The Griffin

I was walking one day in downtown Columbus. I had parked my car in the lot of restaurant next to the riverfront. The place was closed and I decided to take the pathway down to the place where there’s a replica of the Christopher Columbus’ boat – the Santa Maria that he and Spain used to find the new world. In fact, I had seen that boat numerous times, so I was not particularly interested in it, but last time I went there I noticed that near the boat, next to the road there is a small park – very little, triangular in shape, and mostly with concrete instead of grass. Anyway, this park caught my attention last time I had been there because it has a few bronze statues of mythological creatures. In fact, I went up to one of them and I saw that it was a unicorn, which looks like a small pony with a cone sticking out of its forehead. Then I read the plaque beneath that read: “Now the unicorn could not ask any more questions because he knew all things. The only thing the unicorn did not have was taste.” I thought those words to be rather interesting, although I did not contemplate on them much. Well, on this particular day, which was a few months later, in November, I wanted to go back to that little park to see that unicorn again, and to see if there were any other statues there that I might have missed the last time I had been there. And so I climbed the steps up to the park and I saw the unicorn again with his horn sticking out of his head. I read the plaque again, and again I was amused.

Then, interestingly enough, I saw another bronze statue of a quirky looking animal – another mythological creature. It looked like a leopard, but it had wings. I proceeded to read the plaque. The griffin, said the plaque, has what it does not need. Which if you think about it makes sense: why would a leopard need wings? Then the plaque said something extremely wise: “The griffin was afraid to be wrong. Do not be like the griffin.” As I read those lines, I thought they were revolutionary and very liberating. The griffin’s problem, you see, was fundamentally that he was afraid to be himself. And I think, especially when we are growing up, that is a problem that we all face. We are afraid that our behavior, or some characteristic of ours is unacceptable unto others, and so we hide it, in order to gain more acceptance. We, like the griffin, are afraid what other people will think. But ultimately, you need to realize that other people will not judge you. Other people are a lot less judgmental than your or the griffin believes! They are busy with their own lives. In fact, if you are one of those people who wants to please others at your own expense, here’s what I’ve got to say: do not be like the griffin. Do not be afraid to be wrong. There is no right or wrong when it comes to being yourself.

excerpted from my speech Good Luck!

 

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the thinking of observation

Let us imagine this scenario. You are out and about in society, let’s say, at a restaurant or a cafe, in downtown of wherever you live, your city. And your lunch mate, your friend, has gotten up and left the table, and you are left alone…alone with your thoughts…but you are not thinking. There is nothing you are thinking about. You are eating your sandwich, drinking your pop, and looking around the room, the walls, the ceiling, the other people, and out the window. But there are no thoughts in your head. Does this mean you are not thinking? No! You are thinking. You are thinking without language. You are thinking with your face when you observe. You are thinking with your hands, when you move them. You are thinking with your arms, when you move them and with you are thinking with your eyes when you look closely.

Language is not the only means of thinking. Observation-without language-is a form of thinking. To observe is to think. It is to think about what you are looking at. The people and the place, and yourself. Who you are, what you are doing and the way you look. To know the way you look is a form of thinking. Without language. Unintellectual. And so we may be tempted to label it as unintelligent. But it is nevertheless profound…it can be, if you are able to look carefully. To see the full picture of reality. The full restaurant, the full scene out the window, the full aspect of your fellow creatures surrounding you and your full self.

love your neighbor -Jesus

If you are a Christian, you are probably aware of one of Jesus’s most fundamental exhortations: “love your neighbor.” And when you go to church, everybody focuses on the fact that Jesus preaches love, and they skimp over the “your neighbor” part. But I would like to focus on the “your neighbor” part of the quote. Because if you think about it, it’s fine to hate someone half way around the world. The hell with them! You don’t have to get along with them. You don’t interact with them. But it is crucial that you get along with your neighbor. Because you see them every day. It is better that you get along with your neighbor, than with a relative half way around the world whom you never see. The genius in the quote is not just “love”; it is the neighborly aspect of life that Jesus recognizes.

 

Reading is a virtue

They say “stay in school.” That’s how we teach our children to be good. Indeed, reading, not only has intellectual purpose, it has moral purpose. How many of the people sitting in jail are readers? Zero! If they were readers, they would never commit any crimes!

Reading is the antidote to a life on the streets. It is protection from trouble. Because good people are readers. My advice to young people would be make friends who are readers. There is plenty of trouble out there. But if read, you cannot partake in it even if you want to. The two are incompatible.

And who says that one must stop reading after graduation? All they taught you in school is what they wanted. But now its your turn! Teach yourself what you want to really learn. Read what you love. That’s where it counts. So when you graduate, don’t say, “Oh thank God, now I never have to pick up another book again!” Say, “Oh, thank God, now I’m free to read what I wanted to read all along” To read is to be good.

What is the purpose of vacation?

Who invented vacation? How old is the notion? As old as time itself! I am  sure that people have been going on vacation since the beginning of time. Why? There are some reasons that are more obvious than others. For example to have fun and see new places. But there is another reason to vacation. To break the routine of every day life. Every once in a while we need to do something very different, in order to jostle us out of the hum drum drum of every day life and renew us.

The time has come for me to take a vacation! My last big vacation was in Albania in April 2014. Yes, that vacation totally broke the “hum drum” of every day life. Though it too had its difficulties. This time I am going off to England. For excitement, for adventure, for fun.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live in vacation? It can’t be done, because it then turns into routine. Then you’d have to vacation somewhere else. I think life needs a balance of work and rest, more work than rest. This is why we work 5 days a week, and rest 2 days a week. We need to work most of the year but vacations are nice and perhaps necessary. In order to come back refreshed.

Worries live indoors

Have you ever noticed how when you wake up in the morning you’ve got all these things going through your head. And many of them, whether they are anxieties or concerns or issues, just keep bugging you. And you make your coffee and eat your breakfast, all the while feeling preoccupied by worrying.

But then when you open your door to go outside, to go to work or take care of something, you realize that something strange happens: your worries and ruminations go away! No joke this has happened to me before, and it happens to me every day. In fact, I believe that worries live indoors. When you go out you feel better, and you forget your troubles. Sure, you are bombarded by other worries, such as driving, and doing your job, but hey; those are more legitimate in nature, than just sitting at home, and becoming preoccupied by ruminations.

I believe isolation breeds rumination. But if you are in contact with other people, you feel better. Worry is often an imagination. Today in fact I was driving my car down a big road, and I believed there was a car next to me too close and I became worried. But that anxious feeling was just in my imagination, because when I dared to look at my mirror it turned out there was no car there! When we see reality we can relax and see there is nothing to worry about 🙂

 

 

 

 

the power of a positive word

Can words really be the difference between a good day and a bad day? I don’t know if they can be the whole difference. But there is one thing we can all be sure of. Words matter. They can make you feel a little bit better (or a little bit worse). And in the end, don’t we all say “God is in the details”? Well, if a positive word, or gesture, is but a small detail, then it is a big thing. You could be having a bad day, and you hear something nice, and it makes you feel a little bit better.

I was at the pharmacist one day and I was having a bad day. It was morning. I don’t know about you, but mornings are the worst for me. Certainly worse than evenings. Anyway, I did something or said something that I believed was stupid, and I said, “I’m gonna stop talking now.” And the pharmacist, who looked confused, replied, “You’re OK.” And I left the store, got in my car, and it stuck with me, “You’re OK.” It’s just a positive word. Basic. There isn’t much to it. But it made a small slight difference at the moment. There is power in words. Even in something as simple as “You’re OK.”

“I’m OK-You’re OK,” that’s actually a book.