Ernest Hemingway’s Opinions and Meditations on What it Means To Be a Writer


Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

“The most essential gift for a writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all good writers have it.”

“…He is too big a name for any writer to dismiss. At least not until  he or she has even read some of his work. Hemingway gently haunted me for years, but up until recently, my response has always been the same. Later. I’ll read you later. Another time. There was no way that any man as manly as Hemingway could understand any part of me I thought, and one thing I’ve always been certain of is that to love a book, I have to find myself in it. I love books because they have the ability articulate parts of me that I’m unable to make sense of alone. So how could Hemingway, this burly man with his gun and his whiskey,  do this?

My question was answered a few weeks ago when I came across an article with some of Hemingway’s quotes, which were all about what being a writer means to him. But they were also about what being a writer means to me. He articulated that part of me beautifully….”

Originally posted on Ludica:

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Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death

Roger McGough CBE FRSL (born 9 November 1937) is an English poet, performance poet, broadcaster, children's author and playwright.

Roger McGough CBE FRSL (born 9 November 1937) is an English poet, performance poet, broadcaster, children’s author and playwright.


 by Roger McGough

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and in between
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath deathWhen I’m 73
and in constant good tumourmay I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death

Henry V – St.Crispin’s Day Speech

Ok, Ok, OK. It’s true. No one cares about St. Crispin’s day as far as I know (or care, frankly). But I don’t need much of an excuse to play one of my all-time favorite Shakespearean speeches, by one of the best actors:

Today is St. Crispin’s Daydedicated to the patron saint of shoemakers, who was martyred by the Roman Emperor Maximian on this date in 287 A.D. St. Crispin and his brother, St. Crispinian, lived at Soisson in France, where they preached during the day and supported themselves by making shoes at night. It was on St. Crispin’s Day in 1415 that English troops, commanded by King Henry V, engaged the French army near the village of Agincourt in France. Despite being outnumbered nearly six to one, the English pulled off one of the most brilliant victories in English military history. In Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth, King Henry addresses his troops on the eve of battle with a memorable speech:


I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great









by Michael Blumenthal

and, to be perfectly honest, it bums me out.
So many great ones! —libidinal heroes,
idealists, warrior-chieftains, revolutionaries,
fabulists of all sorts, even the great Irish pig farmers
and Armenian raisin growers —and who,
I ask myself, am I by comparison? Calmed
by Valium, urged on by Viagra, uplifted
by Prozac, I go about my daily rounds,
a quotidian member of the quotidian hierarchy,
a Perseus with neither a war nor a best friend,
and sink to the depths of despair
on the broken wings of my own mundanity.

If only some god had given me greatness,
I surely would have made something of it—
perhaps a loftier, more humble poem than this,
or some übermenschliche gesture that would reveal
my superiority to the ordinary beings and things
of this world. But here I am now, one of
the earth’s mere Sancho Panzas, leading
those heroic others through the world on their
magnificent horses, merely turning the page, dreaming
my own small deeds into their magnificent arms.

“I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great” by Michael Blumenthal, from No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012. © Etruscan Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

What will they remember you for?


These thoughts gnaw at me, too.

Originally posted on Broadside:

By Caitlin Kelly


A few days ago, we attended a memorial service in suburban Maryland for a family friend of my husband’s, a handsome, distinguished architect whose work spanned New York City and Detroit and who helped design JFK Airport.

I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but what a glorious service!

What a powerful reminder of the complicated, messy, loving lives we lead.

How we are often both reticent and expressive, if perhaps not when, where and how others might most have needed or wished for.

How our smallest words and deeds can, unwittingly, leave a lasting mark.

How much we crave connection, even as we blunder and stagger and do it so imperfectly that forgiveness is sometimes the greatest gift we are given.

How, for some fathers, their children are their greatest joy.

What did his friends, children, grandchildren and colleagues remember?

– He baked bread in…

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Regrets: A Dream from Long Ago


Regrets and sorrow rise at night, old ghosts of half-remembered sin accuse with phantom fingers, jabbing from the shadows.

