Tag Archives: wisdom

The Prettiest Damned Thing You Ever Saw


A tiny sweat bee on a Chicory flower in my backyard. Ain’t that something?

“Everything always works out for the best,” he said.

I can’t remember what I asked him about, but I’m sure I was seeking advice about something I considered an immanent catastrophe or a disaster in the making.  My father was being his usual easygoing self, relaxed, taking joy in simple things, each moment an opportunity to be real and solid.  The coffee in his cup, his threadbare undershirt and his favorite chair were his tea, saffron robes, and temple.  He was a Presbyterian on census forms and dog tags, and that’s what he’d say if you asked him to state his religion.  But in reality, and what he honestly didn’t realize, was that he was a down-home Taoist, a cornbread Confucius, a Buddha in boxer shorts.

“Maybe not in your lifetime, maybe not the way you want it to, but eventually everything always works out for the best.  How could it not?”

I looked back at him as if he was nuts.  Teenagers always look at parents as if they’re nuts.  But then people usually look at visionaries as if they’re nuts until said visionary is proven right.  And now, looking back, I see that the old man was once again on target.  I can’t even remember what had been worrying me so badly that day.  Whatever it was, it was inconsequential, and it worked itself out for the best on my timeline.  Win a few, lose a few.

I see now that we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, from the invisible bacteria on my keyboard to the fish in the sea, from the squirrels in my backyard to the teeming billions aboard floating island Earth, from one end of the cosmos to the other.  Things eat other things, things make friends with other things, things mate with other things and create new things.  Stars are born, shine, grow old, and die.  We’re all making the best decisions we can, working the biggest puzzle you can imagine despite the fact that we can’t seem to put our hands on the stupid box.  Once in a while we fit a couple of pieces together and it feels good.  Other times life’s a jumbled mess.

Only an idiot blames the puzzle when nothing seems to fit.

My old man was right.  The secret is trusting that all the pieces are there and that, in the fullness of time, they’ll fit together into the prettiest damned thing you ever saw.

What I Learned From Other People Last Week

Update 7/18/19:  My club still uses the flag but we’re now called Cabal Fang Temple, and we’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity.  Visit our website or purchase our 12-week personal growth program at Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, or wherever fine e-books are sold.


Original post:

If you say you’re an island you’re full of beans.  Everybody learns from everybody else.  No, life isn’t a big lecture hall, it’s more like a big wine tasting where people sort of hang out and soak up things from other people, often without knowing it.  Sometimes you just see something going on and you learn something.  As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

Here’s a run-down of what I learned from other people last week:

  • My wife taught me, in her sweet and gentle way,  that the best intentions are meaningless if they’re wrapped up in a crappy attitude.
  • I learned from my Mom that, when it comes to loved ones living or dead, there is a time for judgment and a time for mercy, a time for remembrance and a time for forgetting, and graceful is the way of knowing the time for each.
  • A guy I work with at the office reminded me that you don’t need to be an expert at every task in your wheelhouse in order to be a great manager.  You just have to know who the experts are and how to put them to work for you.
  • I learned from an old friend that distrust is a doorway to the loneliest hell, but the way out is always there if you knock.
  • And I learned from my pals at the Order of Seven Hills that pretty body mechanics is no match for reaction time, distance control, and killer instinct (and I have the scrapes and bruises to prove it).

What did you learn from other people this week?  If you think you learned nothing, you might need to open your heart and your eyes.

Silence and Omens, Doubts and Wisdoms

wpid-IMG_20130310_142938.jpgLately I find myself wanting to shut up more and more.

I think back and so much of what I’ve said over the course of my life seems like such utter and complete bull.  There was a time when I believed in all kinds of things I no longer believe, when I espoused things I no longer espouse.

I think, “Is there a day coming when I’ll be ashamed of what I’m doing and saying right now?”

A friend asked me for advice on a project and half way through my email reply I received an omen: a huge black crow flew into the window and I jumped out of my skin.  I took it as a warning to shut my mouth.  I stopped typing, told him to ignore my advice and do his own thing.  Now I worry that I might have hurt his feelings.

Of the many people have I have influenced in my life, how many have been positively influenced, and how many negatively?  Do the positive influences outweigh the negative?

I find myself wondering if something I’ve said, or might say in the future, could have made someone decide not to create something beautiful.  Then I think, who am I to presume that I’ve had any influence at all?

I’m a writer, a talker, an influencer, a teacher.  It’s what I do, it seems to be in my DNA.  When I was 8 years old I was reading books about bugs and teaching the other neighborhood boys which ones were which.  At 15 I started my first novel and started teaching my friends how to play D&D.  Forty years later and only the subject matter has changed.  Lately what I’m doing now seems childish and pointless.

Is this wisdom or doubt?  I guess that remains to be seen.

Hwarang Komgun

According to the Samguk Sagi, in the year 627 there was a horrible famine, and the palace  secretaries plotted to steal grain to feed themselves.  One of them, a Hwarang named Komgun, would not take part.

When confronted as to the reason, he replied, “I am a follower of the Hwarang Kollang, and my heart is cultivated in the garden of wind and moon. I would not commit such an act even for 1,000 gold pieces.”

The other secretaries praised him and held a banquet in his honor, swearing they would follow his lead and abandon their plan.

Unwilling to expose the plot and disgrace his associates, Komgun attended the banquet.  But when he arrived at the sumptuous meal their mood had changed.  It was a trap, and it was clear his cup was poisoned. Knowing that if he did not drink he would be butchered, he willingly drank the cup and fell dead.

I disgree with the sage who said, “Komgun chose death to preserve his righteousness. By comparison, Mt. Tai is nothing!”

The cowardly man makes pretty words and drinks the poison cup.

The proud man reveals a wrong to the authorities.

The brave man takes up arms even though death is certain.

But the clever man graciously invites the sons and brothers of his hosts to share the meal — just in case.