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Reflections On Love

Love is boundless. Its affection blankets people, objects, animals, ideas, the self moments in time, and moments yet to come. Love has no limits. It doesn’t discriminate. It’s a feeling which can create bodily reactions like the quickening of breath, a faster heartbeat, the rising of heat through you, and in that moment, you are present. Love is then what makes you present in the moment. Makes you live in the now. 

To love is to be present.

But love is also in the past and the future. The commitment you made in the past which stemmed from love, a commitment to love someone, a commitment to work towards a goal, a commitment to become someone, it steers your movements still, in the now. The same commitment can cause you to sacrifice for the future. You come to sacrifice your own needs and wants for someone or something outside of you.

To love is to sacrifice.

But that sacrifice can hurt you. You may give love but not receive it. It isn’t an equal exchange. So you give for the sake of giving, but the pain is still there when you don’t get it back. When your sacrifices are used up, disregarded, wasted, misplaced, the pain is bitter and so love balances with hate and if you’re not careful, love becomes hate. So, love is something to be wary of.

To love is to expose yourself to pain.

But it’s in the giving that you feel love. The dichotomy. It’s when you are willing to be vulnerable that you step closer to loving because vulnerability reveals your deep care and affection. You are willing to get hurt, feel pain, even tip towards hate for the sake of love. And to be vulnerable is a mindset. You know consciously you are giving or exposing a part of yourself.. Love is a mindset. You see life through the eyes of love, and it both frees you and binds you. Frees you in the manner that you are seeking goodness when you look at life through loving eyes. But, it can be binding too because when your love is reciprocated and you lose it, then you lose a part of you and are bound to that loss, searching for it, knowing you can’t replace it but need to do so, need to find it, need to be whole again and so, you’re bound to search.

To love is to accept loss.

What do I think of love?

I think love is tainted by romantic ideals. Those ideals are just the surface level.

I think love is in discipline. Disciplined towards viewing life with love. Disciplined towards someone or something.

I think love is in the everyday task. Love allows you to see the uniqueness in the mundane.

I think love is fleeting and needs to be recaptured over and over like any other feeling.

I think love is a mindset. A conscious effort to act with love.

I think love is in denial. To commit to someone or something rather than everything.

I think love goes beyond humans. Love of work. Love of nature. Love of life.

I think to love means to love your fate. The good and the bad. The pleasure and the pain. The success and the disappointment. Heartbreaks and tragedy. Moments of elation and richness. All of it is yours. 

All of it you must love. 

Lessons From Books: Bird By Bird

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott is exactly as the title suggests, a book that has valuable pieces of information about both writing and about life. The writing tips are practical, but in reality, they are common and not wholly unique. The book will not transform you into a New York Times bestseller. Lamott isn’t trying to sell you some get-rich-quick scheme. Instead, she talks about patience, creating writing routines, working hard, doing tons and tons of revisions, subverting expectations, and enjoying the process. Like I said, not unique, but practical.

However, the real gem of this book was the connection Lamott makes with writing and life. How the interpersonal relationship of the two nurtures each other. The lessons she draws upon from writing help you understand life better and, through the awareness of life and yourself, your writing becomes genuine and vulnerable. This is where I fell in love with this book. The following are a few of the main points that stuck with me from Bird by Bird.

Why Pursue Writing?

A commitment to writing goes beyond telling stories. It is an exploration of life. You are committing to observing the life around you. You pay attention to everything from the macro like politics, societal trends, cultural changes, to the micro such as the encroaching yellowish tint on leaves as fall approaches or the faint smell of peppermint as you pass by a cafe or the thin, practiced smiles of strangers you see during the day. Keeping tabs on both the small and large details of life becomes part of the job.

You are also committing to observing yourself. Your own internal state. You come to dissect memories, unpack different thoughts, question your own opinions because that’s where your scenes lie and your characters dwell. You become aware of your feelings and emotions and what triggers them and how deeply you feel or perhaps the lack of feelings which can be equally important. As you understand yourself, you come to understand others because of the commonalities we all share as human beings. You develop empathy, patience, respect because these are the things you need to understand yourself and the extension of these qualities benefits the people around you. This then helps you create stories that connect with others.

In the same vein, the commitment to writing also improves your habits and character. The aim may be to write a story or to finish a novel or to publish a collection of poems, but in order to do that, you need to practice your skill set. You have to find a way to measure progress which, in writing terms, maybe keeping tabs on daily word count or pages written or, as Neil Gaiman suggests, the number of hours you spent at your writing station. You need to develop a routine that helps you balance your life and also maximize your writing. You need to develop discipline and focus so the time spent writing is productive. The rejection letters help you create a thick skin towards criticism and feedback, but also you need a sense of detachment from your work so you can apply the necessary feedback. All these qualities not only help you towards your writing goal but mold you into a capable individual.

A Perspective Towards Restarting

One of the hardest decisions you can make in writing is to start over after you have committed many hours of your time and written dozens and maybe hundreds of pages. But sometimes finding out what you don’t want to write is as important as knowing what you do. Often, what you have in your head doesn’t translate well on paper. But you can only know that by putting it on paper. This is still a type of progress. Slow, painful progress, but progress nonetheless.

The idea of restarting is present in life as well and it is equally as difficult, but also important. You can only know if a relationship will work out by actually being in one, similar to how you have to put words on paper to know if they work. And it may be painstaking to end the relationship and restart again, but it must be done so you can step closer to a relationship that you actually need. Or you might come to dislike your dream job, towards which you have committed years of your life. But if you’re able to restart again, go back into the job market, learn a new skill, change career paths, the years to follow could potentially have greater rewards than you could have imagined. In this process of elimination, you get closer to what you actually want in life and, in writing terms, what you actually want to write about.

Short Assignments

Short assignments is the idea that you need to focus on the task at hand and do that as well as you can before you move on to the next short assignment. The title of the book, Bird by Bird, comes from this idea. Lamott shares an anecdote of when she was a kid and her brother was stressed out about a school assignment relating to birds and her father’s advice was simple, take it bird by bird. Write about one bird and then move to the next one. One small thing at a time. One short assignment at a time.

When you think too much about the bigger picture, it causes you to lose focus and get lost in the grand scheme of things. But when you can focus on what’s right in front of you and work on that, you make progress. Narrow your focus from the macro to the micro. Focus on the next step and that’s it. The next dialogue or description or narration or action piece. That’s how you complete a story.

Similarly, life itself can be daunting if you constantly focus on the end goals. A four-year degree can seem like a lifetime away, but the assignment or exam in a week’s time is right in front of you. Knock that out of the park and you step closer to the degree. When you only look at the end, you might not recognize the small progress you have made and this can leave you disheartened and even result in negative thoughts and feelings. But if you turn your focus to the short assignments and work on doing that the best you can, then you come to recognize progress and movement. And this is revitalizing. The end goal may still be a long way away, but you have achieved something towards that goal. In the same way, writing one good descriptive passage is an achievement towards writing a 300-page novel, get an A+ on an assignment is an achievement towards your degree. 

Child’s Draft Or The Shitty 1st Draft

This means that when you write your first draft, just write whatever comes to your mind. Whatever images, phrases, dialogue that come without censor. You can even write bullet point notes. It doesn’t matter. No one is going to read the 1st draft except you and all you need to do is get the story out of your head and on the paper so you can edit and make it better. This is the process. Trust it. Write a shitty 1st draft and then edit it relentlessly until it is good. This may require you to overcome your perfectionist/self-critical inner voice, which can’t stand the shitty 1st draft.

This is a lesson for life. Often your first action is wrong or not as good as you hoped. But that first action is required so that your 2nd, 3rd, 4th actions can move you towards where you want to go. But you can be stuck in the perfectionist mindset, which delays your 1st action so you never fail or stumble and never get to correct that mistake either so your proceeding actions can be better. In reality, perfectionism is an excuse for inaction.  A resistive force to stop yourself from doing the hard, uncomfortable work which, in writing terms, is revision, and with life, is self-reflection and ownership. 

