Monday, August 30, 2010

The Meaning Of Life


Be happy
Show up
Follow your heart
Find a new perspective
Have a sense of wonder...
Find people you love...
Set goals
Help Others
Dance
Pamper yourself...
Face your fears...
Go to a museum
Exercise
Limit television
Get in touch with nature
Lighten up
Get a good night's sleep
Read books
Buy yourself flowers
Don't compare yourself with others
Don't beat yourself up
Be open to new ideas
Don't focus on negative thoughts...
...Focus on creating what you desire
Make time just to have fun
Keep the romance in your life
Make a gratitude list
Love your Mother Earth
Want what you have
Be true to yourself

Bless The Broken Road


Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

... Rascal Flatts 

I Almost Wish We Were Butterflies...


I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - 
three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain ...

... John Keats 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give Thy Thoughts No Tongue


Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend;
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all,—to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

... Hamlet (Act 1), William Shakespeare

Please Don't Stop The Rain


If it's gonna be a rainy day
There's nothing we can do to make it change
We can pray for sunny weather
But that won't stop the rain
Feeling like you got no place to run
I can be your shelter 'til it's done
We can make this last forever
So please don't stop the rain

I thought that time was on our side
I've put in far too many years
To let this pass us by
You see life is a crazy thing
There'll be good times and there'll be bad times
And everything in between
And I don't know which way it's gonna go

... James Morrison

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast
That, whether there be shine or gloom o'ercast,
They always must be with us, or we die.

Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
Will trace the story of Endymion.
The very music of the name has gone
Into my being, and each pleasant scene
Is growing fresh before me as the green
Of our own valleys: so I will begin
Now while I cannot hear the city's din;
Now while the early budders are just new,
And run in mazes of the youngest hue
About old forests; while the willow trails
Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer
My little boat, for many quiet hours,
With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
Many and many a verse I hope to write,
Before the daisies, vermeil rimmed and white,
Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober gold,
Be all about me when I make an end!
And now at once, adventuresome, I send
My herald thought into a wilderness:
There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

... John Keats

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;

When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

... John Keats

Give Me, Oh God...


Give me, oh God...

Deep thoughts
High dreams
Few words
Much silence
The narrow path
The wide outlook
The end in peace.

Amen.

... The Inner Life, Pir Inayat Khan

I Am Not Done With My Changes


I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

... The Collected Poems, Stanley Kunitz

Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

... St Francis of Assisi

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep


Now I lay me down to sleep, 
I pray the Lord my soul to keep, 
If I should die before I wake, 
I pray the Lord my soul to take. 
If I should live for other days, 
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

I Have Measured Out My Life With Coffee Spoons


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair -
(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!")
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin -
(They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!")
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all -
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all -
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all -
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet - and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" -
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all."
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor -
And this, and so much more? -
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous -
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

... The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, TS Eliot

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Wings To Fly


God turns you from one feeling to another
and teaches by means of opposites,
so that you will have two wings to fly,
not one.

... Mathnawi II: 1552; 1554, Mevlana Rumi

Whom He Has Chosen For His Leader


If in the darkness of ignorance,
you don't recognize a person's true nature,
look to see whom he has chosen for his leader.

... Mathnawi IV: 1640, Mevlana Rumi

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Its A Small World After All


On March 13, 2007, I handed over the keys to my house, put my possessions in storage and headed out to travel around the world with nothing but a backpack, my laptop and a camera.

Three and a half years and 70 countries later, I've gotten the equivalent of a Ph.D in general knowledge about the people and places of Planet Earth.

Here are some of the things I've learned:

1) People are generally good. Many people are afraid of the world beyond their door, yet the vast majority of humans are not thieves, murderers or rapists. They are people just like you and me who are trying to get by, to help their families and go about living their lives. There is no race, religion or nationality that is exempt from this rule. How they go about living their lives might be different, but their general goals are the same.

2) The media lies. If you only learned about other countries from the news, you'd think the world was a horrible place. The media will always sensationalize and simplify a story. I was in East Timor when the assassination attempts on President José Ramos-Horta, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão in 2008. The stories in the news the next day were filed from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur, not Dili. It was all secondhand news. I was in Bangkok during the political protests this year, but you'd never have any idea they were taking places if you were not in the immediate area where the protests were taking place. The media makes us scared of the rest of the world, and we shouldn't be.

