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Words That Inspire 14

We imagine life in snapshots. Still. Permanent. Solid. But life and all it encompasses is more like a flowing river. Twisting every which way. Sometimes rushing. Sometimes softly silent.

Sometimes the river is full of life, with burbling waters, fish, turtles, and wildlife all around. There are nesting birds, and blooming plants. The songs of the river sing loud.

But life, like the river, has its seasons. Each one different. Each one a story-filled chapter. There is drama, suspense, humor, romance….and tragedy.

This week we all witnessed a communal tragedy in the fires of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. The stories Notre Dame Cathedral hold for millions and over many centuries still exist, despite the devastation from the fire. But, like life, the future of Notre Dame Cathedral will no longer be exactly the same, even as France is committed to rebuilding the Cathedral. The old stories will continue to be told, but now there will also be many new stories. In some ways the Cathedral represents on large scale the idea of wabi sabi. Impermanence. Imperfection. Change.

Wabi sabi is all around us, and within us. As we age, we feel the essence of wabi sabi more sharply. In our limitations. In our physical transitions. We are part of our larger world. Much like the mountain in my personal haiku image above, our world tells the story of our strength, endurance, humanity, and struggles. Knowing this gives us freedom.

We are moving pictures, not snapshots. And everything is in transition. And everything is beautiful.

Take a moment to read my post on wabi sabi entitled “Beautiful Imperfections”

Today is also International Haiku Day, a project of the Haiku Foundation.

Words That Inspire 13

Do you appreciate your life? The people with whom you share it?

Do you have a purpose you are passionate about?

Do you regularly experience gratitude?

Gratitude is not just a moment of thanksgiving we acknowledge every November. Gratitude is a way of seeing. A way of being. Gratitude not only improves life, but it also reveals the vast importance of the small things. Gratitude also improves the immune system, helps alleviate stress and depression, and can lead to better health and sleep. Gratitude can bring focus to our lives. Gratitude bridges the gap that sometimes separates us from others.

Gratitude is a magic pill of sorts. No co-pay and it is available to anyone. No promises, however, that gratitude isn’t addictive. But if one is to fall into addiction, I can think of none better than to be forever grateful.

Take a moment. Breath in. Breath out. And re-visit the questions that begin this post. If the answers don’t bring you satisfaction and gratitude, ask yourself why.

Then ask yourself if being grateful can actually help you find your answers.

Words That Inspire 12

To say our world has many challenges is an understatement. But so much good exists. Even in the darkest times, there is incredible light.

In my “Words That Inspire 10” post, I cited both an article and a talk discussing how the world by all indicators is actually getting better. What isn’t included in the analysis is what we ourselves can freely offer to our children to show to them a world of goodness.

As an analogy, we grow strong plants by not just watering them, but even more so by allowing them frequent exposure to light. Light nourishes in ways water never ever can.

For children, kindness is a light. Hope is a light. Love is light. Making meaningful stories accessible to children (and also reading aloud when able) is a light. Children learn much about life by observing the words and behaviors of the adults around them. Children need adults to help them navigate our complex world. Children can learn to cope with and rise above life’s many challenges not through greed or hate or anger, but instead through expressions of kindness, hope, love, as well as through the power of story.

Be a light for a child. Nothing is more important. Ignite your world with good.

Words That Inspire 11

Anyone who is fluent in more than one language has taken notice of how some words hold profound cultural meanings that cannot always be easily translated into other languages. This is true of both living languages and ancient languages. Invented languages, such as those by Tolkien, also share with readers a richly imagined world all through the utilization of…WORDS.

The best writers of all genre pay close heed to the sound and meaning of words. A single word can change so much.

It is often estimated that the average native-speaking person knows approximately 45,000 words by adulthood, though on a daily basis may only use 7,000 per day (and for many, far less). Knowing how our use of words and language are affected by our use of technology is one interesting area of study. Language is a living and breathing entity, always changing.

After all, in this short 5 minute lecture, the speaker John McWhorter poses the question “Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki, and Na’vi real languages?”

So sit back, grab a book, or listen to a lecture, and relax. Let the writers and poets and speakers of the world continue to capture our hearts and minds through their carefully (and often uniquely) chosen words.

Also consider reading my post entitled, “Some Words On Words”

Words That Inspire 10

Listen to the news anchors and the chatter on social media, and one would be inclined to believe we are living in a time when all the best days are far behind us. Anger and fear leads people to jump to the conclusion that society (and perhaps even the entire globe) is on the edge of dystopia.

Quite the contrary is true. Despite the endless negativity, the world as a whole is actually a better place now than in past times. Yes, there still are wars, misery, and poverty, but in overall numbers things are looking brighter. But don’t take my word for it.

Take a listen to Steven Pinker’s talk entitled, “Is The World Getting Better Or Worse?”

Then read PEW Research’s article “Globally Is Life Better Today Than In The Past?”

Finally…Just take a long deep breath, put up your feet, and shed the darkness that surrounds you. Then consider reading my post “Illuminating Light”

We often see what we expect to see. So seek the good. See the good.

Words That Inspire 9

Political divisiveness does little except blind us to our shared humanity.

Instead of embracing our mutual inter-relationships, we may prejudge those with whom we may potentially disagree and push further into our corners, unwilling to listen. Media (including social media) acts seemingly as a gasoline to further fan the flames of hate between us.

Is this who we WANT to be? Or are we just puppets allowing ourselves to be controlled by puppeteers?

Why does it seem that we’ve forgotten that we are all connected?

Consider reading my older 2015 post about the Syrian refugee crisis, entitled “Human vs. Human”

In the four years since that post, we all know the resulting devastation of the Syrian homeland. We are now in the midst of multiple crises in other foreign countries, including the Americas. The issues are vastly complex, and in need of deep discussions and ultimate compromise from all sides. We don’t need soundbites and further divisiveness by those dug into opposite corners.

Where will we be in another four years time?

Words That Inspire 8

How often do you feel as if life is on fast forward? You feel breathless. Anxious. Guilty of not doing enough.

Do you ever dream of a life of simplicity? Stop counting each moment, and instead make each moment count. It’s the small things that matter most.

Consider unplugging after reading my post entitled “Disconnect To Reconnect”

Learn to embrace uncertainty and read my post “The Road Not Certain”

Then cast your perfectionistic tendencies aside, and appreciate the ephemeral and imperfect nature of things after reading my post “Beautiful Imperfections”

Words That Inspire 7

Life in today’s society is often rushed, with people multi-tasking, stressed, and clinging on for dear life. But sometimes the answer is a change in perception.

Embracing the mindset of wonder can do much to alleviate undue stress, improve health, and live a more fulfilled life.

Read more in my post entitled “Awestruck”

And consider embracing the awe of a full moon or even a blood moon by reading my post entitled “Shadowed Moon”

Words That Inspire 6

Each day we are filled will countless examples of hate and anger. We see it in politics. We see it in our newspapers. Many of us also see it in our lives.

What if each of us tried instead to fill ourselves with the countless examples of goodness and kindness, and truly learned to forgive?

How can we accomplish this as individuals? As communities? As a nation? As a global alliance?

Consider reading some of my past posts on this and closely related topics:

“When Anger Rears Its Ugly Head”

“Breaking The Cycle”

“A November To Remember”

Words That Inspire 5

While in any situation we may each observe the same things…we never truly perceive the same things. We express ourselves in writing and speech from the starting point of our perceptions.

Our experiences are always shaped by these sensory perceptions. Many people with sensory losses may find that other senses become more acute. As someone who experiences synesthesia, my own perceptions are often further altered by a crossing of differing sensory modalities.

Enjoy my 2015 article on synesthesia entitled “Number Six Burns Like An Orange Flame”