Engagement

June 10, 2010

Living in a vacuum sucks. ~Adrienne E. Gusoff

Today this quote on my Google home page made me laugh. But it also made me think about the seduction of withdrawal. It is a great luxury this month to have no particular place I have to go, no particular people I have to see, and no particular work I have to do. I can wander around the yard, take time to sit in the sun and pet the cat, read novels, take naps, write, draw, and generally do what I please. Dangerous stuff for an introvert who lives in the country!

So I want to fully enjoy this retreat from society, but also plan for my reentry, because I believe that engagement is a responsibility we have to the world. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us about the interdependence of all things, which he calls interbeing. “I am, therefore you are. You are, therefore I am,” he says.

So during this time of rest and reflection, I will consider how to best be of use. What is it that I have to offer the world? And where and how can it be shared wholeheartedly?


Kindness Multiplied

January 27, 2010

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. ~Amelia Earhart

When my father died in 1967, his company newsletter said that he would be remembered for his kindness and his sense of humor. I would be very proud to be remembered for such important qualities. I love this quote from Amelia Earhart, because it reminds us how interdependent we really are, how a simple kindness reverberates, ripples outward, and often comes back to us.

What was the last kindness you received? Did you pay it forward?


Thread

January 20, 2009

I am a thread in the fabric of existence.
No one would miss one tiny thread,
except that it holds the whole thing together.
Who knows the extent of unraveling
once it begins?


Contributions of Others

November 25, 2007

Many times I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow-men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.  ~Albert Einstein

It is easy to forget our indebtedness to others (and to circumstance) when we want to take credit for an accomplishment. Yet any accomplishment is the result of numerous factors, most of which have little to do with our own abilities or efforts. We are in the right place at the right time to make something happen. We have had advantages of mobility, exposure to people and ideas, wealth or class privileges, freedom from oppression, health, support, leisure, and so on.

This is not to discount the importance of seizing the opportunity, of having the preparation, intelligence, insight one needs to make the most of these advantages. It is just to say that taking sole credit for anything is specious. We are interdependent with one another and with the world. And Einstein had the rare ability to understand that.

Incidentally, the more quotes I come across from Einstein, the more I love him!  Maybe I need to read something longer than a paragraph. It was he who also said, “The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.” But that is for another day.


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