3) The world is boring. If there isn't a natural disaster or an armed conflict, most places will never even be mentioned in the news. When is the last time you've heard Laos or Oman mentioned in a news story? What makes for good news are exceptional events, not ordinary events. Most of the world, just like your neighborhood, is pretty boring. It can be amazingly interesting, but to the locals, they just go about living their lives.

4) People don't hate Americans. I haven't encountered a single case of anti-Americanism in the last three-and-a-half years. Not one. (And no, I don't tell people I am Canadian.) If anything, people are fascinated by Americans and want to know more about the US. This isn't to say they love our government or our policies, but they do not have an issue with Americans as people. Even in places you'd think would be very anti-American, such as the Middle East, I was welcomed by friendly people.

5) Americans aren't as ignorant as you might think. There is a stereotype that Americans don't know much about the rest of the world. There is some truth to that, but isn't as bad as you might believe. The reason this stereotype exists is because most other countries on Earth pay very close attention to American news and politics. Most people view our ignorance in terms of reciprocity: i.e. I know about your country, why don't you know about mine? The truth is, if you quizzed people about third-party countries other than the US, they are equally as ignorant. When I confronted one German man about this, I asked him who the Prime Minister of Japan was. He had no clue. The problem with America is that we suffer from the same problem as the rest of the world: an obsession with American news. The quality of news I read in other parts of the world is on a par with what you will hear on NPR.

6) Americans don't travel. This stereotype is true. Americans don't travel overseas as much as Brits, Dutch, Germans, Canadians or Scandinavians. There are some good reasons for this (big country, short vacation time) and bad ones (fear and ignorance). We don't have a gap year culture like they have in the UK and we don't tend to take vacations longer than a week. I can't think of a single place I visited where I met Americans in numbers anywhere close to our relative population.

7) The rest of the world isn't full of germs. Many people travel with their own supply of water and an industrial vat of hand sanitizer. I can say in full honestly that I have never used hand sanitizer or gone out of my way to avoid contact with germs during my travels. It is true that in many places you can get nasty illnesses from drinking untreated water, but I don't think this means you have be a traveling Howard Hughes. Unless you have a particularly weak immune system or other illness, I wouldn't worry too much about local bugs.

8) You don't need a lot stuff. Condensing my life down from a 3,000 sq/ft house to a backpack was a lesson in knowing what really matters. I found I could get by just fine without 97% of the things I had sitting around my home. Now, if I purchase something, I think long and hard about it because anything I buy I will have to physically carry around. Because I have fewer possessions, I am more likely to buy things of higher quality and durability.

[Points 9-20 in the attachment]


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tichborne's Elegy


My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

... Tichborne's Elegy, Chidiock Tichborne

Even The Ordinary Can Be Beautiful


Love makes you do crazy things, insane things. Things in a million years you'd never see yourself do. But there you are doing them... can't help it.

Things don't have to be extraordinary to be beautiful, even the ordinary can be beautiful.

... Wicker Park

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

Come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start

... The Scientist, Coldplay

Fleeting Glimpse Of Eternity


Summer romances begin for all kinds of reasons, but when all is said and done, they have one thing in common. They're shooting stars, a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, fleeting glimpse of eternity, and in a flash they're gone.

They didn't agree on much. In fact they rarely agreed on anything. They fought all the time and they challenged each other everyday... But in spite of their differences, they had one important thing in common: they were crazy about each other.

My Dearest Allie. I couldn't sleep last night because I know that it's over between us. I'm not bitter anymore, because I know that what we had was real. And if in some distant place in the future we see each other in our new lives, I'll smile at you with joy and remember how we spent the summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love. The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that's what you've given me. That's what I hope to give to you forever. I love you. I'll be seeing you. Noah

He got the notion into his head that if he restored the old house where they had come that night, Allie would find a way to come back to him. Some called it a labor of love. Others called it something else. But in fact, Noah had gone a little mad.

She had come back into his life like a sudden flame; blazing and streaming into his heart. Noah stayed up all night contemplating the certain agony he knew would be his if he were to lose her twice.

Why didn't you write me? Why? It wasn't over for me, I waited for you for seven years. But now it's too late.
I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you everyday for a year.
You wrote me?
Yes... it wasn't over, it still isn't over

So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that's what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out.

I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived: I've loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.

Do you think that our love can create miracles?
Yes I do. That's what brings you back to me everytime.
Do you think our love, can take us away together?
I think our love can do anything we want it to.
I love you.
I love you, Allie.
Good night.
Good night. I'll be seeing you.