Two more writing-related lessons:

Understand your characters

Find out as much as possible about the interior life of your characters. Let it come naturally through writing. Not all of it has to go into the story, but you should know as much as possible. A way to familiarize yourself with the characters is by asking practical everyday questions which peel back the layers of your characters and humanizes them. Some examples Lammot provides are: What kind of impression do they leave behind? What do they carry in their purse? How do they move? Who did they vote for? What would they do if they had six months to live? Questions that reveal the character’s traits, faults, emotional baggage, positives, and negatives.

Another way to familiarize your character is by partially basing them on someone you know. This way, you have a base structure to work with. Or, by sharing your own flaws through the character, which also makes them more vulnerable and genuine. 

Also, understanding who your character isn’t is a good way to understand who your character is. Similarly, how a form of self-discovery is knowing what you don’t want, need, or like, understanding what your character doesn’t want, need, or like will bring you closer to knowing what the character wants, needs, or likes.

Short Story Formula

ABDCE: Action (start), Background (Who/what/why), Development (the characters build drama/action/tension), Climax and Ending (What happened, What did it mean, and What our sense of the characters is now).

Lessons From Books: Awaken The Giant Within

The self-help genre can fall into this pseudo-intellect space where the writers make false promises with some half-truths hoping to sell a bunch of books. They will promise to fix every issue you have and turn your life around completely. If you read that on a book cover it’s best to avoid it. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins isn’t about turning your life around completely through some magical words. Robbins promises changes, but the change is more gradual and realistic, much of which falls upon the shoulders of the reader. The book is about the small practical changes, shifts in focus, new habits, and mindset that can help different aspects of your life. The goal is to slightly change the trajectory of your life towards a more positive direction. 

Lessons

How To Create Lasting Changing

  1. Raise your standards. Demand more from yourself. More than what you think you are capable of at the moment. When you set a higher standard, it causes you to focus on what you can potentially achieve and your actions guide you towards that standard. Thinking big plays an important role not just in the goals but in the individual you want to become.
  2. Change your limiting beliefs. Often, we don’t achieve our goals or become the person we wish to be because we don’t believe it’s possible for us. So, right away we start on the back foot and never gain enough momentum to meet what seems to be an impossible standard. Along with the new standard, you need a new self belief. You have to believe that you can achieve your new standard. That you can implement the change that you are seeking.
  3. Change your system. Your previous mode of operation resulted in your previous failures. So, repeating the same system but with lofter goals isn’t sufficient enough. What you need is to change your behaviours and routines which will give you the best chance for lasting change. One way to do this is to study the people who have accomplished what you wish to accomplish or have the characteristics and habits that you want. Simply adopt their routines, systems, and mindset and act accordingly.

Areas Of Your Life That Require Mastery

  1. Emotional Mastery – How you feel can determine how you act. So if you have limited control over your emotions and allow them to dictate your actions, your life will be erratic and out of control.
  2. Physical Mastery – One of the few things you have control over is yourself. If you allow your physical health to suffer, then you curb the potential experiences of life. Additionally, being disciplined with your workout and diet can act as a foundational piece to developing good habits and mindset.
  3. Relationship Mastery – Life revolves around relationships. If you don’t have good relationships with your family and friends, then you will have a hard time feeling fulfilled.
  4. Financial Mastery – Often you spend money to satisfy your immediate craving or want but in the long term, it can leave you with more problems. Understand when you are simply pleasure seeking The disciplined choice supersedes the undisciplined one.
  5. Time Mastery – You have limited time in this life. No one knows exactly how much time they have. There is a possibility you have used up most of your time so, it is best to guard your time and use it towards things that will improve your life and give you experiences that you don’t forget about.

The Power of Decisions

I believe that it’s in your moment of decision that your destiny is shaped.

Decide the structure of your life. The ruleset and principles that you want to abide by which will allow you to maximize your experiences and give you the best chance at becoming the individual you wish to be and to achieve your goals.

If you don’t set a baseline standard for what you’ll accept in your life, you’ll find it’s easy to slip into behaviors and attitudes or a quality of life that’s far below what you deserve.

The decision to commit rather than to just wish and hope is scary. Wishing and hoping give a false sense of comfort in some ways because you can live in that daydream without exposing yourself to failure. The daydream is fun but in reality, you are hurting yourself. You are wasting your time.

Commitment comes with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of humiliation. Fear of disappointment. These are true feelings that cause us pain. But commitment is the only way to achieve your dreams. Be open to failure because in doing so, you give yourself a shot a success. 

Making a trust decision means committing to achieving a result, and then cutting yourself off from any other possibility.

Like most things in life, your ability to make better decisions increases the more decisions you make.

Don’t waste time thinking over and over, procrastinating your life away. Just decide and move and once you have acted, then reflect on the outcome and act again after. Rinse and repeat that cycle.

Your life changes the moment you make a new congruent, and committed decision.

Important of Self-Affirmation 

Self-affirmation practices help to cultivate the right attitude.

This is who I am. This is what my life is about. And this is what I’m going to do. Nothing will stop me from achieving my destiny. I will not be denied!

Although it sounds cheesy to read and think about, the major benefit of the practice is the thoughts you have afterward. Your thoughts will be about fulfilling those affirmations which then charge you to act. The day then begins with positive momentum. The affirmations, in themselves, are not life changing, but they can act as a trigger that leads towards positive actions which can be life changing.

Have a Skill Mindset

You can fall into the trap of thinking that either you have a certain quality or you don’t. Either you are disciplined or you aren’t. Or that you are born with work ethic or time management skills. But, in reality, these things are a skill. You can improve your skills. You can get better with more practice and repetition.

Repetition is the mother of all skills.

Making decisions is a skill.

Discipline is a skill.

Hard work is a skill.

The more you do, the better you get. This is true for the negative and the positive, so you have to be careful what you choose to repeat over and over again. 

Decisions That Shape Your Life

  1. Your decision about what to focus on. Ability to prioritize.
  2. Your decision about what things mean to you. Figuring out the ‘why’ behind your actions. This requires self-reflection.
  3. Your decision about what to do to create the result you desire. Can’t act blindly. Create a logical plan that will give you a chance at achieving your goal and then act and adjust along the way.

The ‘Why’ Behind Your Behaviour

In order to change behaviour you have to deal with the cause of it and not just the effect of it. Typically, we focus on the effect of our actions and get the urge to change our behaviour. But this type of change rarely lasts long term because we never addressed the cause of the behaviour in the first place. For example, procrastination is something many people struggle with. One cause of why you procrastinate is that somewhere in your mind, you truly believe that present action will cause you pain and discomfort and you don’t want that. You can’t see the future benefit. So you avoid action through procrastination which will cause a failure to achieve your goal. So, just saying that you will work harder next time won’t solve the issue.

All too often, the security of a mediocre present is more comfortable than the adventure of trying to be more in the future.

What you need to do is change your mindset and how you view present action. That although you may have discomfort in the present, your future will be much better because of it. Additionally, you can change your attitude and practice to not view the present action in a negative light but in a positive one. This may require something like keep reminders nearby of what you wish to accomplish and who you want to be. Both things can override the voice in your head that wishes to avoid discomfort in the present.

How To Rewire Pain and Pleasure

  1. Write down actions you need to take that you have been putting off.
  2. Write down the answers to this question under each action: Why haven’t I taken action? In the past what pain have I linked to taking action?
  3. Write down all the pleasure you’ve had in the past by indulging in this negative pattern.
  4. Write down what it’ll cost you if you don’t change now.
  5. Write down the pleasure you’ll receive by taking each action now.

Ask The Right Question Of Yourself

Our questions determine our thoughts.

Questions lead to thinking. If you constantly question your behaviors, actions, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, future plans, and so on, you move from a surface level of understanding to a deeper one. Once you truly know the why behind your wants and needs, it is then easier to plan for them.

Ask questions that will empower you.

An example can be something like asking yourself why did your previous attempt at achieving X/Y/Z failed? Instead of asking why you are a failure? The latter is negative and results in negative, self-loathing thoughts. The former can cause actionable changes when answered. 

When faced with a problem you need to be objective by asking yourself:

How have others solved a similar problem?

What are you doing to add to the problem?

What can you stop doing?

What can you start doing?

Answering questions like these give you actionable results. 

Choose Your Words Carefully

Be aware of the words you’re using. See how negative and positive they are, how emotionally charged they are, how empowering or disempowering they are. One person you can never escape is yourself. Your thoughts are always with you and with it, are your words directed towards yourself. The last thing you want is someone who is negative towards you living in your head.

Something that didn’t go your way, you can either label that humiliating or illuminating. By focusing on the label we give the experience, that experience then becomes the label. 

Study Your Emotions

If you are feeling happy and fulfilled, note why and act on that. If you are feeling sad and depressed, note why, and act on how you can change those emotions. So, if the feeling of sadness comes from a lack of success, make a list of things you can act upon right now that will bring you closer to what you want. 

What do you feel when you act out a bad habit? What do you feel when you act out a good habit? Note them so you can remind yourself of the feeling you are potentially about to have before you act. 

Emotions are then signals. Signals of you doing good or bad. Don’t avoid them. Learn from them. 

Ask yourself:

What do I really want to feel?

What do I have to do to feel the way I am feeling?

What am I willing to do to create a solution?

What can I learn from this about myself?

Have Giant Goals

Giant goals produce giant motivations. Big goals create pressure and resistance. When these two things are present then you know that you really want the goal you have set for yourself. However, goal setting must be followed by a developmental plan and massive and consistent action. 

Goals are dreams with a deadline.

Two practices that can inch you towards what you want are visualization and prioritization. Visualize achieving your goal daily. How you will achieve it. How your day should go to give you a chance at achieving it. How you’ll feel when you achieve it. Along with this, making the right sacrifices is important. Prioritizing your day, your week, your weekends so that you are using your time effectively and not wasting it.

A new level of thinking is now required in order to experience a new level of personal and professional success.

The actions, mindset, and habits of yesterday have brought you to your present. If you are unsatisfied then you have to make the right sacrifices to change your actions, time management, mindset, and habits so that your future can be different.

10 Day Mental Challenge

You will not indulge in or dwell on any unresourceful thoughts or emotions.

This may include things like daydreaming, pleasure seeking and/or pessimistic thoughts.

Instead, focus on improvement: What do I need to do right now to make my present better?

Great Quotes:

Virtually everything we do is to change the way we feel.

Information is power when it’s acted upon.

Success truly is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience is often the result of bad judgment.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.

The way to expand our lives is to model the lives of those people who are already succeeding.

Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it.

The greatest leverage you can create for yourself is the pain that comes from inside, not outside. Knowing that you have failed to live up to your own standards for your life is the ultimate pain.

In life, never spend more than 10 percent of your time on the problem, and spend at least 90 percent of your time on the solution.

Lessons From People: Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse was a poet and a writer who wrote many great works, including Demian, Steppenwolf and most famously Siddhartha. His works mainly concentrated on the need to become an individual and gain self knowledge. He was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.

The following are lessons taken from his essays which range from a wide variety of topics such as psychoanalysis, Anti-Semitism, to his thoughts on individual writers, painters, and intellects.

Lessons:

Find Joy In The Everyday Life

There is a state of urgency associated with being alive because we don’t know how much time we really have. So, there is this need to do as much as possible as quickly as possible because tomorrow is never guaranteed. However, Hesse speaks against living like this. He calls that kind of life a hurried life, which he considers to be an enemy to a joyful life.

But the high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most as the most important object of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy.

A hurried life would be the kind where you are always focusing on the next thing, on the big projects and goals. Always jumping from one thing to another. In this manner, life goes by without us realizing it and we’ve missed out on appreciating the time we were alive. 

Even leisure is hurried in this way of living. We are more worried about how many shows we can watch, how many things we can do, how many bucket list items we can cross off instead of appreciating each individual thing.

The motto of a hurried life is:

As much as possible, or fast as possible.

But this only allows for quick dopamine hits instead of actual pleasure.

Hesse’s formula for joy:

Moderate enjoyment is double enjoyment and don’t overlook the little joys.

What are little joys?

