The Answer. Right Here.


“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.”

~ William Faulkner, Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957


Next?

funny-women-lucy-conveyer

What are you waiting for?
The next promotion? The next holiday? The next satsang? The next Facebook update?
The next spiritual high? The next victory? The next relationship?
The next level of enlightenment? The next chance to prove how much you know?
The next life? The next… moment?
What if this ‘next’ never comes?
And even if it does, what if it won’t end your seeking?
What if life – and its fulfillment – is always Now?
Then, what’s next?

— Jeff Foster


Notes:

Gray Hair and Silver Linings

long grey hair, woman

70 is the new 60.
60 is the new 50.
50 is the new 40.

Right.

These two NY Times Op-Ed pieces are beautifully written where ever you land with your math. I’ve chosen 2 excerpts. Be sure to click through to the full stories.

Frank Bruni turns 50 and writes Gray Hair and Silver Linings:

[…] There’s a point at which you have to accept that certain hopes and dreams won’t be realized, and 50 sure feels like it. I mean the lost margin for error. When you’re in your 20s and even your 30s, you can waste months, squander love, say yes to all the wrong things and no to all the right ones. And you can still recover, because there are many more months and loves and crossroads to come. The mistakes of youth are an education. The mistakes later on are just a shame. And I mean the lost people most of all: the ones from whom you’re separated by unmovable circumstances; the ones who’ve died. By 50 you start to see the pace of these disappearances accelerating. It’s haunting, and even harrowing. But there’s something else that you start to notice, something that muffles all of that, a muscle that grows stronger, not weaker. More than before, you’re able to find the good in the bad. You start to master perspective, realizing that with a shift in it — an adjustment of attitude, a reorientation of expectations — what’s bothersome can evaporate and what only seems to be urgent really isn’t…

Emily Fox Gordon, 66, with The Meaning of Fulfillment:

AT 66, I find myself feeling fulfilled. I didn’t expect this, and don’t know quite what to make of it…Fulfillment is a dubious gift because you receive it only when you’re approaching the end. You can’t consider your life fulfilled until you’re fairly sure of its temporal shape, and you can’t get a view of that until you’re well past its midpoint  […]  At any rate, by now I’ve racked up enough achievements that I feel I can stop trying. Paradoxically, of course, I find I don’t want to stop. Now that not much is at stake, I’m more ambitious than ever, or at least more conscious of my ambition. Liberated from an anxiety I’ve struggled to suppress, I feel a new energy. What is fulfillment made of? Mostly relief…


Image Source: imgarcade

And if 2 isn’t enough, double down

hand-sand-earth

And here’s links to 3 more excerpts from Sam Harris’ new book that hit nerve endings:

  • Our needs and desires seem to multiply by the hour.” Connect here.
  • Our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for an hour, or perhaps a day, but then they subside. And the search goes on.” Connect here.
  • Just keep your foot on the gas until you run out of road.” Connect here.

Photograph Source: YourEyesBlazeOut via Taffynikte

 

 

Lurching. Lurching. Lurching.

sam_harris

This Believer of Convenience warily tiptoed into Sam Harris’ new book titled Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. I’m a 1/3 of the way in. He’s managed to settle under my skin, burrowing into my consciousness.  I’m deeply ambivalent about the message. The polarity of my emotions is stark – it’s as if I’m split in two. I drift in and out of darkness and I find myself empty in my quiet moments of contemplation. I’m certain that this wasn’t Sam’s objective with his Guide.  Yet I find it impossible to disagree with certain messages, such as yesterday’s post titled Carpe Momento. And another this morning which I’m sharing below.  I’m leaning heavily on F. Scott Fitzgerald to function: “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function” – – as I need to function, I need to function. Here’s Sam Harris with another one of his “pow, right in the kisser” messages to me:
[Read more…]

Monday Mantra: Just Do It.

stephan-wurth-woman-wind-breeze-hair

#13.
How do we forgive ourselves
for all of the things
we did not become?

~ David “Doc” Luben


Notes:

  • Excerpt from “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes” by David ‘Doc’ Luben.  Luben was the feature poet on August 5th at the Vancouver Poetry Slam.  Find the youtube video of the performance here. Original source: Artpropelled.
  • Photograph: Stephan Wurst via Tri-ciclo

Are you ready this time?

black and white, close-up
Going too fast for myself
I missed more than I think I can remember
almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back
that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them
this morning the black shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying
Are you ready this time?

W. S. Merwin, “Turning”


Credits: Photograph by Sharon Heron of German Shepherd Dog. Poem: Litverve

Monday Mantra

bird,tree

Woodpecker,
why so much effort
for such little gain?

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry

 


Credits: Image: wikimedia. Poem: Thank you Steve Layman for pointing me to Braided Creek.

 

“Hurry, hurry, hurry.”

rain-umbrella

When I was getting ready to graduate from college in 1957, I was fed up and ready to drop from exhaustion, but still my mind kept telling me, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” I felt I had to do something, go on to the next step, whatever it was — career, graduate school, as long as it was important. This is an American disease.

~ Florence King


Be sure not to miss Florence King‘s entire letter at Brainpickings here: Finding Yourself


Photography: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom

The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of teaching were…

joseph_epstein

…The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn’t become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint—and maybe a touch of the fear, too—that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were…

..So often in my literature classes students told me what they “felt” about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to—but did not—write: “D-, Too much love in the home.” I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Thank you Michael Wade for your recommendation of Epstein’s new book: A Literary Education and Other Essays. I’m half way through and loving it.  Joseph Epstein, 77, was born in Chicago. He is an essayist, short story writer, and editor. In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.