A promise broken, the hopes of others unfulfilled, choices made for all the wrong reasons… fear and ignorance behind most.

Rising, in a dream, is a vision of Uncle Willie’s death. Alone, on pavement at night with steam rising from a grate. Clutching a threadbare cast-off coat that once jumped from cabs and hung in coatrooms of offices on Wall Street. Uncle Willie, cast-off, with one hand reaching out. For no one.  Anyone.  Everyone.

And he fell. In the night. Alone.

On the streets. With steam rising from an iron grate icking his dirty white hair with hot indifference. In the night, on a littered street slick with greasy rain.

Mocha skin reflects in trickles of fallen rain congealing on asphalt, streaks of light stretching off, away.  Eyes open, rubbery face melting away as he dies. “What did I ever do? Why?”

Eyes open to the end, but not seeing the answer. There is no answer. We have no answer. Pain and death come to us alone, always.

But some remembered Uncle Willie when the story of finding him hit the paper. Mourned him again when he was found and lost in the same moment. Hand to mouth… “Oh, Uncle Willie!” Tears, and the same pain of that awful question with no answer.


From 2010

Fear the Right Things


“Don’t be afraid of death so much as an inadequate life. ”

—Berthold Brecht

I’m traveling alone, covering some new ground in the West. Hot air balloons in Albuquerque, old Santa Fe with its Spanish Colonial roots still growing deep in the bright sunshine. Up I-25 through Colorado, to the old cattle town of Cheyenne, then out 23 miles to stay in a new house on an old, windswept hillside. Some wine, some good food, some talk, some herb, some sleep and coffee, in no particular order.

Then a trip to a shooting range in a day or so. It’s been years since I’ve held a gun. I grew up on a farm and guns were what I grew up with. I realized I need to do some practical research for the book, though. So off the range with several weapons my hosts have, boxes of ammo and targets. I need to feel the kick, the weight, the explosion of them. I need to hear the sounds and smell the smoke. But these are my childhood chums, too. I have to confess that what we rural kids did back before everyone got so paranoid was to shoot guns and blow stuff up, and no one batted an eye. This is about that, too. :-) But research can mingle with memory just fine.

One Foot in Front of the Other


dreamin'It happens. The dry spells drift in around my ankles like sand, and before I know it, I can’t seem to move my feet.

Oh, well. It happens. It will pass. In the meantime, I read your posts and silently urge you on. Don’t worry about me. I’m resting, that’s all. Getting down to basics. It happens. It will pass. I’ll catch up later.

And in the meantime, I read….

The Hill

by Mark Strand

I have come this far on my own legs,
missing the bus, missing taxis,
climbing always. One foot in front of the other,
that is the way I do it.

It does not bother me, the way the hill goes on.
Grass beside the road, a tree rattling
its black leaves. So what?
The longer I walk, the farther I am from everything.

One foot in front of the other. The hours pass.
One foot in front of the other. The years pass.
The colors of arrival fade.
That is the way I do it.

“The Hill” by Mark Strand, from Collected Poems. © Knopf, 2014. (buy now)

Apple Kool-Aid is the Best Kool-Aid


A truly fine piece of writing.


This is not a dream recounted. The Apple Store is real.

After many years of stubbornly hanging onto my identity as a PC-person, I finally relent and buy a damned MacBook Air. PC people have a tendency to take an absurd defensive stance whenever the Apple folks roll out a new product. We say: Fuck you, Apple. I don’t want an iThing. We puff our chests out, proudly. Then, eventually we buy the iThing, even though a part of us dies with each iPurchase. Because, let’s face it: Apple is good at making stuff.

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Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)


I can identify with this….

Originally posted on News:

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and…

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My First!


I’m starting a collection of these. I haven’t done anything like this for a looooong time, and this doesn’t bother me (the only thing I regret is the entry fee), but they took a long time to decide and I take comfort in that. (Delusions are nice. Do the voices in my head bother you, too?)

