Browsing through a stack of old books isn’t only a good way to productively relax. It’s a good way to productively ponder life. The public library has an annual sale of old and donated books as a fundraising event. A person can fill up a bag for a dollar. In as much as I don’t have a ton of time to read random books, I do like to search for some books I might find useful. This February, I put a few in a bag to bring home.
A couple of the books were yearbooks with quotations from notable people as the words related to current events of the day. Now I could sit all day long and read timely news accounts and commentary from the day, about historical events.
One of the finest journalists and writers of all time was Samuel Langhorne Clemens AKA Mark Twain. He could inject his witty, agnostic wisdom into essays and speeches about then current events. Clemens had a way of poking a jab at someone or an institution that was both ironic and hit home. That is if you can read between the lines. I’ve enjoyed reading and quoting Mark Twain for decades. Each time I come away with a gem or two that hit the bulls eye.
“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?” Mark Twain
In a round about way, can you relate this to today’s religious climate?
The native American peoples have had their share of very wise leaders and thinkers. One of the most profound thinkers was chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee people. He practiced and lived the life of a philosophically wise leader. He helped his people to make sense out of the encroachment of the European peoples who had recently formed the new nation that was encroaching upon the ancient homeland of the Shawnee and other native peoples. In his sober thinking, he came up with such pithy thoughts as this one:
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” Tecumseh
Friedrich Nietzsche is one philosopher that gives me pause. Much of what he wrote is extremely profound and relevant to life. But oftentimes, to me, the wisdom is contained in dark, thick works of literature. I have a great regard for his views and findings, but I also have difficulty reading him without feeling depressed. The quotation that hit home for me today was this:
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche
I can almost picture Nietzsche pacing his room, trying to work out some psychological puzzle. Many of us can relate to this activity. Walking is a favored way of transportation and commuting for me. I’ve often resolved a problem or question while using my two feet to pound out my thoughts.
Taking a few moments each day to ponder a wise saying is a good investment of time. This is especially true when done around breakfast time.
The Blue Jay of Happiness has this lengthy quote from Mark Twain: “Now there is more to a bluejay than any other animal. He has got more different kinds of feeling. Whatever a bluejay feels he can put into language, and not mere commonplace language, but straight out and out book talk, and there is such a command of language. You never saw a bluejay get stuck for a word. He is a vocabularized geyser. Now you must call a jay a bird, and so he is in a measure, because he wears feathers and don’t belong to any church, but otherwise he is just as human nature made him. A bluejay hasn’t any more principle than an ex-congressman, and he will steal, deceive and betray four times out of five; and as for the sacredness of an obligation, you cannot scare him in the detail of principle. He talks the best grammar of all the animals. You may say a cat talks good grammar. Well, a cat does; but you let a cat get excited, you let a cat get at pulling fur with another cat on a shed nights and you will hear grammar. A bluejay is human; he has got all a man’s faculties and a man’s weakness. He likes especially scandal; he knows when he is an ass as well as you do.” M.T. from, “Morals Lecture,” 7/15/1895