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Disconnecting the emotions from mother's death
[Articles] > Disconnecting the emotions from mother's death
source : http://www.parksmed.com/psych/gdmother.html
The death of a mother you loved can be the cause of a long period of depression. Knowing that death comes to us all doesn't help. The emotions come out of the subconscious, a non-reasoning mind. In this exercise I give you two concepts, which you must accept for this to work.
One is that mother is gone... a chapter that has ended in your book of life.
Second is that if your mother loved you, she wouldn't want you mourning over her death for a prolonged period, if at all. She would want you to go on with your life and be a happy, healthy person, wouldn't she? Now often people lay guilt on themselves, saying "I should have gone to see her more, I should have gotten her a better doctor, I wish I had or hadn't done this or that." But all that is water over the dam. It makes no difference now. What has happened is final, and your feeling guilty isn't helping your mother a bit and most likely has a bad effect on those you love who are still around you. For the benefit of yourself and those you love, you MUST disconnect the guilt. This exercise will help you do that because it says "It will disconnect you from all the emotional upsets you experienced involving your mother."
Now you must understand that this makes sense. You can't change the past. But you can change your reaction to the past. Do you want your kids and friends moping over your death when it's your time to go? I doubt it. Give YOUR mother the same consideration. The good memories and feelings will remain after this exercise, but the upset feelings will be gone. When you think of mother in the future only good feelings will come--how fortunate you were to have had a good mother. A lot of people didn't.
What makes this exercise work is that another person has to say it to you, and in the right way. You can believe what I wrote above, but it still needs the disconnect ceremony I've recorded to be effective.
You can always repeat the exercise at a later time, like a day or two or week or more. Soon after a death I have found this necessary. Do it until only pleasant feelings remain.
The sound is not very good, especially on computer speakers. It is because audio has been condensed for short download time and no special media program. It will sound better if you get some cheap hi-fi earphones and plug them in to the back of your computer where you have the speaker plugged in.
Weblog2001November
[Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]
[The German Wine Route]
[Buddha] : Monks and scholars must not accept my words out of respect,
but must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes-gold by cutting,
[Fink] wants to bring more Unix software to Mac OS X. Goal number one is porting software to Mac OS X. Goal number two is making the results available to casual users.
[The Wooden Bowl]
(via [Gleanings]) [The emergent new order|http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/11/28/emergence/index.html] : Feed magazine founder [Steven Johnson] explains how self-organizing systems are made to order for ants, cities, software and terrorists.
[Cicero] : [The Six Mistakes of Man]
Value of the [Neem] leaf
[Peter Coad] : [Feature Driven Development|http://www.togethersoft.com/services/publications/presentations/fddatjavaone2000_ppt.zip]
We went to [Salzburg] for the weekend. We will go again in Spring, Summer or Autumn and we have learnt some valuable lessons about Winter, Snow etc. !
[The Cathedral and the Bazaar] : ...Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch...
[Gerald M. Weinberg]'s book [The Psychology of Computer Programming]
[Mother Teresa] : The minute you begin to do what you want to do, it's really a different kind of life.
[Mira Art] : [Not being attached to anything....|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/11/22] : "...All in the world recognise the beautiful as beautiful. Herein lies ugliness..."
Today is [Buy Nothing Day]
The beasts in a man
[Allen Downey]'s [How to Think Like a Computer Scientist]
[Guido van Rossum]'s [Computer Programming for Everybody]
(via [PaperQuote])[Albert Einstein] : The World is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.
[Patrick David Harrigan] seems to be the lead maintainer of [Murugan Bhakti] - Great Work
A Question : IF it was only possible to browse 1 site in the future... What would it be ?
My answer of the moment :-) [Murugan Bhakti]
[Thomas Paine] in [The Age of Reason] : It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
After reading [Andre Durand]'s [Global Consciousness 1.0|http://discuss.andredurand.com/stories/storyReader$187], I have an idea about combining this thought with [Quaker]ism... Why not we implement a system where members can raise 1 issue per day and only 1 a day, Every other member can post their opinion after careful thought and it would be possible to edit the opinion only a few times within the next 1/2 hour ! and That's it ! - I will try to refine it !
([via|http://doc.weblogs.com/2001/11/19#andBlogsNeedClay] [Doc Searls]) November 23rd is [Buy Nothing Day] , [Clay Shirky] needs a blog !
[Charles du Bois] : The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.
[John Taylor Gatto]'s [writing on the web|http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Gatto.html]
[Jonathan Wallace] maintains [The Ethical Spectacle]
A hypocrite is a person who professes beliefs and opinions that they do not hold
[Ralph Waldo Emerson] : "Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this: Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him."
[Mother] : Always remember to love thy mother, because you only have one mother in your lifetime... I would replace mother with parents...
[Stephen Hawking] in [A Brief History of Time] : As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe.
We went to [Dachau] today to visit the [Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site].
The sign of the gate is [Arbeit Macht Frei] (Work Brings Freedom)
Later we went to Munich and waited in the [Marienplatz|http://www.muenchen-tourist.de/deutsch/stadtinformationen/plaetze/marienplatz.htm] for the [Glockenspiel im Rathausturm|http://www.muenchen-tourist.de/englisch/stadtinformationen/plaetze/muenchen-stadtinformationen-sehenswuerdigkeiten-plaetze_e_m.htm]. But, in winter, it only happens once a day at 11AM !
