29 October 2006

How do you respond to an extra hour in your day?  Does it feel like a luxury, or more like a relief?

Economics and culture both pressures us to overschedule; and there is some comfort to be drawn from perpetual occupation.  Tight scheduling is a recipe for productivity in a crisis, but in the long run, it assures limited aspirations and costly mistakes.

We cannot aspire to all the growth and accomplishment of which we will someday be capable – we simply can't see that far ahead.  To limit our aspirations to possibilities that can be presently apprehended is to shortchange our potential.

We are all too aware of the unexpected exigencies that arise without herald and demand our attention.  We may be less conscious of the unexpected opportunities that appear with equal frequency.

Live beneath your means, so that only a fraction of your income is accounted for by fixed expenses.  Budget your time even more liberally, allowing for side-trails, whimsical exploration, and serendipity.  It is certain that one of these frivolous diversions will become your destiny. 

– Josh Mitteldorf

28 October 2006

“We were told in one lecture that it was possible to immunize against diphtheria and tetanus by the use of chemically treated toxins, or toxoids. And the following lecture, we were told that for immunization against a virus disease, you have to experience the infection, and that you could not induce immunity with the so-called “killed” or inactivated, chemically treated virus preparation. Well, somehow, that struck me. What struck me was that both statements couldn't be true. And I asked why this was so, and the answer that was given was in a sense, “Because.” There was no satisfactory answer.”

Jonas Salk was still a student when he began to look for a better answer to his classroom question, and the answer he found led to one of the most dramatic breakthroughs in the history of medicine.

In America in the 1950s, summertime was a time of fear and anxiety for many parents; this was the season when children by the thousands became infected with the crippling disease poliomyelitis, or polio. That burden of fear was lifted forever when it was announced that Dr. Jonas Salk had developed a vaccine against the disease. Salk became world-famous overnight, but his discovery was the result of many years of painstaking research.

Salk went on to found the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, where he continued his research into the causes, prevention and cure of diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Dr. Salk never patented his polio vaccine, but distributed the formula freely, so the whole world could benefit from his discovery. 

(from the Academy of Achievement web page)

Our greatest responsibiliy is to be good ancestors
Jonas Salk, born this day in 1914

27 October 2006

There is a bill before both houses of the US Congress to create a cabinet level Department of Peace.  There are presently 74 co-sponsors.  It is being promoted by the Peace Alliance and Americans for a Department of Peace

“...peace is defined as the capacity to handle conflicts with empathy, nonviolence and creativity.”
Johan Galtung

I’m convinced there is a groundswell of hope for such a culture, indeed, a spiritual hunger for it.
Robert Koehler: Common Wonders

Though the American government is a belligerent force in the world, the American people want peace.  When America becomes a democracy, they shall have it.

26 October 2006

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.

Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

~ Mary Oliver ~

25 October 2006

Georges Bizet, born this day in 1838, studied at the Paris Conservatory as a defiant, mischievous ten-year-old.  The work which we regard as so appealing today was produced as acts of defiance at the time.  Carmen was considered scandalous.

“As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.”

His only symphony was composed as a student assignment when he was 17.  It was never published, and forgotten for 80 years, rediscovered and performed for the first time in 1935.  It bubbles with exuberance.  Listen!

24 October 2006

“Standing on the bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space – all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental; to be brothers, to be acquaintances, master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.”

~ from Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

23 October 2006

“The natural laws we have believed in and taught our children have sometimes been found to be not natural laws at all, but rather fearsome constructs of our own making, undermined by the evidence. Time and again, the bear they had sworn would rip us limb from limb was begrudgingly allowed a place at the table, and behold, it used a fork and a spoon.”

Barbara Kingsolver