It made me wonder, though… who out there holds the record for rejection letters? It’s par for the course. Steinbeck got hundreds before getting “Of Mice and Men” published. What stories do you have? How do you react? Lots of bourbon? Long walks on a short pier? A shrug and then thinking “I can use this!” ?



The quarrel of Oberon and Titania

Lovers and Madmen Have Such Seething Brains

The quarrel of Oberon and Titania

The quarrel of Oberon and Titania

“Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Act 5, Scene 1

More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.

The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

Arendt on Trial


Putting my newsman’s hat on for a moment, in light of the story about ISIS/ISIL and the speechifying at the UN yesterday. Seems there are parallels to Europe in the 1930s with respect to the way that movement is attracting disaffected youth to their cause. It reminds me of the way people like Ernest Hemingway went to fight Franco’s army in the Spanish Civil war, while Hitler backed Franco.

This section caught my eye:

“In other words, evil originates in the neediness of lonely, alienated bourgeois people who live lives so devoid of higher meaning that they give themselves fully to movements. Such joiners are not stupid; they are not robots. But they are thoughtless in the sense that they abandon their independence, their capacity to think for themselves, and instead commit themselves absolutely to the fictional truth of the movement. It is futile to reason with them. They inhabit an echo chamber, having no interest in learning what others believe. It is this thoughtless commitment that permits idealists to imagine themselves as heroes and makes them willing to employ technological implements of violence in the name of saving the world.”

Originally posted on The Frailest Thing:

arendtThe recent publication of an English translation of Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer has yielded a handful of reviews and essays, like this one, framing the book as a devastating critique of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

The critics seem to assume that Arendt’s thesis amounted to a denial or diminishment of Eichmann’s wickedness. Arendt’s famous formulation, “the banality of evil,” is taken to mean that Eichmann was simply a thoughtless bureaucrat thoughtlessly following orders. Based on Stangneth’s exhaustive work, they conclude that Eichmann was anything but thoughtless in his orchestration of the death of millions of Jews. Ergo, Arendt was wrong about Eichmann.

But this casual dismissal of Arendt’s argument is built on a misunderstanding of her claims. Arendt certainly believed that Eichmann’s deeds were intentional and genuinely evil. She believed he deserved to die…

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Comedy and Tragedy

300th post. 

Horace Walpole

“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”

Walpole, Horace

It’s the birthday of Horace Walpole (books by this author), the 18th-century bon vivant and 4th Earl of Orford, who once mused, “The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.” Born in London to the son of the first British prime minister, he was educated at Eton and King’s College. An art historian, antiquarian, Whig politician, and member of Parliament, he is primarily known today as a prolific man of letters and the premier chronicler of the political, social, and cultural history of the 18th century. “The whole secret of life,” he wrote, “is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well,” and so, unhampered by the need to work, he devoted his time to social gatherings, correspondence, and writing. He wrote more than 3,000 letters to friends, family, and colleagues and, combined, his letters and memoirs fill more than 19 volumes, a tremendous historical legacy. “If I write,” he said, “I must write facts.” He believed in painting men and women as they were, and had no regrets in referring to the overly rouged Duchess of Bedford as “like an orange-peach, half-red and half-yellow.”






Stories of loss, regrets, anger and pain,
Humanity sloshing through gray days, numb to what might be,
Stuck in what was. Second thoughts always.

Disappointments. Loneliness.

Dreams gone first sour, then withering.

But then hope reappears,
Wiser, cautious, tentative,
But hope nonetheless.
The past lingers like the smell of dead mouse in the walls,
Gradually fading, but sickening. Hidden, but everywhere.
But hope says…maybe….
Maybe it can end.
It’s not rational. But it just may be true.

Open the windows and doors,
Feel the sun on your face,
Embrace the pain and fear,
Hold it close and forgive all your mistakes.
Forgive all. That is your only escape.

Winter is but a season,
All things change.
Even this.

Everything is temporary.

