© 2017 Dan Brook
by Dan Brook at Smashwords
Edition License Notes
ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may
not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to
share this book with another person, please download or purchase an
additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and
did not download or purchase it, or it was not purchased for your
enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite
retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the
hard work of this author.
Dedicated with gratitude to my friend Leonard Frank,
author of the Quotationary
and other publications, who helped inspire and encourage this
project, though he’ll never see its completed form.
this book are some of the nuggets of my accumulated “wisdom”,
some attributable while others not. As with most people and their
ideas, I am more a curator than an inventor, despite whatever
innovations I may make to the vast and varied material that comes my
way from a wide array of nourishing sources, enriching and enlivening
me. Indeed, as Isaac Newton wisely and humbly recognized 300 years
ago, we are all “standing on the shoulders of giants”, even when
we take that universal and eternal truth for granted by asserting our
sincerely hope you find these bite-sized nuggets useful, as I
certainly do, despite the playful narcissism of these apothegms. In
the words of fellow aphorist Michel de Montaigne, “I am myself the
matter of my book”. In this sense, this is my autobiography and I
hope it becomes part of yours, as well.
of my aphoristic writings aren’t actually proper aphorisms per
se, as they can’t necessarily be contained
or conveyed properly in that tight genre. Whether they are aphorisms,
apothegms, adages, maxims, quotes, sayings, advice, remarks, rules,
common sense, quips, spiritual guidance, realizations, or whatever
else, they may still, hopefully, be interesting, insightful,
inspiring, enspiriting, enlightening, enheartening, entertaining,
useful, or otherwise worthwhile, so I hope you forgive my sometimes
the spirit of disclosure, I feel I should warn you. I’m sympathetic
to Karl Kraus when he says that “An aphorism can never be the whole
truth; it is either a half-truth or a truth-and-a-half.” Like Pablo
Picasso opined, “art is a lie that makes us realize truth” and
perhaps that is true here, as well. In that way, these aphorisms are
gnomic in more than one way. But it is more for you to decide than
me, as writing is ultimately more for the reader than the writer.
These aphorisms are now yours!
free to use the ones that resonate with you and to make them your
own; similarly, feel free to discard whatever is unwelcome,
ineffective, offensive, or unnecessary. I echo sagely Bruce Lee in
declaring that we should “Absorb what is useful, discard what is
useless, and add what is specifically your own.” These nuggets
should be nourishing and liberating, in one way or another, but
certainly not burdensome or debilitating. In any event, enjoy your
has to start somewhere.
we need to go forth (lech lecha)
to get back to ourselves (teshuvah).
is no darkness, silence, cold, and stupidity, only the absence of
light, sound, heat, and intelligence. Bring them in, when desired or
is absurd not to think the world is absurd.
accomplishments and achievements are great and should be
congratulated and celebrated, yet they should be steps not endpoints.
If we don’t do anything meaningful with our accomplishments and
achievements, we have not done nearly enough.
tend to feel better about the world when we constructively engage
with it, when we actively try to make it a better place for ourselves
and others. Success is in the attempt, not simply some potential
better to be proactive than reactive, but better to be reactive if we
haven’t been proactive. Although it’s imperative to be reactive
when threats arise, it’s also critical to be proactive to prevent
only dreams that can never be realized are the ones we don’t have.
is relative, based on time, place, culture, situation, ideology,
perspective, people, and personalities. People and their cultures can
be extraordinarily flexible and adaptable.
I don’t like people who take advantage of others, I don’t respect
people who let themselves be taken advantage of.
like to give advice, though way too few like to take it, whether
their own or others’.
only heavens or hells are the many metaphorical ones we create for
ourselves and others.
typically notice the air only when it is unavailable to us, either
through partial (e.g., when it’s stinky) or total (e.g., when we’re
under water) deprivation, despite how essential it is.
evil into good is the most golden of processes.
may be the root of many crimes and other anti-social behavior;
community may be the antidote to alienation.
mental illnesses — depression, anxiety, phobias, compulsions,
anorexia/bulimia, etc. — are like allergies, huge involuntary
over-reactions to small and (mostly) innocuous stimuli.
what I’m saying, if you know what I mean.
a good alternative is not simply a shallow way of getting out of
something, but a deeper way of getting into something better.
sometimes declare that “there is no alternative”, or TINA, as
Margaret Thatcher once did about economic globalization. When they do
so, however, it almost always implies that there must be an
alternative or perhaps even many alternatives, suggesting TAMA, there
are many alternatives; perhaps TAAMA, there are always many
alternatives, even if we won’t like some of them or can’t even
conceive of some of them. Note that no one ever has to say, for
example, that there is no alternative to breathing.
lines between giving and receiving are often blurred. Indeed, giving
is a form of receiving.
a question contains the world always, the answer should always
contain the word no.
hard to be certain about ambiguity, especially as it can be defined
in different ways, so I don’t always know what to believe about it.
economics, and culture can only be separated for analytical purposes.
