An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
25 July 2004

All personal growth begins with self-nurturance.

-Josh Mitteldorf

24 July 2004

In 1977, I coined the word "phobophilia" as I paused on a ledge in the Grand Canyon. I was on a family vacation, hiking the Kaibob trail, and took off at the bottom to explore on my own. I enjoy scaling rocks and cliffs, so I scrambled from one to another, having a great time. Then I found myself halfway up a wall, clinging with fingers and toes, unable to take another step up, and not sure I could get down either. I panicked. My legs began to shake. I talked to myself to calm down. If I can get down safely, I promise I’ll never again put myself in this situation. My foot finds the protrusion that served me on the way up, and in a few minutes I’ve lowered myself to safety.

It wasn’t five minutes before I found myself in the same situation. I can’t get up, and I don’t know how I can get back down. My knees are shaking. Why have I done this to myself? I seek adventure and challenge, but it’s more than this. I’m phobophilic, drawn to the experience of fear, perhaps to relive childhood traumas, perhaps to anneal my courage. Now that I know this, I resolve to seek thrills in safe places. Roller coasters and horror movies should serve. Skyscraper windows can provide the same thrill.

Over the years, I have broken this promise on several occasions. Yesterday, climbing Mt Jefferson in the wind and the rain, I was acutely aware that a slip or a twisted ankle could lead to hypothermia. I relied on my mountain skills to preserve my life. Phobophilia.

I’ve long thought that our nightly dreams are stories concocted by the imagination to support a pre-existing emotion. We create the experiences that we need for learning and emotional growth. How many of the trials that we experience in real life can be explained the same way?

23 July 2004
"Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering."
R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983)

Imagine communicating with other life forms, that have evolved on distant planets. Do they breathe? Do they have eyes? Do they fall in love? What do they have in common with us? Can we imagine all the assumptions we take for granted that are not part of their world? Someday they will talk with us, or our descendants....

Equally dramatic is the thought that the in the vastness of the universe, on billions of planets, some of which are very like the earth, that intelligent life evolved exactly once, and here we are witnessing the results. Would that make you think in terms of an intelligent creator? Or in terms of a many-universe model, in which the great majority are constructed in a way that makes life physically impossible, while a tiny minority have a tiny probability of evolving life in some corner, somewhere, perhaps only once...


22 July 2004

"Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy — the joy of being Salvador Dalí — and I ask myself in rapture, ‘What wonderful things this Salvador Dalí is going to accomplish today?’"

Dali’s take on life is bold and joyous, but there’s something missing as well, and it’s not just humility. Connection.

Every morning I wake up grateful for my eyes and ears, for the glorious visions of nature and music of the spheres that fill them; eager to explore the chaos and to celebrate the order and the connections, the surprises that stretch and exceed the ability of my intellect to encompass them.


Every morning I wake up grateful for my  family, for new friends and old, who never cease to surprise and delight me, for love and connections and sharing.


21 July 2004

Every parent tries to mold his child in his own image.
Luckily, we never succeed. The best result we can hope for is to watch our children build on our core values of love and truth, and create possibilities that transcend anything we might have dreamed on our own.

20 July 2004

"Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy — the joy of being Salvador Dalí — and I ask myself in rapture, ‘What wonderful things this Salvador Dalí is going to accomplish today?’"  

Salvador Dalí


19 July 2004

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy

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