Here is a thread for those of you who feel inclined to share passages from books that you find particularly inspiring, touching or meaningful.
I have been reading Helen Keller – The Story of My Life. I suspect many of you know who Helen Keller was, some of you in foreign countries may not.
Helen Keller was a little girl who lost her sight and hearing when she was a little baby, but went on despite her disadvantages to learn to communicate with the world and become an inspiring force we can all learn from. She’s gone now, but she is still inspiring. She inspired me to get out of bed just to create this thread and share some of her words. I get teary eyed and feel a sense of shame sometimes, like right now, when I look over my life and think of how many times I’ve felt sorry for myself – how many advantages I’ve taken for granted or squandered. Let’s remember to count our blessings often and make our lives stand for something, even if it is a seemingly small thing like letting those we love know that we love and appreciate them.
From Helen Keller’s – The Story of My Life
... I soon discovered that college was not quite the romantic lyceum I had imagined. Many of the dreams that had delighted my young inexperience became beautifully less and “faded into the light of common day.” Gradually I began to find that there were disadvantages in going to college. The one I felt and still feel most is lack of time. I used to have time to think, to reflect, my mind and I. We would sit together of an evening and listen to the inner melodies of the spirit, which one hears only in leasure moments when the words of some loved poet touch a deep, sweet chord in the soul that until then had been silent. But in college, there is no time to commune with one’s thoughts. One goes to college to learn, it seems, not to think. When one enters the portals of learning, one leaves the dearest pleasures-solitude, books, and imagination-outside with the whispering pines. I suppose I ought to find some comfort in the thought that I am laying up treasures for future enjoyment, but I am improvident enough to prefer present joy to hoarding riches against a rainy day.
And here is another beautiful passage.
...There are days when the close attention I must give to details chafes my spirit, and the thought that I must spend hours reading a few chapters, while in the world without other girls are laughing and singing and dancing, makes me rebellious; but I soon recover my buoyancy and laugh the discontent out of my heart. For, after all, everyone who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better, I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory. One more effort and I reach the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky, the uplands of my desire.
I found an online copy of her book The Story of My Life
if you would like to read it. I can only imagine how I’m going to feel after I read “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
Here is another beautiful passage from the book.
“Would that I could enrich this sketch with the names of all those who have ministered to my happiness! Some of them would be found written in our literature and dear to the hearts of many, while others would be wholly unknown to most of my readers. But their influence, though it escapes fame, shall live immortal in the lives that have been sweetened and ennobled by it. Those are red-letter days in our lives when we meet people who thrill us like a fine poem, people whose handshake is brimful of unspoken sympathy, and whose sweet, rich natures impart to our eager, impatient spirits a wonderful restfulness which, in its essence, is divine. The perplexities, irritations, and worries, that have absorbed us pass like unpleasant dreams, and we wake to see with new eyes and hear with new ears the beauty and harmony of God’s real world. The solemn nothings that fill our everyday life blossom suddenly into bright possibilities. In a word, while such friends are near us we feel that all is well. Perhaps we never saw them before, and they may never cross our life’s path again; but the influence of their calm, mellow natures is a libation poured upon our discontent, and we feel its healing touch, as the ocean feels the mountain stream freshening its brine.”
Here is one more passage I enjoyed.
...the precious science of patience, which teaches us that we should take our education as we would take a walk in the country, leisurely, our minds hospitably open to impressions of every sort. Such knowledge floods the soul unseen with a soundless tidal wave of deepening thought. “Knowledge is power.” Rather, knowledge is happiness, because to have knowledge-broad, deep knowledge-is to know true ends from false, and lofty things from low. To know the thoughts and deeds that have marked man’s progress is to feel the great heart throbs of humanity through the centuries; and if one does not feel in the pulsations a heavenward striving, one must indeed be deaf to the harmonies of life.
God forgive me when I whine
By Og Mandino (adapted from original by Red Foley)
Today upon a bus I saw a lovely girl with golden hair. I envied
her – she seemed so gay – and wished I were as fair. But suddenly
she rose to leave. I saw her hobble down the isle, she had only one
leg and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile…
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs, the world is mine.
I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold them had such charm. I
stopped to talk to him, he seemed so glad – if I was late could do
no harm. As I left he said to me, “I thank-you, you had been so
kind. It’s nice to talk to folks like you, you see,” he said, “I am
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes, the world is mine.
Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of
blue. He stood and watched the others play, he did not know what to
do. I stopped a moment and said, “Why don’t you join the others,
dear?” He looked ahead without a word and then I knew, he couldn’t
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I go, with eyes to see the sun-set glow,
with ears to hear what I would know.
Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I am blessed indeed, the world is mine!
In response to themadcookieman’s post:
What a wonderful poem that is. Perfect for reminding us all how lucky we are.