They are, however, inextricably linked in practice, if not always in
metaphors are metaphorical, but some metaphors are more metaphorical
seem to be considerably more deaf than animals are mute. Animals
speak in all sorts of ways, vocally and otherwise, whether we listen
are often more humane than humans, while humans are often more
animalistic than animals.
experience is a form of consumption, a little bit of imperialism, a
type of annexation.
may know and therefore celebrate the anniversary date of their birth
(and wedding, if married), but they never know and don’t ever
celebrate the anniversary date of their death, though it also comes
around each year.
most requests, a yes would be best, a no would be disappointing
though OK, but not getting an answer is the worst response.
may over anthropomorphize animals at times, yet we also under
anthropomorphize animals, too-often denying the intelligence and
emotions they so clearly have. Indeed, that may be true of how humans
view other humans, as well.
a world of divisions, discrimination, hate, and violence, it is good
to be non-racist, non-sexist, and non-homophobic, non-antisemitic and
non-islamophobic, and non-nationalistic, but it is better to be
anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic, anti-antisemitic and
anti-islamophobic, and anti-nationalistic. All of these
discriminatory divisions hurt the perpetrators and bystanders as well
as the victims, though of course not equally, as people are unable to
live out their full and authentic humanity. We need to be actively —
in our words and deeds — pro-social justice, supporting the
positives, not simply opposing the negatives.
can better understand our culture by visiting and better
ones knows that something will be limited and short term, almost
anything can be endured.
what you have more than you mourn for what’s lost and pine for what
you don’t have.
physical world we create structures the social world that we inhabit.
anger is common, yet typically ineffective and destructive.
Channeling one’s anger in the right way, at the right time, in the
right place, at the right intensity, at the right target, with the
right accuracy, with the right intentions, for the right purpose, and
for the right amount of time is rare albeit essential.
and everything can be art, if it is seen as such.
are all interdependent — dependent on others — even if not
have the same existential and spiritual needs that led to the
invention of gods and God, without personally needing gods or God
that I’m confident doesn’t exist. There are a lot of things that
can be asserted to exist without any basis or evidence — like flat
Earths, ghosts, souls, or flying spaghetti monsters — but that
doesn’t make them any more real, even if they may seem real to
their believers. God is a concept, metaphor, fiction, invention,
social construction, imposition, mistranslation, reified verb,
business plan, motivational tool, pacifier, snake oil, alternative
fact, simplistic description of the complex and sometimes otherwise
indescribable, a means of social control, and also an inhibitor of
full spiritual progress. Like a crutch, what may once have seemed
useful can later become detrimental. In any event, most people are
atheist about most gods.
pessimism, there’s less chance of success; with optimism, anything
is authoritarianism, wanting to make its way the only way.
the work we do — and don’t do — is autobiographical.
clergy, writers, artists, musicians, inventors, activists, explorers,
and others never truly finish their jobs.
people really knew what they already know, we’d be intellectual
geniuses and spiritual giants.
aware. The more aware we are, the more we can be knowledgeable, safe,
useful, creative, and happy.
can’t really know others unless they really know themselves and
they can better know themselves by really knowing others.
when we go away or throw something away, there is no away. We live in
the same universe and it’s a closed system.
more important than loving others is allowing them to love you.
much as possible when you travel, bring less stuff, more money, an
open mind, a flexible approach, and a good attitude. If you do,
you’ll have everything you need.
be successful, bad people need good people to ignore their bad deeds;
to be good, good people need bad people to exist.
the production of goods, we also produce bads. As with goods, bads
are unfairly and unequally distributed and consumed.
though humans cannot live without microscopic bacteria, bacteria has,
does, and will live quite well without us. We may ignore, forget,
despise, fear, attack, misunderstand, or take bacteria for granted,
but that doesn’t change our dependence on them and their lack of
dependence on us. Indeed, what we anthropocentrically call human is
about 90% bacteria and other micro-organisms.
at least as important to increase the positives as it is to decrease
the negatives. Be at least as excited about good things as you are
disappointed by bad things.
one’s balance is not about staying still, but rather about quickly,
constantly, and relatively effortlessly shifting one’s position to
may be subjective, but the admiration of beauty is universal.
beginning doesn’t always have to come at the beginning, just as the
end doesn’t always have to come at the end.
when we don’t ignore beggars and give them money, food, or
supplies, we too often avoid eye contact, meaningful conversation,
and basic respect, thereby contributing to the painful
depersonalization of the poor. Poor people aren’t only poor in
terms of money, but typically have a poverty of everything, including
being treated like a person.
well-behaved people never make history, those who never behave rarely
do, either. One must know, and have the courage, to behave and
misbehave, as the case may be, when it most matters.
good to be able to be solitary without feeling lonely, to be quiet
when there is no need to speak, to be doing nothing without being
bored. These are important parts of being.
beliefs shape one’s reality as much as one’s reality shapes one’s
is absolutely required, but there is never a due date.
best way to feel better is to make other people feel better.
existed yesterday is more likely to exist today and whatever exists
today is more likely to exist tomorrow.
better we understand cognitive, implicit, and other biases — our
own as well as others’ — the better we'll be able to recognize
and transcend them.
you choose any book at random, you can find something in there that
would be relevant and useful to whatever you’re interested in.
— and everything — has an infinite number of biographies.
of the human body is emptiness; of that which is material, most is
water; of that which is material but not water, overwhelmingly most
is made up of thousands of species of bacteria, viruses, fungi,
archaea, and other tiny organisms of flora, fauna, and otherwise.
