
– Kurt Vonnegut
January 29, 2019
He hopes we’ll believe Him like I came to believe what the coach said about me. He hopes we’ll start to see ourselves as His beloved rather than think of all of the reasons that we aren’t.
Sometimes we don’t think that the name someone picked for us is accurate either. How could the coach think of me as a real ball player? And how could God think of me as His beloved? But then I remember Jesus said to one of the guys with Him that he was a rock even though He knew this same guy would deny ever knowing Him. I don’t think Jesus was blowing sunshine at Peter when he did that. Instead, I think He was calling something out from inside Peter. It was kind of like the coach telling me I was a real ball player– he saw it in me and was just calling it out. We get to do that for each other still today.
– Bob Goff, Love Does
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
– C.S. Lewis
January 22, 2019
Cursed is the one who dishonors his mother and father.
January 21, 2019
You can never know anyone as completely as you want. But that’s okay, love is better.
– Caroline Paul, Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology
January 20, 2019
Women of Jerusalem, make me a promise. Let the antelopes and the does serve as witnesses. Don’t stir up love. Don’t wake it up until it’s ready.
Shared Emotions // Creators
January 19, 2019
Musk was serious, but a second problem soon appeared: The wooden strip, just below the air gap, worked like an airplane wing, sucking cold air down and shooting it into the driver’s lap. Mardall, an aerodynamics specialist, proposed adding a second, hidden gap from which air would shoot straight up, lifting the main blast of cold air above the piece of wood and away from the driver’s crotch. “It was one of those eureka moments,” Blades recalls, still in awe of the elegance of the solution. “The spine still tingles.”
– Tom Randall, Josh Eidelson, Dana Hull, and John Lippert, Hell for Elon Musk is a Midsize Sedan
January 18, 2019
All I ever had is loaves and fishes
– Will Reagan + United Pursuit
January 17, 2019
The law is accountable to reason, not fiat
– Albert Sacks, American lawyer and former Dean of Harvard Law School
As Love Runs Dry
January 15, 2019
In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving, and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.
– Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
The elder Ginsburgs, in turn, had gained an older daughter with far more ambition and determination than suggested by either her glamorous engagement photograph or its quintessentially 1950s counterpart, the demure sweater clad bride-to-be, her eyes cast down decorously. Evelyn even took her new daughter aside on her wedding day and placed in her hand a pair of earplugs. Explaining the secret of a happy marriage, she advised, “It helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” Ruth took note of the advice, coming as it did from the woman she now called “Mother.”
“One of the faculty members on the committee for whom she also worked part-time became so impressed by her ‘integrity, sense of responsibility and tact” that he wrote to Harvard Law School on her behalf. “That [Miss Bader] should be selected to the College Administrative officers as one of three undergraduates to serve… is, itself, testimony to the general esteem in which she is held. I think it is fair to stay,’ he noted, ‘that Miss Bader does not seek leadership or positions of influence; they are thrust upon her because her strength of character and intelligence are quickly recognized by others. Personally,” he observed, “she is attractive, friendly, dignified, and modest almost to the point of reticence. She is not, however, one who evades decision or action when they are required. There are few young women of Miss Bader’s age whom I would describe as serene and wise, but I think those adjectives are entirely fitting in her case.”
– Jane Sherron de Hart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
January 14, 2019
Spiritus sano in corpore sano
January 11, 2019
Mandela lived in a leafy suburban street in a Mediterranean-style home set behind butter-colored concrete walls. Graca Machel ushered us through a courtyard shade by trees and into the house, where in a wide, sunlit room her husband sat in an armchair. He had sparse, snowy hair and wore a brown batik shirt. Someone had laid a white blanket across his lap. He was surrounded by several generations of relatives, all whom welcomed us enthusiastically…The truth is I’m not sure that the patriarch himself completely grasped who we were or why we’d stopped in. He was an old man at this point, his attention seeming to drift, his hearing very weak… He looked at me with genuine interest, though in truth I could have been anyone. It seemed clear that he bestowed the same degree of warmth upon every person who crossed his path. My interaction with Mandela was both quiet and profound– maybe more profound, even for its quietness. His life’s words had mostly been spoken now, his speeches and letters, his books and protest chants, already etched not just into his story but into humanity’s as a whole. I could feel all of it in the brief moment I had with him– the dignity and spirit that coaxed equality from a place where none existed.
– Michelle Obama, Becoming– Michelle Obama, Becoming
January 5, 2019
In the evenings, Barack came home to our place on Euclid Avenue and often flopped on the couch, reeking of the cigarettes he still smoked when he was out of my sight. He appeared tired but never depleted. He kept careful track of the registration tallies: They were averaging an impressive seven thousand a week in midsummer but were still falling short of the goal. He strategized about how to get the message across, how to wrangle more volunteers and find pockets of people who remained unfound. He seemed to view the challenges as a Rubik’s cube– like a puzzle that could be solved if only he could swivel the right blocks in the right order. The hardest people to reach, he told me, were the younger folks, the eighteen-to thirty-year-olds who seemed to have no faith in government at all.
Barack I’ve come to understand is the sort of person who needs a hole, a closed-off little warren where he can read and write undisturbed. It’s like a hatch that opens directly onto the spacious skies of his brain. Time spent there seems to fuel him. In deference to this, we’ve managed to create some version of a hole inside every home we’ve ever lived in– any quite corner or alcove will do. To this day, when we arrive at a rental house in Hawaii or on Martha’s Vineyard, Barack goes off looking for an empty room that can serve as the vacation hole. There, he can flip between the six and seven books he’s reading simultaneously and toss his newspapers on the floor. For him, the Hole is a sacred high place, where insights are birthed and clarity comes to visit.
– Michelle Obama, Becoming
January 4, 2019
Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?
– Barack Obama
Even if we didn’t know the context, we were instructed to remember that context existed. Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was crying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.
– Michelle Obama, Becoming
January 3, 2019
“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
But who can keep from speaking?
Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
It strikes you and you are dismayed.
Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?
Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
But if I were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
He bestows rain on the earth;
he sends water upon the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.
He catches the wise in their craftiness and the schemes of the wily are swept away.
Darkness comes upon them in the daytime;
at noon they grope as in the night.
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal
– Jobs 4-5
December 31, 2018
Eat something. Tell one of the people who keep saying, “let me know if there is anything I can do” that there is something they can do and it’s to bring you more pretzels– the good kind, or really any kind but the ones you bought last time, because they were bad. How can they make a pretzel bad? I don’t know, but they can, and they did and last time you bought them.
December 30, 2018
I wanted to be alive until I was not.
The terrible gift of a terrible illness is that is has in fact taught me to live in the moment.
– cancer patient
December 17, 2018
George Whitefield’s Diary
3. Used [spontaneous prayer to God] every hour
15. Confessed all sins?
December 16, 2018
We wouldn’t need books quite so much if everyone around us understood us well. But they don’t. Even those who love us get us wrong. They tell us who we are but miss things out. They claim to know what we need, but forget to ask us properly first. They can’t understand how we feel– and sometimes, we’re unable to tell them, because we don’t really understand it ourselves. That’s where books come in. They explain us to ourselves and to others, and make us feel less strange, less isolated, and less alone. We might have lots of good friends, but even with the best friends in the world, there are things that no one quite gets. That’s the moment to turn to books. They are friends waiting for us anytime we want them, and they will always speak honestly to us about what really matters. They are the perfect cure for loneliness.
They can be our very closest friends.
– Alain de Botton
December 12, 2018
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
– Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
November 28, 2018
- Why do your homework when you can go out and play?
- Why wait to pay for a phone in cash, when you can put it on your credit card?
- Why go to the gym when you can go drinking with your friends?
- Why invest in your relationship with your partner today when you can work a little bit extra in the office?
- Why learn something boring that doesn’t change when you can learn something sexy that impresses people?
- Why bust your butt at work to do the work before the meeting when you can read the executive summary and pretend like everyone else?
As the weeks turn into months and the months into years, the short game compounds into disastrous results. It’s not the one day trade off that matters but it’s accumulation.
Playing the long game means suffering a little today. And why would we want to suffer today when we can suffer tomorrow. But if our intention is to always change tomorrow, then tomorrow never comes. All we have is today.
– Shane Parrish
November 26, 2018
Truly understanding entropy leads to a radical change in the way we see the world. Ignorance of it is responsible for many of our biggest mistakes and failures. We cannot expect anything to stay the way we leave it. To maintain our health, relationships, careers, skills, knowledge, societies, and possessions requires never-ending effort and vigilance. Disorder is not a mistake; it is our default. Order is always artificial and temporary.
– Shane Parrish, Farnam Street Blog
November 22, 2018
People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead, turns himself into a monster
– James Baldwin
November 18, 2018
Half of the harm that is done in this world
Is due to people who want to feel important.
They don’t mean to do harm– but the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it
Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
To think well of themselves.
– T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party
November 17, 2018
There are days when they become so remote that we are scarcely aware of them, we think they have disappeared.
– Marcel Proust
November 14, 2018
Collective thinking… is an animal form of thinking. Its dim perception of goodness merely enables it to mistake this or that for an absolute good.
The same applies to political parties. In principle, a party is an instrument to serve a certain conception of the public interest. This is true even for parties which represent the interests of one particular social group, for there is always a certain conception of the public interest according to which the public interest and these particular interests should coincide. Yet this conception is extremely vague This is true without exception and quite uniformly.
A Case For The Flying Spaghetti Monster?
November 11, 2018
If upon investigation [through science] we find that there is no reason and proof for a point, then we should accept it. However, a clear distinction should be made between what is not fun in science and what is found to be non existent by science.
– Dalai Lama
October 28, 2018
that pose, gesture, and expression should reveal the inner person-
– Naomi Rosenblum
October 28, 2018
As is often true when older professions seem on the verge of being overtaken by new technologies, members drift (or hurry) from allied fields into the new one.
– Naomi Rosenblum
October 27, 2018
My investigations came to be a search for the solution for a problem, for which I had three data, the object, the thing attached to it in the shadow of my consciousness, and the light under which that thing would become apparent.
– Rene Magritte
October 26, 2018
Every poem is a coat of arms. It must be deciphered. How much blood, how many tears in exchange for these axes, these muzzles, these unicorns, these torches, these towers, these marbles, these seedlings of stars, and these fields of blue!
Free to choose the faces, the shapes, the gestures, the tones, the acts, the places that please him, he composes with them a realistic documentary of unreal events. The musician will underline the noises and silences.
– Jean Cocteau
October 25, 2018
What is Friendship? the Bible, and particularly the book of Proverbs, spends much time describing and defining it. One of the prime qualities of a friend is constancy. Friends “love at all times” and especially during “adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). The counterfeit is a “fair-weather friend” who comes over when you are successful but goes away if prosperity, status, or influence wanes (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4,6,7). True friends stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). They are always there for you. Another of the essential characteristics of friendship is transparency and candor. Real friends encourage and affectionately affirm one another (Proverbs 27:9; cf. 1 Samuel 23:16-18), yet real friends also offer bracing critiques: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:5-6). Like a surgeon, friends cut you in order to heal you. Friends become wiser together through a healthy clash of view points. “As iron sharpens iron, so friend sharpens friend” (Proverbs 27:17)
– Timothy Keller
October 14, 2018
Peoples once accustomed to masters are not in a condition to do without them. If they attempt to shake off the yoke they still more estrange themselves from freedom, as, by mistaking for it an unbridled license to which it is diametrically opposed, they nearly always manage, by their revolutions, to hand themselves over to seducers, who only make their chains heavier than before.
– Jean – Jacques Rousseau
October 13, 2018
I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad– as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth– so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane– quite insane: with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot.
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
October 9, 2018
“You have to prostitute yourself to survive, Godard seems to be telling us, but more out of habit than choice”
– Roger Ebert
October 8, 2018
I had no time to be miserable, because I was never alone.
– Marcel Proust
October 7, 2018
A writer– and, I believe, generally all persons– must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
– Jorge Luis Borges
October 1, 2018
It’s important to me to be a good boss. One of the things I found most offensive about [comments arising from] the recent #MeToo movement was this implication that in order to run a creative or semi-creative business, a certain amount of bad behaviour is tolerable, or even desirable, because from that comes great creative vision. I really don’t think that’s true! I know plenty of people who have been at the helm of various creative galleries, or production companies, and have never felt the need to behave poorly. It’s just a lazy justification. And as someone who has managed to go 25 years without conflating sex with power, or bullying my colleagues, I find it particularly offensive.
– Hanya Yanagihara, writer and EIC of T Magazine
September 26, 2018
To be happy enough to be humble, giving you an internal fullness that frees you to be generous with the other even you are not getting the satisfaction you want–
– Timothy Keller
September 24, 2018
The resurrection that takes place when we wake up– after the beneficent attack of mental derangement we call sleep– must in the end be similar to what happens when we recall a name, a line of poetry, or a refrain we had forgotten. And perhaps the resurrection of the soul after death is to be thought of as a phenomenon of memory.
– Marcel Proust
September 23, 2018
Flowers that remain closed until the day when the predestined stranger comes to touch them open and to let loose for any long hours the aroma of their special dreams upon an amazed and unsuspecting being.
– Marcel Proust
September 17, 2018
The loss of love is the loss of all rights, even though one had them all.
– Albert Camus
September 4, 2018
You write about your walk to Ville d’Avray that Sunday, at the same time on that same day I was also walking alone, and I want to tell you something about that walk, since then our thoughts probably crossed again in some degree.
– Vincent Van Gogh to his ex, Sien
September 1, 2018
“Work!” she scoffed. “Oh, you sad bird! You bluffer! Work– that means a great arranging of the desk and the lights, a great sharpening of pencils, and ‘Gloria, don’t sing!’ and ‘Please keep that damn Tana away from me,’ and ‘Let me read you my opening sentence,’ and ‘I won’t be through for a long time, Gloria, so don’t stay up for me,’ and a tremendous consumption of tea and coffee. And that’s all. In just about an hour I hear the old pencil stop scratching and look over. You’ve got out a book and you’re ‘looking up’ something. Then you’re reading. Then yawns– then bed and a great tossing about because you’re full of caffein and can’t sleep. Two weeks later the whole performance over again.”
