Quotes Gathered in 2012

“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” STEVE JOBS.

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.” MISTER ROGERS.

“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.” WSJ Article, “Are you as busy as you think.”

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” HENRY DAVID THOREAU.

“One must be astonished totally, yet more and more softly. That is how eternity wonders at the times and changes them. One must wonder at the wonders.And also at the wounds, the deepest and last wounds, and elevate them to the wondrous.” HUGO BALL’S diary, 21 November, 1921.

“I always thought you were very single-minded about your dreams. But now I see that you skipped the struggle and went straight to the end.” from MAD MEN, TV show.

“Here’s my advice. Pretend you’re going to find out in a year that you have cancer, and then make all your decisions based on that.” Career Advice, source unknown.

“I love spending time in the woods because I believe it’s literally perfect. You could not design it better. It’s marvelous. And, when I’m in my cabin in those woods, I’m not fetishizing a simpler past, I’m fetishizing a simple present. I’m often thinking, “Holy shit, I spend some of my time working on the Internet, most of my time out here, I’m happy, my friends and family like it too, and this is economically sustainable.” ZACH KLEIN’S Blog. (Amen!, I say.)

“Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later . . . that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could . . . adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.” TOM WOLFE, The Bonfire of the Vanities.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” STEPHEN HAWKING.

“There’s no such thing as work/life balance. There are work/life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” JACK WELCH.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” HENRY DAVID THOREAU.

“I wait by working.” RICHARD STALLMAN.

‎”You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget that errand.” WOODROW WILSON.

“You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.” Review for the play, “The Drawer Boy.”

“Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. The include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly. This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about.” From Caterina.net.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” THEODORE ROOSEVELT, The Man in the Arena – April 23, 1910.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

“One can live at a low flame. Most people do. For some, life is an exercise in moderation (best china saved for special occasions), but given something like death, what does it matter if one looks foolish now and then, or tries too hard, or cares too deeply?” DIANE ACKERMAN.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” STEVE JOBS.

“A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything.” HARRY BROWNE.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch, which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.

West Wing Quote

FATHER CAVANAUGH: You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report
that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents
should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me.
God will save me.” The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted,
“Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the
man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.” A helicopter
was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there.
The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the
man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that
God will take him to safety. Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of
St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man,
I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio
report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”

(He pauses. Bartlet looks very upset.)

FATHER CAVANAUGH: He sent you a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker, Mr. President. Not to mention his son,
Jesus Christ. What do you want from him?

Closing Doors

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.” ~ David Lynch

I am not convinced that I will ever understand all of the rules by which I live. Although, it is important to remember that “understand” is not the same as “agree with” or “acknowledge.” Depending on the situation, not acknowledging the rules leads to imprisonment. Stabbing. Shooting. Driving drunk. While in many other endeavors, choosing not to acknowledge the rules is rewarded. Scientific discovery! New methods of communication! Less wrinkles! Longer drive!

Let’s look at the definitions of “imagination”:

  1. the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality
  2. creative ability
  3. ability to confront and deal with a problem
  4. the thinking or active mind
  5. a creation of the mind; especially, an idealized or poetic creation
  6. fanciful or empty assumption

The tension in the quote results from two false assumptions made by adults:

  1. That they understand the rules; and
  2. That increased imagination is unnecessary to better understand those same rules which they falsely assume they understand.

It is a necessary chore of life to force myself to question nearly everything, which is another way of saying that I (and you!) should always live life the way I want to live it while acknowledging the rules that need to be acknowledged, deciding for myself which rules are are worth agreeing with and following based on the consequences of not following those rules and my personal beliefs, which rules deserve further study for me to better understand them, and, in turn, lead a fuller and more purposeful life. And while slogging through the life’s muddy pool of rules, I must always actively remember to use my imagination to imagine the possibilities that fall outside life’s staid prescriptions.

Techie Lawyers

From You Can’t Make Lawyers into Techies: 3 Lessons About LPM:

Certainly, lawyers are not Luddites, determined to resist progress and deny any change. It’s that they are lawyers, not IT types. So that’s Lesson One: You can’t make lawyers talk IT; IT has to learn to talk lawyer.

Lesson Two is that lawyers insist on immediate gratification. They will happily sacrifice technological sophistication with its attendant steep learning curve for instant utility.

