Great Depths of Kindness

I’m always rambling on about kindness.  It’s, in my opinion, one of the paramount things we should strive for in our lives.  To be kinder to ourselves, to our fellows, to animals, to the natural world around us.  This quote, that came the other day in the Sierra Club’s Daily Ray of Hope, fits that philosophy and thus has been added to the inspirations page on this blog.  Be kind.

1534876_10152212584160802_2075198641_oMake your heart like a lake with a calm, still surface, and great depths of kindness. ~ Lao Tzu

Whoever Saves One Life, Saves the World Entire


Towering (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)





For this reason man was created alone, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul, he is guilty as though he had destroyed a complete world; and whoever preserves a single soul, it is as though he had preserved a whole world.

— Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a


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What Will Your Verse Be?

 We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? – John Keating, Dead Poets Society

This Is What You Shall Do

902992_10151671211135802_1115933150_oThis is what you shall do:  Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…       ~Walt Whitman


With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things. — William Wordsworth

Words Written

Stan…  I am so sorry my friend.  And I love you…

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history. I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts, that hope always triumphs over experience, that laughter is the only cure for grief.   And I believe that love is stronger than death.   –  Robert Fulghum


Words Written

Richard found himself imaging the Earl sixty, eighty, five hundred years ago:  a mighty warrior, a cunning strategist, a great lover of women, a fine friend, a terrifying foe.  There was still the wreckage of that man in there somewhere.  That was what made him so terrible, and so sad.  ~ Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

Peace, Equality, Love, Brotherhood

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  I was looking up quotes by him and was so inspired.  Here we are, so many years after that tragic day, and his words still ring true.  Whether you agree with him or not, and really how could you not when all he really cared about, talked about, was striving for, and preached about were the principles of doing the right thing, equality for all, peace between nations and our fellow men and women, and love.  Love being the chief message.  Love instead of hate, peace instead of war, freedom instead of constraint and imprisonment, solving problems via understanding and communication instead of through violence.  A spectacular man.

Here are some of my most favorite of the quotes I found…

At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’  - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.  - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.  - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.  - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.   Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.   ― Martin Luther King Jr.


New Inspiration

A couple of quotes recently added to my inspirations page.  I used to have one up in my room when I was in college, and the other, later, up in my office.


In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

― Albert Camus

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Domestic Relations

Of his wife, Obama then said, “I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.” Vanity Fair, March 2009.

Uh… Yeah

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer.  My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.  It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.  ~Violette Leduc, Mad in Pursuit

“Burning cathedral of the summer”… she ain’t kiddin’.  Seriously though… love this quote.

Here are some other summer quotes for your perusal and enjoyment:

In summer, the song sings itself.  ~William Carlos Williams

A life without love is like a year without summer.  ~Swedish Proverb

Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.  ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.  A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.  ~Ada Louise Huxtable

Quote of the Day

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.

- Frederick Buechner


I read this quote today in the Sierra Club’s Daily Ray of Hope e-mail. I loved it and thought I’d share.

The forests are the flags of nature. They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some time an immortal pine will be the flag of a united peaceful world.

– Enos A. Mills

A Cup O’ Joe

I was enjoying my almost daily tasty cup of chai this morning, purchased today at Starbucks, and as I was sipping I read the “The Way I See It” quote #247 on the back of my cup, which was this…

Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.” – Bill Scheel, Starbucks customer from London, Ontario. He describes himself as a “modern day nobody”.

After reading this quote I actually got online a bit later and went to the Starbucks “The Way I See It” section of their webpage. While there I found some really good quotes. I’m going to include a couple of those here. If you’re into this sort of thing and interested in reading more, click the link above. You might not always agree with what you read, but that’s the beauty of words, and opinions, they carry personal meaning, are almost always subject to personal interpretation, and they can spark fantastic conversations.

The Way I See It #31

Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises. –Rita Golden Gelman Author of Tales of a Female Nomad. She has had no permanent address since 1986.

The Way I See It #233

I used to think that going to the jungle made my life an adventure. However, after years of unusual work in exotic places, I realize that it is not how far off I go, or how deep into the forest I walk that gives my life meaning. I see that living life fully is what makes life – anyone’s life, no matter where they do or do not go – an adventure. –Maria Fadiman Geographer, ethnobotanist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

The Way I See It #280

You can learn a lot more from listening than you can from talking. Find someone with whom you don’t agree in the slightest and ask them to explain themselves at length. Then take a seat, shut your mouth, and don’t argue back. It’s physically impossible to listen with your mouth open. –John Moe Radio host and author of Conservatize Me.

The Way I See It #270

Taste is subjective. Taste is democratic. Taste is powerful. Taste – the combination of texture, aroma, temperature, aesthetic and environment – is also a window into someone else’s life or culture. Be confident in your taste, but remain curious and expose yourself to new tastes. Allow your taste to constantly evolve and grow – while keeping and cherishing the memories that taste creates. –Marcus Samuelsson Chef, co-owner of Restaurant Aquavit and author of The Soul of a New Cuisine.

And, lastly, my favorite of the groups I read today. This guy’s description, which I included here in part of the interview Starbucks did with him, of loving unconditionally and paying love forward, is completely inspiring.

The Way I See It #27

Do not kiss your children so they will kiss you back but so they will kiss their children, and their children’s children. –Noah benShea Poet, philosopher and author of Jacob the Baker, Jacob’s Journey and Remember This My Children.

And part of the interview (the rest can be found at the Starbucks website by clicking on the link above) with Noah benShea…

Noah, what was the spark behind this particular quote? Is there a story or event that inspired it? And why did you think it would be particularly suitable for a Starbucks cup?

For five years I wrote a weekly essay for The New York Times Regional Syndicate (and continue to do so on my website, When my daughter was graduating from university and my son from high school, I stopped to think about all the notes I had left them while they were growing up: Don’t forget to clean up, wash up, pick up, etc. Then it struck me, what if I didn’t think I was coming home, what could happen in any post-9/11 New York minute, what then would I want my kids to remember if I wasn’t around? And I wrote an essay and now a book entitled Remember This My Children.

In that process, it struck me that most of life is a series of reciprocal trade agreements: I give you this. You give me that. Teaching and parenting are the only exception. A teacher or parent gives, and what they get is the unparalleled experience of giving without expectation – the soul-gratifying experience of planting a tree from which you will never pluck the fruit.

I wrote the line trying to touch this idea. This is what I want my children to know. I want them to know that life, in any venue, at its best is an opportunity to pay love forward.

And when the folks at Starbucks told me the title of their program was “The Way I See It,” I thought to myself, bottom line, that’s how I see it. Whether in the schoolroom, the living room, the bedroom, or the boardroom, loving forward is life’s most noble adventure. Love is a ladder; it allows us to climb out of ourselves.