... The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks

Lover, You Should've Come Over


And maybe I'm too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you're on my mind so you never know

Broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed it
Where are you tonight, child you know how much i need it
Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run

Well I feel too young to hold on
And i'm much too old to break free and run
Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage i've done
Sweet lover, you should've come over
Oh, love well i'm waiting for you

... Lover, You Should've Come Over, Jeff Buckley

Run


I'll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You've been the only thing that's right
In all I've done

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Louder, louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Louder, louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

Slower, slower
We don't have time for that
All I want is to find an easier way
To get out of our little heads

Have heart my dear
We're bound to be afraid
Even if it's just for a few days
Making up for all this mess

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

... Run, Snow Patrol

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Expectations


I'm not going to tell the story the way it happened. I'm going to tell it the way I remember it.

She'll only break your heart, it's a fact. And even though I warn you, even though I guarantee you that the girl will only hurt you terribly, you'll still pursue her. Ain't love grand?

The night all of my dreams came true, and like all happy endings, it was a tragedy of my own device, for I succeeded. I had cut myself loose from Joe, from the past, from the gulf, from poverty. I had invented myself. I'd done it cruelly, but I had done it. I was free! I did it! I did it! I am a wild success! I sold 'em all, all my paintings. You don't have to be embarrassed by me anymore. I'm rich! Isn't that what you wanted? Isn't it great? Aren't we happy now? Don't you understand that everything I do, I do it for you? Anything that might be special in me, is you...

Give me your hand. You know what this is? It's my heart. And it's broken. Can you feel it? I'm sorry, I'm sorry ... What have I done?

... Great Expectations

Bright Star


Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

... News of Keat's demise and Bright Star narrated by Abbie Cornish 
in the wonderful movie of the sane name "Bright Star"

I Cannot Be Unhappy


From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind ... As long as this exists, ... and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies - while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.

... Anne Frank

Rethinking Islamic Reform


... Shaykh Hamza Yusuf & Professor Tariq Ramadan

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Here I Stand


There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years . ." 
The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" 
Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."

This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer - not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition - a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared...

And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.

... Valedictorian Erica Goldson's graduation speech
Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

Rabbit Heart


This is a gift, it comes with a price
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
Midas is king and he holds me so tight
And turns me to gold in the sunlight

I look around, but I can't find you (raise it up)
If only I could see your face (raise it up)
Instead of rushing towards the skyline (raise it up)
I wish that I could just be brave

... Rabbit Heart, Florence & The Machine  

To Leave This All Behind...


In the light of the sun, is there anyone? Oh it has begun...
Oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
This world you must've crossed...

Essential yet appealed, carry all your thoughts across
An open field,
When flowers gaze at you... they're not the only ones who cry
When they see you...

I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the summer, some snow would be nice...

... Boston, Augustana

Miracle


There are only two ways to live your life. 
One is as though nothing is a miracle. 
The other is as if everything is.

... Albert Einstein

Character vs Reputation


Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, 
because your character is what you really are, 
while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

... John Wooden

You Are Already Naked


Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

... Steve Jobs

Each Second We Live Is A New And Unique Moment Of The Universe


Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. Your are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.

... Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Imagine


You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

... Imagine

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

al-Hadid (The Iron)


