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Archiver > CLOYD > 2000-05 > 0957482053

From: "Ann Baker" <>
Subject: Fw: Wisdom
Date: Thu, 4 May 2000 19:14:13 -0400

This is kind of long...but you might find it worth thinking about.

----- Original Message -----
From: Diana Harris <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2000 8:29 AM
Subject: Wisdom

> This is very long, but well worth the read!! Di
> Minimaxims for My Godson
> >
> > Dear Sandy,
> > Your nice thank-you note for the graduation present I sent
> > you a few weeks ago just came in, and I've been chuckling over
> > your postscript in which you say that such presents are dandy
> > but you wish someone could give you "half a dozen foolproof
> > ideas for bending the world into a pretzel."
> > Well, Sandy, I must admit I don't have any very original
> > thoughts of my own. But through the years I've encountered a
> > few ideas of that kind -- not platitudes but ideas sharp-pointed
> > enough to stick in my mind permanently. Concepts that release
> > energy, make problem-solving easier, provide shortcuts to
> > worthwhile goals. No one handed them over in a neat package.
> > They just came along from time to time, usually from people not
> > in the wisdom-dispensing business at all. Compared to the great
> > time-tested codes of conduct, they may seem like pretty small
> > change. But each of them has helped make my life a good deal
> > easier and happier and more productive.
> > So here they are. I hope you find them useful, too.
> > **If you can't change facts, try bending your attitudes.**
> > Without a doubt, the bleakest period of my life so far was the
> > winter of 1942 to 1943. I was with the Eighth Air Force in
> > England. Our bomber bases, hacked out of the sodden English
> > countryside, were seas of mud. On the ground, people were cold,
> > miserable and homesick. In the air, people were getting shot.
> > Replacements were few; morale was low.
> > But there was one sergeant -- a crew chief -- who was
> > always cheerful, always good-humored, always smiling. I watched
> > him one day, in a freezing rain, struggle to salvage a Fortress
> > that had skidded off the runway into an apparently bottomless
> > mire. He was whistling like a lark. "Sergeant," I said to him
> > sourly, "how can you whistle in a mess like this?"
> > He gave me a mud-caked grin. "Lieutenant," he said, "when
> > the facts won't budge, you have to bend your attitudes to fit
> > them, that's all."
> > Check it for yourself, Sandy. You'll see that, faced with
> > a given set of problems, one man may tackle them with
> > intelligence, grace and courage; another may react with
> > resentment and bitterness; a third may run away altogether. In
> > any life, facts tend to remain unyielding. But attitudes are a
> > matter of choice -- and that choice is largely up to you.
> > **Don't come up to the net behind nothing.** One night in
> > a PTA meeting, a lawyer -- a friend and frequent tennis partner
> > of mine -- made a proposal that I disagreed with, and I
> > challenged it. But when I had concluded what I thought was
> > quite a good spur-of-the-moment argument, my friend stood up and
> > proceeded to demolish it. Where I had opinions, he had facts;
> > where I had theories, he had statistics. He obviously knew so
> > much more about the subject than I did that his viewpoint easily
> > prevailed. When we met in the hall afterward, he winked and
> > said, "You should know better than to come up to the net behind
> > nothing!"
> > It is true; the tennis player who follows his own weak or
> > badly placed shot up to the net is hopelessly vulnerable. And
> > this is true when you rush into anything without adequate
> > preparation or planning. In any important endeavor, you've got
> > to do your homework, get your facts straight and sharpen your
> > skills. In other words, don't bluff -- because if you do, nine
> > times out of ten, life will drill a backhand right past you.
> > **When the ball is over, take off your dancing shoes.** As
> > a child, I used to hear my aunt say this, and it puzzled me a
> > good deal, until the day I heard her spell out the lesson more
> > explicitly. My sister had come back from a glamorous weekend
> > full of glitter, exciting parties and stimulating people. She
> > was bemoaning the contrast with her routine job, her modest
> > apartment and her day-to-day friends. "Young lady," our aunt
> > said gently, "no one lives on the top of the mountain. It's
> > fine to go there occasionally -- for inspiration, for new
> > perspectives. But you have to come down. Life is lived in the
> > valleys. That's where the farms and gardens and orchards are,
> > and where the plowing and the work are done. That's where you
> > apply the visions you may have glimpsed from the peaks."
> > It's a steadying thought when the time comes, as it always
> > does, to exchange your dancing shoes for your working shoes.
> > **Shine up your neighbor's halo.** One Sunday morning,
> > drowsing in a back pew of a little country church, I dimly heard
> > the old preacher urge his flock to "stop worrying about your own
> > halo and shine up your neighbor's!" And it left me sitting up,
> > wide-awake, because it struck me as just about the best eleven-
> > word formula for getting along with people that I've ever heard.
> > I like it for its implication that everyone, in some area
> > of life, has a halo that's worth watching for and acknowledging.
> > I like it for the firm way it shifts the emphasis from self to
> > interest and concern for others. Finally, I like it because it
> > reflects a deep psychological truth: People have a tendency to
> > become what you expect them to be.
> > **Keep one eye on the law of the echo.** I remember very
> > well the occasion when I heard this sharp-edged bit of advice.
> > Coming home from boarding school, some of us youngsters were in
> > the dining car of a train. Somehow the talk got around to the
> > subject of cheating on exams, and one boy readily admitted that
> > he cheated all the time. He said that he found it both easy and
> > profitable.
> > Suddenly a mild-looking man sitting all alone at a table
> > across the aisle -- he might have been a banker, a bookkeeper,
> > anything -- leaned forward and spoke up. "Yes," he said
> > directly to the apostle of cheating. "All the same -- I'd keep
> > one eye on the law of the echo if I were you."
> > The law of the echo -- is there really such a thing? Is
> > the universe actually arranged so that whatever you send out --
> > honesty or dishonesty, kindness or cruelty -- ultimately comes
> > back to you? It's hard to be sure. And yet, since the
> > beginning of recorded history, mankind has had the conviction,
> > based partly on intuition, partly on observation, that in the
> > long run a man does indeed reap what he sows.
> > You know as well as I do, Sandy, that in this misty area
> > there are no final answers. Still, as the man said, "I think
> > I'd keep one eye on the law of the echo if I were you!"
> > **Don't wear your raincoat in the shower.** In the distant
> > days when I was a Boy Scout, I had a troop leader who was an
> > ardent woodsman and naturalist. He would take us on hikes, not
> > saying a word, and then challenge us to describe what we had
> > observed: trees, plants, birds, wildlife, everything.
> > Invariably we hadn't seen a quarter as much as he had, nor half
> > enough to satisfy him. "Creation is all around you," he would
> > cry, waving his arms in vast inclusive circles, "but you're
> > keeping it out. Don't be a buttoned-up person! Stop wearing
> > your raincoat in the shower!"
> > I've never forgotten the ludicrous image of a person
> > standing in the shower with a raincoat buttoned up to his chin.
> > The best way to discard that raincoat, I've found, is to
> > expose yourself to new experiences in your life all your life.
> > All these phrases that I have been recalling really urge
> > one to the same goal: a stronger participation, a deeper
> > involvement in life. This doesn't come naturally, by any means.
> > And yet, with marvelous impartiality, each of us is given
> > exactly the same number of minutes and hours in every day. Time
> > is the raw material. What we do with it is up to us.
> > A wise man once said that tragedy is not what we suffer,
> > but what we miss. Keep that in mind, Sandy.
> > Your affectionate godfather.
> >
> > By Arthur Gordon
> > from Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul
> > Copyright 2000 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

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