Hesitation Wood

EndofSummer_posteredges copy


The nights have gone cool, the days not as warm.
Sundown slips backward,
A coward’s daily retreat.
Dawn awakes later, shivering …by minutes,
Do they think we don’t notice?

The summer has been rainy, more than usual,
“Can’t complain, wouldn’t do no good,” my neighbor says.
We squint up at the sky –as if a moment of somber nods would make a difference–
Shake our heads wisely but think the same thing:
Another year has almost gone, hasn’t it?
Regrets chitter, time races faster.
We don’t dwell on it, or talk about it, but it’s in the backs of our minds.

We mark it most when the hours of darkness lengthen,
When the nights are cool.
When the sun rises behind stubborn clouds and
Fog blooms between trees, sits in the valleys,
Blankets the highways with obscurity.

We know what’s coming, near and far. It connects us
For a moment, then it’s gone, lost in thoughts of
Winter’s chores, and sins unconfessed
And the sweet, sweet days that slip through

Our fingers like the strings of a child’s balloon,
We cherish, even as it floats away.

Everything is temporary. Everything changes. Everything must pass.

It was just after dawn, at the edge of the woods.
I stood in the hazy boundary light, breathing in the musk of damp leaves and
Pine needles, listened to critters scurrying through
The careless litter of oak and maple and locust and walnut trees,
Feeling the big pause.

The forest felt it too, and lay hushed by the mist.
The fog came last night on its little cat feet,
Conjured up from the ground and the air.
I hesitated, taking in every detail.

This moment, this place, the path ahead, hidden, but inviting,
The textures of the rough bark on the railings, the lichen and moss
On the trunks, spots of green and brown and grey and muted reds and yellows.

A great feeling welled up and tears
Ran down my cheeks unnoticed, unchecked.
I was one with the moment, joyful and melancholy,
One with the world, on the edge of the wood filled with mist and mystery,
Like any path. Any of thousands I’ve traveled. With something new up ahead.

What was is ending, as always.
Every ending is a beginning.
The place from which we start anew.

The rough bark of the railing scrapes my palm,
Grounds me in the Now,

I step onto the path, leaves crunching quietly.
Where does this path lead this time, I ask the trees?

They don’t speak, but thoughts whisper through the mist:

“Why don’t you find out?”

© Hemmingplay 2014

Old Blue


Old Blue

by William Stafford

Some day I’ll crank up that Corvette, let it
mumble those marvelous oil-swimming gears
and speak its authority. I’ll rock its big wheels
till they roll free onto the drive. Nobody can
stop us then: loaded with everything, we’ll pick up
momentum for the hill north of town. Mona,
you didn’t value me and it’s too late now.
Steve, remember your refusal to go along on
those deals when you all opposed me?—you had
your chance. Goodby, you squealers and grubbies;
goodby, old house that begins to leak, neighbors
gone stodgy, days that lean casually grunting
and snoring together. For anyone who ever needs
the person they slighted, this is my address: “Gone.”

“Old Blue” by William Stafford from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

*DISCLAIMER: I don’t own a Corvette, I don’t harbor resentments against anyone named “Steve”, and don’t know anyone named Mona (but you’re better off without her, buddy). But who among us hasn’t had the urge to take off one day, say goodbye to the squealers and grubbies and days that grunt and snore together. The day’s coming…. I can almost hear the the crunch of big wheels on gravel, the burbling, throaty rumble of an old ‘Vette… Ah, yesssss.

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Picture of the Day: Embrace Impermanence


Celebrate the temporary.

Originally posted on TwistedSifter:


Photograph by TREY RATCLIFF
Website | Flickr | Google+ | Facebook | Prints

Embrace was a 72 ft wooden, cathedral-like sculpture of two human figures, “in celebration of all our relationships”. The site-specific artwork was created by the Pier Group for Burning Man 2014.

It was the largest project to date for the Pier Group, which gained acclaim for its previous Burning Man installations The Pier, Pier 2, and the Ichthyosaur Puppet Project. Crews began construction on Embrace in October 2013 at the Generator community art space in Reno, and in studios in Vancouver and Portland.