[Joel Spolsky] : It's about time that I updated my crufty old list of recommended books. What books should I have up there? - [Vote for ONE Book|http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=934]
[Jeremy Stangroom] is the on-line editor for [The Philosopher's Magazine|http://www.philosophers.co.uk/]
[Tim Pozar] : One of my main "themes" in life is to give tools to the world that help them express their ideas. I have this rather utopian idea that if everyone has the tools to exchange ideas then the world will be a better place.
Author Unknown : To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.
[Kalpana Mohan] : I live in a place where a million dollars is loose change for most people. I live in a place where people lease Mercs while they await their Porsches. It's a place where every minuscule movement of the NASDAQ rumbles into a seismological event. A place where deals are made - to be broken when options vest...
[Peter J. Denning]'s new book is [The Invisible Future: The Seamless Integration of Technology into Everyday Life]
[HotLinks] is going to charge for their service from 3rd December 2001... If they allow me to maintain 1 URL with multiple categories, I will consider paying for their service... Anyway, they have very nicely allowed me to export the content as a [html file|http://www.carnatic.com/2001/hotlinks.kishorebalakrishnan.2001nov14.htm] - Thanks a lot !
I sent an email to [Jonathan Abrams] several months ago and he prompty responded by stating that 'the request will be forwarded to Development' - Let us see...
[Viktor Frankl] : Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
[Free Alina Lebedeva|http://www.geocities.com/elsvenjo/FreeAlina.html] : ...This site is in support of Alina Lebedeva from Latvia. Alina is the schoolgirl who gave Prince Charles a slap in the face with  a bunch of flowers in protest over Britain's involvement in the war against Afghanistan. She is provisionally charged with endangering the life of foreign dignitary. If found guilty she could face up to 15 years in prison...
[Ramayan Audio|http://www.ramayanaudio.com/] : ...The Ramayana was meant to be heard!...
Today is yet another [Deepavali] away from India...
[George Orwell] : [Politics and the English Language]
On the island of Kauai .
[Mira Art] [quotes|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/11/08] Mark Twain : Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.
[Ken Coar] is a Sanagendamgagwedweinini ! --- click on the name to know the meaning :-)
[Bill Clinton] : [A struggle for the soul of the 21st century|http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2001/11/10/speech/index.html]
[Richard Fritzson] [reacts|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200111/msg00189.html] to article [Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200111/msg00183.html] by starting 'This is a pretty outrageous headline for this story.'
[This Diwali has lost its sparkle|http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=2125046482] : ...Sampoorna Kohli, weaving his way through the small lanes of the Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, sums it up succinctly: "There is uncertainty for everyone. Nobody is feeling particularly festive what with jobs on the line and businesses doing badly. The light has already gone out of this Diwali."...
[Lee Iacocca], [Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam], [JRD Tata], [KJ Yesudas], [Mother Teresa]
[Swami Sivananda] : From [ABANDON BODY-CONSCIOUSNESS|http://www.dlsmd.org/sdr/11-sdr%20nov/1109.htm] : ...This body which is full of impurities, urine, pus and faecal matter etc., is perishable. It is like froth or bubble or mirage. It is despised by its enemies. It remains like a useless log of wood on the ground when prana (life) leaves it. It is the cause of pain and suffering. It is your enemy. You should treat this body with contempt, as dung. Why should you cling to it and worship it with scents, powders and flowers? Do not be silly and foolish in adorning it with fine silks and ornaments. It is dire ignorance only...
[Alwin Hawkins] : [New tag line|http://www.vfth.com/2001/11/10] and the cornerstone of a new ethic for me. : ''Work, Don't Whine''
[Doug Baron]: "I'm part of the Userland team now."
[Joel Snyder] ( commenting on an article about Bin Laden's family members leaving the USA : ...This whole article is offensive and the worst sort of journalistic sensationalism...
[Freeman Thomas], head of advanced product design for DaimlerChrysler : "A lot of people in the design business are full of BS. They want to create the facade of an extreme individual. I don't want to be someone who can't be approached."
[Deepavali] is on the 14th this year. Anyway...
[William Damon] coauthor of [Good Work] : "We're getting people to overcome the sense that to have a good career, you've got to compromise or cut
[via|http://jim.roepcke.com/2001/10/31#item3142] [Jim Roepcke] : [Seth Dillingham] : [Knowledge Management, Meta Data, and the Organization|http://www.truerwords.net/1241]
[Mira Art|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/11/01] : ...I never liked it, feeling the hypocrisy...
I hurt myself yesterday while playing badminton... Nothing Serious... But I am thinking about [Relative and Absolute Happiness] and about people who are handicapped
In [You already know what to do] : ...In the early nineteenth century, when writer [Samuel Taylor Coleridge] awoke with the "distinct recollection of the whole" of "Kubla Khan", he demonstrated the effectiveness of intuition... When business man [Jagdish Parikh] speaks of creating a "synthesis...beyond selfishness and selflessness, beyond collectiveness and competitiveness, to a cooperativeness based on selfness," he is calling on intuition...
The Future Does Not Compute
[Books] > The Future Does Not Compute
Weblog2001December
[Albert Einstein] : There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
From [Never settle for the best] : ...Give the proper [tools] to a group of [people] who like to make a difference, and they will...
Apart from family and friends, I would like to thank the following people for sharing their thoughts/life and making available usable/useful/enjoyable tools on the web.
Inspiration for everyone from [Google] : [Never settle for the best]
[The three most difficult things for a human being]
It has been a while since realised that I am not in this world _only_ to gain more knowledge, wealth etc. :-)
The Rhine ferry " Drusus " connects Germany with France. We were on this today
[Rheinmuenster|http://www.rheinmuenster.de/] : The people of Greffern have always operated a ferry service between their town and Drusenheim on the left bank of the river: a pontoon bridge was erected in 1875, followed by the motor ferry "Drusus", which has been providing a free ferry service since 1977.
