Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Question yourself

Occasionally, stop and take stock of where you are. Physically or metaphorically draw yourself in, and sit, still, for a moment. Think about where you are and where you're going. Think about where you're headed. And think about why you want to go in that direction. Who we are is just layer after layer of opinions and thoughts and conjecture, slowly compressed like some great glacial rock formation. But if you don't like a bit of it, chip it out. You may find that a huge chunk of stuff you thought to be true will come tumbling down. That's OK, you didn't need it. You cannot fully believe something you have never questioned.

Kipling on pride

"And yet Suleiman-bin-Daoud was not proud. He very seldom showed off, and when he did he was sorry for it. Once he tried to feed all the animals in all the world in one day, but when the food was ready an Animal came out of the deep sea and ate it up in three mouthfuls. Suleiman-bin-Daoud was very surprised and said, 'O Animal, who are you?' And the Animal said, 'O King, live for ever! I am the smallest of thirty thousand brothers, and our home is at the bottom of the sea. We heard that you were going to feed all the animals in all the world, and my brothers sent me to ask when dinner would be ready.' Suleiman-bin-Daoud was more surprised than ever and said, 'O Animal, you have eaten all the dinner that I made ready for all the animals in the world.' And the Animal said, 'O King, live for ever, but do you really call that a dinner? Where I come from we each eat twice as much as that between meals.' Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud fell flat on his face and said, 'O Animal! I gave that dinner to show what a great and rich king I was, and not because I really wanted to be kind to the animals. Now I am ashamed, and it serves me right. Suleiman-bin-Daoud was a really truly wise man, Best Beloved. After that he never forgot that it was silly to show off; and now the real story part of my story begins."

--Rudyard Kipling, From "The Butterfly that Stamped",


No idea if this is true, but I love it. The famous painter Pablo Picasso is said to have said, "When I was a young man, my mother told me, 'If you join the army, you'll be a great general; if you join the Church, you will be Pope. Instead, I became an artist, and I was Picasso."

Starting out

I'm trying to make this a repository of wisdom that I'd like to pass on to my sons. Robert and Michael: Right now, you're not really old enough to read this yet, but you'll get there. And I hope that, one day, you find these thoughts useful. Many of them will be short - just a line or two -- but some will be longer.