I am so often inspired by other bloggers and today is no exception.
valeriedavies in the Food for Thought section of her blog today quoted Lynne Twist who is a global activist, fundraiser, speaker, consultant, coach and author dedicated to global initiatives that serve humanity. She said:
“The feminine principle is the eagerness to collaborate rather than compete, it is the eagerness to relate rather than stand out as an individual, it is the longing for harmony and community and caring and nurturing.”
I like this principle but would like to add that competition and individualism strengthen us so that we can be caring and nurturing, and create harmony and community. I contend that competition provides us with some of the hard knocks that make us capable; and we must recognize ourselves as an individual before we can be of service to others.
I think that the principle of humanity is the longing for harmony and community and caring and nurturing. I define humanity as humankind with the emphasis on kind. If we embody the noun-ness of humanity we take in kindness, charity, compassion, sympathy and mercy (or so says my thesaurus). These are not just feminine attributes; they are the attributes of goodness.
The principle outlined by Twist is not just a feminine one; it is one of humanity. I may have my rose-coloured glasses on today, but sometimes we need to celebrate the fact that while some may think the world is going to hell in a handbag ~ we cannot succumb to that kind of negativity—for if we do, we are surely going down a dark and twisted path.
What do you think?
I Googled “elixir of life” this morning and these are the two quotes that showed themselves:
“Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical.” ~ Jonathan Swift
This explains why I have only one cup of coffee in the morning (and generally only drink the top half). A modicum of severity (harshness) and gravity (serious solemnity) goes a long way. I could use a jolt in the philosophical nature of things though, so I hope my half cup provides me with a little theoretical logic to deeply think myself through the day. I do not want to get lost in thought though, then I would not make my bed (oh, that’s right I don’t make my bed, as I do not find it deeply logical to make up a bed I am only going to tear apart in a few hours—this high mindedness is sometimes called laziness.)
The second is taken almost entirely out of context, but on its own is powerful and exactly how I operate:
“Obey me and I will be your servant; free me and I will be your friend. Enslave me and I am a dangerous enemy; command me and I will make you mad….” ~ Patrick Harpur
Do you have a favourite quote that speaks to you?
- Coffee, The Elixir of The Gods (Or Did I Just Make That Up?) (gailrae.wordpress.com)
- A Magical Elixir, Coffee Confers A Plethora Of Health Benefits (medicaldaily.com)
- David Hasselhoff’s awesome ode to iced coffee (holykaw.alltop.com)
“Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.” ~ George Saunders
Not easy words to live by. But wise words if we take them, consider, and digest them. Then use them.
And most assuredly staying “open” will hurt. Sometimes. Other times though it will open us up to a world we would not have seen or experienced.
Dinty W. Moore, author of “The Mindful Writer” (yes, I am getting my $14.95 out of this book) says:
“Look at a child…full of wonder, amazed by the smallest thing, a yellow butterfly, a smooth rock, a stranger’s smile—or, in an instant, ready to bawl at the world’s pain and injustice.” Then he says, “Look at your average adult: jaded, seen-it-all, skeptical, ready to dismiss his own feelings as “false” because his intellect is trying to damp down his emotions.”
Moore encourages us to see the rock, the butterfly, the smile, as if for the first time and be “willing to bawl at all the world’s injustice” and to “be so open that it actually does hurt.”
So many times we will dismiss something with the hackneyed words “been there, done that”, but every situation is just a little bit different, and if we open ourselves up to it in wonder, we have created a whole new experience.
I have, on occasion, closed myself to new experiences, or shut myself away not wanting to be hurt by a person or situation—but that is no solution. We have to be open to what life offers us, and stay open as Saunders suggests, until the day we die. By not being open, we have already experienced a kind of death.
My contention is that you cannot find bliss until you remain open to “the world without end”. What do you think?
We need a path
before we can make
“Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.”
I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the Canadian television program “Big Ideas” a few weeks ago. It seems in this sometimes secular age we are not supposed to admit that we have faith in something—but this definition, by a Jewish scholar and Rabbi wrapped it up quite neatly for me. Rabbi Sacks said that “Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” I love that. We are capable of believing no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also said that “nothing interesting is probable.”
The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. My computer’s thesaurus comes up with a few more pithy synonyms for probable, such as: likely, credible, feasible, and plausible. In other words, probable has its feet firmly planted on terra firma, but still wants to hedge its bets.
On the other hand, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And I have found that wonderful if hackneyed saying “anything is possible” has so many delightful derivatives. Here are just a few, from the wise to the famous to the philosophical:
Anything is possible as long as you have the passion. ~ Guy Forget
Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. ~Liza Minelli
Here’s proof that if you live long enough, anything is possible. ~ Barry Manilow
Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen. ~ Corin Nemec
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury
Try changing the word possible to probable in any of the quotes above, and the meaning is just not the same, and not nearly as inspiring.
Possibility reeks of hope and aspiration with words like: option, opportunity, potential, and leeway, with a little risk and chance thrown in for good measure. You cannot quantify possibility; you just have to believe in it.
My favourite “possible” quote is found in the words of the Dalai Lama ~ “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Do you believe in the probable or the possible? Is faith the defeat of probability over possibility?
Authentic seems to be the buzz word these days. The advice: “be authentic” is given every day in many ways—in blog posts, magazines, on television. I have never given this piece of advice to my sons, because I have no doubt that they are being authentic.
What does “being authentic” mean? I have to say that this short phrase has lost its meaning for me because it has been repeated ad nauseam. Does it simply mean “be yourself” or is it deeper? Is it a struggle to be authentic? You would think that it would be easy~ but if it were easy, then it would not be something that drops so eloquently and frequently from the mouths of many of the gurus of the day.
Authentic. Perhaps if we articulate what the word means it will help define exactly what being authentic means. My thesaurus (embedded magically in my laptop) gives these words as synonyms: true, reliable, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, accurate, genuine, real, valid, bona fide. Its antonyms are two very negative words: false and fake. The definition is: “Genuine and original, as opposed to being a fake or a reproduction.” (Encarta dictionary)
I get so tired of buzz words, but the meaning of this word is substantial. It has a right to roam the earth, but not as something that is spouted without context. It is good to be faithful and trustworthy. It is divine to be genuine and real. But sometimes we do adopt the false and fake to hide our authenticity because we are afraid if we let our true or real selves show through, we will be found wanting.
I want to be authentic—but I want to know exactly what that means. I do not want it to be a superficial “handle” to be bandied about at will. Authenticity is the basis of a life well-lived, but it needs support and acceptance. Those who are not authentic have found that being themselves is not “good enough”.
To be authentic we need to be brave, we need to be ourselves, we need to know how to take off the mask without fear. Sometimes it is hard to show your true self. It is much easier to be rejected for something you are not, then for something you are.
Does being “authentic” mean “wearing our heart on our sleeve”? Yes, I think it does. When we show what is in our heart we are being ourselves. We are being true, valid and bona fide. Or genuine.
Are you tired of being told to “be authentic”. Do you think it is easy?
My favourites from Saskia Davis’s12 Symptoms of Inner Peace:
1. An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
3. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
4. A loss of interest in judging other people.
5. A loss of interest in judging self.
7. A loss of ability to worry.
8. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
10. Frequent bouts of smiling.
“Live well. Laugh often. Cook Much.”
-The Farm Chicks
Sum up your philosophy of life in a few words. The Farm Chicks, Serena Thompson and Teri Edward, authors of “The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen” did it quite succinctly—live well, laugh often, cook much. Who doesn’t want to live well and laugh often? The last dual of words, cook much is their particular specialty. My philosophy is not quite as poetic and could even be called dull: get through the day. Now that may sound like a very workaday philosophy, somewhat uninspiring, and even dreary. But think about it. I did not say get through the day unscathed (although there are days that would be called successful if this were the only criteria.)
Getting through the day could include living well, laughing often, and if you are of a particular bent, cooking much. But it could also include that first cup of coffee in the morning and the morning paper. Or getting out there for a walk before the day’s work begins. I have a book of verses called “Present Moment Wonderful Moment” by Thich Nhat Hanh that celebrates every event of the day, from that first look in the mirror in the morning, to washing up and using the bathroom, to turning on your computer, using the telephone and even doing everyday chores.
Hanh says that, “Everyone has pain and suffering. It is possible to let go of this pain and smile at our suffering. We can only do this if we know that the present moment is the only moment in which we can be alive.” Obviously Thich Nhat Hanh is on a whole different plane or level of reality than I am (I have never been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as he has). Smiling at my suffering is not yet something I have under my belt, but I do adhere to his philosophy that the present moment is really the only moment we have—and that is what I mean by “get through the day.” Getting through the day does not have to be mindless (I tell myself this every time I do the dishes by hand, as currently my dishwasher is being used for storage).
He even has a verse for doing the dishes. He says that the idea of doing dishes is unpleasant when we are not doing them, but once we are standing in front of the sink with our sleeves rolled up and our hands in the warm water, it is really not bad at all. He calls this utilitarian activity “sacred”. I have a friend who for years has expounded on the joys of doing dishes—the comfort of the warm water and suds, the quiet time in the kitchen by herself as no one ventures into the room while she does the dishes for fear of having to help.
The simple morning ritual of washing your hands is beautifully painted by Hanh as thus:
Water flows over these hands
May I use them skilfully
To preserve our precious planet.
He takes a simple everyday activity and turns it into a “mindful” activity—reminding us not to spoil our environment, or the days of this simple act of clean water flowing over our hands to cleanse them are numbered.
Using the telephone can be more than just ordering pizza. He writes:
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems
as lovely as flowers.
Getting through the day can be a thoughtful, lovely thing. At the end of the day, if we keep the following verse in mind, we have not lived for naught: “The day is ending, our life is one day shorter. Let us look carefully at what we have done. Let us practice diligently….let us live deeply each moment in freedom, so time does not slip away meaninglessly.” There is something to be said for living poetically: gracefully with rhythm in a world that often strikes a discordant note or two.