– Gloria Gilbert , The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
August 26, 2018
‘Tesla investors must realize that they have a panicky, erratic, possibly self-destructive C.E.O at the helm… No C.E.O. is ever this confused and confusing.”
– Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Professor, Yale School of Management
August 25, 2018
Let me not worship gold in the hills or stars in the sky or the praise of people in the world, as though they possessed the answers to the mysteries I face as though…
they were not also a part of your creation.
– a man named Braxton
August 15, 2018
It’s me who tries again and again to be moved– let myself go a thousand times and I’m always me. Nothing– quite– stirs me.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
August 13, 2018
Nothing gives me more happiness than seeing the people I love on the good path.
August 9, 2018
this grieving for a childhood gone, this ache for distant family, lost fellowship, past laughter, shared lives and the sense the I was somewhere I belonged.
– a liturgy
August 5, 2018
a populated place: a city in itself.
– Olivia Laing
July 23, 2018
For which no aspect of life has become stale–
– Charles Baudelaire
July 22, 2018
O for a muse of fire, that would ascend/ The brightest heaven of invention.
– Shakespeare, Henry V
July 21, 2018
When we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy.
– Hermann Hesse
July 17, 2018
If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.
– traditionally attributed to Michelangelo
June 29, 2018
Every day I drew steadily near to the truth that man is not truly one, but truly two
I saw– the primitive duality of man.
– Robert Louis Stevenson
June 15, 2015
This planner will have to learn that the work does not stop when the plan is completed.
– Peter Drucker, On Managing Oneself
June 11, 2018
When you sit to dine with a rule, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive.
June 10, 2018
Fate put into my hands limp threads! threads to build a future?
– Annie Albers, artist
May 23, 2013
Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food.
May 14, 2018
Then, of course, there’s the challenge of dealing with uncertainty where it’s, I guess… You’re operating in sort of the weird zone where you’re often making decisions that have significant long-term impact, or that are at least difficult to reverse or to course-correct, in the face of great uncertainty. And the uncertainty is often unnecessary in the sense that you could in principle go and significantly reduce the uncertainty. You could go and study the question more, you could go and obtain more information, you could go and run an experiment. It’s not like cosmic uncertainty, where it’s true Knightian unknowability. I think when it is true, deep, unmitigatable uncertainty, then I think it’s not too hard to say, ‘Well, we’re just gonna choose something and make the best decision we can.’ I think it’s a more frustrating kind of uncertainty, where it’s actually not necessary, but the thing that’s limited is essentially the cost of obtaining further information, reducing that uncertainty. And so you’re left in the dissatisfying situation where you have to make a highly consequential decision [and] there’s a lot of uncertainty. ‘We could have less uncertainty, we could take steps to mitigate that, but we just don’t have time to.’ Making a lot of decisions in that zone is somewhat dissatisfying, and I think correctly so, when you’re correctly reacting to the fact that it could be otherwise.
– Patrick Collison, Founder of Stripe
May 11, 2018
My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let’s lie in wait for innocent blood, let’s ambush some harmless soul; let’s swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; cast lots with us; we will all share the loot”— my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten ga in; it takes away the life of those who get it.
Scathing Words by a Mr. Bennett
April 28, 2018
Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar before hand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.
April 23, 2018
To give people the words to know their own experience–
– Maria Popova, Brainpickings
April 22, 2018
The daily routine of most adults is so heavy and artificial that we are closed off to much of the world. We have to do this in order to get our work done. I think one purpose of art is to get us out of those routines. When we hear music or poetry or stories, the world opens up again. We’re drawn in — or out — and the windows of our perception are cleansed, as William Blake said. The same thing can happen when we’re around young children or adults who have unlearned those habits of shutting the world out.
– Ursula K. Le Guin
April 21, 2018
Life is short. Take care of the ones you love. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Never do anything that makes you unhappy.
– Antoine, formerly co-founder of PlanGrid
April 18, 2018
You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am.
April 16, 2018
But as the years passed, I began to mourn the loss of something I had once known in the drawing room of Marchmain House and once or twice since, the intensity and singleness and the belief that it was not all done by hand– in a word, the inspiration.
In quest of this fading light I went abroad, in the Augustan manner, laden with the apparatus of my trade, for two year’s refreshment among alien styles. I did not go to Europe; her treasures were safe, too safe, swaddled in expert care, obscured by reverence. Europe could wait. There would be a time for Europe, I thought all too soon the days would come when I should need a man at my side to put up my easel and carry my paints; when I could not venture more than an hour’s journey from a good hotel; when I should need soft breezes and mellow sunshine all day long; then I would take my old eyes to Germany and Italy. Now while I had the strength I would go to the wild lands where man had deserted his post and the jungle was creeping back to its old strongholds…
– Charles Ryder
April 15, 2018
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
– Matthew 5:46
April 8, 2018
Seek out the possible instead of the predictable
– Seth Godin
April 5, 2018
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
– C. S. Lewis
March 25, 2018
‘She says we live in different atmospheres. That’s all right, but Julia happens to fancy my atmosphere… Then she brings up religion. I’ve nothing against her Church; we don’t take much account of Catholics in Canada, but that’s different; in Europe you’ve got some very posh Catholics. All right, Julia can go to church whenever she wants to. I shan’t try and stop her. It doesn’t mean two pins to her, as a matter of fact, but I like a girl to have religion. What’s more, she can bring the children up Catholic. I’ll make all the “promises” they want… Then there’s my past. “We know so little about you.” She knows a sight too much. You may know I’ve been tied up with someone else for a year or two.’
I knew; everyone who had ever met Rex knew of his affair with Brenda Champion; knew also that it was from this affair that he derived everything which distinguished him from every other stock-jobber, his gold with the Prince of Wales, his membership of Bratt’s, even his smoking-room comradeship at the House of Commons, for , when he first appeared there, his party chiefs did not say of him, ‘Look there is the promising young member north Gridley who spoke so well on Rent Restrictions.’ They said: ‘There’s Brenda Champion’s latest’; it had done him a great deal of good with men; women he could usually charm.
– Evelyn Waugh
March 14, 2018
The languor of YOUTH – how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! The zest, the generous affections, the illusions, the despair, all the traditional attributes of Youth — all save this — come and go with us through life. These things are a part of life itself; but languor — the relaxation of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding — that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it.
– Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
March 5, 2018
Rain is good for the soul.
March 1, 2018
There are few men who slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.
February 18, 2018
Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.
Such was the fact. And I believe I can make sense of it. You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately; anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence, ‘ I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. It is similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel that we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead?
– C.S. Lewis
February 17, 2018
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
– C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
February 7, 2018
Now, I want you to raise your right hand– and remember what we say at Wal-Mart, that a promise we make is a promise we keep– and I want you to repeat after me: From this day forward, I solemnly promise and declare that every time a customer comes within ten feet of me, I will smile, look him in the eye, and greet him. So help me Sam.
– Sam Walton, mid 1980’s
Limits To Knowing What You Know
February 3, 2018
Consider a turkey that is fed everyday. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed everyday by friendly members of the human race “looking out for its best interests,” as a politician would say. On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.