We saw [Lord of the Rings] yesterday night and at the end, a boy sitting in front of us kept shouting "Was Was Was..." several times ! and I had a similar reaction in my head !
It is the no. 1 movie at http://us.imdb.com/top_250_films
I have an idea: When users rate anything... show them a list of similar objects (with the ratings by them) they have rated already and this will hopefully give them the correct perspective
For eg., I would not rate this movie more than [Blast from the past] overall !
Ofcourse, I liked the scenic shots in [Lord of the Rings]. But It is not the no. 1 movie I have seen from the imdb list !
[Jason Levine] [:|http://q.queso.com/2001/12/21] ...I have to say that there's a lot more hype than there is movie....
The song [Christmas Time] is on the radio often...
[Buckminster Fuller] : "For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the ‘more with less’ technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful."
We are connecting to the net from today with [dsl flat|http://www.billiger-surfen.de/tarifmodelle.php3?name=T-Online&verbindungsnbz=dsl+flat&gueltigab=2001-08-01&gueltigbis=0000-00-00] :-)
I received [Drive10] today. The interface could be better... It could tell us more about what is doing behind the scenes...
[Babylog|http://babyblog.org/] [:|http://babyblog.org/archive/archive.php?12/10/2001_7807035] [W. Bruce Cameron] : [The 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Daughter]
[Extreme Programming] and [Feature Driven Development] : [a short comparison|http://www.togethercommunity.com/coad-letter/Coad-Letter-0070.html] : The Bottom Line in the article is the essence : ...It is important to discover what works for you and your organization. The name of the process you use is not important. What is important is the ability to repeatedly deliver frequent, tangible, working results on time, within budget and with agreed function...
[IBM's Test-Tube Quantum Computer Makes History|http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/news/20011219_quantum.shtml] : ...Scientists at IBM's Almaden Research Center have performed the world's most complicated quantum-computer calculation to date. They caused a billion-billion custom-designed molecules in a test tube to become a seven-qubit quantum computer that solved a simple version of the mathematical problem at the heart of many of today's data-security cryptographic systems...
[An interview|http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/1756/leelozo.htm] with Mr. [Lee Lozowick]
[Russell H. Conwell]'s speech [Acres of Diamonds] concludes ...If you forget everything I have said to you, do not forget this, because it contains more in two lines than all I have said. Bailey says: "He most lives who thinks most, who feels the noblest, and who acts the best."...
[Philip James Bailey] : We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
The mission of the [North Carolina Christmas Tree Association|http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/] (NCCTA) is to promote "real" Christmas Trees through marketing and education.
(image source : [Why they make Scents|http://www.ncchristmastrees.com/sents.htm]]
[James Allen]'s [As A Man Thinketh] is partly responsible for the creation of the entire personal development industry. Most contemporary PD authors and teachers credit this little book for providing foundation to their principles.
[Margaret Mead] : Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
[Oliver Breidenbach] [:|http://www.fsomm.com/discuss/msgReader$902] The Spiegel figured out how to use numerology to better remember the Euro to DM exchange rate: 1.9 55 83 If you take the sum of the last two pairs it is 10 and 11, respectively. So, the exchange rate is one point nine, ten, eleven...
[Mira Art] [quotes|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2001/12/16] [Buckminster Fuller] : When I am Working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only of how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
[Why we have a terrorism problem with our airlines|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200112/msg00227.html] : ...the FAA had come down hard on the airport only because 1,000 badges was too many, in that regulations permit that airport to have only 500 unaccounted-for access badges....
I have read somewhere that the Western World follow a 'parts per million' culture while the Japanese follow the 'zero defect' culture... and that this is the fundamental difference !
[Cameron Barrett] [:|http://www.camworld.com/journal/2001/12/#17] [The Dave Winer Big Ego Awards|http://www.camworld.com/journal/rants/2001/12/17.html]
[Sjoerd Visscher] [:|http://w3future.com/weblog/2001/12/12.html] "I got ADSL!" . I hope to say that soon too :-)
[Socrates] : The unexamined life is not worth living
[Aristotle] in [Nicomachean Ethics] : The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended.
[Jason Levine] : [Stanford University Interview|http://www.broaderminds.com/Profiles/Stanford_university/reviews/987553538431.html] : "More important than the workload at Stanford, I find, is the ‘humbling factor’. Basically, if you can gain admission to a school like Stanford, I have no doubt that you can work at the level set by the professors. The problem is more egotistical: can you handle meeting people just as and possibly more intelligent than yourself?"
[Sharon Holdstock] (is a generic love spreader among others) : [Yoga by Shazzie|http://www.stretchmagazine.com/page.php?content=shazzie&pagetitle=Yoga%20by%20Shazzie] - WOW - see the pictures !
(via [PaperQuote]) [Buddha] : A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden.
[Jack Welch]'s Vintage : [Straight from the Gut]
I requested [Brent Simmons] to list all the [Mac OS X applications] used by him. [The answer|http://inessential.com/osxapps.html]. Thanks, Brent.
A visit to their [Garden|http://sheila.inessential.com/garden/] maintained by his wife [Sheila Simmons] is refreshing.
[Saravanan Natarajan] has sent me some (10 !) CDs with Osho's speeches and I have started listening to "Osho about Creativity" and most of the speech is available on the web too...
