If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison you are living in.
"Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.
Short, therefore, is man’s life, and narrow is the corner of the earth wherein he dwells. “
My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’, too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities, too. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together.
Absolutely beautiful meditation by legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks, who turns 80 today, on the joy of growing old.
Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.
I find it extremely impossible not to cry when I hear Stevie Nicks’s “Landslide,” especially the lyric: “I’ve been afraid of changing, because I’ve built my life around you.” I think a good test to see if a human is actually a robot/android/cylon is to have them listen to this song lyric and study their reaction. If they don’t cry, you should stab them in the heart. You will find a fusebox.
Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.
The girl dreams she is dangerously ill. Suddenly birds come out of her skin and cover her completely … swarms of gnats obscure the sun, the moon, and all the stars except one. That one star falls upon the dreamer.
"To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” ― James Baldwin