During this year’s festival the massive wooden sculpture was set aflame and Trey Ratcliff was on hand to capture the incredible moment. Below you can see what the interactive sculpture looked like before it was burned. You can also see a video tour of the interior here. For more information…

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A Novel is Like a Marriage

David Foster Wallace world copyright Giovanni Giovannetti/effigie

David Foster Wallace 1962-2008

Novels are like marriages. You have to get into the mood to write them — not because of what writing them is going to be like, but because it’s so sad to end them. When I finished my first book, I really felt like I’d fallen in love with my main character and that she’d died. You have to understand, writing a novel gets very weird and invisible-friend-from-childhood-ish, then you kill that thing, which was never really alive except in your imagination, and you’re supposed to go buy groceries and talk to people at parties and stuff. Characters in stories are different. They come alive in the corners of your eyes. You don’t have to live with them.


Too Late to Start Over

MilkyWay_Java_justin Ng

“My soul is in the sky.” ― William Shakespeare

“The signs are all around me,
The storm is raging still.
The wind brings sounds of battle,
From that far distant hill.

“I thought this all was over,
I thought my race was run.
But just as I was resting,
My peaceful life’s undone.

“So. Now one final trial:
My guts recoil in fear.
He’s coming soon, despite me,
I feel him drawing near.

 “Comes weary resignation,
And anger pushing blood,
Determined to leave honor,
Where once foul evil stood.

Theodore “Ted” Duffy, “Running Girl”

Perfect Love


“First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you. Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had. …And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”

— John Steinbeck

The Romulan Right of Statement


“…No one forced me to keep my mouth shut and my fingers still for all of those years. It was my choice…. Today I can face the question: how badly do I want to speak my story? Am I willing to do it imperfectly? Am I willing to do it even if it’s not deemed important? While I stand (as we all do) awaiting my death, am I willing to put passion into my statement, even if it might only be filed away with a myriad of others?…”

Originally posted on Not This Song:

How much does our story matter? In a world with billions of people and billions of other stories, why spend time and effort shouting ours into the aether? Will it not be drowned out by the shrieking multitude, so aptly portrayed by the human zoo we find online?

Storytelling is part of our basic nature, of course, but we overthink it. We think our story is only worth telling if it’s inspirational enough, or shocking enough, or has enough commercial value. And after we’ve told it, we think it’s not good enough unless it’s promoted enough and gets enough positive responses. We idolize a select few paid storytellers, aspiring to be like them and seeing ourselves as failures if we aren’t.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a better storyteller! There’s nothing wrong with lusting to be the person who makes the tribespeople whisper excitedly that you’re going to…

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It’s Because I like Pears


Up too early. Everything hurts because the dog was hogging the middle of the bed and it was easier to let her than shove 45 pounds of dead weight, grumbling, to the floor. This has got to change.

It’s time to hit the shower and drag my carcass into Hormone Central. I’m stalling, of course. But I would like to share one last thing, in case I don’t come back. ….

Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer

by Jane Kenyon

We turned into the drive,
and gravel flew up from the tires
like sparks from a fire. So much
to be done—the unpacking, the mail
and papers … the grass needed mowing ….
We climbed stiffly out of the car.
The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

And then we noticed the pear tree,
the limbs so heavy with fruit
they nearly touched the ground.
We went out to the meadow; our steps
made black holes in the grass;
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.

“Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer” by Jane Kenyon, from Collected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


I’m insulted in several ways.


Great post. And the comments are hysterical.

Originally posted on The Bloggess:

I think most cats technically already have great mustaches, but you just can’t tell because we don’t shave the rest of their bodies, and I think that’s probably very sad for them because they can’t show off their dapper kitty facial hair.

Or at least, that was the reason that I gave Victor when he asked me why I kept trying to stick a fake mustache on Hunter S. Thomcat.

