heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: Be the architect of your own destiny

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story ?  Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” 
― Alex MorrittImpromptu Scribe

I will keep this post brief.  The choices we make, whether proactive or reactive, set a chain of reactions and events in motion. How we act (or don’t act) and what we say (or don’t say) will  play a pivotal role in how we engage with others and in what we hope to achieve in life. Sometimes we find excuses for our own inertia or our bad choices. We play the blame game: “It’s his/her fault that this happened, not mine.”  In some instances, this is correct. But they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

Let’s face it, there are times that bad things happen. And it’s no one’s fault. But it’s how we handle  the hard times, the tragedies and disasters that determines our forward path.  The person who deals with hardship with humility, integrity and grace is the person who will likely also use every life experience – be it good or bad – as a lesson to learn from. True wisdom is hard-earned.  

So let 2017 be the year we, each of us, write our own life story. Let’s hold ourselves accountable for our actions and our words. 

Let the first chapter begin.

“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, and destiny.”
– Alfred A. Montapert

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A little Socratic wisdom

I’m in a philosophical frame of mind these days.  So for the rest of 2016, my posts will highlight famous philosophical quotes and the philosophers who said them. This month (September), the focus will be on some of the greatest ancient Greek philosophers whose influence and thinking have transcended the passage of time.

SOCRATES

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

– Socrates, (469—399 BCE),  classical Greek philosopher

Socrates was considered the father of Western logic and philosophy. He espoused an ethical system based on human reason, rather than theological doctrine. According to Socrates, the more we come to know ourselves, the greater will be our ability to reason and make choices that lead to true happiness. His quest for knowledge focused on one simple idea: how to live a good and virtuous life. We know him through the writings of the students he mentored, the most famous of whom was Plato. It was Plato who later taught Aristotle, who then went on to tutor Alexander the Great.

He taught his students by asking them questions, with the objective of getting them to think for themselves. This became known as “the Socratic Method” which, in today’s world, is a method of teaching most often used by law and medical professors in universities and colleges across the globe.

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”

– Socrates

Socrates refused to acknowledge class distinction or in other words, the “proper behavior” at the time. He spoke and mingled with women, servants and slaves just as easily as with nobility and scholars. This refusal to conform to social proprieties angered the so-called important men of the time. Socrates was subsequently arrested for impiety. His accusers (Meletus the poet, Lycon the orator, and Anytus the tanner) charged him with “denying the gods recognized by the state and introducing new divinities” and “corrupting the young.”  These accusations were considered (by those who favored Socrates) as being personally and politically motivated.

Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BCE. He died in his Athenian prison cell, surrounded by his friends. Socrates himself never wrote down any of his teachings. He focused on action, not words. His teachings and philosophy were later interpreted and written by his students, men like Plato who later went on to form their own philosophical schools.

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

– Socrates

READ:

The Trial and Death of Socrates, by Plato

The Republic, by Plato

 

 

Want a dose of wisdom? Talk to a taxi driver.

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Over the years, I’ve had some highly entertaining and very informative conversations with taxi drivers. If you ever want a spot-on gage (or gauge) of current socio-economic issues and seer-like accurate predictions of future events, speak to a taxi driver. These guys (although there are female cab drivers, it is still a male-dominated field of work) will always tell it like it is, without frills or any long-winded speeches. 

In an election year, forget what the polls say.  Ask a cabbie, and he’ll tell you who will win. He will usually be right.

Want to know how bad (or good) the economy really is?  Speak to a taxi driver.  He will filter out all the marketing rhetoric that the political pundits are espousing.  He will refute many economists (particularly the ones who back up the politicians) as they predict current and future economic trends.

Taxi driver wisdom is not unique to the United States.  Take a cab in any city or suburb in Canada, in Europe, or indeed anywhere in the world… and you will be a captive audience of one – a student in the University of Reality.

Before you laugh and shake your head in disbelief, I tell you that what I say is true.  I’ve “attended” many such “class lectures” – from Dublin and London to Paris and Berlin, from Vancouver (British Columbia) to Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), and in at least 35 states right here, in America.

I will tell you the latest “word on the street.”  Recently, I phoned my favorite taxi driver (Martin), to wish him a happy birthday (he and I were born in the same year).  I’ve known Martin for 15 years and he has become a dear friend.  After all the birthday wishes and catching up on each other’s news, I asked him the million-dollar question:

“So what do you think, Martin… are we in an economic recovery…  as we’ve been told?”

He laughed mirthlessly and said:

“Are you kidding me? Maybe the country club folks think that this is a recovery. They are not feeling the  pinch.  The middle class is. People are still struggling to make ends meet. Even my regular corporate customers are traveling minimally, taking no more than one or two business trips each quarter.”

I asked one last question:

“Is there an economic recovery in sight, perhaps in 2014?”

With a sigh, he said:

“Yes, probably towards the middle or end of 2014…. but it won’t be the recovery that we’ve all been praying for.  It will be a weak recovery. But, at least it will be a little better than it is now.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Martin.

So, there you have it. Taxi driver wisdom.

We’ll see how everything pans out.

HFH2

From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from me, through my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three. As I’ve stated before and clearly state on my website, this promotion does not apply to books purchased from third party distributors, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

The Sound of Quiet

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“That innate love of melody, which she had inherited from her ballad-singing mother, gave the simplest music a power which could well-nigh drag her heart out of her bosom at times.” 
― Thomas HardyTess of the d’Urbervilles

A wise woman once told me that sometimes people have selective hearing – they hear only what they want to hear, perhaps because they  don’t want or don’t care to know.  This same woman told me that it was important that I learn not only to hear, but also to listen – because when we focus, our sense is heightened, enabling us to notice all the subtleties and nuances that we would have missed, had we not made the effort.   Her frame of reference was music.  As she spoke, her voice was quiet, soft and melodic.  She whistled as good as any nightingale.  She only whistled when she was sad.  It lifted her spirits up.  She sang when she was happy.  When she sang, she would close her eyes, her lids fluttering slightly. Her singing was perfectly tuned and simply lovely.  I have never forgotten her voice, nor the sound of her whistling. 

She gave me one more piece of sage advice, almost as an afterthought – but now, I realize that it was what she most wanted me to remember. 

“Each day, you must take the time to listen to the sound of quiet.  Just do it.  You will understand why, when you do.”

So, if I were asked to narrow down my most favorite sounds to five, they would be:

5.  The haunting rumbling of a distant train. (it appeals to my sense of wanderlust)

4.  The discordant sounds that an orchestra makes, in the minutes before the  concert hall is silent – before the performance commences.  (it fills me with anticipation, excitement and joy)

3.  The steady, low roar of ocean waves, as the tide rolls in – especially at dawn and dusk. (I am awed and humbled by its sheer magnificence)

2.  The gentle rustling of bamboo leaves, as the trees sway in the wind. (this, for me, is the sound of peace)

1.  The sound of quiet.  (when everything is silent, I am in complete harmony with myself,  and with God)

 

Image via businesssuccesshub.com.

heatherfromthegrove: A Wrap-up of My 7 New Year Revelations

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As I said before (on this very same day, last year):  

“For those of you who have been following, reading and enjoying each of my seven New Year revelations …. Thank You.

I would like to point out that they are not New Year Resolutions. I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore. They are my own personal revelations. Epiphanies. Discoveries. In the past decade, I’ve faced some daunting challenges and heart-wrenching events. I’d like to think that I’ve handled them with dignity, compassion, grace, and humor. Always humor. It helps take the edge off.

So, the lessons that these “life tests” have taught me are my “revelations.” As I move forward with my life, I will use them as my guide. Wisdom has to be earned. For me, it’s a work in progress. I hope that they have inspired and even amused you. I hope that they have made you think long and hard.”

Here’s a synopsis (the numbers have a hyperlink back to each revelation post):

Revelation No. 1: LOVE — WITHOUT RESERVATIONS, CONDITIONS OR EXPECTATIONS

Revelation No. 2: KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS

Revelation No. 3: RESIST THE MAÑANA SYNDROME

Revelation No. 4: PRACTICE A LITTLE PATIENCE

Revelation No. 5: NEVER, NEVER ASSUME!

Revelation No. 6: UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “EMBRACE” AND “TOLERATE”

Revelation No. 7: TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

And the journey continues.  I believe that 2013 will be a renaissance of sorts. I know that I’m looking forward to tying up some loose ends in my life,  having my book launched at the end of February,  and taking time out to read, sharing precious moments with the creatures (two-legged and four-legged!) I love most, and … of course … dancing in the rain!

I wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy  2013 and may your own personal journey bring you deep fulfillment and wisdom. Remember, we are all — each of us — a work in progress!

 

Image via eclectic-eccentric.com.