The play of colors in nature or in a painting, an appeal in the voices of storm and sea, or in man-made music, as long as beneath its surface of interests and necessities the world can be seen or felt as a whole, consisting as it does of interrelationships from the curve of a young cat’s neck to the variations of a sonata, from the touching eyes of a dog to the tragedy of a poet, an interconnection of thousandfold riches of relationship, correspondences, analogies, and reflection, out of whose eternally flowing language their hearers derive joy and wisdom, entertainment and emotion—just so long will man again and again triumph over his ambiguities and be able to ascribe meaning to his existence.

It’s good to remember Hesse felt this way prior to the internet. Now, this hurried life has been kicked into overdrive and we can spend every minute of our day jumping from one thing to the next.

An exercise in moderation: Don’t have to be the first in line to a premiere. Don’t have to jump on the news show trend, wait a few weeks and see if you still want to. Instead of reading book after book, or skipping from song to song, think about why that piece of art makes you feel the way it did, whether it’s good or bad.

Know Your Why

There are two things associated with actions: the what and the why. The ‘what’ of an act is usually simple. If you want to start a business, the product you want to sell is the what. Often times figuring out the what is the depth of our understanding behind our actions. But the ‘why’ behind our actions is a lot more significant.

For those high qualities, tasks, and goals which you ascribe to the poet, that loyalty to himself, that awe in the face of nature, that acceptance of unusual self-sacrifice, that responsibility which is never satisfied with itself and gladly pays the price of sleepless nights for a successful sentence, a well turned phrase — all these virtues are the hallmarks not only for the true poet. They are the hallmarks of the true human being per se, of the unensalved, unmechanized man, of the revert and responsible human being, no matter what his profession.

The why should be related to the observation of life, to emotional sensibilities, to stand against something, to say something of value, to be free, to find solitude, to improve oneself, to dedicate oneself to a cause higher than yourself.

When the why is pure, the what becomes valuable.

Personal Refuge 

When we think about relaxing and decompressing, images of beaches or resorts come to mind. We look at them as a utopia that will provide us with refuge. However, Hesse doesn’t believe in this kind of refuge because no matter where you go, you are there. There is no perfect utopia for you to go to because your thoughts/emotions/feelings go with you. Thoughts influenced by others, emotions stirred up by loss or pain, feelings of loneliness or needing solitude all disturb whatever outer utopia you have in mind. 

But we need a refuge, a place of solitude that will allow us to disconnect from the outside noise and to simply concentrate and focus. 

Leave, O World, leave me in peace!

Ideally, the perfect solitude or refuge should be our own inner state. You, yourself, must be your refuge. Your thoughts must be clear so you can find comfort within them. You shouldn’t have to distract yourself from yourself. You must achieve harmony within yourself.

Hesse achieved a stable inner self through meditation, journaling, and by communicating truthfully with himself. Essentially, you have to have a desire to create an inner refuge and then work relentlessly upon yourself so that you can make this refuge a reality.

View People Without Desire

The eye of desire dirties and distrusts.

It is almost natural to view others through the lease of desire because we often start relationships in order to gain something for ourself. So, even prior to actually communicating with the person we wonder if they will like us, if they are arrogant or humble, if they will respect our work and so on. In doing so, we don’t truly connect with the individual because we have already created a picture of who they might be and how they act and think.

In order to have a genuine connection with someone, eyes of desire must be closed.

What is required then is for us to stop seeing people as useful or boring or strong or weak. Only by stopping such desires do we see who the person is and come to appreciate them regardless of how they can benefit us. This way, the quirks or mannerisms or characteristic that we might find annoying at first become a unique quality of that individual. The things we appreciate and like about someone become even more valuable.

Seeking Suffering

Just suffer, my son, just suffer and drain the cup to the dregs! The harder you try to avoid it the bitterer the drink will be. The coward drinks his fate like poison or medicine, you must drink yours like wine and fire. Then it will taste sweet.

Acceptance.

Being alive comes with pain and suffering. It’s better to make use of suffering by seeing it as a challenge to overcome than it is to try and avoid it. Suffering is there for us to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. By trying to avoid it, we only harm ourself.