– Nassim Taleb, Black Swan
January 31, 2018
‘No one has ever seen God,
but if we love each other, God lives in us’ John 4:12
I probably read that over 100 times in my life
I thought I knew what it meant, but it turns out I never really understood much of it at all.
It’s not that I don’t see him.
It’s just that I always assumed that it can be done one way— through prayer, through faith, through the perfect ritual of mass.
If it worked for me, why not everyone else?
If we love each other, God lives in us.
What does that really mean?
When Love itself cannot be defined or…
understood… or quantified… denied.
If God is a mystery, love probably is as well.
Because, at the end of the day, after a lifetime of theological study, my knowledge of love and God amounts to little more than these two truths: 1. they both exist, and 2. when it comes to the matters of God or the matters of love, I can no longer tell the difference.
And for this, I feel blessed.
– Danny Glover, The Good Catholic
January 30, 2018
So guide us in the work we do, that we may not do it not for self alone, but for the common good.
January 28, 2018
The failure of GM as an institution– for failure it is– is to a large extent the result of… an attitude that one might call “technocratic”… best exemplified in Alfred P. Sloan’s own book, My Years with General Motors… It focuses exclusively on policies, business decisions, and structure… It is perhaps the most impersonal book of memoirs ever written– and this was clearly intentional. Sloan’s book… knows only one dimension: that of managing a business so that it can produce effectively, provide jobs, create markets and sales, and generate profits. Business in the community; business as a life rather than a livelihood; business as a neighbor; and business as a power center– these are all absent in Sloan’s world.
– Peter Drucker
January 23, 2018
‘A thing is valued,’ she says, only if it is rare and hard to get. ‘We want you to be valued, girls’
– Aunt Lydia, The Handmaid’s Tale
January 22, 2018
Man, as a social animal who has the gift of language, is born to prattle and to pour out twaddle that does much damage when serious work is being attempted. Some people produce copious amounts of twaddle and others very little.”
– Charlie Munger
January 20, 2018
To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail
– some old saying
January 19, 2018
Eventually, I could recognize it happening … Each time I got a bit stronger and the symptoms began to diminish to the point where I was ready to go on stage.
– Danny Glover
January 16, 2018
So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.
‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number, so give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?
January 15, 2018
Not to be afraid, but be determined, and be orderly, peaceful, and abide by the philosophy and the discipline of non-violence.
– John Lewis
January 13, 2018
Forward ever, backwards never
– a church’s front panel sign from the 1960’s
December 19, 2017
Other geneticists have replicated some of the findings from Korenberg’s monkeys by manipulating the DNA of mice, whose genes correspond to more than 90% of those found in humans, including the region implicated in Williams. By removing a gene named Williams syndrome transcription factor (WSTF) from mouse DNA, scientists produced mice with tiny upturned noses and prominent ears: elfin-faced mice. Removing the mouse equivalent of GTF2I, they raised uninhibited mice that would wander brazenly through mazes. Instead of scurrying into corners, as mice normally do to escape detection by predators, these mice sauntered out into the open as if looking for a party. When a new mouse was introduced into their cage, they were much more interested in the stranger than were mice with unmodified DNA.
– Jennifer Latson, The Boy Who Loved Too Much
On Mistaking the Spark for the Substance
December 18, 2017
If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type of love is by its very nature not lasting. The two persons become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disappointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, this being “crazy” about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.
– Erich Fromm, philosopher
December 17, 2017
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
December 12, 2017
The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.
December 11, 2017
I once lived in a house where I could look out a window as I worked at my desk and observe a small herd of cattle browsing in a neighboring field. And I was struck with a thought that must have occurred to the earliest herdsmen tens of thousands of years ago. You never get the impression that a cow is about to have a nervous breakdown. Or is puzzling about the meaning of life.
Humans have never mastered that kind of complacency. We are worriers and puzzlers, and we want meaning in our lives. I’m not speaking idealistically; I’m stating a plainly observable fact about men and women. It’s a rare person who can go through life like a homeless alley cat, living from day to day, taking its pleasures where it can and dying unnoticed.
– John Gardner
December 8, 2017
Last summer my eleven-year-old son died of polio. He was an unusual child, a lad of great promise who verily thirsted after knowledge so that he could prepare himself for a useful life in the community. His death has shattered the very structure of my existence, my very life has become an almost meaningless void — for all my dreams and aspirations were somehow associated with his future and his strivings. I have tried during the past months to find comfort for my anguished spirit, a measure of solace to help me bear the agony of losing one dearer than life itself — an innocent, dutiful, and gifted child who was the victim of such a cruel fate. I have sought comfort in the belief that man has a spirit which attains immortality — that somehow, somewhere my son lives on in a higher world.
– R.M., A Letter to Albert Einstein from a grieving father
December 6, 2017
These are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. – William Strunk, E.B. White, The Elements of Style
December 5, 2017
So avoid using the word “very” because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys– to woo women– and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.
– Dead Poets Society
November 30, 2017
For all my grandma’s efforts, for all of her “You can do anything; don’t be like those fuckers who think the deck is stacked against them” diatribes, the message had only partially set in before I enlisted. Surrounding me was another message: that I and the people like me weren’t good enough; that the reason Middletown produced zero Ivy League graduates was some genetic or character defect. I couldn’t possibly see how destructive that mentality was until I escaped it. The Marine Corps replaced it with something else, something that loathes excuses. “Giving it my all” was a catchphrase, something heard in health or gym class. When I ran three miles, mildly impressed with my mediocre twenty-five minute time, a terrifying senior drill instructor greeted me a the finish line: “If you’re not puking, you’re lazy! Stop being fucking lazy!” He then ordered me to sprint between him and a tree repeatedly. Just as I felt I might pass out, he relented. I was heaving, barely able to catch my breath. “That’s how you should feel at the end of every run!” he yelled. In the Marines, giving it your all was a way of life.
I’m not saying ability doesn’t matter. It certainly helps. But there’s something powerful about realizing that you’ve undersold yourself–that somehow your mind confused lack of effort for inability. This is why, whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, “The feeling that our choices don’t matter.”
– J.D. Vance
November 28, 2017
I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily. Without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would… forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is– I am out of my senses… What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?
– Henry David Thoreau
A Poet’s Advice
November 27, 2017
A real human is somebody who feels and who expresses his or her feelings. This may sounds easy. It isn’t.
A lot of people think or believe or know what they feel– but that’s thinking or believing or knowing: not feeling. And being real is feeling– not just knowing or believing or thinking.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but it’s very difficult to learn to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody – but – yourself.
To be nobody – but – yourself– in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else– means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
As for communicating nobody-but-yourself to others, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t real can possible imagine. Why?
Because nothing is quite as easy as just being just like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all the time– and whenever we do it, we are not real.
If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve loved just once with a nobody-but-yourself heart, you’ll be very lucky indeed.
And so my advice to all young people who wish to become real is: do something easy, like dreaming of freedom– unless you’re ready to commit yourself to feel and work and fight till you die.
– EE Cummings
November 24, 2017
The most just is most noble, but health is the best, and to win what one loves is pleasantest.