Thank you Madcookieman :)
I don’t know what book it’s from, but I cherish this quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.”
From ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens
...That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
I’ve been posting lots of quotes from books I’ve been reading on my blog
90% of my reading is Zen related. I’ve pulled these particular quotes because they are relevant to (usually) me, or others around me. Perhaps I should start posting them here too.
“How easy it is in our life, to miss what’s being offered.” — Paul Haller
Let’s get some new discussions going.
from Walden by Henry David Thoreau…
(this part was in the section “Economy)
Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and
are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they
think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have. As if
one were to wear any sort of coat which the tailor might cut out for
him, or, gradually leaving off palm-leaf hat or cap of woodchuck
skin, complain of hard times because he could not afford to buy him
a crown! It is possible to invent a house still more convenient and
luxurious than we have, which yet all would admit that man could not
afford to pay for. Shall we always study to obtain more of these
things, and not sometimes to be content with less? Shall the
respectable citizen thus gravely teach, by precept and example, the
necessity of the young man’s providing a certain number of
superfluous glow-shoes, and umbrellas, and empty guest chambers for
empty guests, before he dies?
theres a champion inside you.
a champion that wants to compete
a champion that wants to excell
a champion thats chomping at the bit to get out there and make things happen
you need to turn that champion loose
you need to reach down and pull your self up
reach deep and listen to your heart
reach within and start living your dreams then reach up and touch the heavens up above
renew your purpose
rekindle your power
reawaken your passion
dare to be different
dare to live boldly
dare to step out and chase your dreams and chase them like a champion
——-power pointer.unleash the champion within.
Nice! I like that one.
More stuff from Walden…
“ I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things. We think that that is which appears to be. If a man should walk through this town and see only the reality, where, think you, would the “Mill-dam” go to? If he should give us an account of the realities he beheld there, we should not recognize the place in his description. Look at a meeting-house, or a court-house, or a jail, or a shop, or a dwelling-house, and say what that thing really is before a true gaze, and they would all go to pieces in your account of them. Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages. And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then. The poet or the artist never yet had so fair and noble a design but some of his posterity at least could accomplish it.
Actually, I’m going to post a bit more of that…
Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations. Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure. I have read in a Hindoo book, that “there was a king’s son, who, being expelled in infancy from his native city, was brought up by a forester, and, growing up to maturity in that state, imagined himself to belong to the barbarous race with which he lived. One of his father’s ministers having discovered him, revealed to him what he was, and the misconception of his character was removed, and he knew himself to be a prince. So soul,” continues the Hindoo philosopher, “from the circumstances in which it is placed, mistakes its own character, until the truth is revealed to it by some holy teacher, and then it knows itself to be Brahme.” I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things. We think that that is which appears to be. If a man should walk through this town and see only the reality, where, think you, would the “Mill-dam” go to? If he should give us an account of the realities he beheld there, we should not recognize the place in his description. Look at a meeting-house, or a court-house, or a jail, or a shop, or a dwelling-house, and say what that thing really is before a true gaze, and they would all go to pieces in your account of them. Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages. And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then. The poet or the artist never yet had so fair and noble a design but some of his posterity at least could accomplish it.
I’m finding so many wonderful passages in Walden I can’t help but share them. Here is one from the section called “Sounds”.
...I did not read books the first summer; I hoed beans. Nay, I often did better than this. There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished. Instead of singing like the birds, I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune. As the sparrow had its trill, sitting on the hickory before my door, so had I my chuckle or suppressed warble which he might hear out of my nest. My days were not days of the week, bearing the stamp of any heathen deity, nor were they minced into hours and fretted by the ticking of a clock; for I lived like the Puri Indians, of whom it is said that “for yesterday, today, and tomorrow they have only one word, and they express the variety of meaning by pointing backward for yesterday forward for tomorrow, and overhead for the passing day.” This was sheer idleness to my fellow-townsmen, no doubt; but if the birds and flowers had tried me by their standard, I should not have been found wanting. A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.
I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without an end. If we were always, indeed, getting our living, and regulating our lives according to the last and best mode we had learned, we should never be troubled with ennui. Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.
more from the section “Sounds”...
When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion—or, rather, like a comet, for the beholder knows not if with that velocity and with that direction it will ever revisit this system, since its orbit does not look like a returning curve—with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in golden and silver wreaths, like many a downy cloud which I have seen, high in the heavens, unfolding its masses to the light—as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train; when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don’t know), it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it. If all were as it seems, and men made the elements their servants for noble ends! If the cloud that hangs over the engine were the perspiration of heroic deeds, or as beneficent as that which floats over the farmer’s fields, then the elements and Nature herself would cheerfully accompany men on their errands and be their escort.