And so my condition and radius of experience was this: On one hand endurance of great sorrow, on the other a conscious striving to master this sorrow, to achieve complete harmony with fate. This was approximately the judgement of my consciousness, or rather a first voice audible within my consciousness. A second voice, fainter, but deeper and more resonant, put the matter differently. This voice (which like the first one I heard clearly but far off in my sleep and dream) did not call the suffering wrong and my vigorous mental struggle for perfection right, but rather meted out right and wrong to both sides. The second voice sang of the sweetness of suffering, it sang of its necessity, it had no interest of mastering or eliminating it but only in deepening and illuminating it.

Why He Admired Goethe

He (Goethe) did not content himself with little goals, that he sought the greatest, that he erected ideals that could not be attained.

On Getting Old

Growing old is one of the universal fears. Hesse overcomes this fear by viewing aging as just another question life asks you and it is your new responsibility to find the appropriate answers. Now, as you age, the set of questions you face in your youth or adult life change to:

Can you be patient as you age?

Can you age gracefully?

Can you find joy in what has happened?

And many more.

It’s all about your mindset. You can be young and full of life, but a negative mindset can kill you. At the same time, when you’re old, you can focus on the negative, the things you used to be able to do, the people that you used to have around you and let it weigh you down or you can see it as another challenge, another question of life and focus on finding the answers. 

Old age is a stage in our life, and like all other stages, it has a face of its own, its own atmosphere and temperature, its own joys and miseries.

On Writing

Write poetry because it is a practice to sharpen your skills. Poetry forces you to come up with new analogies, similes, metaphors. Additionally, use poetry to clarify your thoughts and experiences. 

Novels, on the other hand, can be viewed as models for life and how to act. 

Almost all the prose works of fiction I have written are biographies of souls.

The focus is on the individual and his relationship to the world and himself rather than on plot, or creating suspense and so on.

An eager longing, a will to devotion, born of misery. And these are the prerequisites of everything great.

Any work, but especially creative, requires truth, accuracy, charm and neatness. Don’t overlook the details and the minute. If you are a careless writer, then the substance of the work can be questioned. You allow corruption into your work by being careless and overlooking the details. 

Respect for the material is what the author ought to feel, not the reader.

Lessons From Books: The Prophet

A hero’s journey has three parts. The journey starts with the call to action, where the hero leaves his known world and ventures into the unknown. The second phase is the adventure itself, which is full of trials and tribulations that result in inner growth and often with external reward. Last, the return home, the hero returns and shares his insight, new found knowledge, and his boon with his people. In The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, we find the central figure, Almustafa, The Chosen and The Beloved, about to start the last step of the hero’s journey and return to his isle of his birth. Before he departs, he shares the insight he has gained living in the city of Orphalese over the past twelve years. 

On Love

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him.

You don’t possess love but rather you follow it. When you give yourself up to love, you get both the highs and the lows. The highs of feeling loved, of loving someone, of carrying love within, but because you are so committed and vulnerable if that love leaves you or it diminishes over time, you feel heartache and sorrow which leaves you wounded. But you can’t have one without the other. You can’t truly feel love if you’re shielding yourself from the possible wound that may come with it. In a way, you know you’re in love if you’re willing to take on the potential pain that may come.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. 

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Love requires a letting go. It requires trust. It requires obedience, so even when you’re hurt by it, next time you encounter it, you follow it anyway because life is more vivid if you experience it with love.

If you want love’s light, then you need to accept its shadow as well.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

And ultimately, you have to love for the sake of love itself. To live with that feeling inside of you. It’s a choice that you must make.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

On Marriage

The point of marriage is to nurture each other to become the best versions of yourselves. It is not to take from the other to fill some hole inside of you and vice versa. When you come together, you don’t become one, but rather, you stand apart, as individuals, who help the other share the burden of life and with it, help with the maturation of the individual. 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

To be married means to become two capable individuals. Not two people who need each other to become capable. Each has to create a solid foundation for themselves. Two people can share one foundation. In a marriage, you help the other in strengthening their foundation, but don’t take from the other to strengthen your own. 

On Children

Your children are not your children.


They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.


They come through you but not from you,


And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Your children don’t belong to you. They belong to life. Your duty is to raise them for life. They are individuals, separate from you. With their own identity, likes and dislikes, passions and beliefs which may contradict with you but that is okay because they have to be themselves and not a version of you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,


For they have their own thoughts.


You may house their bodies but not their souls,


For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.


You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

Nurture the individual, don’t try to mold them. You are to provide your child with stability and allow him/her to leave that stability behind and go seek, find and create their own stability. Don’t burden your child with your own hopes and dreams, rather let them find their own and then guide them towards fulfilling them.

On Giving

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”


The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.


Who are you to judge who earns your giving? You take from nature, nature doesn’t judge you. You are truly selfless if you can separate your judgement from your giving.

On Working

For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

Life is about working. It is about moving, changing, progressing, acting. Everything on this planet is in motion and working. It is natural to work. All animals work. So dreaming about retirement, to be idle and passive is to go against nature. At the same time, you’re not obligated to work every day but you must have something to work towards. 

And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,


And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

To work is the dream. Hopefully, that attitude can apply to your career, but if not, then towards your hobbies and interests, towards your family life, your community, and society. Working always to build something better.

What It Means To Work With Love

And what is it to work with love?


It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.


It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.


It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.


It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,


And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”

On Joy and Sorrow

Joy and sorrow go hand in hand. The more you open yourself up to one, the more you open yourself up to the other.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.


And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.


And how else can it be?


The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

The duality of life. Often if you want to experience the highest joy, you have to open yourself up to the highest sorrow. Chasing your dream will bring you great pleasure, but failing to achieve it will leave you full of disappointment and pain. Being in love will feel better than anything, but losing love will cause sorrow unimaginable.

On Crime and Punishment

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.


But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,


So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.

Each individual is capable of the highest virtue and lowest vice. If another man does something heinous, understand that you could have done that too. You are not special. In different circumstances and environments, you would have been that individual who commits evil. You are not above evil. Observe and learn from your fellow man. 

So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.

Don’t just condemn the bad action. See why it took place. You are not trying to justify the bad but rather, seeing how it could have been avoided. 

And that the corner-stone of the temple is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation.

On Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

Pain is associated with understanding. You feel pain when you think you understand something, but it turns out you are wrong. Although that causes pain, through it you gain a new understanding. So, pain isn’t something that should be avoided at all costs. It is a part of your progression. It is painful to have your ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs challenged and even proven wrong. But through this pain, you make new ideas, viewpoints, relationships, dreams, habits, and beliefs which stand on sturdier foundations.

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

View pain like this and you know it shall pass. As the season’s turn, your pain will change. But also remember, joy follows this pattern too. So on joyful occasions, understand that it will pass and pains downpour will come. So, while you are in the moment, enjoy it. Both things are part of life and both things will not last. 

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

Only things you care about cause you pain. So, be careful about the things you care about. Ask yourself, are you willing to experience pain on its behalf? 

On Self Knowledge

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”

Much of life is about finding your way of life. The truth that works for you. Not universal truth, but a truth to satisfy your soul, your being. Your methods of living will not satisfy other people. Other people’s methods will not satisfy you. The sooner you understand that, the better. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of your precious time living someone else’s truth or trying to convince others to live your truth. 

On Friendship 

And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live.

For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

On Good And Evil 

You are good when you are one with yourself.

Don’t lie to yourself.

You are good when you strive to give of yourself.

Help others.

You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,

Don’t lie to others.

You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.

Have an aim.


You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,

You are only loitering and sluggard.

Good can also become evil through desperation. This is an important reminder. You never know what you are capable of until you are pushed to your limits. People are rarely evil from birth. It is often circumstances and their environment that cause them to do evil. Don’t just judge people who have done bad things, but try to see why they did it so you can know what you might be capable of doing and how to stop yourself from getting to that point. 

Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.


For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?


Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.

Self Perspective 

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.

This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.

To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.

To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.

Don’t harp on the negative, on the failures, or disappointments. Those things easily stand out and focusing on them too much can cause you to develop a negative self-image. The weak links of your actions can make you think you are weak too. Life is full of weak moments but it is also full of strong ones as well. Remember, you have achieved things, no matter how minute they may seem, but anything that required effort, hard work, discipline to achieve is something to be proud of. Cookie Jar. Those achievements are the strong links and focusing on them lets you know you are strong as well and that you can achieve other things that require strength.