What we think of as the human is in reality the human microbiome and
this vast complex ecosystem is precious little human.
can fly, even if it’s easier for some than others.
sings best when one is free.
will not always be exciting, but excitement can always be found.
laws are themselves blasphemous. People should believe or not believe
whatever they believe or not believe without prohibiting others from
believing what they believe or not believing what they don’t
all those we know as well as for all those we don’t, may all their
good thoughts and good deeds accomplish their goals, while inspiring
others, and may all their bad thoughts, deeds, and goals transform
into good ones.
is a physical lack of sight, not a metaphorical state of being stupid
mind has more strength than a body ever could.
are few things better than a really good book. All books are books of
lives, even if some are clearly better and livelier than others.
Immerse yourself in as many as you can!
we do to others, we do to ourselves.
you find something boring, you’re probably not looking closely
enough. With all the excitement of the world, both internally and
externally, those who are bored often are often boring themselves.
realities contain unrealities, and all unrealities contain realities,
even if many remain undiscovered or, when discovered, are
is often called the bottom line isn’t, acting more like a false
bottom concealing much else.
good to think outside the box if you’re stuck in one, but better to
realize that there’s no box at all and that you are as free as you
imagine yourself to be.
you have the burning desire, no one or no thing can stop you from
reading or writing; no one or no thing can stop caterpillars from
that we’re ever exposed to — saw, heard, felt, read, thought,
imagined, experienced — is somewhere in our brain. Whether we can
remember, access, connect, explicate, or understand any of it is
another matter. The capacity of the human brain is effectively
break up is like a death, not of the people, but of the relationship
between them, which is now irrevocably transformed or completely
destroyed. A relationship is that invisible and intangible thing that
is created between people, which takes on a life of its own and is
much greater than merely the sum of its two or more parts. The loss
of this relationship is a social death that has to be mourned before
one can properly heal from it.
absolutely dependent on our air, we’re rarely conscious of it,
unless it’s stinky, polluted, or absent. Breathe — and appreciate
must build bridges between what is and what could be, encouraging and
joining with others to march across them.
always burst and booms always bust, so best not to rely on them, even
if you’re enjoying them.
awareness without attachments to all things.
bullies are acting out their insecurities and to that extent should
be pitied, they must be stopped, and hopefully rehabilitated, so as
to spare others from becoming their victims.
specifically, and the economy more generally, are our means or tools
to create a good society not just a society of goods, to “promote
the general welfare”; they are not ends in themselves and,
therefore, like any other tools should not be given special
privileges, rights, or status, but should instead be carefully
controlled for our collective purposes. What business does should be
the business of the people.
Chuang Tzu dreamt a butterfly or a butterfly dreamt Chuang Tzu, we
can either see ourselves as a part of dreams or apart from dreams, a
part of nature or apart from nature, a part of each other or apart
a single goal is being sought — a corporation seeking profits, for
example — everything else that happens, whether positive (e.g.,
jobs, good and services, camaraderie) or negative (e.g., abuse of
resources, pollution, layoffs), are merely by-products.
prickly things are misunderstood and mistrusted.
are all each other’s keepers; it’s a matter of how carefully we
fewer cages — mental as well as physical, for humans as well as
animals — the better.
are no empty calories, only those that are a damaging form of fuel if
they aren’t healthy.
indicators are too often ignored, mocked, or minimized, yet can
inform, inspire, improve, and even save lives.
candle can light many others without diminishing itself — as with
teaching and creativity, smiling and laughing, blessing and building
— and if it goes out, it can then more easily be relit by those
others. Be the candle!
is a system that institutionalizes greed and sacrifices everything
else — communities, people, animals, nature, health, happiness,
security, sustainability, education, truth, life — for the sake of
profit. Capitalism without constraints creates a relatively few
winners with wealth at the expense of the many who lose out with
poverty, suffering, and diminished life chances. Either this vast
inequality is intentional and capitalism is therefore a fascist
success, which I don’t believe, or this is unintentional and
capitalism is therefore a massive failure, which I do believe.
you don’t care for something, no one will care for you.
often seems like things are changing very slowly, always too slowly,
until they change very quickly. When conditions are ripe, it only
takes a very small thing to create very big changes. A tiny spark can
set a giant prairie fire and a single person can launch a massive
when it may appear that one thing causes another, that would be an
oversimplification, as it is always many phenomena that converge.
all live lives of illusions, though some illusions are more durable,
widespread, and valued than others.
we as consumers should indeed be as aware as possible, we should have
good enough policy that makes it less necessary to beware.
dead people — especially thinkers and doers — are more alive than
many people who are still living.
more certain we are, the less we can learn.
all other things were equal, it would be a much simpler (yet much
is not failure that is essential for success, but overcoming
is constant and ubiquitous, as nothing is static. Uncertainty is the
only certainty. People, languages, societies, governments, economies,
religions, and cultures are always changing, most often very slowly,
but occasionally very rapidly. People generally both fear and embrace
everything changes, including change itself, even nouns are verbs,
actions more than things that signal movement, evolution, growth,
decay, transition, transaction, processes, being only permanently
temporary yet temporarily permanent.
social relationships, chemistry is much more important than
is at least as much about manipulating thoughts as moving pieces.
thinking this and that, you should also think that and this.