November 21, 2017
While it can be tempting to believe that sometimes you need people who are hard-charging, aggressive, and mercenary, I’m now convinced that takers only have a toxic effect on teams…Takers use and exploit people for their own personal gain and as a result, they create fear and paranoia in teams.
– Adam Grant, Professor from Wharton Business School and the best-selling author of Give and Take
November 19, 2017
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
– Donald Rumsfield, former United States Secretary of Defense
November 18, 2017
There are two great forces of human nature—self-interest, and caring for others.
– Bill Gates, World Economic’s forum (2008)
November 16, 2017
So use all that is called Fortune. Most men gamble with her, and gain all, and lose all, as her wheel rolls. But do thou leave as unlawful these winnings, and deal with Cause and Effect, the chancellors of God. In the Will work and acquire, and thou hast chained the wheel of Chance, and shalt sit hereafter out of fear from her rotations. A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self – Reliance
November 15, 2017
Consumers don’t distinguish between online and offline as long as it fulfills their needs.
– Jianzhen Peng, secretary general of the China Chain Store and Franchise Association
November 11, 2017
Gone are the days when Sunday church service serves as a drug for you. I don’t want you to go to church just to fill up on some shouting. To fill up on some good word that you forget before you leave. But somebody’s got to pray, “Lord, don’t let this be a one time thing” I don’t want to be empty by Wednesday, help me
– Jonathan McReynolds, gospel singer, Maintain Flow, Live Session
On Genetic Therapy and Skinny Pigs
November 8, 2017
Of course, the most profound power is to alter the human organism. In a modest fashion, science has already begun to do so. These controls are self-imposed; they are political and ethical limits only. The technology to tinker more aggressively already exists. For example, in April 2015, Chinese scientists edited (with mixed success) the genomes of 86 human embryos to modify the gene responsible for a fatal blood disorder. If we choose to expand this line of research, we may one day be able to give birth to the post human, a more evolved form of us: healthy and active log beyond a lifespan that we consider normal, possessing physical and cognitive powers that far outstrip our own. As our confidence in our new genetic and chemical powers grows, will we continue to deny ourselves these powers? Under what circumstances might we decide to wield? Julian Savulescu at the Oxford Martin School is one philosopher who has suggested that those circumstances may already be upon us: for the sake of our own survival, he asks, should we not try to reprogram human behavior at the genetic level to make ourselves more peaceful and less self-interested? Hasn’t history shown– many times over– that we are poorly adapted to coexist with one another?
– Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna
November 7, 2017
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill tempered wife.
– King Solomon?
November 5, 2017
I adore you, sweetheart.
I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.
It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.
But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.
I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.
When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.
I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
– Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate, physicist, and husband.
November 2, 2017
I had a couple of letters from mother the other day, one written the twelfth and one the fifteenth. Am always glad to get letters from your mother, she is a Dear isn’t she? Your mother and I have been a complete failure financially but if the boys turn out to be good and useful citizens nothing else matters and we know this is happening so why not be jubilant?
– Leroy Pollock, A Letter To His Son Jackson Pollock
November 1, 2017
What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come.
Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.
..It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things. What shall you gain by doing this? Time. There will be many happenings meanwhile which will serve to postpone, or end, or pass on to another person, the trials which are near or even in your very presence. A fire has opened the way to flight. Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe. Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim’s throat. Men have survived their own executioners. Even bad fortune is fickle. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things.
October 29, 2017
The heart’s memory of the sun grows faint.
The grass is yellower.
A few early snowflakes blow in the wind,
– Anna Akhmatova
October 27, 2017
All you have to do is look around to realize just how many choices we still have. What to eat, who to speak to, what to do for a living, what to learn, what to say, who to contribute to, how we interact, what we stand for…
The safe and comfortable path is to pretend that we’re blocked at every turn.
But most of the turns, we don’t even see. We’ve trained ourselves to ignore them.
A habit is not the same as no choice. And a choice isn’t often easy. In fact, the best ones rarely are.
But we can still choose to make one.
October 26, 2017
How To Become A Rock
Determine a place. If possible, choose one where there are may rocks
Determine the shape of the rock you want to become and take a posture that matches the surroundings by sitting down, lying down, or lowering the body.
Remain still and hold your breath.
Ignore the changes of the seasons and the weather, and do not think at all.
– Kim Beom, Korean contemporary artist
October 23, 2017
I don’t need another tragedy to realize just how much I need you.
– Jonathan McReynold, Christian vocalist
October 7, 2017
Make your life work for you—you can have a fulfilling career and be an amazing mother.
– many wiser female mentors
October 3, 2017
But at least you’re doing it.
Once you’re doing it, you have a chance to do it better.
Waiting for perfect means not starting.
– Seth Godin
October 2, 2017
People are strange about animals. Especially large ones. Daily, on the docks of Wellfleet Harbor, thousands of fish are scaled, gutted, and seasoned with thyme and lemon. No one strokes their sides with water. No one cries when their jaws slip open.
Pilot whales are not endangered species, yet people spend tens of thousands of dollars in rescue efforts, trucking the wounded to aquariums and in some places even airlifting them off beaches. Perhaps the whales’ sheer immensity fosters sympathy. Perhaps the stories of Jonah or Moby Dick do the same. Or maybe it’s that article we read last week about that whale in Australia understanding hand signals. Intelligence matters, doesn’t it? Brain size is important, right? Those whales knew they were dying. They have some sort of language, some sort of emotion. They give birth, for God’s sake! There aren’t any pregnant fish in the Wellfleet nets. No communal understanding of their imminent fatality.
I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There’s less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved. In war movies, a thousand soldiers can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken. It’s the My Dog Skip effect. The Homeward Bound syndrome.
When we hear that the lady on the next street over has cancer, we don’t see the entire town flock to her house. We push and shove and wet whales all day, then walk home through town past homeless men curled up on benches- washed up like whales on the curbsides. Pulled outside by the moon and struggling for air among the sewers. They’re suffocating too, but there’s no town assembly line of food. No palpable urgency, no airlifting plane.
– Marina Keegan
September 25, 2017
You have to watch out for opportunism tinged with guile.
– Adam Grant, professor at University of Pennsylvania
September 24, 2017
And above all, be at peace with yourself, with a double Blessing to me, who am, my dear Professor, anxiously, Your fond student.
– Marina Keegan
September 23, 2017
The presentation of social life as an addictive theatrical performance which helps us both to pass the time and to anesthetize awareness of the fact that time in the end runs out, that death and loss are inevitable.
– Mark Treharne
September 15, 2017
The standard antidote to one’s overactive hostility is to train oneself to defer reaction. As my smart friend Tom Murphy so frequently says, “You can always tell the man off tomorrow if it is such a good idea.”
– Charlie Munger
September 13, 2017
I can handle the truth. It’s the mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms that worries me.
– Eric Jaronski
September 6, 2017
Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.
September 2, 2017
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
Life as a Creative
August 29, 2017
He continues to create or he perishes. Each task completed carries its own obligation to go on to something new.
– Rachel Carson, writer and marine biologist
August 24, 2017
You do not waste good iron to make nails.