All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; He quickeneth and He giveth death; and He is Able to do all things. He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days; then He mounted the Throne. He knoweth all that entereth the earth and all that emergeth therefrom and all that cometh down from the sky and all that ascendeth therein; and He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah is Seer of what ye do. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, and unto Allah (all) things are brought back. He causeth the night to pass into the day, and He causeth the day to pass into the night, and He is knower of all that is in the breasts. Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees; and such of you as believe and spend (aright), theirs will be a great reward. What aileth you that ye believe not in Allah, when the messenger calleth you to believe in your Lord, and He hath already made a covenant with you, if ye are believers? He it is Who sendeth down clear revelations unto His slave, that He may bring you forth from darkness unto light; and lo! for you, Allah is Full of Pity, Merciful. And what aileth you that ye spend not in the way of Allah when unto Allah belongeth the inheritance of the heavens and the earth? Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you). Such are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. Unto each hath Allah promised good. And Allah is Informed of what ye do. Who is he that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan, that He may double it for him and his may be a rich reward? On the day when thou (Muhammad) wilt see the believers, men and women, their light shining forth before them and on their right hands, (and wilt hear it said unto them): Glad news for you this day: Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein ye are immortal. That is the supreme triumph. On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say unto those who believe: Look on us that we may borrow from your light! it will be said: Go back and seek for light! Then there will separate them a wall wherein is a gate, the inner side whereof containeth mercy, while the outer side thereof is toward the doom. They will cry unto them (saying): Were we not with you? They will say: Yea, verily; but ye tempted one another, and hesitated, and doubted, and vain desires beguiled you till the ordinance of Allah came to pass; and the deceiver deceived you concerning Allah; So this day no ransom can be taken from you nor from those who disbelieved. Your home is the Fire; that is your patron, and a hapless journey's end. Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe to submit to Allah's reminder and to the truth which is revealed, that they become not as those who received the scripture of old but the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened, and many of them are evil-livers. Know that Allah quickeneth the earth after its death. We have made clear Our revelations for you, that haply ye may understand. Lo! those who give alms, both men and women, and lend unto Allah a goodly loan, it will be doubled for them, and theirs will be a rich reward. And those who believe in Allah and His messengers, they are the loyal, and the martyrs are with their Lord; they have their reward and their light; while as for those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations, they are owners of hell-fire. Know that the life of the world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the husbandman, but afterward it drieth up and thou seest it turning yellow, then it becometh straw. And in the Hereafter there is grievous punishment, and (also) forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure, whereas the life of the world is but matter of illusion.

... al-Hadid 57:1-20

Two Years On


Today has been exactly two years since I arrived in Boulder, Colorado. I remembered my first trip from Denver International Airport after flying in from Oregon and previously Washington on a Super Shuttle  along I-36 when I was presented with this view of Boulder. I was, to say the least, inundated, nervous, anxious, perplexed, and wondered whether I had made the best choice coming here. Needless to say, this was a physically different place from the city life of Singapore. Never had I been exposed to such vastness before.

In that nervousness, I failed to see the beauty this view presented me. It did not take long for that situation to be rectified. When I flew in again from Los Angeles after Thanksgiving break traveling that same highway into Boulder with an elevation of 5430 feet, I was so mesmerized by its grandeur and beauty. All the time while I was in California, I was already missing Boulder. And wherever I go thereafter, I started missing it by the second day of any of my various trips - even when I was in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Hawaii or any of the more popular states. 

Now, this view gives me solace, it gives me a sense of peace, it gives me inspiration. This city has one of the most educated, most courteous, most well-mannered, most sophisticated community, with clean crisp breathing air, most healthy state I have seen and experienced in the United States - and that is saying something as I have been to three-quarters of the fifty states here within a span of a mere two years. Boulder has inscribed many memorable, if not one of the best moments and periods of my life. I feel welcomed quickly, and as my professor introduced me during my commencement ceremony a few weeks ago, it was hard to imagine I actually came from a very far away place. In spring, summer and fall, I regularly hike those mountains yonder, whilst in winter I ski on them - we have the best hiking trails and  champagne/powder snow anywhere in the world. The view in and around Boulder is magical. The driving itself is a pleasure to behold. Our bicycle lane is half that of a car lane, and everyone gets everywhere biking from one place to another. Pedestrians and cyclists are kings on the road. Vehicles always give way to us even though they have a right of way. When you ride a bus, the bus driver never fails to greet you and always give thanks and bid you a nice day when you alight. Nowhere in the US  have I felt so special riding a bus. Whole Foods, organic groceries and Farmer's Market are the rage. The community are big on environmental issues and everyone recycles.

I lived in two places in Boulder during this span of time. For almost two years, I lived just by the famous Boulder Creek (where I tub from the mountains and many Boulder's main activities centered) and the very famous local astronaut's Scott Carpenter Park (where I lay down to read or play frisbee or snow-sled during winter). The second house I lived in summer is right below that very mountain you see above. Nature screams inviting you in everyday! From up that peak, you see the gorgeous aerial view of the whole of Boulder, right into Denver. I have since then value such vastness of space, which leads to vastness of thoughts and emotions. In short, Boulder is absolutely fabulous. It is my paradise.

I will miss it terribly. Boulder and its people will always be in my heart. I hope to have the privilege to retire peacefully here at some point in the future.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Month Of Meaning


Most of the classical religious teachings regarding the month of Ramadan insist on the rules being respected as well as the deep spiritual dimension of this month of fast, privations, worship and meditation. While thinking about it more closely, one realizes that this month marries apparently contradictory requirements which, nevertheless, together constitute the universe of faith...