child creates and raises a parent as much as a parent creates and
raises a child.
have the best ability for chronic, infinite, radical amazement. If
you’ve ever been a child, you still do, too.
is no such thing as “no choice”. Choices may be constrained, even
highly so, though there is still always an element of choice. Even
when it may appear that there is no choice, there is still the choice
of how one feels about what one “has” to do. When you create a
false choice, you choose unwisely.
personal choices are also social choices. Whether something is or
isn’t legally and culturally sanctioned helps determine its
availability and adoption. When more people do something, others are
more likely to also do it. When organizations offer something as an
option, people are more likely to choose that option. The more people
hear, see, and learn about something, they are also more likely to
choose it and engage in it.
standards one applies to others should be applied to oneself.
in both good and bad circumstances experience suffering, while people
in both good and bad circumstances experience joy; therefore, choice
is the key that unlocks the door of either or both.
do the work of a citizen when I vote, when I petition, when I speak
up and out, when I organize, when I rally, when I protest, when I
organize, and when I try to get my government and society to be the
best it could be.
people need to escape to the country to get away and find themselves,
but I prefer to stay in the city and find everything. Everything can
be found in the city, if the city is worth being called that,
including the country — even wilderness and solitude, if necessary
— but you can never find the city in the country.
usually learn more than students and good teachers bring more out of
their students than they put in.
an alternative to nearly everything, except clean water.
means to separate and to attach; we must cleave.
because something is cliche doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace the
wisdom within it.
need to reverse, and will mitigate, adapt, and suffer, climate
change. The more we choose to do the former of these, the less we
will be forced do the latter.
people’s personal issues can sometimes be traced to their
individual personalities, it’s at least as true that macro social
forces are responsible for the social problems that manifest in
myriad personal ways on the micro level. We are largely conditioned
by a variety of social, cultural, and environmental forces that
interact with, and might even construct, our individual
every cloud has a silver lining, it’s worth remembering that every
silver lining has a cloud.
are always better when they mix.
ergo sum (I think therefore I am) is more logically rendered as
cogito sum (I think I am), in the same way that dreaming something
doesn’t prove its physical existence, even if it seems to exist in
one’s imagination. Thinking we are something doesn’t necessarily
make it so.
you continually expand your comfort zone, you’ll never have to step
out of it; if you want to step out of your comfort zone, there will
always be opportunities to do so.
communicate clearly with others, and to be understood, we need to
speak their language, both literally and figuratively.
are at least as much communities as we are individuals. We can
sometimes be alone, but we are never separate from others and our
community without unity is not a community, but a collections of
things can only be compared to themselves and even with that it’s
iffy at best.
out, increase happiness, encourage goodness, discourage badness, and
teach others to do likewise.
better understand complexity — and to enjoy it more — simplify.
good to compromise with others, as long as you never compromise
tend to give advice in the abstract, but people tend to take advice,
if they take it at all, in the concrete.
much of life generally, and so much of human behavior specifically,
is accidental, contingent, chanced. We're a lucky lot, in many ways,
though we make our luck better when we connect.
when not being attacked, it’s best to build bridges and ladders,
rather than moats, walls, and vaults.
connections, nothing has meaning. Life is all about relationships,
associations, networks, interplay, ecosystems — whether amongst
people, species, or ideas.
one is highly conscious of one’s environment, one can find awe in
anything and everything. Even the most trivial, mundane, or tiny
object, detail, or phenomenon — including each of us — contains
the entire amazing universe.
come from actions as much as actions lead to consequences.
Americans have opposed independence from England, abolishing slavery,
women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, civil rights, human
rights, unionization, marriage equality, LGBT rights, Social
Security, Medicare, Obamacare, the New Deal, the Great Society, the
War on Poverty, environmental safety, occupational health and safety,
consumer protections, seat belts and air bags, minimum wages, living
wages, maximum hours, reductions in the work day and work week,
separation of church and state, welfare, food stamps, unemployment
insurance, progressive taxation, public education, mass transit, all
social movements, and other phenomena that make societies more
democratic, more safe, more equal, more prosperous, and more
civilized. This American opposes that kind of conservatism.
is always zero, nothing more and nothing less.
more we know about the constraints on our lives, the freer we are to
navigate around them, use them, remove them, and/or transform them.
many people need to consume less, especially of luxuries, many others
need to consume more, especially of necessities.
behaviors — even life itself — are contagious. The more people do
anything, the more likely it is that other people will also do it.
happen, but they also have a context in which they happen, especially
a history and a future.
world always is however it is at the time, but it could have been
infinitely different in the past and it could always be infinitely
different in the future.
personal and social change comes with personal and cultural
continuity. We always bring the past into the present.
phenomena (almost) always fall on a continuum somewhere between the
dichotomous endpoints. It’s a matter of where on the continuum we
fall and when we rise.
things that are different have something in common and even things
that are similar have significant differences.
can be a nice bonus, but should never be a goal or a principle.
Although convenience can make your life easier, it will rarely make
it better. Convenience, while comfortable, leads to a weakening of
the body, mind, and spirit. Too much convenience can become
inconvenient, as we so easily do things that we wouldn’t
necessarily do or even want to do.
best recipes increase your health and happiness, while doing likewise
separate from what we fear and we fear what we separate from, often
ignorantly and punitively, with great asymmetrical losses.
with sociopathy, corporations are single-mindedly organized to be
profit-responsible and therefore socially and environmentally
sell their wants, trying to convince us that they’re our needs.
wouldn’t exist if what they’re counterfeiting didn’t exist.
countries are empires, colonizing and aggregating various peoples and
lands for one country.
don’t have to be fearless, and perhaps shouldn’t be, but we do
sometimes have to act as if we’re fearless or at least act for good
despite our fears. That’s the essence of courage and bravery.
who crave more will never have enough and those who crave less will
never be satisfied.
you quit walking because you kept falling, you’d still be crawling.
Many of us are still crawling, but there are whole other worlds out
there for those who are able to walk, run, skip, hop, jump, and fly!
the crazy people — some of the dreamers, prophets, inventors,
artists, activists, musicians, poets, philosophers, entrepreneurs,
revolutionaries, scientists, teachers, writers, and others — who
change the world instead of simply adapting themselves to the
insanity of normality and the status quo.
our social world, we are both creators and creation, masters and
slaves, artists and audience, subjects and objects.
are an infinite number of ways, individually and collectively, to be
are more important than beliefs and while beliefs may change,
principles are enduring.
let your personal creed include personal greed.
is nothing more than the intensification of everyday life.
need to take criticism seriously, while not taking it (too)
personally, regardless of who or where it comes from. Criticism is a
friend that appears like a foe. Use it to progress and thrive, not
retreat and shrivel. Constructive criticism, given kindly, is the
best compliment one can receive.
are all crowdsourced in society, as we all exert influence on each
helps you when you’re injured hurts you when you’re healed.
personal choices are also social choices. The more there is a culture
of something, the more people will choose that thing.
is collecting not creating, yet it is creation to the extent that
curators arrange, showcase, and contextualize their collections for
you’re not curious, you’re not really alive.
you don’t know something, find out; if you do know something, share
are only curse words if they wish harm to others. Fuck is a blessing,
not a curse.
best curses turn into blessings.
is easier to deny or ignore our dark sides, but it is much more
healthy and beneficial to channel them for positive and productive
is the key to comfort and survival.
the end of the day, it's the end of the day. There is nothing else to
can sometimes be the most pleasurable thing one can do as well as the
most useful, natural, frequent, and human thing to do.
are better than deadlines.
all living beings, death is a normal and natural part of life and is
therefore completely safe and failure-proof. Death is not the
opposite of life, but rather the opposite of birth. It is the
ultimate reminder that nothing is permanent.
receives the death penalty eventually, but no one should receive it
from another human being, from a weapon, or from a machine. While we
should kill all forms of injustice, we should not kill anyone, even
the unjust. The death penalty is dead wrong.
someone claims to know what is unknowable, they are either deceiving
themselves or others.
making a decision is still a decision and every time we decide to not
speak up or get involved, we are deciding to let other people’s
voices have more say and let other people have more power.
more people who participate in a decision, the more likely that
decision is to be fair.
deeply love while being deeply loved is a peak experience.
the best defense will lose without a strong offense. One can never
win with only a defense.
statements are almost always wrong or incomplete. The world is
should be democratized. We need more democracy, not less, and the
burden of argument should be on those who say we shouldn’t. Only
more democracy can save democracy. If democracy doesn’t mean rule
of the people in a real sense, then it isn’t really democracy.
as much participation and empowerment in all sectors of society
(including social, political, economic) as possible, all people
should have all their needs met (including housing, food, water,
clothing, education, healthcare, transportation, privacy, security)
with civil and human rights and without discrimination or exclusion.
As the Zapatistas say: everything for everybody, nothing for nobody.
that we’re dependent on restricts our freedom.
who listen hear deeper truths; those who observe see deeper truths;
those who reflect think deeper truths; those who meditate realize
deeper truths; those who serve and share experience deeper truths.
desert only seems deserted to those ignorant of the desert. The more
one knows about something, the more one can appreciate its charms.
undesirable phenomena have some aspects that are desirable about
them, otherwise complaints would simply be exits.
the single destination of every journey is the heart. If we miss
beauty and love on our way, we’re lost; if we find them, we’re
Deterministic Free Will:
are determined to a certain extent and have free will to a certain
extent, combining these in different ways at different times
depending on different circumstances and different personalities.
economic growth, which mimics cancer, is usually mistaken for
qualitative social development, which is beneficial for people and
planet, though the former is only a tool that sometimes works and
often doesn’t, while the latter is the desire and goal of the
always comes from past practice and should lead to revised and future
practice; practice always comes from past theory and should lead to
revised and future theory.
in life — including life itself — is dialectical.
diamonds are no less real than actual diamonds, they’re just not as
are all in exile — no matter where we live and regardless of
whether we realize it — though some more than others.
Dictum of Desire:
who surrender to appetite — not just with food, of course — are
not always anxious to do something that’s difficult, though I’m
more often glad to have done it afterward. That, in itself, makes it
looking for disappointment are rarely disappointed in their quest.
Disappointment only occurs when expectations are too high.