[Osho] : [CREATIVITY: Unleashing the Forces Within] : ...Creativity means loving whatsoever you do -- enjoying, celebrating it! Maybe nobody comes to know about it -- who is going to praise you for cleaning the floor? History will not take any account of it; newspapers will not publish your name and picture -- but that is irrelevant. You enjoyed it. The value is intrinsic...
[First mention|http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html] of [Google] is by [Chris Mitchell]. He doesnot actively maintain [The Searcher's Road Less Travelled|http://home.teleport.com/~lensman/roadless.htm]
It is all the more an important message when I see news like [U.S. Nearing ABM Treaty Withdrawal|http://dailynews.yahoo.com/htx/nm/20011211/ts/arms_missile_usa_dc_1.html]
[The Masquerade of Charity]
[The Song of the Bird]
[Mortimer Jerome Adler] : The purpose of a liberal education is not to learn how to earn a living, but to learn how to live and enjoy life, especially when not working
[Jean-Paul Sartre] : The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
[Isaiah Berlin] (in [The Hedgehog and the Fox]): There exists a great chasm between those, on one side, who relate everything to a single central vision...and, on the other side, those who pursue many ends, often unrelated and even contradictory...The first kind of intellectual and artistic personality belongs to the hedgehogs, the second to the foxes.
[Jim Roepcke] [:|http://jim.roepcke.com/2001/12/09] I've been reading through the [AppleScript] documentation throughout the day today. So far I'm very impressed.
I am also tweaking the [Image Capture] in [AppleScript]
[Albert Einstein] : If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
[William James] : As the brain changes are continuous, so do all these consciousnesses melt into each other like dissolving views. Properly they are but one protracted consciousness, one unbroken stream.
I received an email response from [Richard P. Gabriel] regarding a spelling mistake on his site and another from [John Patrick] for a similar issue. Nice!
I want the following feature in MS Outlook or any email client for that matter: When I send an email, the tool should prompt me... you have sent a similar email to this person and didnot get a reply ! dont bother !!!
I did something at work which makes me think of the [Elegant Hack] which is being powered by [movabletype] since some days...
Can you put [the fragrance of the rose] into words ?
I was looking for a [Digital Camera] and the winner is [Digital IXUS]. We bought it at [New York Camera] yesterday in person. [Christian Kwyas] is a great sales man. It was (will be) a memorable shopping experience. However Christian should be thankful to [Jeff Keller]'s very useful reviews at [Digital Camera Resource Page]
We already like the camera very very much
The [Euro]
[Dave Winer] [:|http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2001/12/06#l86b0989154cbfbef88f0a30f41b96187] Bug reports should have three parts. 1. Here's what I did. 2. This is what I expected to happen. 3. This is what actually happened. For extra credit, if it's a public Web app, provide a URL. It also couldn't hurt to say what version of the software you're using, what OS, and other things that might make your installation different from others.
[Peter Longo] is [Pratt & Whitney|http://www.pratt-whitney.com/]'s CIO. Pratt & Whitney is a leader in the design, manufacture and support of engines for commercial, military and general aviation aircraft, and space propulsion systems
[Ken Roberts] maintains the [Great Books Index]
[Benjamin Kuipers] has [a possible solution|http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200112/msg00061.html] to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Found [The End of the World] at his page... which made me goto [RAQ] and found [The Meaning of Life] :-)
[Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict - A Primer|http://www.merip.org/palestine-israel_primer/intro-pal-isr-primer.html]
I want to buy a [Digital Camera]. [Canon PowerShot A20|http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/a20-review/index.html] is on the top of my list... [Jeff Keller] states ...As always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out the /camera/ and its competitors before you buy!... Do you have any recommendations ?
I am in [The Search for Beauty] in [An English Country Garden|http://www.alfresco.demon.co.uk/]
"For his([Christopher Alexander]) Ph. D. Thesis, later published as the book [Notes on the Synthesis of Form], he was awarded the first Gold Medal for Research by the American Institute of Architects."
via [PaperQuote] [Andre Gide] : It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.
[George Harrison] [dies|http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/music/newsid_1492000/1492446.stm]. [Craig Jensen] is [Sad and heart broken|http://booknotes.weblogs.com/2001/11/30]. [All Things Must Pass]
Weblog2002January
[Dave Winer] [:|http://scriptingnews.userland.com/backissues/2002/01/14#philosophy] "No locked trunks. Use Radio 8 because it's the best choice. Your choice."
Over the weekend, I spent lot of time learning Radio UserLand 8.0 >>> 0100563 >>> http://www.carnatic.com/kishore/ru/
[Pongal] festival is celebrated on 14th this year. This is the day on which the sun begins to move northwards (also called Makara Shankranti). For Tamilians, Makara Shankranti ushers in the New Year. The corn that is newly-harvested is cooked for the first time on that day. Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home.
[Mattu Pongal] : "...According to a legend, once Shiva asked his bull, Basava, to go to the earth and ask the mortals to have an oil massage and bath every day and to eat once a month. Inadvertently, Basava announced that everyone should eat daily and have an oil bath once a month. - - - This mistake enraged Shiva who then cursed Basava, banishing him to live on the earth forever. He would have to plough the fields and help people produce more food. Thus the association of this day with cattle. - - - A festival called [Jallikattu] is held in [Madurai], Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur on this day..."
[Jallikattu] : "...Also known as "Yeru Thazhuvudal" (Yeru - bull; thazhuvudal - literally, to hug), it was more the way girls chose their suitors. The chivalrous youth who could contain a charging bull was much preferred by the ladies to one who couldn't..."
