I’ve reached another milestone on my publishing journey!
Four-hundred books! (That felt good to write out.)
Strangely, I have to force myself to celebrate this accomplishment. Part of the problem is that my publishing dreams have been so huge since I was a child, that it is hard for any reality to measure up.
What I’ve been doing is imagining them stacked up in forty piles of ten. Picturing this gives a geometry, a mass to what it means to have this many books out in the public.
This has been followed by, I think, a better visualization: 400 people actually owning and reading my book. That was what the dream was always about, if I strip away fantasies of amazing stardom and best-selling status.
People reading my words. What I have always wanted. What I am finally achieving.
Need a copy? Buy yours here: Tao of Thoreau – just 2.99 Kindle and 4.99 paperback.
This is what you shall do
I read Whitman’s poem last night. Really a worthwhile read.
This is what you shall do:
Love the earth and sun and the animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labors to others,
Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
Have patience and indulgence toward the people,
Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
Or to any man or number of men,
Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
And with the young and with the mothers of families,
Read these leaves in the open air,
Every season of every year of your life,
Reexamine all you have been told,
At school at church or in any book,
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
And your very flesh shall be a great poem,
And have the richest fluency not only in its words,
But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
And between the lashes of your eyes,
And in every motion and joint of your body.
A New Year’s Message from a Dying Tree
This picture is emblematic of how Nature teaches lessons. This tree appears dead at first glance, but there is that one living branch, somehow surviving out of a bole that is in the process of decay.
The more I’m in the woods, the more I see how closely intertwined death and decay are with growth and abundance. It’s relatively obvious that decay feeds life; moldering earth gives birth to abundant plants.
But this picture offers something deeper: the stubbornness of growth, the overpowering will of life and creation even amidst its likely end.
It is an appropriate lesson for a new year. Turned into a metaphor, perhaps that tree is a cherished dream long held that is beginning to slip away. But there is that one branch that still lives, if you focus your energy and passion on it.
May you find your dreams and focus your will on what you want and need in 2023.
The Path of Small Achievements
I wrote yesterday about enjoying each small success with Tao of Thoreau: each book I sell, the pocket change I earn per edition.
I am developing a philosophy that goes with this: the path of small achievements.
About 5 years ago I decided to start going to poetry open mics. It was so much fun! I got to read my work and get applause, sometimes even hooting (my wife always counts the hoots).Continue reading
Flat Tire Philosophy
Yesterday was supposed to be a great day. After I taught two classes in the morning, I was released for a personal half-day. My plan was to get an overdue oil change, do some Christmas shopping and watch the USA World Cup game.
But after the oil change, my tire pressure light came on. At first I was just annoyed, but when I pulled up to the first store, I could hear air coming out of the stem nozzle. After the oil change place told me they couldn’t do anything about it, I rushed to a tire place. There, they told me they could have it done by 7PM. It was 11:30 AM.
I wish I could say I dealt with this well. Thoreau talked about not getting thrown off by “nutshells and mosquito wings” that fell on the metaphorical train tracks. If a train was derailed by such small objects, it wouldn’t be a very good method of transportation.
But this problem seemed much larger to me. It was derailing my plans for the day.Continue reading
World Philosophy Day
For this day, I thought it would be nice to post one of my favorite passages from my book. The first part is a quote from Henry David Thoreau. The second is the connection I see to Taoism.
We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities.
We loiter in winter while it is already spring.
Earlier, Thoreau warned not to try to turn spring into summer; here he warns not to obsess on the past. Lao Tzu said:
Why was it that the ancients prized this Tao so much? Because it could be got by seeking for it, and the guilty could use it to escape the stain of guilt. This is the reason why all
under heaven consider it the most valuable thing.
Learn from mistakes and missed opportunities and apply this learning going forward. Practice forgiving yourself, especially if you have accepted the lessons from your mistakes. Forge forward with this learning, determined to make a new day and a new you.
If you like this, you may like to read more in my book Tao of Thoreau
Excerpt from Tao of Thoreau
This is good advice for me at the beginning of the school year. Staying calm and remembering that all of these stresses are indeed transient is difficult right now. I am trying to remember that obstacles are also opportunities and frustrations are lessons. I can let them bog me down or believe these challenges will make me grow.
Notes on infinity
I don’t know if this is going to be a poem or article. Maybe both. I’m trying to grasp the infinite abundance of our world, our universe.
Count the pine needles I thought of that line as I walked through the woods, looking at the yellow blanket of pine needles on the trail and under the trees. Imagine trying to count them. It made me think about the line where measurements blur into the infinite. Look to infinity Relentless abundance You are standing in it Walking on it Throbbing with it Infinity is the disappearing importance of measurement Of rulers Of defining numerals Measure me out a teaspoon of thyme. But make me the same teaspoon twice With the exact number of grains each time.
I feel like I’m capturing something that I have been after a long time. These are elusive thoughts, though, and it takes time to refine them.