Disappointments derive from unmet expectations, which is why it is
best to maintain high hopes, but low expectations.
can get a 100% discount on anything — simply by not buying it. Any
thing at any price can be too expensive if you don’t need it, even
more so if you don’t want it, even more so if it’s detrimental to
is at least as necessary to ask as to answer questions, to listen as
well as to talk, to be alone as well as to be with others, to think
as well as to act, to be as well as to do.
of the people who are very sensitive to being disrespected are often
some of the most disrespectful people, both to themselves and others.
we view depends on distance and level of analysis. If we are either
too close or too far, visually or analytically, there is distortion.
We are almost always too close or too far.
is the political economic crux and is the critical link between
production and consumption.
are able to do what we do because others before us did what they did
and others will be able to do what they do because of what we did.
or whatever our patient is, like any good doctor, we should examine
the patient, diagnose the problems, and prescribe the remedies,
taking the smart risks that are necessary. When that works, we should
reflect and learn from it, so we can repeat our success; when it
doesn’t work, we should reflect and learn from it, so we can avoid
we don’t do is as important as what we do and, therefore, not doing
is an important form of doing.
and socialization — including family, friends, corporations,
institutions, celebrities, media, schools, teachers, coaches, clergy,
neighbors, classmates, co-congregationalists, peers, norms —
domesticate us, transforming animalistic biological homo sapiens into
social human beings. For better and worse, we are less wild than we
were or could be.
don’t connect themselves. It is up to us to make the connections,
draw the lines, construct the images, chart the courses of action.
is much more fertile than certainty.
are as real as anything else; if they weren’t real, they wouldn’t
dreams are my other lives within this life. Asleep or awake, I dream
every chance I get and therefore live more fully.
Drop in the Bucket:
you worry that your efforts will only be a drop in the bucket,
remember that the bucket is only filled up with drops.
are all separate individuals, yet we are also all one.
because it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a
duck, that doesn’t mean it’s a duck. It could just be someone
dressed in a duck suit.
the things you don’t need and you’ll find that you have more of
the things that you do need.
people may tend to overestimate their actual knowledge, skills, and
abilities, they tend to underestimate their potential.
people follow most of the norms most of the time, yet deviance from
the norms always exists and is itself therefore normal. Abnormalcy is
universal. Deviance can be personally dangerous or rewarding, as it
can also lead to social control, social repression, and/or social
can be potentially transformed into anything else.
sky above and earth below, we’re all Earthlings who share the same
we shift from ego to eco, we go from only one to complete oneness,
from unique to universal.
is a form of homicide and then genocide and geocide, which turns out
to be a form of suicide. When we destroy the environment, we destroy
other beings, other species, our home, and eventually destroy
we eat what’s best for our environment, we will also be eating
what’s best for our health, what’s best for the animals, and
what’s best for the future.
is, in some way, connected to everything else.
all tools, economies should serve people, rather than people being
forced to serve it. If it’s useful, keep it; if it’s broken, fix
it; if it’s too destructive, discard it; if it can’t do the job,
environment can thrive without humans, while humans cannot survive
without the rest of the environment.
and classes, tests and quizzes, books and magazines, facts and
opinions, and much else may come and go, but education is a life-long
endeavor. Never let a school graduation be the end of your education.
One doesn’t receive an education as much as one seizes, wrestles,
discovers, and earns it. Learning is yearning, turning, burning, and
is affected by everything else and everything affects everything else
in its own way.
processes are efficient for some ends and not for others, efficient
for some people and not for others, efficient for some times and not
should be rewarded for substantial effort, not just for winning and
certainly not simply for being there.
one feels the need for an ego boost — a questionable pursuit —
it’s better to achieve it internally via self-esteem,
self-compassion, and good feelings about oneself than through the
capricious and dependent external path relying on others’ words and
isms eventually become wasms.
dichotomies are often false ones, even if better than neither/nor
ones. We can embrace, or at least imagine, both/and/other/oneness
and water can kill as well as sustain, create as well as destroy,
just as they can induce excitement as well as fear.
to be strong yet careful, wise yet playful, wild yet civil,
self-preservationist yet altruistic, voracious yet discerning,
independent yet social, powerful yet respectful.
can be related to, but are ultimately independent from, external and
objective phenomena. Emotions are personal, subjective, and chosen.
empires — currently the U.S., Russia, China, India, Indonesia,
Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria, and others — have within
them all the modes of production and ways of being: communitarianism,
slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism;
religiosity, apatheism, and secularism; backwardness, modernism, and
postmodernism; past, present, and future.
isn’t scary; killers are.
have probably been predicting the end time since the beginning of it.
End of the World:
not “the end of the world” unless it’s actually the end of the
of end times — regardless of whether the millennialism is
apocalyptic or utopian, religious or secular, progressive or
regressive — are always anti-intellectual.
shorter and more recognizably finite something is, the easier it is
is always better to convert an enemy from a foe to a friend than to
conquer one or be conquered.
one knows the entire English language, therefore in some sense no one
person knows English, yet we all know it together. Likewise with much
else, as we all share a portion of the commonwealth.
insight can lead to awakening; staying awakened is enlightenment. The
former is fairly common; the latter is exceedingly rare.
is always present, even when it seems absent.
circle, zero, pregnant belly, tea mug, and this world contain both
nothing and everything.
people try to make stronger arguments rather than simply try to win
arguments, we are more likely to get solutions instead of more
— whether economic, political, religious, or otherwise — try to
sell us something, regardless of whether we need or want it, using
whatever tricks they can and whatever stories they have, creating a
clear conflict of interest.
my love, parenting, teaching, writing, poetry, photography, activism,
hope, and optimism speak for me. Carry on with goodness!
people may be created equal, but it seems to end immediately after
is not planning, neither providing comfort nor aid, and is not
unproductive, but rather counterproductive. Worrying is meditating on
what you fear. Take the tasks as they arrive.
because something can’t be found doesn’t mean that it doesn’t
exist. If it’s important to you, keep searching.
errors contain truths not yet realized.
should take any and all of our ethical lessons and extrapolate them
to as many forms of exclusion, discrimination, domination, hatred,
exploitation, and violence as possible, so as to minimize suffering
and maximize our inclusion, compassion, love, peace, and justice.
people, events, and processes co-exist in relation to all other
people, events, and processes. Nothing simply ‘just happens’, but
rather happens in relation to other people, other things, and earlier
nothing is the potential for everything.
ex — friend, lover, job, school, hometown — is a mix of memories,
many of them partially remembered and misfiled, others constructed
as an example is not enough. One should be more active with one’s
example — teach, write, speak out, donate, mentor, march, share,
etc. A flaming candle is much more powerful than an unlit one and
even an unlit one in its holder is more powerful than a candle stored
away in a drawer.
don’t prove rules, they only prove that rules have exceptions.
we are lonely, afraid, anxious, depressed, oppressed, marginalized,
or otherized, we are in exile, wherever we are; whenever we are at
peace, in love, giving or receiving kindness, or full of joy, we are
at home, wherever we are.
will feel like pre-birth — though perhaps differently to the
always simultaneously in Eden, Exile, Egypt, Sinai, and the Promised
Land, simultaneously in paradise, diaspora, slavery, revelation and
transition, and liberation.
can and should learn from both positive and negative, as well as
neutral, experiences and examples. Anti-role models are as
instructive and useful as positive and constructive role models.
Everything can teach us, especially if we’re willing to learn.
experiences can be experienced in an infinite number of ways.
no such thing as a failed experiment. All results, whether positive
or negative, expected or unexpected, can lead to discovery and more
knowledge. The only failed experiment is the one we don’t learn
from, but that wouldn’t be the fault of the experiment; the fault
would lie with us.
is a series of experiments and life itself is a big experiment for
all of us.
derives from hierarchical devalued dynamics instead of horizontal
extraordinary can always be found in the ordinary and the ordinary
can always be found in the extraordinary. As always, it’s a matter
of perspective and attitude.
much or too little light inhibits seeing; too much or too little
sound inhibits hearing; too much or too little thought inhibits
come and go — whether by changing or by forgetting — but good
ideas, modes of analysis, and ways of thinking can last lifetimes.
good failure is a great pre-success.
explain failures much more often, easily, and better than successes.
you want your children to be intelligent, teach them to critically
analyze fairy tales — whether cultural, commercial, religious,
political, economic, or otherwise — including the ones we tell
as well as writing, is a faith-based endeavor, because we might
occasionally get to witness or hear of amazing outcomes, but most of
the time we never see the effects of the butterfly’s flapping.
Sometimes we don’t even see the butterfly at all. But no matter; it
you don’t fall in love with someone or something every day — or
even more often than that — you’re not fully alive. There’s no
wrong way to fall in love and no wrong reason to love someone.
to the truth has the same result as subtracting from the truth.
family lives by socialism, not capitalism; we share our resources,
contribute what we have, take what we need, and make decisions
collectively and fairly for our mutual benefit. No one of us would
ever be homeless if we had a home; no one of us would ever be hungry
if we had food; no one of us would ever be lonely if we were
food is junk food and junk food isn’t really food at all; it
doesn’t improve the body and mind, it degrades it. Certain whole
foods — such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds — are the
original and best fast foods. One could eat them anytime and thrive!
Fear is a great motivator as well as a great inhibitor. In response
to fear, balancing fight, flight, finagle, and freeze allows us not
only to survive, but to thrive. Better to live one’s hopes rather
than one’s fears.
fear of fear can be the greatest fear of all; the fear of pain can be
the worst pain. All fears are, in some sense, a fear of the unknown.
If we make peace with the unknown, we make peace with ourselves and
many people would rather feel better about what they do than actually
one can shame, guilt, embarrass, or humiliate you — it’s about
how you feel, not what someone else says or does — therefore, only
you can shame, guilt, embarrass, or humiliate yourself.