PS. This is unrelated but I thought I’d share.  You know when websites use algorithms to figure out what you’d be most likely buy and then they put those recommendations on your front page?  Yeah.  So this is what Amazon personally suggested I’d want today:

amazon wtf

What they said:

“Get Yourself a Little Something” 

What they’re really saying:

“Hey!  CHECK OUT THIS straight jacket!  Buy some lizard feet!  Treat yourself, ya FREAKY lunatic!”

And I think the most insulting thing here is…

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Conspiracies against progress: why the rise of the modern conspiracy theory should concern us all


Plane Lands Safely

Originally posted on Scholars and Rogues | Progressive Culture:

by David Lambert

Contrails are the wispy white clouds of frozen water vapor that streak across the sky in the wake of jet engines. But according to 17 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds—my generation—contrails are actually “chemtrails,” poisonous chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons. As the world becomes an increasingly scary and complex place with no simple answers, the temptation to create narratives explaining all of its evil will grow. And here lies the heart of the modern conspiracy theory. Yet when fantasy overtakes reality, progress suffers.

Whenever anything bad happens in the world today, from September 11th to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there is a growing gaggle quick to cry, “wake up sheeple!”

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Connect the Dots Later

steve jobs quotes

I usually spend some prep time reading– books, poems, other bloggers, quotes — before writing. The quote at the bottom is one that hit me today as I was looking for something to help a young friend find the courage to plunge ahead, not knowing how things will turn out. We just move forward, into the mist that is the future, and if we’re lucky, we learn to embrace the unknown with love.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

—Steve Jobs


Taking v. making

“You know we’re constantly taking. We don’t make most of the food we eat, we don’t grow it, anyway. We wear clothes other people make, we speak a language other people developed, we use a mathematics other people evolved and spent their lives building. I mean we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful ecstatic feeling to create something and put it into the pool of human experience and knowledge.”

–Steve Jobs, in a Nov. 1983 interview with Steven Levy two months before the launch of the first Macintosh. Levy wasa freelance journalist for Rolling Stone at the time and later wrote a book about Jobs and Apple, “Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything.”

We Can’t Be Anything We Want To Be


Or can we? I’m not sure who started this, but I’ve heard the message all my life that a wish is as good as it needs to be. We live in a Disney fantasy. Wish to be an astronaut and it will happen. Want to be a billionaire hard enough and the dollars must — must — eventually roll in.

Well, it is all bullshit, isn’t it? I know people had good intentions and wanted to be encouraging, but this led to children getting ribbons for just showing up, and trophies for “participating,” even if they sucked at whatever game it was. I don’t think that’s such a good thing to do to a kid. I’m not advocating cruelty, but merely truth. “You are going to need to practice a whole hell of a lot if you want to play the piano in a way that doesn’t hurt people’s ears.” What do you think?

My own experience and thinking falls more in line with Pressfield’s, below. We are the sculptors of much of our own destiny, taking the raw clay of us and scraping away things that don’t belong, and shaping the rest into the true realized self. It takes a lifetime. It’s frustrating for the young, but this is something that just takes time. A lifetime.

But we can’t control everything. By no means all, as others act upon our lives and random chance acts on the paths we’re on, and the Universe has a perverse sense of humor.

But isn’t it a big enough job to just be active in our own creation, using whatever raw materials we’re born with or find around us?

“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.

“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

“The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don’t create the new life, they only bear it. This is why birth is such a humbling experience. The new mom weeps in awe at the little miracle in her arms. She knows it came out of her but not from her, through her but not of her.”
― Steven PressfieldThe War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Meditation on Purpose


“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?

—But it’s nicer here…

So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doings things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

—But we have to sleep sometime…

Agreed. But nature set a limit on that—as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota. You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.”
― Marcus AureliusMeditations

Your Daily Devotional for August 20, 2014


And it’s only Wednesday. …

Originally posted on Scholars and Rogues | Progressive Culture:

My list of pet peeves just keeps growing. Here are my latest: “people who say ‘less’ instead of ‘fewer’,” “people who whistle in public” and “people.”
Your Daily Devotional is a lightly-edited entry from my Twitter feed. Follow me at @jefftiedrich

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