I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.
—Richard P. Feynman
While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. If we are thinking about the past or future we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.
—Thích Nhất Hạnh
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.
At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his 1841 essay, “Self-Reliance.”
Everything we have belongs to others; time alone is ours.
Smile. Breathe. Go slowly.
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Life isn’t about maximizing reward while minimizing effort. It’s about finding what you like to do, and doing it for as long as you can.
—Nick Maggiulli, The High Cost of an Easy Job
The first house with a roof appeared only 5,000 years ago.
In effect, we live in two worlds: a world in close contact with nature, buried deep in our ancestral brains, and a natureless world of the digital screen and constructed environment, fashioned from our technology and intellectual achievements. We are at war with our ancestral selves. The cost of this war is only now becoming apparent.
—Alan Lightman, This Is No Way to Be Human
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
This leads me to a second insight: The deep truth of being human is that there is no objective experience. Our brains are not built to measure the absolute value of anything. All that we perceive and feel is colored by expectation, comparison, and circumstance. There is no pure sensation, only inference based on sensation.
—David J. Linden, from his essay, A Neuroscientist Prepares for Death
In SBUX this morning I ordered a tall dark black coffee. I gave the cashier my reusable SBUX branded cup. He left my reusable cup on the counter, filled a paper cup with the requested coffee, then poured the coffee from the paper cup into my reusable cup. Then he tossed the paper cup into the trash.
The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.
Why not walk in the direction of life, enjoying peace in each moment with every step? There is no need to struggle. Enjoy each step. We have already arrived.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“… we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.”
—Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness
Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.
—Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
“Fame is prison.”
“Can you believe that? That no matter where you stand, no matter how much popularity you have, no matter how much education you have, no matter how much money you have, you have it because somebody in this universe helped you to get it. And when you see that, you can’t be arrogant, you can’t be supercilious. You discover that you have your position because of the events of history and because of individuals in the background making it possible for you to stand there.”
— The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Conquering Self-Centeredness” (1957)
“It began to seem that one would have to hold in mind forever two ideas which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in light of this idea it goes without saying that injustice is commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace but one must fight them with all one’s strength.”
— James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
The most frightened people are the people who don’t travel. Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.
— Rick Steves
Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up to the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which is allowed thee.
— Marcus Aurelius
It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.
—Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
All things are difficult before they are easy.
Events, like money, compound. And the central feature of compounding is that it’s never intuitive how big something can grow from a small beginning.
“Is it so shocking that a caste-based society that exalts individualism and prioritizes profit above wellness — one of the only industrialized nations without universal health care — would fail to rise to the challenges of a collective health crisis?
—Sarah Smarsh is the author of “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke In the Richest Country on Earth.”
The first thing to do—don’t get worked up. For everything happens according to the nature of all things, and in a short time you will be nobody and nowhere.
The next thing to do—consider carefully the task at hand for what it is, while remembering that your purpose is to be a good human being.
Viruses do not eat or burn oxygen for energy. They do not engage in any process that could be considered metabolic. They do not produce waste. They do not have sex.They make no side products, by accident or design. They do not even reproduce independently. They are less than a fully living organism but more than an inert collection of chemicals.
… a virus has only one function: to replicate itself. But unlike other life forms (if a virus is considered a life form), a virus does not even do that itself. It invades cells that have energy and then, like some alien puppet master, it subverts them, takes them over, forces them to make thousands, and in some cases hundreds of thousands, of new viruses.
from The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry
Life makes no sense until it’s over.
Most human suffering is self-inflicted. And they’re all masochists.
Him: What did she say?
Her: She said you were a B-hole.
Him: A B-hole?
Her: Not even good enough to be an A-hole.
Him: What did you say?
Her: Oh, I disagreed.
A father told me how he observed that his 9-year-old skateboarding son would always pause for several seconds before going over the edge and down the highest drops.
He asked his son, “Why do you pause?”
“I’m waiting for my stomach to get warm.”
Not long after, the father noticed his son’s pauses at the top of the drop were much shorter, not much longer than taking a slow breath. He asked the boy, why?
“I don’t have to wait now. I know how to make my stomach warm.”
The father asked, “How did you learn to do that?”
“I don’t know.”
According to the International Listening Association, humans listen at 125-250 words per minute, and think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute.
Humans forget that every age they’ve been is still inside them.
Colonoscopy is one of those words that when spoken aloud will be heard in the loudest of parties.
Needless to say.
Here goes nothing.
You must be present to win.
Humans often forget who they were before they became who they are.
Life only makes sense in obituaries and novels. While alive, it’s just one thing leads to another. Then you’re dead. Which, like a period, makes it a sentence.