24 December 2008

The Clinging Creatures - Richard Bach


Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. But one creature said at last, "I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."


The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!"


But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks. Yet, in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.


And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!" And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more Messiah than you. The river's delight is to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.


But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, making legends of a Savior.



From "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"


19 December 2008

If I Had My Life to Live Over (Three Versions)


Nadine Stair (85 years old)

If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I'm one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.


Don Herold (1889-1966)

Of course, you can't unfry an egg, but there is no law against thinking about it.

If I had my life to live over, I would try to make more mistakes. I would relax. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I know of very few things that I would take seriously. I would be less hygienic. I would go more places. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less bran.

I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary troubles. You see, I have been one of those fellows who live prudently and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments. But if I had it to do over again, I would have more of them - a lot more. I never go anywhere without a thermometer, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had it to do over, I would travel lighter.

It may be too late to unteach an old dog old tricks, but perhaps a word from the unwise may be of benefit to a coming generation. It may help them to fall into some of the pitfalls I have avoided.

If I had my life to live over, I would pay less attention to people who teach tension. In a world of specialization we naturally have a superabundance of individuals who cry at us to be serious about their individual specialty. They tell us we must learn Latin or History; otherwise we will be disgraced and ruined and flunked and failed. After a dozen or so of these protagonists have worked on a young mind, they are apt to leave it in hard knots for life. I wish they had sold me Latin and History as a lark.

I would seek out more teachers who inspire relaxation and fun. I had a few of them, fortunately, and I figure it was they who kept me from going entirely to the dogs. From them I learned how to gather what few scraggly daisies I have gathered along life's cindery pathway.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted a little earlier in the spring and stay that way a little later in the fall. I would play hooky more. I would shoot more paper wads at my teachers. I would have more dogs. I would keep later hours. I'd have more sweethearts. I would fish more. I would go to more circuses. I would go to more dances. I would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I would be carefree as long as I could, or at least until I got some care- instead of having my cares in advance.

More errors are made solemnly than in fun. The rubs of family life come in moments of intense seriousness rather that in moments of light-heartedness. If nations - to magnify my point - declared international carnivals instead of international war, how much better that would be!

G.K. Chesterton once said, "A characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. One 'settles down' into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man falls into a 'brown study'; he reaches up at a blue sky."

In a world in which practically everybody else seems to be consecrated to the gravity of the situation, I would rise to glorify the levity of the situation. For I agree with Will Durant that "gaiety is wiser than wisdom."

I doubt, however, that I'll do much damage with my creed. The opposition is too strong. There are too many serious people trying to get everybody else to be too darned serious.


Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.


18 December 2008

The Beasts - Walt Whitman

I THINK I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

Walt Whitman
Song of Myself
Leaves of Grass




15 December 2008

Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai


The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai.


Yamamoto Tsunetomo