Friday, January 8, 2010

Some assembly required.

Snowmen fall from heaven... unassembled. - Anonymous

I thought this quote fitting given the state of my sidewalks and the streets I had to drive through this morning to get home.

When I was a kid, we lived in North Dakota for a couple of years. While the frigid temperatures might drive some mad, it was a magical time for me. We learned the value of being able to spend time outside. We learned that it's okay to go ice skating when it's ten below and the wind chill is dropping rapidly. We learned that some of the best moments are the quiet ones, watching the snow fall together, wrapped in blankets near the heat spewing from the register. We learned to appreciate the snow days... and the days that we actually made it to school.

Something that I didn't realize back then was that the tools for a good life, for success, for happiness, were already at hand. No, that's a recent development.

You see, we are all capable of making the decisions necessary to move forward with our lives. We have the tools to learn what needs to be learned to enjoy success. We all are capable accepting the past and the outcomes of the future. We all are worthy of happiness. It's a choice.

The gifts of heaven are showered upon us when we enter this world. All we need to do is use them. Yes, we are like the snowmen. And like the snowmen, some assembly is required. Thankfully, we have all the gizmos, devices, means, and implements to do the job.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Education as a worthy pursuit.

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. - Will Durant

I have lately been reading a book that admonishes the American dictate that the "gut" is superior to the intellect. As a result, we listen to an unreasoned group who endeavor to speak loud enough, to get enough people to believe what they are saying, to create a fact where there is only opinion. We run into a huge risk of a self-imploding society when intelligence and the pursuit of truth through educating ourselves is overridden by an impulse to believe someone just because they are on the television. We don't realize what it is that we don't really know, but claim to through opinion over fact. There are those that call the educated elitist, out of touch with the rest of the population. But it is the educated who can discern what is fact from fallacy. It is the educated who are not so easily fooled.

Albert Einstein once said, "The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know."

Truth be told, I will never know everything. Nor will you. But that pursuit of knowledge through investigation is as exhilarating as any action film you'll find at your local theater. You will never get this education from watching a documentary or listening to a political pundit on cable news. It's my hope that education will have the prestige it has for the poor children of many third-world nations and that it once held here in the United States. It's my hope that the book will once again be favored over the television screen. That is where education is.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Give it a try.

Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. - William Faulkner

Too often we become discontented with our lives, stuck in a mundane, day-in-day-out existence. While I have been determined not to plague myself with resolutions, I am finding that I have become determined to challenge myself, to become greater, more fulfilled. Recently, something occurred to me: what if the great thinkers, dreamers, athletes, poets, had never bothered to challenge themselves, never bothered to bring their visions for the world around them into reality? What would the world be like without the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln or Maya Angelou, the songs of Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson? Where would we be without the ambition of Henry Ford or Mary Pickford? They started by offering themselves the challenge of personal transcendence.

We have an opportunity everyday to be challenged, not by any outside means, but solely by ourselves. And with that opportunity comes not only the chance to become the person you imagine yourself being, but greater than you ever imagined. That's a challenge worth taking.