[Great Virtues of the Dhamma] : "...Amongst the many virtues of the Dhamma, there are six salient characteristics mentioned in the most authoritative texts. Svakkhato Bhagavata Dhammo, Sanditthiko, Akaliko, Ehipassiko, Opanayiko and Paccattam Veditabbo Vinnuhi..."
[Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn] : "If it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere [insidious]ly committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart."
[Lawrence Lee] [:|http://radio.weblogs.com/0001013/2002/01/03.html] "The [Digital Identity Weblog|http://weblog.digital-identity.info/] is a [must-read]."
I think that code generated by radiobadge is not valid HTML... [Lawrence Lee] is analysing the issue...
[Kevin Kelly] : [The Web Runs on Love, Not Greed]
[The Global Consciousness Project]
[Field Observations] : ...The [Amish], for instance, have succeeded simply by asking one question of any proposed innovation, namely: "What will this do to our community?"...
[Wendell Berry] : [The joy of sales resistance] : ...We live in a time when technologies and ideas (often the same thing) are adopted in response not to need but to advertising, salesmanship, and fashion...
[Frederick Mann] : [The Strange "Job" Concept]
[John Dingell] (after he was [forced to strip!|http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/wire/sns-ap-congressman-searched0108jan08.story]) "I asked Norman to check to see if they treated me like they do everybody else," Dingell said. "I just wanted to be sure that what they did was necessary, that I got the same treatment, no better or no worse, than anyone else."
In [Wendell Berry]'s [Community|http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Crisis/Jan2000/Community.html] : "...[Gary Snyder] said the right thing: Stop somewhere, just stop. Finally, this thing we are calling mobility keeps people from learning their lessons. They keep moving away from the problems they’ve caused. Their idea is that you can completely mess up somewhere and then go somewhere else, or you can completely succeed somewhere and go somewhere else. In either case you don’t know what the effects are. Sometimes people cause worse effects by their success than they do by their failure. To go back to the metaphor of marriage. What marriage does is say to you to stay and find out. It doesn’t say what you are going to find out. When you think this is it, we are at a complete dead end here, the marriage says to you: Wait, stay, and find out. Always you find out more..."
[Umberto Eco] : I don't even have an email address. I have reached an age where my main purpose is not to receive messages.
[Masaru Emoto]'s [The Message from Water]
[Joel Spolsky] [:|http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000339.html] "Sometimes I just can't get anything done......Many of my days go like this: (1) get into work (2) check email, read the web, etc. (3) decide that I might as well have lunch
read the web, etc. (6) finally decide that I've got to get started
(7) check email, read the web, etc. (8) decide again that I really
have to get started (9) launch the damn editor and (10) write code
nonstop until I don't realize that it's already 7:30 pm. - - - - - Somewhere between step 8 and step 9 there seems to be a bug,
[John VanDyk] [:|http://iowa.weblogger.com/2002/01/04] "The writings of [Wendell Berry] seem to be popping up with astonishing frequency of late."
Wendell Berry has written [Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer]
[Voltaire] in [Freedom of Thought] : It rests entirely with you to learn to think. You're born with a mind. You are a bird in the cage of the Inquisition: the Holy Office has clipped your wings, but they can grow back. Whoever doesn't know geometry can learn it; every man can tutor himself: it's shameful to put your soul in the hands of those to whom you'd never trust your money. _Dare to think for yourself._
[John Stuart Mill] (in [On Liberty]): If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
[Karl-Erik Sveiby] [:|http://www.businessworldindia.com/archive/200306/Strategy2.htm] "You don't need to interview me. Simply read the [Upanishads]. They knew all about it long before I did"
[Russell Lipton] [:|http://static.userland.com/userLandDiscussArchive/msg018410.html] "...There is an inherent degree of [serendipity] in Web-learning that routes around this kind of thing..."
I tell [Sushma] often. If you donot understand something/anything... Goto [Google] and understand !
I have started collecting [pearls] from the web !
[Craig Jensen] [:|http://booknotes.weblogs.com/2001/12/22] "With the tumultous state the world is in I feel uncomfortable, even guilty, being in any kind of festive or celebratory mood. And, in fact, I'm not festive. Nor am I filled with hope from any kind of religious faith. I'm mostly depressed. - - - But I realize that the sphere within which I have the most influence is my family. The most important people to me are my wife, son and daughter and then my extended family. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews. All the quirks and dysfunctionalty set aside, this is the circle where I can find unbounded love and acceptance. It is the place where I can return that love, equally unbounded, without fear of reprisal or rejection. I am lucky. Truly so. I intend to immerse myself in my good fortune. In my own little circle I will enjoy peace and love and joy. - - - My hope and wish is that you will find yourselves enjoying the same. Be safe and well."
The [Literature, Arts, & Medicine Database] is an annotated bibliography of prose, poetry, film, video and art which is being developed as a dynamic, accessible, comprehensive resource in MEDICAL HUMANITIES, for use in health/pre-health and liberal arts settings.
[Henry Miller] : Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there.
[Esther Dyson] : Always make new mistakes!
The child must be very lucky :-)
People are searching for interesting phrases at [Google] like [a way of life that does not consist of taking away from someone else|http://www.google.com/search?q=a+way+of+life+that+does+not+consist+of+taking+away+from+someone+else] and the first hit is [Quotations|http://kishore.editthispage.com/stories/storyReader$5] at my ex-weblog :-)
[Ahimsa] is word of the day
[Mark Kraft] is a [geeth|http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=insomnia] and states "I left a $125,000 a year job to become the "All things business" manager of LiveJournal, which means I oversee a ton of things regarding the strategy, design, and viability of the LiveJournal community / open source project. It's more than just business, especially to me. [Dulce et decorum est]..."