– Chinese Proverb
August 22, 2017
When we enjoy the human being sexually as Lacan would put it using them as a means to an end we’re unnecessarily objectifying them, and really fetishizing some part of them or some quality of them rather than relating to the person themselves. So the subject… is something different from character.. the existence is different from essence. And when we relate to people sexually we’re relating to character qualities. You may think, if someone likes you for your personality that’s more significant than them liking you for your body, one being shallow and one not, but in a way, it’s all shallow under this interpretation, none of it touches the subject as sort of an end in itself.
– The Men from The Partially Examined Life Podcast
August 21, 2017
And second, sometimes being on the receiving end of violence is the whole point. That’s how you expose the hypocrisy and rot you’re struggling against. They attack unprovoked. You don’t counterattack. You’re hurt. The world sees. Hearts change. It takes tremendous courage: Your body ends up being the canvas that bears the evidence of the violence you’re fighting against.
– Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Nytimes.com
Christian KKK, Do you understand?
August 20, 2017
The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creations and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should there be translated into ‘evolved diffrently’.
– Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens
August 19, 2017
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
– T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
August 16, 2017
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve always imagined.
– Henry David Thoreau
August 12, 2017
We become, neurologically, what we think.
– Nicholas Carr
August 9, 2017
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”
– (God speaking to Job) Job 38:4
July 31, 2017
He made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth
On Absurdities in Life
July 24, 2017
I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion
– Albert Camus
July 23, 2017
A part of good science is to see what everyone else can see but think what no one else has ever said.
The difference between being very smart and very foolish is often very small.
So many problems occur when people fail to be obedient when they are supposed to be obedient, and fail to be creative when they are supposed to be creative.
The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.
It is sometimes easier to make the world a better place than to prove you have made the world a better place.
– Amos Tversky
July 12, 2017
I want to learn, I want to experiment.. I want to feel the danger sometimes
– Aurélie Dupont, Director of Dance @ Paris Opera Company
July 10, 2017
I am the kind of person who is always telling you what kind of person I am.
July 9, 2017
Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are all looking for a marriage who will “fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.” And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to deep pessimism that you will never find the right person to marry. This is the reason so many put off marriage and look right past great prospective spouses that simply are “not good enough.”
– Timothy Keller
July 8, 2017
During Amos [Tversky]’s final year in high school, the swashbuckling Israeli general Moshe Dayan came to Haifa to speak to the students. A boy who happened to be in the audience recalls, “He says all those who go to the Nahal, raise you hands? A huge number did. Dayan says, ‘You are traitors. We don’t want you growing tomatoes and cucumbers. We want you fighting.'” The next year every youth group in Israel was asked to pick twelve kids out of every hundred to serve their country not as farmers but paratroopers. Amos looked more like a boy scout than an elite soldier, but he volunteered immediately. Too light to qualify, he drank water until he made weight.
– Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project
July 5, 2017
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
– Jeremiah 29:11
July 3, 2017
I know dozens of people who have a story about meeting, or nearly meeting, or somehow engaging with Bob Dylan.
And just about everyone they know has questions about him, about those encounters, about what it was like.
My guess is that these stories began to spring up long before he was a Nobel Prize winning legend.
The question, then: Who has a story about you?
– Seth Godin
June 30, 2017
Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.
June 19, 2017
We are all stardust.
– Stefan Klein
June 10, 2017
It is such a secret place, the land of tears.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Though the empirical nature of tears is a composition of water, proteins, minerals, hormones, and enzymes, the topography of tears is a momentary landscape, transient as the fingerprint of someone in a dream. The accumulation of these images is like an ephemeral atlas.
Tears are the medium of our most primal language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger, and as complex as rites of passage. They are the evidence of our inner life overflowing its boundaries, spilling over into consciousness. Tears spontaneously release us to the possibility of realignment, reunion, catharsis, intractable resistance short-circuited… It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean.
– Rose-Lynn Fisher
June 8, 2017
The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it.
– Phil Knight
June 1, 2017
Humanity is at a fork in the road.
– Kai Sauer, Finland diplomat, in response to Trump’s announcement to pull U.S. out of Paris Climate Accord
May 30, 2017
O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love’s eye is not so true as all men’s ‘No.’
How can it? O, how can Love’s eye be true,
That is so vex’d with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love! with tears thou keep’st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.
May 28, 2017
The way you realize your wildest dreams is actually one step at a time
-Bjarke Ingels, Architect
May 27, 2017
One of the biggest problems with the world today is that we have large groups of people who will accept whatever they hear on the grapevine, just because it suits their worldview– not because it is actually true or because they have evidence to support it. The striking thing is that it would not take much effort to establish validity in most of these cases… but people prefer reassurance to research.
-Neil deGrasse Tyson
May 26, 2017
We used to think that everything started in the lab. Now we realize that everything spins off the consumer. And while technology is still important, the consumer has to lead innovation. We have to innovate for a specific reason, and that reason comes from the market. Otherwise, we’ll end up making museum pieces.
– Phil Knight, Nike
May 26, 2017
See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind…
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
– God, Isaiah 65
May 23, 2017
Can machines think?
– Alan Turing
May 22, 2017
What if I’m made of stone?… I should be feeling more, draped over your bones.
May 18, 2017
Start now, every day, becoming, in your actions, your regular actions, what you would like to become in the bigger scheme of things.
– Anna Deavere Smith
May 11, 2017
The dead still live: for they appear to the living in dreams.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
May 10, 2017
You cannot draw on the future. Impossible to get into debt! You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow, it is kept from you.
You have to live on this 24 hours of time. Out of it you have to spin health, pleasure, money, content, respect and the evolution of your immortal soul. It’s right use…is a matter of the highest urgency.
– Arnold Bennett
May 3, 2017
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
– Proverbs 11: 22
April 21, 2017
Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.
– Isaiah 43:4
On Passion and Reason
April 19, 2017
Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.
Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements.
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confirming; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing.
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.”
– Kahlil Gibran
April 18, 2017
The painter Kramskoy has a remarkable painting entitled The Contemplator: it depicts a forest in winter, and in the forest, standing all by himself on the road, in deepest solitude, a stray little peasant in a ragged caftan and bast shoes; he stands as if he were lost in thought, but he is not thinking, he is “contemplating” something. If you nudged him, he would give a start and look at you as if he had just woken up, but without understanding anything. It’s true that he would come to himself at once, and yet, if he were asked what he had been thinking about while standing there, he would most likely not remember, but would most likely keep hidden away in himself the impression he had been under while contemplating. These impressions are dear to him, and he is most likely storing them up imperceptibly and even without realizing it— why and what for, of course, he does not know either; perhaps suddenly, having stored up his impressions over many hears, he will drop everything and wander off to Jerusalem to save his soul, or perhaps he will suddenly burn down his native village, or perhaps he will do both. There are plenty of contemplators among the people.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
April 15, 2017
Can there be beauty in Sodom?
– Dmitri Karamazov, The Brothers Karamazov
On Space X
April 14, 2017
It’s also pretty interesting that two SpaceX drone ships are named after Culture ships… – The Culture
Pretty sure he’s referring to The Culture by Ian M. Banks, a hyper advanced civilization ruled by benevolent AIs. The Culture have agents that work to uplift lesser advanced civilizations and prepare them for contact. – Gen_Ripper
April 11, 2017
I wanted to be there and see what was this thing
I don’t like second hand knowledge
I want to feel from the fire directly
I want to drink from the source.
