Don’t Read Books!

Don’t read books!
Don’t chant poems!
When you read books your eyeballs wither away
leaving the bare sockets.
When you chant poems your heart leaks out slowly
with each word.
People say reading books is enjoyable.
People say chanting poems is fun.
But if your lips constantly make a sound
like an insect chirping in autumn,
you will only turn into a haggard old man.
And even if you don’t turn into a haggard old man,
it’s annoying for others to have to hear you.

It’s so much better
to close your eyes, sit in your study,
lower the curtains, sweep the floor,
burn incense.
It’s beautiful to listen to the wind,
listen to the rain,
take a walk when you feel energetic,
and when you’re tired go to sleep.
—Chinese poet Yang Wanli in the 12th century

I laughed when I found this poem months ago. I’ve been having more trouble with eyestrain lately, but it will have to get a lot worse before I give up reading. And even though I don’t chant, that hasn’t prevented me from looking old and haggard. Do you agree with anything the poet says?


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Yay, Friends and Values!

Between shingles and its aftermath, plus a former friend who took umbrage at one of my posts, the past six months has been a wild ride. But I can’t help smiling as I write this because the experience has brought me closer to my friends and to my deepest values. That’s as good as it gets in this life.

A couple of days ago we talked about Building Resilience, for those who wanted to. I made my own list about twenty years ago, and even though it’s called The Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People, it’s more a statement of the values I try to live by. It clearly wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but as Cathy has said,

…the Net can only give us a sprinkling of star dust on who we really are; what we personally stand for and why we do whatever we “love”

Here is my “sprinkling of star dust.” Please share yours.

       Traits Of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People

  1. They have a sense of meaning, direction, and purpose. They are value-centered rather than reactive and defensive. They understand that emotions are great sources of energy and motivation but are often poor guides for action. Instead these people use their values as guides.
  2. They realize that the quality of our lives depends on how we focus our attention and our energy. They try to align their thoughts and actions with their values. They know how to motivate themselves to take action.
  3. They don’t judge themselves or others harshly when things go wrong. They focus on what they want, not on what they don’t want.
  4. They are able to tolerate ambiguity, uncertainty, and imperfection. They have a long-range perspective, so they give themselves and others room to grow. They can afford to be resilient, flexible, and creative because they are centered in their values.
  5. They are reasonably optimistic and have a sense of humor. Even though they are dedicated to doing things well, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
  6. They take responsibility for their mental programming, their emotions, and their actions. If they have ineffective ways of thinking and behaving, they evaluate them and make appropriate changes.
  7. They look at adversity as a challenge rather than as a threat. They realize that no matter how the present situation turns out, they will learn and grow from it.
  8. They respect themselves and other people. They have a spirit of cooperation, looking for win-win solutions rather than trying to win over other people or ignoring their own wants and needs because of fear.
  9. They are grateful for the good things in their lives.
  10. They know how to mourn the inevitable losses in life. They know how to let go of things they have no control over.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 18 Comments

We Can’t Believe Everything We Think

I laugh every time I think of this comic. It’s great reminder that we can’t believe everything we think — reality is much more complicated than the mental images our little minds create. Some people disagree, of course, and they believe they possess the truth and everyone else is wrong. Discussion is out of the question.

An extreme case of this is people who constantly criticize other people, no matter what the issue. Lyndon Johnson had a fellow working for him once, and when Johnson went by the fellow’s messy desk he said,

A cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind.

So the fellow worked hard to clean up the mess and later when Johnson came by again the desktop was clear. Instead of the praise the fellow hoped for, Johnson said,

An empty desk is a sign of an empty mind.

With some people you can never win.

Eventually Johnson received the same treatment from the press. Everything he did was met with criticism, so one day he complained,

If I learned to walk across the Potomac the press would say, “Johnson doesn’t know how to swim.”

It’s hard not to smile at the poetic justice of that.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 14 Comments

Making a Difference


Click on link for higher resolution.

If we set out sights low enough, we’re bound to be a success.


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Building Resilience

Resilience is essentially a set of skills –- as opposed to a disposition or personality type –- that make it possible for people not only to get through hard times but to thrive during and after them. Just as rubber rebounds after being squeezed or squished, so do resilient people.
The Science of Bouncing Back, Time Magazine

According to the article some of the things a person can do to build resilience are
resilienceThis list isn’t exhaustive, and as usual, one size doesn’t fit all — we each have to find what works for us.

Do you believe it’s possible to become more resilient? If so, do you think it’s worth the effort or would it be easier in the long run to wait and deal with the hard times when they come?

I, of course, like the skill-development approach — mostly because I think it’s fun, but it did pay off handsomely a few months ago when I had shingles in my eye.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 11 Comments


It’s not as bad as in this cartoon, but if you have a choice, stay out of hospitals in July.

Unfortunately doctors need to learn on real patients. That’s why they say if you have a choice stay out of hospitals in July, when the new interns come in.

Everyone – even doctors, especially doctors – have to learn and train in order to become proficient. Interns start out as rookies, not seasoned veterans. Experience takes time.

So if you have to go to a hospital in July, treat the new interns with patience and respect.

Then check with your nurse to make sure they know what they’re doing.
Why You Should Never Go to the Hospital in July

The fellow describes his first night on call as an intern. A patient’s heart went into ventricular fibrillation, and the fellow had to shock the heart to restore a natural rhythm. Unfortunately he placed the paddles over the patient’s liver instead of the heart, and he would have killed the patient if the nurse hadn’t corrected the error in time.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 11 Comments

How Cool Is That?

I phoned Andy about 10:45 yesterday morning, and he answered! He was about three-quarters of the way down from his hike in the mountains. After lunch he phoned here as he sat in his rocking chair on our front porch. How cool is that?

He tried phoning again on the way home, and the phone rang but we were cut off before we could say much. We also did some texting, which seems a bit more reliable, so he’ll send a lot of short texts tomorrow. He said don’t bother answering, he will send one letter in each text, in alphabetical order so when he gets home we can see if any didn’t get through.

Again, bless Tim for showing that we can get some reception up there. We’ve been wishing for it for a long time.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 8 Comments

Fading Away

According to Simon Driver, head of a large project studying energy production in our near universe,

The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age. The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze.

There’s no need to panic, of course. The process will take billions of years, but I laughed when I read about it. It reminded me of a man who interviewed a 98-year-old woman in a nursing home. He expected her to talk about her life, the times that had been meaningful to her. Instead she said,

Why me? Why to I have to die?

It’s best not to take our fading away personally.


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 6 Comments

Exclamation Points

I sure hope my exclamation points don’t quit. Some of us flat, uninspiring people need them!


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 5 Comments


tammy’s latest post, labels, reminded me of George Bernard Shaw’s quote:


Yay, tammy! Yay, George Bernard Shaw!


Posted in Life As a Shared Adventure | 13 Comments