An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

2 January 2005

A positive frame of mind, personal discipline, consistency combined with awareness: these are powerful agents, supporting personal growth and fulfillment. But we reach a point where, to live the lives we really want, we must change the social context; we must act in concert with the people around us. For me personally, affiliation has always been more difficult than personal discipline. 

The greatest barrier to affiliation is stratification: the social lines that divide us, one from another, and ultimately keep us down. We donít dare solicit those whom we perceive to be on a higher tier; we donít deign to reach out and approach as equals those less advantaged than ourselves.

Recognizing our common destiny and acting on that recognition may be the most difficult social challenge we ever take on, and the most powerfully fulfilling.

- Josh Mitteldorf

1 January 2005

It's a new day, and we can decide who we want to be.  Cast limits aside.  Choose different activities, different goals, different friends and associates.  Choose consciously. 

Change stirs anxiety.  Wisdom counsels that we move incrementally.  We plan to build gradually on the fruits of our decisiveness.  We will practice our new resolve day to day, with both consistency and awareness.

31 December 2004

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

-Shakespeare, Sonnet #29

30 December 2004

Our bodies are continually growing new cells. Gums are replaced every two weeks. Skin is replaced every four weeks. The liver is replaced every six weeks. The entire heart regenerates itself every five to seven months.  Bone is continually exchanging calcium with the bodyís metabolism, as its structures re-knit over microscopic cracks and holes.

It was thought until recently that there were exceptions to the rule of regrowth: that a woman is born with all the egg cells she will ever have, and that new brain cells do not continue to grow after adolescence. We now know that both these beliefs were mistaken. It is a good bet that every type of cell in the body is capable of regeneration

When the bodyís healing and renewal fails, it is almost always a consequence of the bodyís aging program, which is designed to slow down growth and regeneration. Just as the body is replacing cells, the community of humans is replacing individuals.

More speculatively: There is no fundamental reason why healing and renewal ever needs to fail. Medical knowledge is exploding. Aging will be conquered. Regeneration will be better understood and controlled more reliably.

"There is no incurable disease from which someone has not recovered, even at the threshold of death."
-Dr Bernie Siegal 


29 December 2004

My daily activities are not unusual,
I'm just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing...
Supernatural power and marvelous activity -
Drawing water and carrying firewood.

Layman Pang-yun (740-808)

28 December 2004

"We can study Beethovenís crude, splotchy notebooks and see how he tested and turned his phrases, combined and split them apart, played all the combination and permutation games of art to make his statements more refined, eloquent, beatiful, energetic. Often the original ideas from which he developd his masterpieces of spiritual art were, in themselves, almost trivial or ridiculous. The important thing is to start someplace, anyplace...Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy."

- Stephen Nachmanovich

27 December 2004

This Christmas Eve marked the 90th anniversary of a wondrous event.  Opposing WW I soldiers got up from their trenches, declared a truce over the heads of their commanding officers, and celebrated the holiday together.

was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!" each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
"He's singing bloody well, you know!" my partner says to me
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was "Stille Nacht." "Tis 'Silent Night'," says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky
"There's someone coming toward us!" the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one long figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shown on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own

- John McCutcheon

Other accounts and interpretations of this event...