– Tim Wu, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School
I Have This Hope
April 10, 2017
Sometimes my faith is thin. Like the night will never end.
– Tenth Avenue North
April 9, 2017
Intelligence is not consciousness. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems. Consciousness is the ability to feel things. In humans and other animals, the two indeed go together.
– Yuval Harari
60 Days of Meditation
April 5, 2017
What happens along the 60 days is that as your mind becomes more focused and more clear, you go deeper and deeper, and you start seeing the sources of where all this anger is coming from, where all this fear is coming from, and you just observe. You don’t try to do anything. You don’t tell any stories about your anger. You don’t try to fight it. Just observe. What is anger? What is boredom? You live sometimes for years and years and years experiencing anger and fear and boredom every day, and you never really observe, how does it actually feel to be angry? Because you’re too caught up in the angry.
– Yuval Harari
On Childhood Memories
April 4, 2017
He suffered– did he suffer!– from constipation. Her ubiquity and his constipation, my mother flying through the bedroom window, my father reading the evening paper with a suppository up his ass… these, Doctor, are the earliest impressions I have of my parents, of their attributes and secrets. He used to brew dried senna leaves in a saucepan, and that, along with the suppository melting invisibly in his rectum, comprised his witchcraft: brewing these veiny green leaves, stirring with a spoon the evil-smelling liquid, then carefully pouring it into a strainer, and hence into his blockaded body, though that weary and afflicted expression on his face. And then hunched silently above the empty glass, as though listening for distant thunder, he awaits the miracle… As a little boy I sometimes sat in the kitchen and waited with him. But the miracle never came, not least as we imagined and prayed it would, as a lifting of the sentence, a total deliverance from the plague. I remember that when they announced over the radio the explosion of the first atom bomb, he said aloud, “Maybe that would do the job.” But all catharses were in vain for that man: his kishkas were gripped by the iron hand of outrage and frustration.
– Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint
April 3, 2017
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and was only longing. If these things are mistaken for the things itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself. … Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
– C.S. Lewis
March 31, 2017
Tragedy is not a trend, it’s a forever. But so is hope. So is kindness. So is your heart tucked beneath your teeshirt, and that thing has been beating since the world began. Listen.
– Haley Jakobsen
March 30, 2017
– A.R. Ammons
March 29, 2017
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
March 28, 2017
It is not miracles that bring a realist to faith. A true realist, if he is not a believer will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles as well, and if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit the fact. And even if he does admit it, he will admit it as a fact of nature that was previously unknown to him. Once the realist comes to believe, then, precisely because of his realism, he must also allow for miracles.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky
March 27, 2017
The fortune you seek is in another cookie.
– Fortune cookie.
March 24, 2017
Let some holy ambition invade our souls, so that, dissatisfied with mediocrity, we shall eagerly desire the highest things and shall toil with all our strength to obtian them, since we may if we wish.
– Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man
March 22, 2017
i’m not lonely
sleeping all alone
you think i’m scared
but i’m a big girl
i don’t cry or anything
i have a great
big bed to roll around
in and lots of space
and i don’t dream
bad dreams like i used
to have that you
were leaving me
now that you’re gone
i don’t dream
and no matter
what you think
i’m not lonely
– Nikki Giovanni, The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni: 1968 – 1995
March 15, 2017
The compensation of growing old [is] that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained– at last!– the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence– the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it around, slowly, in the right.
– Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
March 13, 2017
The repetitional costs of failure are falling, too. Don’t be too proud of your fame; don’t be ashamed if your innovation flops. More and more, both are driven by network effects beyond your control– and are quickly crowded out of everyone’s mind by whatever topic trends next. Attention is cheap. Knowing that frees you to make a brief fool of yourself as often as it takes to achieve what’s important to you.
– Chris Kutarna, Age of Discovery
March 9, 2017
Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.
– Paul Graham, Y-Combinator founder
March 8, 2017
And suddenly, a familiar song.
Then you’re off your chair in one exquisite movement. Wondering, searching, sniffing the wind like a dapple deer. Has God heard your little prayer? Will Cinderella dance again? And then, suddenly, the crowds part. And there he is.
Sleek, stylish, raaadiant with charisma.
And he comes toward you, the moves of a jungle cat. And although you quite correctly sense that he is, gay– like most devastatingly handsome single men of his age are– you think, what the hell.
Life goes on.
Maybe there won’t be marriage, maybe there won’t be sex …but by God, there’ll be dancing.
– George, My Best Friend’s Wedding
March 7, 2017
No heart’s desire is repeatable, or, therefore, predictable. If a few hungry foxes gorge on a large population of rabbits, the population of foxes increases while that of the rabbits declines, until some point of equlibrium is passed and the foxes begin to vanish with the depleted supply of rabbits, and then the rabbits multiply, like rabbits. And so on. The ebb and flow of desire and fulfillment is a story as old as the world. So, if I loved you, finally, too much, until you began to disappear, and I followed, would you theoretically return to love repeatedly again? There are forces so small in our story of foxes and rabbits no Malthus could ever account for them. Whole species daily disappear, intractable as weather. Or think of a continent’s coastlines, their unmeasurable eddies and whorls: infinite longings inscribed by finite space and time, the heart’s intimate branchings.
– Ronald Wallace, Chaos Theory
March 3, 2017
Race is not to the swift…but time and chance happeneth to them all.
– Ecclesiastes 9:11
March 1, 2017
The nature of all other creatures is defined and restricted within laws which [God] has laid down; you, by contrast…may…as the free and proud shaper of your own being, fashion yourself in the form you may prefer. It will be in your power to descend to the lower, brutish forms of lie [or] …to rise again to the superior orders whose life is divine.
– Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man
February 26, 2017
Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
February 9, 2017
We can be be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness
– Daniel Kahneman, psychologist
January 27, 2017
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost
January 20, 2017
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust.
– Isaiah 5:21-24
January 16, 2017
I’m rich in gold and rich in tone; if you lack virtue leave me alone.
– a beautiful piano
January 14, 2017
All that is gold does not glitter; Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither; Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crown less again shall be king.
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring
January 9, 2017
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
‘Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.
– William Shakespeare
January 7, 2017
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
– Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists
January 5, 2017
My beloved is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand. His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven. His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels. His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh. His arms are rods of gold set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory decorated with lapis lazuli. His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars. His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem.
– a maiden of the royal courts of King Solomon recalling her shepherd lover amidst repeated attempts by King Solomon to woo her.
January 2, 2017
The wild ass, if when going to the spring to drink, it should find the water muddy has never so great a thirst as to cause it not to abstain from drinking and wait until the water grows.
– Leonardo da Vinci
December 31, 2016
The attainment of the good for one man alone is, to be sure, a source of satisfaction; yet to secure it for a nation and for states is nobler and more divine.
– Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
December 30, 2016
A painter was asked why he had made his children so ugly, when his figures, which were dead things, he had made so beautiful. His reply was that he made his picture by day and his children at night.
