last edited 11/25/2009
"Well, Pip," said Joe, "be it so or be it son't, you must be a common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The king upon his throne, with his crown upon his ed, can't sit and write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet."
"Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come. If there's been any fault at all to-day, it's mine. You and me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but what is private, and beknown, and understood among friends. It ain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right, as you shall never see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes. I'm wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. You won't find half so much fault in me if you think of me in my forge dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe."
For now, my repugnance to him had all melted away; and in the Hunted, wounded, shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe.
It was the first time that a grave had opened in my road of life, and the gap it made in the smooth ground was wonderful [enormous]. The figure of my sister in her chair by the kitchen fire, haunted me night and day. That the place could possibly be, without her, was something my mind seemed unable to compass; and whereas she had seldom or never been in my thoughts of late, I had now the strangest ideas that she was coming towards me in the street, or that she would presently knock at the door. In my rooms too, with which she had never been at all associated, there was at once the blankness of death and a perpetual suggestion of the sound of her voice or the turn of her face or figure, as if she were still alive and had been often there.
We have collectively built an amazing world of technological wonder, of scientific marvels and unparalleled productivity. But in this best of all possible worlds, we have learned so much about how to do that we have forgotten how to be.
It is the great challenge of our contemporary world to rediscover the foundation of being, out of which all our lives of activity spring and to which all our lives connect. Without direct contact with this ground, our work, our activities, the complexities of our modern life, all become disconnected, mechanical, and meaningless. Without the relatedness to the whole, the individual is isolated, without social context or purpose. Without the recognition of the vast, timeless, and unitary fact of existence, we cannot make sense of the relative world that we give expression to in our day-to-day lives. We each know deep within our experience that we are capable of love, that we yearn for the expression and reception of the heart in the very fabric of our life. Yet we seem caught in the doing aspect of our lives, the pressures of survival and accomplishment, the navigation of our relationships, the logistics of getting through the day, and then the next day, and then the next. We each know that this is not enough, that the most profound capacity of the human being is not the ability merely to be productive, but to take action in relationship to all that is around us. The human being is capable of giving expression to the interrelated-ness of life. We are capable of acting out of love. But, how, exactly, do we find our way through the labyrinth of our constructed lives? How do we find our way to this love? What can we do about all of this?
We are doers, producers, people of action. We are caught in lives in which we are doing too much, in which we have lost our sense of being. We want to know what to do about it. We want to fix our lives. We want to build better lives. We want to do more. But, of course, doing can never bring us to being. There is nothing we can do, there is no activity that will lead us to the stillness of being. There is nothing to do. In this realization something magical unfolds: Being is what remains when we stop trying so hard. In the stopping we discover the vast spaciousness of life, of love, of connection. But another insight may come which is perhaps even more profound. It is that out of this vast love, out of this ground of being, arises the very movement of life—our life. The life that can be such a challenge and burden is also the very same life that is the expression of the infinite. From the perspective of life itself, the form and formless are not different; doing and being are one.
We cannot live without acting and we cannot live happily without love. This dance of the absolute and the relative, the whole and the aspect, is the life in which we find ourselves. Our exploration is not the avoidance of activity or the denial of love, but the discovery of stillness in movement, wholeness in form, the fullness of emptiness. The cutting edge of this exploration is this moment, this life. In Everyday Serenity, David Kundtz shows us that it is life that we are grappling with, not an abstraction, not a spiritual system to be learned and practiced, but the vital, ever-changing, often overwhelming, but always present life that each of us lives. Life is every day. It doesn't take vacations. It is the unavoidable context with which we have been gifted that bestows on each of us the greatest of all opportunities, the discovery of the ground of being in each moment and the serenity of every day.
Mind War, Season 1
Catherine Sakai: Just one question: why?
Ambassador G'Kar: Why not?
Catherine Sakai: That's not an answer.
Ambassador G'Kar: Oh, yes it is; it's simply not an answer you like, or the answer you expected. There's a difference. Narns, Humans, Centauri, we all do what we do for the same reason: because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Grail, Season 1
[The command staff watches "Jinxo" Thomas's shuttle leave through the jumpgate.]
Michael Garibaldi: No boom?
Jeffrey Sinclair: No boom.
Susan Ivanova: No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow.
[Sinclair and Garibaldi exchange an exasperated look and wander off.]
Susan Ivanova: What?! Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!
A Late Delivery from Avalon, Season 3
Marcus Cole: You know, um… I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, Season 4
[1000 years later, in a future primitive Earth, Brother Alwyn advises the doubting Brother Michael.]
Brother Alwyn: Faith sustains us in the hour when reason tells us that we cannot continue, that the whole of our lives is without meaning.
Brother Michael: Then why were we born able to reason, if reason's useless?
Brother Alwyn: Not useless. But it's also not enough. Faith and reason are the shoes on your feet! You can travel further with both than you can with just one.
pg. 26: “Mourning is not forgetting,” he said gently, his helplessness vanishing and his voice becoming wise. “It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the knot. The end is gain, of course. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be made strong, in fact. But the process is like all other human births, painful and long and dangerous.”
pg. 183: “Beware of anger. It is the most difficut to remove of all the hindrances. But it is the alcohol of the body, you know, and the devil of it is that it deadens the perceptions.”
"In fact, he drove me to the indescribable vulgarity of reminding him who I was and why I did not require anybody's money."
Where’s my super-suit?
Where – is – my – super-suit?
I, uh, put it away.
Why do you need to know?
I need it!
Uh-uh. Don’t you think about runnin’ off an- doin’ no darin’ do. We been planning this dinner for two months!
The public is in danger!
My evening’s in danger!
You tell me where my suit is, woman. We are talking about the greater good.
Greater good? I am your wife. I’m the greatest good you are ever gonna get.
My eyes flashed open at the sound. I sprung out of my sleeping bag and ripped open the canvas tent flaps.
A creepy shadow emerged from the underbrush. Crunch, crackle, the leaves crumbled under the feet of the unknown creature. Magenta eyes glared at me through the mist. My knees felt weak and my teeth chattered rapidly. Rats I suddenly heard footsteps. "Is that Bob," I asked, "or is that the thing I just saw?"
Without warning the tent rattled and collapsed. I groped around for the exit. As I exited my gaze was met with a magenta stare. I screamed "Ah...." but nothing came out. I tore toward the forest. I had a feeling something was gaining on me. I jumped into a mound of bushes to defend my innocent self. My heart throbbed and I sweat bullets. Snap, rustle, rustle, groan, I limped toward the sound. When I got there a net trap was sprung. "Well done Fred!"
And all this time Fred was looking for good fresh meat. Next time I go camping it won't be near a band park.
Last Thursday when Aija came home she saw a lion cooking dinner. Aija unlocked the door and screamed loudly. Dad! Dad! Help me! Dad ran through the house at warp speed and crashed into the refrigerator. He said that hurt a lot. Then he noticed the lion and he screamed.
What is the world is happening? he asked.
I don't know, said Aija.
What should we do with him? asked Dad.
“Listen to me, Arren. You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose. . . . That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself? Would you give up the craft of your hands, and the passion of your heart, and the light of sunrise and sunset, to buy safety for yourself forever?”
“And when that body dies, I will be here: but only in name, in name alone, in shadow. Do you not understand? Did you never understand, you who called up so many shadows from the dead, who summoned all the hosts of the perished, even my lord Erreth-Akbe, wisest of us all? Did you not understand that he, even he, is but a shadow and a name? His death did not diminish life. Nor did it diminish him. He is there – there, not here! Here is nothing, dust and shadows. There, he is the earth and sunlight, the leaves of trees, the eagle’s flight. He is alive. And all who ever died, life; they are reborn and have no end, nor will there ever be an end. All, save you. For you would not have death. You lost death, you lost life, in order to save yourself. Yourself! Your immortal self! What is it? Who are you?”
A glass of fine red wine
Crisp Melba toast with 75-degree Dubliner cheese
Mushrooms stuffed with crab meat, broiled with extra butter
Quiet moments with a newspaper, alone in my house
The phone call from my mother. Aunt going in for surgery on Monday
Plane tickets. Who’s getting her from the airport?
“Would you please call Hope?” “Can you print those pictures by tomorrow?”
Phone calls to two other businesses that I’ve put off.
Grab keys to dash out to the errands; e-mail says I forgot to send the exams
Two boys, running down the hill from the bus stop
Bookbags slung on the floor, shoes kicked into the walkway
“I’m hungry,” opening the fridge to stare
“Can I play video games?” traipsing from room to room
“What homework do you have tonight?”
“Is tonight soccer practice?” “What’s for dinner?”
“I don’t have any clean shirts, Mom.” “When’s Dad coming home?”
“Mrs. Morgan says I need to bring snacks.” “Mrs Encarnacion said I didn’t have my picture money.”
“When are you coming back to volunteer?” “You didn’t send in the sheets, Mom.”
“Hi, honey, I’m home.” “Dad!” “What a day, I’ve had.” “Two other folks quit.”
Bags slung to the floor. Keys dumped in the drawer.
“I just want to change my clothes and have a beer.” “Hey, Mom, is dinner ready?”
I just have to switch the laundry. Hold on, I have to get that out of the oven.
Did you set the table? Have you hung up your lunchbox?
You only have 10 minutes left of screen time. Go relax, dear. I’ll pour your beer.
No, you may not have a snack – dinner’s almost ready.
Dinner prayer, a moment…..
How was your day? Who did you play with at recess? Christian tells me he’s been to see the symphony. PE was switched with Reading Buddies! Lou told us this joke in the break room. Mrs. Krutch said we needed to read this book. Larry’s teaching is going to run into another day. Drink your milk, dear.
Up to bed. You know you have to shower tonight. “But, Mom.,…” whine
“Can I come down and get my book?” “He hit me!” “I don’t have any more flouride.” “I don’t want to use his!”
