Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together — surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.
Our problem isn’t that we’re individualists. It’s that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven’t done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion.
― Fernando Pessoa, The Education of the Stoic
Solitude is good for a time, but not for all time. Don’t forget to come back and embrace a community. Build one, if you must. Don’t neglect the sharing of yourself. Even those parts that are not so clean have value. In fact, the best lessons you have to offer in life come from your struggles in the darkness and grit of life.
It is easy to say I am thankful for the sweet and beautiful things in life: flower gardens, ice cream cones, diamond rings, dances under moonlight, children’s laughter, birdsongs, and the like. The challenge is recognizing things of value in the dark, sour, uglier parts of life. But if you look hard enough, you will find that even tough times offer pearls worthy of gratitude.
Your true self is enough. There is no need to be better than everyone else around you to be happy. True happiness comes when you are in harmony with yourself and no longer feel the need to one-up other people.
Any fool can break something, criticise someone and tear things apart. It takes a far more skilled, wise and kind soul to build something, nurture someone, fix things and help others thrive over time.
Live in a place where people are revered for being clever, funny, and creative, instead of rich, annoying, and on television. Where they inspire. Where they aspire. Where they dream of the perfect sentence, or the perfect drawing, or the perfect chord.
―Sean Beaudoin, Wise Young Fool
A flower with no smell to it is just something to look at. However, a flower that emits a beautiful fragrance is the one we want in our homes and on our walls. Your mission as an artist, is to become the best-smelling flower in the world, so that when the day finally comes when you are plucked from the ground, the world will cry for the loss of your mind-stimulating fragrance. Be different. Be original. Nobody will remember a specific flower in garden loaded with thousands of the same flower, but they will remember the one that managed to change its color to purple.
―Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem