Miracle. All of it.


Picture yourself in an airliner, at high altitude. One of the plane engines has just caught fire, the other doesn’t look very well either, and the pilot has to make an emergency landing. Finding yourself in such a situation can be a shattering, yet also a revealing experience. First, there are of course the cries, the tears, the whispered prayers, the loud hysterics. Amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, you cannot think of anything in any detached, rational fashion. For you have to admit it, you are scared to death, just like everyone else. Yet the plane lands safely and everybody gets off unharmed. After you’ve had a chance to pull yourself together, you start thinking a bit more clearly about what just happened.

That’s when we might realise, for example, how close we can be sometimes to not being at all. And also that there is something oppressively materialistic, to an almost obscene degree, in any ‘brush with death’. Some faulty piece of equipment – a worn-out part, a loose screw, a leaking pipe, anything – could be enough to do us in. That’s all it takes. We thus realise that, when we experience failure, we start seeing the cracks in the fabric of existence, and the nothingness that stares at us from the other side. Yet even as failure pushes us towards the margins of existence it gives us the chance to look at everything – at the world, at ourselves, at what we value most – with fresh eyes. The failure of things, coming as it does with a certain measure of existential threat, exposes us for what we are. And what a sight!

From that unique location – the site of devastation that we’ve become – we understand that we are no grander than the rest of the world. Indeed, we are less than most things. The smallest stone we pick up randomly from a riverbed has long preceded us, and will outlive us. Humans are barely existing entities: how can we claim privileges? Fundamentally, we are vulnerable, fragile creatures. And if, unlike the rest of existence, people are endowed with reason, it is this gift of reason that should lead us to understand how modest our place in the cosmos actually is.

~ Costica BradatanEveryone fails, but only the wise find humility


The Yin: “I want to” and “I need to”. Now to the Yang.


What I want to say to you, my dear, is this: Just for today, live the passionate truth of who you are. Stop looking at what is undone, what you haven’t achieved, where you’ve fallen short. Look, instead, into your own full heart…Your own strong roots are in place – in your own body, in the earth, in the ongoing story of your life, just as it is. Put your faith in those roots, and allow yourself to go with the flow. Let go and breathe into the goodness that you already are. Move with the current, not against it. Resist nothing. Let life carry you. You have work to do. Begin it.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment

Quote: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photograph: mennyfox55.

Rise up


I had just figured out, rather naïvely, that I could buy my own books, and then almost instantly I became a prig about their condition, so much so that I wouldn’t lend them to anyone, at least not without a solemn lecture about their proper handling: no breaking the spines, no dog-earing the pages, no greasy thumbprints. At home, I had my own somewhat wobbly arrangement of brick-and-board shelves, two and then three tiers of ugly pressboard, painted brown and laddered up against the wall, my first piece of furniture. In private, I thought of those shelves with enormous pride, as something I was building, book by book, and brick by brick, and I often looked at them, vaguely satisfied, like a worker inspecting the progress of a job. I wanted the shelves to rise up and reach the ceiling, and for that to happen, all I had to do, I realized, was read.

~ Charles D’Ambrosio, Loitering: New and Collected Essays

and if you appreciated this, check out another passage from his new book below: [Read more…]

Monday Mantra: Just Do It.


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

~ David “Doc” Luben


  • 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



Source: Living in Maine

seeking calm

“We can find peace or anxiety everywhere…The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. We should be more careful when pursuing things we imagine will spare us anxiety. We can pursue them by all means, but for other reasons than fantasies of calm – and with a little less vigour and a little more skepticism…We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know…’”

Ophelia's Fiction

From Alain de Botton’s Philosopher’s Mail.

“Travel, Beauty, Status and Love: the four great contemporary ideals around which our fantasies of calm collect and which taken together are responsible for the lion’s share of the frenzied activities of the modern economy: its airports, long-haul jets and resort hotels; its overheated property markets, furniture companies and unscrupulous building contractors; its networking events, status-driven media and competitive business deals; its bewitching actors, soaring love songs and busy divorce lawyers.

Yet despite the promises and the passion expended in the pursuit of these goals, none of them will work. There will be anxiety at the beach, in the pristine home, after the sale of the company, and in the arms of anyone we will ever seduce, however often we try. Anxiety is our fundamental state for well-founded reasons: Because we are intensely vulnerable physical beings, a complicated network of fragile…

View original post 78 more words

Tough Teachers Get Results (finally, some common sense)

Mr. K

“I had a teacher who once called his students ‘idiots’ when they screwed up…he made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.  Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of former students flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country…I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher…Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves in other fields…What did Mr. K do right?…Comparing Mr. K’s methods to the latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine leads to a single, startling conclusion:

It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.  

Not just traditional but old fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works…and the following eight principles – a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research – explain why:

[Read more…]

Big Things

Quentin Tarantino

“I remember reading a review that Pauline Kael wrote about some director’s big epic, and she said: Now, look, it might seem unfair to judge a talented man more harshly when he tries to do something big than a less talented person who’s doing something easier. But when you try big things, you take big risks, and if you’re trying to do something that is maybe above you and you can’t quite pull off, then whereas before we only saw your gifts, now we see your failings.

I’ve always been pushing that envelope. I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say: O.K., you’re not that good. You just reached the level here. I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate.”

~ Quentin Tarantino

“Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963.  In junior high he attended drama classes and he actually dropped out of High School at age 15 to attend acting classes full-time at the James Best theater company.  After he left the acting school he became an employee at the Video Archives, a now-defunct movie rental store in Manhattan. It was there that he began to truly think about and discuss cinema as he worked with customers to find the best movie for them. He actually credits that store as providing the inspiration for him to become a director by saying that ‘When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’  Tarantino is the famed director of classics ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds.'” (Source: ID Poster)

Sources: Image and bio – ID Poster.  Quote: 99u.com via New York Times story: Quentin’s World

We shuffle to…

psychology, up and down, mood swings, mental health, quote, failure, success

Source: Stuffandsonenterprises

I actually attack the concept of happiness…

umbrella in storm“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

~ Hugh Mackay

This quote was inspired (and not in a positive way) by my recent readings of an shockingly large number of children and adults being medicated for a variety of reasons ranging from serious disorders like chronic depression to anxiety, ADD and academic performance.   Sad and disturbing. (This coming from a man who can barely choke down a Bayer aspirin without feeling guilt wash over me.)

[Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: