06 November 2008

Things that inspire me

1. My favorite quotes:

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

"Success and excellence are competing ideals. Being successful does not necessarily mean you will be excellent, and being excellent does not necessarily mean you will be successful. Success is attaining or achieving cultural goals, which elevates one's importance in the society in which he lives. Excellence is the pursuit of quality in one's work and effort, whether the culture recognizes it or not. Success seeks status, power, prestige, wealth, and privilege. Excellence is internal—seeking satisfaction in having done your best. Success is external—how much you have done in comparison with others. Excellence is how you have done in relation to your own potential. For me, success seeks to please man, but excellence seeks to please God. Success grants rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes. Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few. Success engenders a fantasy and a compulsive groping for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Excellence brings us down to reality with a deep gratitude for the promise of joy when we do our best. Excellence cultivates principles, character, and integrity. Success may be cheap, and you can take shortcuts to get there. You will pay the full price for excellence; it is never discounted. Excellence will always cost you everything, but it is the most lasting and rewarding ideal. What drives you—success or excellence?"
- Christopher Parkening, "one of the world's most accomplished classical guitarists," known for practicing at least three hours per day, even after he was celebrated as one of the greatest guitarists

"And if Grandma were a bus, she'd have wheels." - Chuck Weiss, my friends' dad. I think this is a good antidote to the coulda woulda shoulda disease.

2. My favorite ideas:

My wise friend, Neal, says that all of the world's problems are caused by insecurity, and I can see how this would apply to both big-picture conflicts (religion, land, resources...) and small disputes (jealousy, trying too hard, being selfish...). When I am about to lash back at what I perceive to be obnoxious behavior, I can sometimes stop myself and remember that they are probably just as insecure and silly as I am and trying to get attention, feel liked, etc. It makes me more forgiving when I remember that we are all trying our best to navigate through this fast-paced, unforgivingly interconnected world, and I remember another nugget: "If we lived their life, we'd do exactly what they did" (not sure who said that).

Related to the first idea is the idea that it's important to take into account where people come from. One could say that people operate out of either love or fear (or ignorance, which usually leads them to act out of fear of the unknown), and if people are being mean or offensive, it is likely that they are operating out of fear. So, it follows that rather than retaliate with anger (the loud version of fear), the real antidote is love. And if one acts only out of love or fear, then to be truly fearless means to always operate from a place of love. A little hokey-sounding, perhaps, but pretty powerful, I thought. And an excellent challenge.

3. Our new president. :-)

This is my favorite speech so far. Set to music, it makes me cry. Most of you have probably seen it already, but it's nice to revisit. A good serendipity berry to elevate the spirits. Enjoy.

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