[Brent Simmons] has [many ideas|http://inessential.com/2002/01/02.html] for [Apple]. One of them "[Mac OS X] for x86" is something I would like too :-)
[Marcel Proust] : Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
[Alan Kay] is enraptured by the potential impact that computing technology can have on the world. He is especially interested in education and hopes that this new technology will create, what he calls, a "skeptical man." He likens the personal computer to the present day book and believes that if everyone had access to a computer, people would be more prone to play "what-if" games with information. He says that "the [information] retrieval systems of the future are not going to retrieve facts but points of view. The weakness of databases is that they let you retrieve facts, while the strength of our culture over the past several hundred years has been our ability to take on multiple points of view. It should be possible for every kid everywhere to test what he or she is being told either against arguments of others or by appeal to computer simulation. The question is: will society nurture that potential or suppress it?"
[Novell] in [Why They Lie] : ...Every time we raise the bar, you-know-who stoops to a new level....
[The laughing Buddha]
Nature doesnot know that I drive a super car and my neighbour a 'super O super' car. It covers both with the necessary amount of snow to make our lives interesting. Thanks for the lesson !
To [Dave Winer]: Wishing you lot more [flow|http://radio.weblogs.com/0001184/2002/01/01.html] in the years to come. Where are the list of all your articles like [When to give away the technology] :-)
[Cameron Barrett] [:|http://www.camworld.com/journal/2002/01/#01] "Must...not...break...New...Year's...resolution... Must...not...read...certain...Web...sites.... Must...stay...away...."
In the movie [Blast from the Past], Dad advises son to stay away from adult book stores by stating 'It is full of poisonous Gas' - Why do I recall this after the reading Cameron's words ?
To [People] I have come across on the web: I would love to spend my days reading all that you write... But there is not enough time in my days to do that after time invested in occupations to make [Money] flow to my bank account! So I setup a [Portal]
[Dave Winer] : [The Web is generous]
[Stan Krute] [:|http://radio.weblogs.com/0001184/2002/01/01.html] "Dave knows Flow. The Power of Flow. The Beauty of Flow. The Goodness of Flow. The Win-Win-Win-Win-Win of Flow. You flow my way, I flow your way, ya give flow, ya get flow, others see this and join in on the fun, pretty soon, we're all surfing a happy big flowin' wave of our own communitarian making."
[Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach] : I regret nothing says arrogance - I will regret nothing says inexperience
[Mira Art] [:|http://surprise.editthispage.com/2002/01/01] ...I rather wish all of us the energy and the desire to create luck, to make it happen.....by understanding one's role in this life...
[Ponderings|http://wannawrite.editthispage.com/questions] : ...Why is it when you are driving at night looking for an address, you instinctively (at least I have) turn down the radio?...
[The Secret Subversive Purpose|http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/aboutclwg.html] of [Children's Literature Web Guide]: ...If my cunning plan works, you will find yourself tempted away from the Internet, and back to the books themselves! Please remember that the Internet is not the most comprehensive source of information about children's books. Books and Libraries cover the field far better than I can ever hope to. - - - The Internet is a tremendous resource, but it will never compete with a Children's Librarian with a purposeful gleam in the eye!
[Mahesh Shantaram] [:|http://www.livejournal.com/users/msram/day/2001/12/10] ...We want to achieve all our goals. We want to make all our dreams comes true......Where's the money?...
mmm... Is anyone researching "What is the average number of days before everyone writes 2002 instead of 2001" !
[The seven wonders of the web|http://www.guardian.co.uk/internetnews/story/0,7369,624964,00.html] - Go! see all of them!
Wendell Berry
(since the above page is only available in [Google]'s cache... I(a Wendell Berry Fan) have copied below)
The farmer, poet, novelist, essayist, and teacher, Wendell Berry, is a lover of the land. His appreciation and love for the land is expressed in both his life and works.
Berry was born at New Castle, Kentucky, in 1934. He grew up in this Henry County locale among "the cycle of the tobacco growing, cultivation, and marketing, so the romance of Kentucky's green gold is a living part of him" (Browning 191). In 1956, Berry graduated form the University of Kentucky with a B.A. degree in English and received his M.A. degree there a year later. During the summer of 1956, Berry studied at Indiana University School of Letters. From 1957 to 1959, he taught at Georgetown College. Later, under a creative writing fellowship, he went to the creative writing Center at Stanford University and taught creative writing for a year. While at Stanford, he wrote his first novel, Nathan Coulter.
In 1963, he taught at New York University. When Berry was offered and accepted a teaching position in the English Department at the University of Kentucky, the Berry's came home to Henry County in Kentucky. He lives on a 125 acre farm where his family has lived since the early 1800's. According to Bryan Wooley, "Berry is the fifth generation of his father's family and the sixth of his mother's to farm in Henry County, in the neighborhood of Port Royal" (8). Although his wife, formerly Tanya Amyx, lived in the city all her life, she and her husband raised their two children, Mary Dee and Pryor (Den) Clifford, on the farm. In the article "Wendell Berry, A Kentucky Writer Tries to Strengthen the Ties Between Man and the Land," Wooley discusses Berry's farm life. Berry did not initially intend to live on this farm but intended to use it as a vacation place. Instead the Berry's renovated the house and moved in around July 4, 1965. "It is a real farm, not a writer-professor's country estate. Its chores include milking cows and currying horses, and mucking out stalls and mending fences and mowing hay and all other time-consuming sometimes back-breaking, labor that family agriculture requires" (10).