Lesson Three is the need for patience when introducing any sweeping change that seriously impacts traditional behaviors.  Lawyers don’t welcome transformative changes, but they will accept sequential phase shifts if only because their competitors do.

The Daily: Distillation of Ideas

The Elusive Big Idea – NYTimes.com.

In the past, we collected information not simply to know things. That was only the beginning. We also collected information to convert it into something larger than facts and ultimately more useful — into ideas that made sense of the information. We sought not just to apprehend the world but to truly comprehend it, which is the primary function of ideas. Great ideas explain the world and one another to us.

I have always made lists of small ideas, thoughts, things to do. I have on- and offline lists that I am constantly trying to merge into a master list. I do this for writing – to remember story ideas – and for other facets of my life. The longer-run outcome of keeping these lists is that they evolve, as I learn to understand them and distill their content into some larger more meaningful (or at least more useful) thing that I can implement or use to create.

Do you keep lists? If so, are they on- or offline? The people want to know!

Quote: The True Joy In Life

The following quote caught my attention today:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch, which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.

~ George Bernard Shaw

The Empathy of Critical Thinking

Marissa Mayer, the V.P. of Search Product and User Experience at Google made an interesting point during the last ten minutes of her interview on the Charlie Rose show. (link)

Charlie Rose: Why did you choose computer science at the beginning?

Marissa Mayer: I grew up thinking I was going to be a doctor. And I started off as a biochem double major at Stanford. And at the end of my freshman year, I realized I loved chemistry, was very good at it, but it’s a lot of memorization, right? It’s a lot of memorize this chemical equation. And when I went home, I realized that all my friends who were at other schools studying biology and chemistry were learning the exact same material. In the exact same way. And I thought, well what could I do that would be unique to Stanford, that Stanford does really well and also would teach me not just facts but how to think better, how to be a better critical thinker, how to be a better problem solver. And that’s when computer science came in because in computer science, they have one of the best programs in the country, and you get to working on a new problem every day. So it’s not so of what you know or what you’ve memorized, but it’s more how do you think about problems.

Marissa’s comment regarding wanting to challenge her thoughts struck a nerve with me and made me realize that most of my post-secondary education has been the type that encourages rigorous and critical thinking.

In undergrad, I studied economics – what we do with what we have. That simple summary leaves open many variables and a lot to think about. Beyond understanding the language necessary to be fluent in any field, the study of economics provides a student with a unique method of viewing each and every daily interaction. One of the basic assumptions is that we are rational beings. Moving from that assumption to the next, and trying to solve a problem takes on a step-by-step process. A chain is setup as the student realizes that shifting one variable may have an effect on many others. Once he’s thought long enough like this, it becomes difficult to make decisions because he realizes that everything can be rationalized. It’s just that some outcomes are better than others.

I studied creative writing as well, which was, and still is, to this day, the most challenging task I’ll ever undertake. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank page because it is completely on the writer to fill it. He can draw from his life, the news, stories friends tell, or nothing at all. But when it comes down to it, making something up for others to read is an incredibly frightening thing to do. It’s a narcissistic and selfish thing to do. To think that what he has to say is worth someone else’s time. Yet, writing is the single most freeing thing I do on any given day because it challenges and renews me. It is a way to order my thoughts, my perception of the world, and my understanding of my relationships.

And perhaps now, more than ever, critical thinking is a matter of my daily routine. The appeal of a law degree upon applying to law school was that the degree would have a wide application – law, business, entrepreneurship, teaching, etc. What I underestimated was what exactly would compose that degree. Now that I’m nearly finished with law school, I’ve come to group the value of my expected degree as follows. Primarily, I have learned a critical and logical method of thinking. This is a vague and fleeting tool, but significant nonetheless. Ancillary to the method of thinking is the day to day knowledge and experience – basically, how to find what I’m looking for – that comes with having attended law school for three years. While there is value in each of these things, only from critical thinking do I derive any personal satisfaction.

It’s only now, as I review my education, that I realize why I have pursued my chosen fields of study. Each one has challenged my thinking and opened my eyes to new things. Economics, writing and law have each allowed me to better make sense of the world around me. Not only can I attempt to answer life’s questions, but I can give answers with support and argue for my position. I can understand where others are coming from and empathize with their viewpoint. I can challenge them and be challenged, knowing full well that there may not be a definite answer.