Put your clothes in the hamper, please. Have you brushed your teeth? I’ll be up shortly.
Cleaning up the dishes. Putting the food away. “What do you want to do tonight, dear?”
“Ah, at last we’re alone.”
For a moment, the memory of the fine wine and cheese.
A lingering smell of crab and mushroom.
The life so damnably FULL of precious, irreplaceable moments, people, experiences
"Just --- what most do you want in life?
He smiled a little and reached over and took her fortune cookie. He broke it open. "Solace."
She frowned. "It doesn't say that."
"No. Remember that great film with Bette Davis, All About Eve? There's a scene after the scheming Eve steals Margo's role through trickery and then gets this magnificent review. Margo of course is effing and blinding all over the place. And crying. Her director rushes into her house, puts his arms around her, and says, 'I ran all the way.' " Jury smiled. "That's what I want."
She sat there just looking at him and saying nothing.
He said, "Life is just too bloody hard. You lose too many things. 'I ran all the way.' " Jury smiled bleakly. "Solace."
"Our own lives appear to us as so discontinuous---one thing ends, another beings, it's broken off and something else comes along---marriage, divorce, remarriage, a child . . . a death." Here she paused and looked at the filre. "And nothing seems to run through it. But with family, something does run through it, something does cohere. A family is ballast."
"But if you don't get along with other members of it?"
She rolled her eyes, fine gray eyes set deep in her head, making he cheekbones even more pronounced. "You're not going to say 'dysfunctional'? We used to say 'unhappy.' Tolstoy certainly did. But none of those good old words are invited to the party anymore. They're vague, abstract. But 'dysfunctional' is so concrete, isn't it? It sound like something gone wrong in a acar's electrical sytem, or a hangover. When applied to such a protean concept as family, though, it means nothing more than 'unhappy.' At any rate, my harrangue here means simply that family is important. It astonishes me that people expect the members of a family to get along and when they don't get along, they've let us down. I always think of a family as being greater than the sum of its parts. Something runs through it, as I said, like the pattern in this carpet."
Johns Hopkins University professor Pier Massimo Forni came up with these 25 rules.
as published in the Washington Post, April 2008
"One step beyond that boundary line which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead lies uncertainty, suffering, and death. And what is there? Who is there? --there beyond that field, that tree, that roof lit up by the sun? No one knows, but one wants to know. You fear and yet long to cross that line, and know that sooner or later it must be crossed and you will have to find out what is there, just as you will inevitably have to learn what lies the other isde of death. But you are strong, healty, cheerful, and excited, and are surrounded by other such excitedly animated and healthy men." So thinks, or at any rate feels, anyone who comes in sight of the eney, and that feeling gives a particular galmour and glad keenness of impression to everything that takes place at such moments.
"Desire nothing for thyself, seek nothing, be not anxious or envious. Man's future and thy own fate must remain hidden from thee, but live so that thou mayest be ready for anything. If it be God's will to prove thee in the duties of marriage, be ready to fulfill His will."
The universal experience of ages, showing that children do grow imperceptibly from the cradle to manhood, did not exist for the countess. Her son's growth torward manhood, at each of its stages, had seemed as extraordinary to her as if there had never existed the millions of human beings who grew up in the same way. AS twenty years before, it seemed impossible that the little creature who lived somewhere under her heart would ever cry, suck her breast, and begin to speak, so now she could not believe that the little creature could be this strong, brave man, this model son and officer that, juding by this letter, he now was.
Who is right and who is wrong? No one! But if you are alive--live; tomorrow you'll die as I might have died an hour ago. And is it worth tormenting oneself, when one has only a moment of life in comparison with eternity?"
"I ought to tell you that I do not believe...do not believe in God," said Pierre.
"If He were not," he said quiety, "you and I would not be speaking of Him, my dear sir. Of what, of whom, are we speaking? Whom has thou denied?" he suddenly asked with exulting austerity and authority in his voice. "Who invented Him, if He did not exist? Whence came thy conception of the existence of such an incomprehensible Being" didst thou, and why did the whole world, conceive the idea of the existence of such an incomprehensible Being, a Being all-powerful, eternal, and invinite in all His attributes?"
"And thou ar more foolish and unreasonable than a little child, who, playing with the parts of a skillfully made watch, dares to say that, as he does not understand its use, he does not believe in the master who made it."
"Try, by the frequent thought of death," the Rhetor said, "to bring yourself to regard it not as a dreaded foe, but as a friend that frees the soul grown weary in the labors of virtue from this distressful life, and leads itto its place of recompense and peace."
"We often think that by reomoving all the difficulties of our life we shall more quickly reach our aim, but on the contrary, my dear sir, it is only in the midst of worldly cares that we can attain our three chief aims..."
Pierre during the last two years, as a result of his continual absorption in abstract interests and his sincere contempt for all else, had acquired in his wife's circle, which did not interest him, that air of unconcern, indifference, and benevolence toward all, which cannot be acquired artifically and therefore inspires involuntary respect.