– Leonardo da Vinci
December 28, 2016
The acquisition of any knowledge whatever is always useful to the intellect, because it will be able to banish the useless things and retain those that are good. For nothing can be either loved or hated unless it is first known.
– Leonardo da Vinci
December 26, 2016
The hill of Zion yields a thousand sacred sweets before we reach the heavenly fields or walk the golden streets.
– Isaac Watts
December 21, 2016
Of grotesque faces I need say nothing, because they are kept in mind without difficulty.
– Leonardo da Vinci
December 19, 2016
I wish to work miracles; it may be that I possess less than other men of more peaceful lives, or than those who want to grow rich in a day. I may live for a long time in great poverty, as always happens, and to all eternity will happen, to alchemists, the would-be creators of gold and silver, and to engineers who would have dead water stir itself into life and perpetual motion, and to those supreme fools, the necromancer and the enchanter.
– Leonardo da Vinci
December 12, 2016
It’s funny having at 59 the sort of happiness most men have in their twenties… Thou hast kept the good wine till now.
– C.S. Lewis
December 9, 2016
I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side… [But] there are some things, of course, whose side I’m altogether not on.
– ancient Treebeard, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
December 7, 2016
People will oppress each other– man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored. A man will seize one his brothers in in his father’s house and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take care of this heap of ruins.” But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.
– Isaiah 3:5
December 5, 2016
He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
On Civil Principalities
November 28, 2016
the acquisition of which neither depends completely upon virtue nor upon Fortune, but instead upon a fortunately astuteness: “And in doubtful times he will always find a scarcity of men in whom he can trust. Such a prince (one who becomes prince with the support of the common people) cannot rely upon what he sees during periods of calm when the citizens need his rule, because then everyone comes running, everyone makes promises, and each person is willing to die for him, since death is remote.
-Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
November 22, 2016
Then, if the sick man is reading, the pages will turn silently, as if they are being moved by the fingers of a god. The heavy rumble of a running bath becomes faint, light, and remote, like a celestial babbling. THe withdrawal of sound, its dilution, robs it of any aggressive power it may have over us; thrown into a panic a moment ago by the sound of hammer blows that seemed to be making the ceiling shudder over our heads, we now find it possible to enjoy them, light, caressing, distant, like the rustle of leaves playing along the roadside with the passing breeze. We play games of patience with cards we cannot hear, so much so that we imagine we have not shuffled them, that they are moving of their own accord and anticipating our desire to play with them, have begun to play with us. And in this connection we may wonder whether, in the case of Love (to which we may even add the love of life, the love of fame, since there are people, it appears, who are acquainted with these two), we should not behave like those who, when noise disturbs them, rather than praying for it to stop, block their ears against it; and, following their example, bring our attention our defenses, to bear upon ourselves, give them as an object to subdue not the external being whom we love, but our capacity to suffer on account of the loved one.
– Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way
November 10, 2016
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
November 8, 2016
For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering his State, as the means will always be considered honorable, and he will be praised by all because the vulgar masses are always seduced by the appearances of things and by the outcome of events; and in this world there are only vulgar masses.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
November 2, 2016
Brains don’t exempt you from hitting the wall, because on the scale of science itself, we are all idiots. My analogy is that humans learning science is akin to pigeons learning Calculus– it really doesn’t matter if you’re pigeon Einstein, the scale of the problem is negligible. Unless you’ve got a notebook full of solved millenium problems, a cure for cancer, and an explanation for dark matter… shut your brag hole and get back to work, pigeon.
– wise man from Quora
November 1, 2016
One major unpleasantness involved in writing a memoir is the historian’s task of rereading your personal archive of texts, messages, and emails. In contemplating an earlier version of yourself, you’ll realize that young and glorious you was in fact a total and complete f***wit. An older you, going back and whispering in your younger ear, would issue not praise and encouragement, but insults and dire warnings.
– Antonio Garcia Martinez, Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure
October 31, 2016
An empty pageant; a state play; flocks of sheep, herds of cattle; a bone flung among a pack of dogs; a crumb tossed into a pond of fish; ants, loaded and laboring; mice, scared and scampering; puppets, jerking on their strings; that is life. In the midst of it all you must take your stand, good temperedly and without disdain, yet always aware that a man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
October 30, 2016
As an age when Names, offering us the image of the unknowable that we have invested in them and simultaneously designating a real place for us, force us accordingly to identify the one with the other, to a point where we go off to a city to seek out a soul that it cannot contain but which no longer have the power to expel from its name, it is not only to cities and ruins that they give an individuality, as do allegorical paintings, nor is it only the physical world that they spangle with differences and people with marvels, it is the social world as well: so every historic house, every famous residence or palace, has its lady or its fairy, deep in her name, the fairy is transformed by the needs of our imaginative activity through which she lives… However, the fairy wastes away when we come into contact with the actual person to whom the name corresponds, for the name then begins to reflect that person, who contains nothing of the fairy; the fairy can reappear if we absent ourselves from the person, but if we stay in the person’s presence the fairy dies forever, and with her the name.. So the Name, beneath the successive retouchings that might eventually lead us to discover the original handsome portrait of an unknown woman we have never met, becomes no more than the mere photograph on an identity card to which we refer when we need to decide whether we know, whether or not we should acknowledge a person we encounter.
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way
October 26, 2016
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it…
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
October 25, 2016
The whole question boils down for you into “doing well.” Always and still always look for the best, there and everywhere, and, preoccupied day and night with how to perfect your work, be stricter with yourself than with anybody else. Never let anything emerge from your studio that cannot defy the criticism of a rival. To seek honor before profit is the surest means of finding profit with honor.
– Felix Nadar, 19th century photographer
When honor’s at the stake.
– Shakespeare, Hamlet
October 15, 2016
Once he had been dazzled by this opulent depiction of what he called mediocrity, this appetizing depiction of a life he had found insipid, this great art of nature he had thought paltry, I should say to him: Are you happy?
When you walk around a kitchen, you will say to yourself, this is interesting, this is grand, this is beautiful like a Chardin.
– Marcel Proust
October 4, 2016
‘Surely she cannot truly like him, or not like him with true affection! If she did, she need not coin her smiles so lavishly, flash her glances so unremittingly, manufacture airs so elaborate, graces so multitudinous. It seems to me that she might, by merely sitting quietly at his side, saying little and looking less, get nigher his heart. I have seen in his face a far different expression from that which hardens it now while she is so vivaciously accosting him; but then it came of itself; it was not elicited by meretricious arts and calculated manoeuvres; and one had but to accept it—to answer what he asked, without pretension, to address him, when needful, without grimace—and it increased, and grew kinder and more genial, and warmed one like a fostering sunbeam.’
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
September 26, 2016
Often down here I have entered into a sanctuary … of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call “reality”: a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist. Reality I call it. And I fancy sometimes this is the most necessary thing to me: that which I seek. But who knows — once one takes a pen and writes? How difficult not to go making “reality” this and that, whereas it is one thing. Now perhaps this is my gift: this perhaps is what distinguishes me from other people: I think it may be rare to have so acute a sense of something like that — but again, who knows? I would like to express it too.
– Virginia Woolf
September 19, 2016
The queen can have balls to be fit for a king
– a woman.
September 12, 2016
The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.
– Mortimer Adler