25 April 2017      

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 From Walden
Henry David Thoreau

A Little at a Time
John Erskine

Rewards and Service
Earl Nightingale

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Far away in the sunshine are my highest inspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.

Louisa May Alcott

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.

Frank Tibolt

Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.

Khalil Gibran

  
From Walden
Henry David Thoreau

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.  I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of people to elevate their lives by conscious endeavor.  It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.  To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.  Every person is tasked to make his or her life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of their most elevated and critical hour.  If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

For most people, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into humans; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness.  Our life is frittered away by detail.  Honest people have hardly need to count more than their ten fingers, or in extreme cases they may add their ten toes, and lump the rest.  Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!  I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.  In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that people have to live, if we would not founder and go to the bottom and not make our port at all, by dead reckoning, and they must be great calculators indeed who succeed.  Simplify, simplify.  Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion. . . .

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.  People say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow.  As for work, we haven't any of any consequence. . . .

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails.  Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry—determined to make a day of it.  Why should we knock under and go with the stream?  Let us not be upset and overwhelmed in that terrible rapid and whirlpool called a dinner, situated in the meridian shallows.  Weather this danger and you are safe, for the rest of the way is down hill.  With unrelaxed nerves, with morning vigor, sail by it, looking another way, tied to the mast like Ulysses.  If the engine whistles, let it whistle till it is hoarse for its pains.  If the bell rings, why should we run?  We will consider what kind of music they are like.  Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe. . . .

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.  I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.  I cannot count one.  I know not the first letter of the alphabet.  I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

   

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A Little at a Time
John Erskine

I must have been about 14 then, and I dismissed the incident with the easy carelessness of youth.  But the words Carl Walter spoke that day came back to me years later, and ever since have been of inestimable value to me.

Carl Walter was my piano teacher.  During one of my lessons he asked how much practicing I was doing.  I said three or four hours a day.

"Do you practice in long stretches, an hour at a time?"

"I try to."

"Well, don't!" he exclaimed.  "When you grow up, time won't come in long stretches.  Practice in minutes, whenever you can find them--five or ten before school, after lunch, between chores.  Spread the practice through the day, and piano-playing will become a part of your life."

When I was teaching at Columbia, I wanted to write, but recitations, theme-reading and committee meetings filled my days and evenings.  For two years I got practically nothing down on paper, and my excuse was that I had no time.  Then I recalled what Carl Walter had said.

During the next week I conducted an experiment.  Whenever I had five unoccupied minutes, I sat down and wrote a hundred words or so.  To my astonishment, at the end of the week I had a sizable manuscript ready for revision.

Later on I wrote novels by the same piecemeal method.  Though my teaching schedule had become heavier than ever, in every day there were idle moments which could be caught and put to use.  I even took up piano-playing again, finding that the small intervals of the day provided sufficient time for both writing and piano practice.

There is an important trick in this time-using formula:  you must get into your work quickly.  If you have but five minutes for writing, you can't afford to waste four chewing your pencil.  You must make your mental preparations beforehand, and concentrate on your task almost instantly when the time comes.  Fortunately, rapid concentration is easier than most of us realize.

I confess I have never learned how to let go easily at the end of the five or ten minutes.  But life can be counted on to supply interruptions.  Carl Walter has had a tremendous influence on my life.  To him I owe the discovery that even very short periods of time add up to all the useful hours I need, if I plunge in without delay.

1941
   

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Courage begins when we can admit that there is no life
without some pain, some frustration; that there is no tragic
accident to which we are immune; and that beyond the
normal exercise of prudence we can do nothing about it.

But courage goes on to see that the triumph of life is not
in pains avoided, but in joys lived completely in the moment
of their happening.  Courage lies in never taking so much
as a good meal or a day of health and fair weather for granted.
It lies in learning to be aware of our moments of happiness as
sharply as our moments of pain.  We need not be afraid to
weep when we have cause to weep, so long as we can
really rejoice at every cause for rejoicing.

Victoria Lincoln
   
Rewards and Service
Earl Nightingale

If any person alive is discontented with his or her rewards, they should examine their service.  Action; reaction.  "As ye sow, so shall ye reap."  What you put out will determine what you must get back in return.  It's so simple, so basic, so true--and yet, so misunderstood.

If a business is not expanding to the quick and exciting tempo of the times, it must examine its contribution--its service.  If a person is unhappy with his or her income, that person must examine and reevaluate his or her service.

Now, whom do we serve?  Each of us serves a portion of humanity.  And humanity, to any given person, is the people with whom he or she comes in contact.  It is family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, customers, prospects, employers--all those one has chosen to serve.  Everyone--everyone with whom we have any kind of contact--is to us humanity.  And our rewards will be determined by the extent to which we serve.

Never before in the history of the world have human beings been so interdependent.  It is as impossible to live without serving others as it would be to live if others were not constantly serving us.  And this is good.  The more closely knit this interdependence becomes, the greater will be human achievement.  We need each other, and we literally cannot live without each other.  Every time we strike a match, drink a glass of water, turn out the lights, pick up the telephone, drive our car, put on our clothes, take a bath, mow the lawn or go fishing (try making your own fishhooks sometime), we're being served by other human beings.  Every time we look at our watch, we are being served by a great industry, and by the efforts of thousands of human beings.

We all seek rewards, and we should understand that rewards come in two forms:  tangible and intangible.  That is, rewards include the money we earn, the home we buy, the car we drive, the clothes we wear; and they also include our happiness, our peace of mind, our inner satisfaction, the people we meet and enjoy.

But remember this:  Whatever you seek in the form of rewards, you must first earn in the form of service to others.  All attempts to sidestep this law will end in failure, frustration, and ultimately, demoralization. . . .

To come up with ways to increase your service, read books on your specialty; read what others have found to work well for them.  At the same time, think of original and creative ways to increase your service--ways that are unique with you and the way you are.

Going at it strong for a week or a month and then falling back into old habits is just like working for a week or a month on a plot of ground and then abandoning it.  Before long, it will be no better than before.

Each morning, and during the day, ask yourself this question:  "How can I increase my service today, knowing that my rewards in life must be in exact proportion to my service?"  Do this every day, and you will have started to form one of life's most valuable habits. . . .

If you're worried about your income or your future, you're concentrating on the wrong end of the scale.  Look at the other end; concern yourself only with increasing your service--with becoming great where you are--and your income and your future will take care of themselves.  Don't be like the person sitting in front of that empty fireplace and asking for heat; you're asking for the impossible.  Pile in the wood first.  The heat will come as a result.

Next time you're off by yourself in a quiet place, contemplate your plot of ground, your life, and begin to sow the seeds that will yield you a rich and abundant life.

   

  

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Solitude can become your most
meaningful companion and it can assist
you in being a more giving person in
your spiritual partnerships.  Rather than regarding your partner's need for time
alone as a threat, see it as a time of
renewal that you celebrate.  Make every
effort to help each other have that
space.  Treat that space as sacred.

Wayne Dyer

  
Sir William Osler, visiting one of London's leading children's hospitals, noticed that in a convalescent ward all the children were clustered at one end of the room dressing their dolls, playing games and playing in the sandbox--all except one little girl, who sat forlornly on the edge of her high, narrow bed, hungrily clutching a cheap doll.

The great physician looked at the lonely little figure, then at the ward nurse.  "We've tried to get Susan to play," the nurse whispered, "but the other children just won't have anything to do with her.  You see, no one comes to see her.  Her mother is dead, and her father has been here just once--he brought her that doll.  The children have a strange code.  Visitors mean so much.  If you don't have any visitors, you are ignored."

Sir William walked over to the child's bed and asked, in a voice loud enough for the others to hear, "May I sit down, please?"  The little girl's eyes lit up.  "I can't stay very long for this visit," Osler went on, "but I have wanted to see you so badly."  For five minutes he sat talking with her, even inquiring about her doll's health and solemnly pulling out his stethoscope to listen to the doll's chest.  And as he left, he turned to the youngster and said in a carrying voice, "You won't forget our secret, will you?  And mind, don't tell anyone."

At the door he looked back.  His new friend was now the center of a curious and admiring throng.
   

  

If you can accept the flow of life and give in to it, you will be accepting
what is real.  Only when you accept what is real can you live with it in
peace and happiness.  The alternative is a struggle that will never end
because it is a struggle with the unreal, with a mirage
of life instead of life itself.

Deepak Chopra

    

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