As this month invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, it reminds us of the importance of detail, precision and discipline in our practice. The precise starting day of Ramadan that must be rigorously found; the precise hour before dawn on which one must stop eating; the prayers to be performed “at determined moments”; the exact time of the break of fast.

At the very time of our profound meditation with God and in our own self, one could have thought that it was possible to immerse oneself into one’s feelings because this quest for meaning is so deep that it should be allowed to bypass the details of rules and schedules. But the actual experience of Ramadan teaches us the opposite: no profound spirituality, no true quest of meaning without discipline and rigor as to the management of rules to be respected and time to be mastered...

To achieve the ultimate goal of the fast our faith requires a demanding, lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism. Everyone should be able to do that for oneself, before God, within one’s solitude as well as within one’s commitment among one’s fellow human beings. It is a question of mastering one’s emotions, to face up to oneself and to take the right decisions as to the transformation of one’s life in order to come closer to the Centre and the Meaning.

Muslims of today need more than ever to reconcile themselves with the school of profound spirituality along with the exercise of rigorous and critical intelligence. Particularly in the West. At a time where fear is all around, where suspicion is widespread, where the Muslims are tempted by the obsession to have to defend themselves and to prove constantly their innocence, the month of Ramadan calls them to their dignity as well as to their responsibilities.

It is urgent that they learn to master their emotions, to go beyond their fears and doubts and come back to the essential with confidence and assurance. It is imperative too that they make it a rule for themselves to be rigorous and upright in the assessment of their conduct, individually and collectively: self-criticism and collective introspection are of the essence at every step, to achieve a true transformation within Muslim communities and societies...

... The Month Of Meaning, Tariq Ramadan

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia


To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life

I am stronger than Depression and braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me

But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one's life, is it so awful to ... nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favorite fountain? And then to do it again the next day

It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection

Your problem is you don't know what the word means. People think a soul mate is our perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life

In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you,forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices

My Guru says that people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it

That's just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what your ego does. It keeps you feeling seperate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you're flowed and broken and alone instead of whole.
But how does that serve me?
It doesn't serve you. Your ego's job isn't to serve you. Its only job is to keep itself in power. And right now, your ego's scared to death cuz it's about to get downsized. You keep up this spiritual path, baby, and that bad boy's days are numbered. Pretty soon your ego will be out of work, and your heart'll be making all the decisions. So your ego's fighting for its life, playing with your mind, trying to assert its authority, trying to keep you concerned off in a holding pen away from the rest of the universe. Don't listen to it.

... Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jupiter: The Bringer Of Jollity

From 3:05 to 5:03 - never fails to goose-bump me.
One of the most finest music, ever ...


... The Planets - Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, Gustav Holst

Friday, August 13, 2010

Torchwood: Children of Earth

Finally, I completed watching the last episode of the last season of one of my favorite television show, Torchwood. Also for fans of Doctor Who... a cross-reference being made by Gwen.


'Ianto? Ianto. Ianto stay with me. Ianto stay with me please. Stay with me! Stay with me! Please.'
'Okay. It was good, yeah?'
'Yeah.'
'Don't forget me.'
'Never could.'
'A thousand years time. You won't remember me.'
'Yes I will. I promise. I will.

'Ianto? Ianto? Don't go. Don't leave me please. Please, don't.'

"This planet is too small. The whole world is like a graveyard."
"Come back with us"
"I haven't traveled far enough yet... got a lot of dirt to shake off my shoes, and right now there's a cold fusion cruiser surfing the ion reefs; just at the edge of the solar system... just waiting to open its transport dock. I just have to send the signal..."
"Are you ever coming back, Jack?"
"What for?"
"For me..."

"There's one thing I always meant to ask Jack. Back in the old days. I wanted to know about that Doctor of his. The man who appears out of nowhere and saves the world. Except sometimes he doesn't. All those times in history when there was no sign of him, I wanted to know why not. But I don't need to ask any more. I know the answer now. Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame. I'm recording this in case anyone ever finds it, so you can see... you can see how the world ended."

... Torchwood: Children of Earth - Day Five

Ithaca

What is really important is not Ithaca, the island home that was the goal of Odysseus’s years of wandering, but the journey itself. It is the journey that must be fully enjoyed at every moment, using all the resources of senses and intellect, because the goal itself is likely to be disappointing.


As you set out for Ithaca
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—do not be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn, and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

... Ithaca, C.P. Cavafy