Ferlinghetti of the Mind:
as open a mind as possible to allow in all information, perspectives,
wonder, and joy, but not so open that your good sense falls out.
people’s memories, perceptions, selection biases, sense of self,
cognitive distortions, and more, even non-fiction is fiction. All
writing is fiction — it’s simply a matter of what type of
sometimes find ourselves by losing ourselves.
chickens come from eggs, yet not all eggs come from chickens,
therefore the egg came first. Not all unsolvable problems are
because we don’t see fish cry doesn’t mean they don’t. Out of
sight shouldn’t always mean out of mind, even though we can’t
consider all things at all times.
only real flaw is to only notice a flaw.
can be in flow, being our best — which often brings learning,
success, meaning, satisfaction, and happiness — when we find the
sweet spot between inhale and exhale, past and future, reminiscence
and anticipation, laziness and fanaticism, fear and greed, hubris and
nemesis, boredom and frazzle, competition and cooperation, knowing
too little and knowing too much, challenge and ability, heaven and
hell, birthing and dying.
a flower doesn’t bloom, we don’t blame the flower; we assess
light, water, soil, temperature, nutrients, care, chemicals,
competitors, predators, environment, and ecology. This too often
doesn’t happen when people fail to bloom.
in the social world is constantly constructed, deconstructed, and
reconstructed — from personal thoughts to the global political
much complaining creates negativity; too little complaining accepts
negativity. Complaining focuses on what’s negative or absent;
gratitude focuses on what’s positive or present. Finding the proper
balance is the key to a good life.
who have a fear of missing out are missing out.
is personal, political, social, economic, cultural, agricultural,
delicious, joyful, satisfying, nourishing, existential, and shouldn’t
be unjust or ecocidal. If what you eat doesn’t actively help your
mind, body, and spirit thrive, you’re not eating food.
are each our own biggest fool, as we are the ones we fool the most,
with the most serious consequences.
more we think like a forest — rather than a tree, a logger, or a
logging company — the better.
Forest for the Trees:
focusing on a tree, we cannot forget the forest; while protecting an
individual animal, we have to concern ourselves with the species;
while considering a species, we should situate it in its ecosystem;
while treating a symptom, we have to address and cure the disease.
is forever, nothing is invulnerable, no one is irreplaceable, no one
or no thing is perfect, even if they occasionally seem so and can
last for a long time.
offer forgiveness can be compassionate and therapeutic; to request
forgiveness can be selfish and cruel. Forgiving is more foe-giving
than forgetting, giving away the past foes to one’s happiness, even
if we remember them.
shouldn’t protect or emphasize certain things in our lives to the
fatal detriment of important others.
things taste better than proving an economist wrong.
highest level of freedom is being able to free others.
people have no choice but to believe in free will.
an aphorism is just an aphorism.
are the parts of yourself that you didn’t know you had.
you fear jeopardizing a friendship by saying something, something is
wrong with that friendship.
are always new frontiers, whether physical, philosophical, artistic,
of which path one takes, and whether it is more or less traveled,
will make a difference, sometimes a huge one, though sometimes a
small one, but one can change one’s path, choose or create a
different path, or create a new experience of the same path with
mindfulness and without regret or longing. And that will make all the
are many ways to be fruitful and to multiply, the least of which may
different things can be functionally equivalent. Racism, sexism,
homophobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and others each manifest
differently and have different targets and consequences, yet they
involve the same basic social dynamics — group othering, ostracism,
oppression, and so on — and are therefore functionally equivalent.
Likewise with certain complex organizations that are functionally
equivalent such as schools, corporations, religious institutions,
hospitals, militaries, mental institutions, etc. that all employ
authority, hierarchy, rules, regulations, surveillance, rewards, and
punishments. Despite their obvious differences, there are functional
equivalencies. Same with languages and various other phenomena.
will undoubtedly achieve certain insights, rights, and privileges,
just as we will with technologies, systems, and processes, as well as
musical genres and art forms, that we presently don’t desire or
a vast landscape between on and off, yes and no, here and there,
empty and full. Everything is on a variety of continua.
more one combines work and play, necessity and hobby, chores and fun,
the more one enjoys life.
are for playing, enjoying, socializing, connecting, learning, and
imagining, not simply for winning and losing.
we recognize a gap, we need to step back, fill it, jump over it, or
build a bridge.
picked from one’s tended garden tends to taste best.
guides action. Everyone thinks, speaks, feels, views, creates,
enjoys, works, eats, behaves, resists, protests, interprets, loves,
learns, rears, sleeps, dreams, fights, produces, consumes, develops,
exists, and dies in a cultural context.
are increasingly losing the ability to get lost and the consequential
loss is incalculable.
someone gives a gift to us — whether physical, social, emotional,
or otherwise — we should give a gift to them — our gratitude in
the form of thanks.
need to both give and take, but it generally feels better to give
than to take, so much so that the giving sometimes can feel like a
is good, kind, healthy, supportive, and loving, and is itself a form
of receiving, yet the only thing we shouldn’t give is up, even when
it’s necessary or desirable to let go.
some see glasses as half empty and others as half full, I almost
always see glasses overflowing with potential.
all the hot and cold, drought and floods, fires and famines, ocean
acidification and jet stream shifts, threatened species and spreading
diseases, as well as other extreme events that constitute global
weirding, we need to re-heavenize our beautiful but increasingly
hellish planet through sustainable living (i.e., an array of clean
renewable energies, plant-based eating, massive reforestation,
conservation of resources, increased efficiency, decreased
God were a Dog, cats would be sinners and we would have a Bible of
woof, woof, woof.
a person claims to be a god or a messiah, they are neither those nor
a good person; they are, instead, either insane or a religious
entrepreneur looking to make profit from claiming to be a prophet.
one has too little of something, it’s often better to have more; if
one has too much of something, it’s often better to have less; if
one has just the right amount, it’s always better to realize it and