Most of his farm was previously neglected, but Berry is fascinated with making this abused land productive. Oddly, he does not have a modern toilet; instead he has a clean white privy in the backyard. The wastes deposited there are made into compost. Tractors are not used to plow his fields, either. Berry uses a team of draft horses in replace of "Exhaust-stinking, engine-roaring, gasoline-guzzling tractors" (11). Berry feels he is doing his part by not harming the environment any further.
Another technology he does not convenience himself with is a computer, which Berry explains in his essay "Why I Am Not Going To Buy a Computer?" He writes his works and then his wife revises and types then on a manual typewriter. Berry gives three main reasons for not buying a computer: (1) He would hate to think that his work could not be done without a direct dependence on strip-mined coal. (2) He does not want to replace the close bond between him and his wife with an expensive unnecessary piece of equipment. (3) He does not want to "fool himself" by owning a computer, a tool that itself does not make his writing any better than the writing he does with a pencil. His first reason is in regard with his awareness of the land being striped to produce the electricity to run the computer. For the same reason, he writes in the daytime without electric lighting (179-171). By not participating in the "rape of nature," he shows his concern for the environment.
In Berry's novel, The Memory of Old Jack, this same appreciation for the earth is portrayed through the main character, Jack Beechum. Within this novel, the love for the land can be seen as a means of fulfillment. Although other prominent relationships are evident in Beechum's life, the most important relationship that he has is that with the soil and land.
Beechum remembers going though "a tormented marriage,... a jaded relationship with a hired black hand, and a tender love affair with a young widow... Through it all, Beechum is sustained by his farm, the paramount love and labor of his life" (Borries 26).
Beechum's marriage failed during courtship as Berry explains on page 54 and 55. His wife, Ruth Beechum, expected and wanted more of a business man instead of the farmer he was. The two, even though they were husband and wife, were strangers to each other. "She remained to him an unknown continent" (58). Beechum spent much of his time in the fields with the land, not with his wife. He could not fail with the land nor disappoint it, and it could not hold any expectations for him. So, he had more of a bond with the land than his wife.
Beechum and Will Wells, his Black hired hand, were originally like brothers, working on and caring for the land together. However, they grew weary in their relationship with the roles they fell into. Wells "was a man laboring for no more than his existence," while Beechum had "an increasing resentment of his dependence and a jealous remembering of the days when he had worked alone...when in his solitary work he had been so free" (81). Beechum had a greater need for the land than his hired hand.
Beechum thought he could restore his happiness through a love affair with Rose McInnis, a young widow. At first it did just that. Nevertheless, "with Rose too he was beginning to feel an incompleteness" (134). He loved McInnis but was married to Ruth Beechum; therefore, it could never lead to anything. Beechum knows the love in his affair with McInnis is dishonorable, whereas the love in his affair with the land is honorable.
Beechum's love for the land can be seen through faithfulness, his death, and his community. He is faithful to the earth, "Promising the return of what has been taken from it" (157). On the other hand, Jack also felt that the land was faithful to him by giving him "exactly what he put into it" (Borries 26). As death is at his door, he sits in a chair in his room, but his last visions are as though he is sitting at the roots of a tree on his farm (Berry 190-192). It is almost like his last request is to be with the wilderness. Moreover, Mat Feltner thought Beechum should have been buried secretly, only known to the ones who loved him best, at the edge of one of his fields so that: "when the last of them who knew its place (Beechum's grave-site) had died, Old Jack's return would be complete. He would be lost to memory there in the field, silently possessed by the earth on which he once established the work of his hands" (Berry 207). Therefore, he grew to love the soil and its natural surroundings greater than all else since his other relationships failed to give him satisfaction.
Another of Berry's works that displays a true love for his homeland is his poem "East Kentucky, 1967" included in his collection entitled Openings. The poem invites two questions concerning the environment. The first six lines challenge the awareness of what industrialization has done to the land. The waste produced by machines in the air and streams are at the expense of the lives all of the earth encompasses. The last six lines challenge the awareness of the future of our children. The next generation holds no hope for the reason they are "helpless." Since the children can only witness what we have shown them in this industrial period, they cannot "vision" and are "blind" to the land when it is beautiful and plentiful.
Wendell Berry expresses in his own life and in his works, a fondness, a love for the land and community. In my opinion and understanding, he wants us to realize our modernization is damaging the earth. It is killing the environment. Berry is not trying to tell us to "Save the World." The difference we make does not have to be large scale but local, individually taking part in preventing further damage. Berry explains in an interview with Bluegrass, "I think that changing yourself by doing the best work you can is of major importance" (27). In other words, if we worry about the part we can do locally, instead of thinking that we cannot do it all, then together we can make a noticeable difference.
- - -. the Memory of Old Jack. Harcourt, Brace, and World: New York, 1974.
- - -. "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer?" What People Are For? North Point Press: San Francisco, 1990.
Borries, Philip. "Retired Kentucky Farmer Recalls Days He Spent Tilling the Earth." Lexington Herald Leader. 10 Mar 1974: 26.
Wooley, Bryan. "Wendell Berry, A Kentucky Writer Tries to Strengthen the Ties Between Man and the Land." Courier-Journal & Times. 8-13.
The Broken Ground. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1965. A book of 27 poems.
The Memory of Old Jack. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1965.
The Rise. Lexington, Kentucky: Grave Press, 1968. A book of nonfiction.
