Monday, December 31, 2018

‘Do one thing every day that scares you.’ - Eleanor Roosevelt

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
29 December
When you went to Mozart for a piano lesson you sat and watched/listened. Do the same thing: put your pride in your pocket and get comfortable with sitting at the feet of the master. Get used to the fact that, even if you’re very good at what you do you're not at the top of every aspect of your field; somebody else is. Make it your business to learn from him/them.

“A decision without the pressure of consequence is hardly a decision at all.” - Eric Longmuir

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 29
'You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'Life is always full, exciting, rich for those who go at it head on.'
- Arnold Kunst

Friday, December 28, 2018

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
28 December
“Love is the building block of all miracles.” – Arnold Kunst

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
27 December
"Comfort zones are for breaking out of." - Arnold Kunst

“Nothing you can’t spell will ever work.” - Will Rogers

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 28
'The colored population is the great available, and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.'
Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, December 27, 2018

“We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 27
'The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'If you're not careful your worrying will give big shadows to small things.'
- Anonymous

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.” – Adolf Hitler

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
26 December
One of the classes I taught in the prison was called “Re-entry;” it was designed for guys who were scheduled for parole inside six months, and one of the strategies I employed was a series of open-ended discussions to prepare them not just for life on the streets but for NEVER returning to prison once they get out [a staggering 72% of California’s paroling inmates will return within 18 months]. Here’s one of them:
It’s 5:45 on a Tuesday night. You’re tired and maybe a little crabby after a hard day’s work. When you drive home to your apartment, number 116, you find that someone has parked a car you don’t recognize in the space assigned to 116. After parking your car in the street, what will you do?
I’d remind them of their firm decision never to return to prison; I’d also point out to them that being “tired and maybe a little crabby” could lead to their being in a lockup before 7:30 that night.
I would then ask for their contributions: what WOULD they do? I’d take notes on their ideas on the white board with a blue felt-tip, and at the end of the discussion use a red felt-tip to star the ideas they’d agree would be the best ideas.
It was, I thought, a wonderful way to try their ideas on for size – without the risk of actually DOing something stupid.

“Patience is being at peace with the process of life.’ - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 26
Lincoln's cabinet was a team of egos as well as rivals. Each of them was ambitious, opinionated, strong-willed. A goodly number of them believed the presidency was rightfully theirs and only by an accident of fate did it belong to the gangly prairie lawyer they each - initially - thought they could manipulate. They each came to find out otherwise. Even so, they made up a balanced Cabinet, representing all the discordant elements not just in the party but also in the country.

'Change is certain; growth is optional.'

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” – John F. Kennedy

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
25 December
I find the following image profoundly comforting: a baby lying on his back in a manger, vulnerable as an upturned turtle - yet tranquil for all that. This baby, born in a stable, will end up dying on a cross - and, if Scripture is to be believed, between birth and death he was nothing but an itinerant hand-to-mouth preacher who had not whereon to lay his head.
Translation: Poverty of the most profound sort was integral to everything about the person this child became.
He wasn’t stuck with this poverty but instead it seems He actively and willingly embraced it as a kind of liberation from a materialism you and I find ever seductive.
The impact He had on this world was somehow directly related to the immense power inherent in that embracing of poverty.
This poverty bridges the gap between Him and all of us enmeshed, as we are, in a plethora of poverties as distinctive to each of us as is our retina scan. And finally, we too can become strong in our weakness[es] as He Himself apparently was.

Yes, vulnerable as an upturned turtle - yet tranquil for all that.

“The best mind-altering drug is the truth.” – Lily Tomlin

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 25
'To ease another's heartache is to forget one's own.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'Ultimately magic finds you, if you let it.' 
- Tony Wheeler

Monday, December 24, 2018

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” – John Muir

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
24 December 2017
Christmas is, outwardly at least, a season of happiness and warmth, of joy and abundance, of Jingle Bells and Silent Nights. But not very far below the surface lurks a distinct, abiding sense of malaise. Always we’re consumed by … a something. We may not be able to identify it effectively, but it’s there for sure, as evidenced by the ever-tapping toe, the incessant drumming fingers. It’s as if receiving all the gifts in the world, destined as they are to sink below the surface of some bottomless abyss, would never even register. There is something in all of us of the alcoholic for whom 20 cases of Jack Daniels will never slake.
Nature isn’t like that.
Seen small, take your dog for a walk and he’ll happily show you: there are too many fire hydrants that need meticulous sniffing, too many bushes that need minute irrigating.
Seen large, stars are content to just be there, as the poet says, singing their very own music, the music of the spheres.
In this season you and I are sure to be tempted to stomp our feet at the microwave and blurt out, “Hurry up – I haven’t got all minute!” The trouble is, when we do that we will, of necessity, forget that tranquility and delight are as much our heritage as it is of your dog, or my stars.
Peace, my friend!

“No matter how long it takes, true love is always worth the wait.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 24
'The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.'

- Anais Nin

“Be the experienced quarterback in the pocket as the play yields another 26 yards.” – Arnold Kunst

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
23 December
If Heaven were some plastic, pretend thing, it wouldn’t take any more trouble to achieve it than, say, picking up the morning paper. But if it’s anything like it’s supposed to be, I think we’d better get ready to do battle. It’s a prize eminently worth having, but only when we’ve successfully stormed the battlements. In fact, maybe it’s part of the plan that we’ve got to take hell to earn Heaven. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

“Let us make a dent in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 23
'May our children and our children's children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers.'
- Abraham Lincoln

‘Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.’
- Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 22, 2018

“If you don’t enjoy spending time alone then you must not be in very good company.” – James Arthur Ray

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual” by Arnold Kunst
22 December
We’re meant to move comfortably among people of any age, any background, any financial status. We’re not so proud that they don't enrich us; we’re not so humble that we can't enrich them. It's a fascinating interplay.

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” – Gloria Steinem

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 22
'Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent.'
- Socrates

Friday, December 21, 2018

"Compassion is the key in Islam and Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity. They are profoundly similar." - Karen Armstrong

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
21 December
“Offer parenting generously whenever it’s needed; accept parenting graciously whenever it’s offered.”
- Arnold Kunst

“The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” – Claude Levi-Strauss

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
20 December
Some questions in life have answers that are not nuanced, or subtle, or conditional. I used to make that point to the guys in my prison classroom by reminding them how inadequate they'd find the following exchange with their girlfriends: "So, tell me: are you pregnant?" "Well, yes and no."

“Don’t compare your uniqueness to anybody else’s.” – Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 21
Whenever Lincoln particularly as a young man, attended social functions he was extremely ill at ease around coquettish young women. He did not understand them, felt stupid in their presence, was sure they all thought him ugly. Consequently he either acted the clown or sat with his hands hidden under his knees. Except for his friend Ann Rutledge, Lincoln's closest female relationships as a young man thus far had been with married women who tended to mother him.

'Friends are like angels - they lift us up when we forget how to fly.'

“You can’t defeat the demons you enjoy playing with.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
On December 20, 1860 the Electoral College met formally to elect Abraham Lincoln President of the United States. On that very same day a special convention was convened in South Carolina to consider and then approve the following Ordinance of Secession: ‘That the union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America is hereby dissolved.’ This bold move – one state out, with maybe more to follow [but no guarantee!], and 33 states in – passed by a vote of 169 to 0. Translation: take no prisoners!

‘No emotion, any more than a wave, can long retain its own individual form.’
- Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

“Earth is bulging with heaven.” – Arnold Kunst

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
19 December
The story of the Garden of Eden, looked at prosaically, shows Adam and Eve - a husband and wife team - involved in a multitude of mundane activities: sowing, irrigating, tilling, harvesting, storing, distributing. They could have viewed themselves as live-in gardeners on the estate of some absentee Landlord. But instead, the harmonious meshing together of all these disparate elements became "Paradise". The psychological source of this harmony was, of course, their attitude, their sense of self worth. Just like them, you and I can transform the plethora of the mundane within which we are positioned into Paradise by transforming our attitude, our sense of self worth. For we are not nearly so hermetically sealed off from Paradise as we've conned ourselves into believing.
It's all in the attitude.

“A winner is a loser who learned from losing.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 19
'If to be the head of Hell is as hard as what I have to undergo here, I could find it in my heart to pity Satan himself.'
- Abraham Lincoln
‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. Because it does.'
- Anonymous

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

“Great minds have purposes, little minds have wishes.” - Washington Irving

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
18 December
“...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

“In the end, dear friend, it is always between us and God, not between us and them.” – Mother Teresa

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
December 18
'I'm a slow walker, but I never walk back.'
- Abraham Lincoln

‘Make sure your general attitude toward all that life has to offer is, “bring it on!”’ – to ALL of it!
- Arnold Kunst