Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Continue reading
Logos refers to our ordinary way of seeing the world with deductive, logical thinking that helps us balance our checkbook, make decisions, and plan for the future. But as scholar Karen Armstrong describes, the ancients saw that logos cannot “assuage human grief or find ultimate meaning in life’s struggle. For that people turned to mythos, stories that made no pretensions to historical accuracy but should rather be seen as an early form of psychology.”
At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from DeMoines, Iowa.
I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons — something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a protégé though I have taught some talented students.
However I’ve also had my share of what I call “musically challenged” pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student.
Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.
Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, “My mom’s going to hear me play some day.” But it seemed hopeless.
Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.
We are shaped by the people who surround us. Our joys are more pleasurable when they are cherished by our friends, our successes more enjoyable when they are applauded by those whose opinions we care about, our protests are less lonely and our indignation less unsure when shared by our supporters, our hatreds more corrosive when goaded by fellow zealots, our sorrows less burdensome when borne with our family.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. Continue reading
It requires honesty to see whether you still harbor grievances, whether there is someone in your life you have not completely forgiven, an “enemy.” Continue reading
People who are well read, well informed invariably fail to live up to what they have learnt. They may appreciate a beautiful trait and not be able to imbibe it. They possess the knowledge but not the wisdom to live by it. One could know the highest principles of life and personally not follow them. You need a developed intellect to reflect upon the knowledge to assimilate it, absorb it. Knowledge then sublimates into wisdom. Thereafter it manifests in your thought, word and deed.