Findings. Iowa City, Iowa: The Prairie Press, 1968. A book of eight poems.
The Long-Legged House. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972. A book of nonfiction.
The Hidden Wound. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970. A book of nonfiction.
The Country of Marriage. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973. A book of 37 poems.
The Kentucky River. Monterey, Kentucky: Gnoman Press, 1975. A poem.
To What Listens. Crete, Nebraska: The Best Cellar Press, 1975. A poem.
The Gift of Good Land: Further essays Cultural and Agricultural. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981. A book of 22 nonfiction essays.
The Collected Poems, 1957-1983. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985. A book of 203 poems.
The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986. A book of 6 fiction stories.
* source : http://www.tipiglen.dircon.co.uk/wendellberrybooks.htm - "I do have an interest in this book, which is for sale. (If you have bought it, dear reader, I thank you. If you have borrowed it, I honor your frugality. If you have stolen it, may it add to your confusion.) Most of the sale price pays the publisher for paper, ink, and other materials, for editorial advice, copyediting, design, advertising (I hope), and marketing. I get between 10 and 15 percent (depending on sales) for arranging the words on the pages.
As I understand it, I am being paid only for my work in arranging the words; my property is that arrangement. The thoughts in this book, on the contrary, are not mine. They came freely to me, and I give them freely away. I have no "intellectual property," and I think that all claimants to such property are thieves."
[Articles] : [Why I am Not Going to Buy a Computer], [The joy of sales resistance]
The University of Hard Knocks
[Books] > The University of Hard Knocks
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The University of Hard Knocks
The School That Completes Our Education
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
the United States and have listened to "The University of Hard
institutes, club gatherings, conventions and before various other
"Can I get the lecture in book form?" That continuous question from
audiences brought out this book in response. Here is the overflow
"What is written here is not the way I would write it, were I
writing a book," says Ralph Parlette. "It is the way I say it. The
audience makes a lecture, if the lecture survives. I wish I could
shake the hand of every person who has sat in my audiences. And I
wish I could tell the lecture committees of America how I
appreciate the vast amount of altruistic work they have done in
bringing the audiences of America together. For lecture audiences
are not drawn together, they are pushed together."
The warm reception given "The University of Hard Knocks" by the
public, has encouraged the publishers to put more of Mr. Parlette's
are now in preparation as this, the third edition of "The
University of Hard Knocks" comes from the press.
SOME PRELIMINARY REMARKS--The lecturer the delivery wagon--The
The University of Hard Knocks
I. THE BOOKS ARE BUMPS--Every bump a lesson--Why the two kinds of
bumps--Description of University--"Sweet are the uses of
Adversity"--Why children are not interested
II. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDLESS KNOCKS, the bumps that we bump
into--Getting the coffee-pot--Teaching a wilful child--Bumps make
requires effort--Prodigals must be bumped--The fly and the sticky
III. THE COLLEGE OF NEEDFUL KNOCKS, the bumps that bump into
us--Our sorrows and disappointments--How the piano was made--How
the "red mud" becomes razor-blades--The world our mirror--The
cripple taught by the bumps--Every bump brings a blessing--You are
IV. "SHAKE THE BARREL"--How we decide our destinies--Why the big
ones shake up and the little ones shake down--The barrel of life
and bad luck--The girl who went up--The man who went down--The
notices--You cannot uplift people with derrick--No laws can
equalize--Help people to help themselves--We cannot get things till
we get ready for them
There is no top--We make ourselves great by service--the
VI. THE PROBLEM OF "PREPAREDNESS"--Preparing children for
children--The story of "Gussie" and "Bill Whackem"--Schools and
Menace of America not swollen fortunes but shrunken souls--
Children must have struggle to get strength--Not packhorse work--
Helping the turkeys killed them--the happiness of work we love--
Amusement drunkards--Lure of the city--Strong men from the
Must save the home towns--A school of struggle--New School
VII. THE SALVATION OF A "SUCKER"--You can't get something for
nothing--The fiddle and the tuning--How we know things--Trimmed at
the shell game--My "fool drawer"--Getting "selected to receive
orations--My maiden sermon--The books that live have been
experience--Theory and practice--Tuning the strings of life
VIII. LOOKING BACKWARD--Memories of the price we pay--My first
school teaching--Loaning the deacon my money--Calling the roll of
my schoolmates--At the grave of the boy I had envied--Why Ben Hur
won the chariot race--Pulling on the oar
IX. GO ON SOUTH!--The book in the running brook--The Mississippi
but stop--Few go on south--The plague of incompetents--Today our
eighty--Too busy to bury--Sympathy for the "sob squad"--Child sees
worst days, not best--Waiting for the second table--Better days on
principle, not praise--Doing duty for the joy of it--Becoming the
"Father of Waters"--Go on south forever!
X. GOING UP LIFE'S MOUNTAIN--The defeats that are victories--
Climbing Mount Lowe--Getting above the clouds into the sunshine--
Each day we rise to larger vision--Getting above the night into
the eternal day--Going south is going upward
I do not want to be seen in this lecture. I want to be heard. I am
only the delivery wagon. When the delivery wagon comes to your
you are not much interested in how it looks; you are interested in
the goods it brings you. You know some very good goods are
So in this lecture, please do not pay any attention to the delivery
not pay much attention to the wrappings and strings. Get inside to
the goods.
Really, I believe the goods are good. I believe I am to recite to
you some of the multiplication table of life--not mine, not yours
Can Only Pull the Plug!
lecture go differently before every audience. The kind of an
audience is just as important as the kind of a lecture. A cold
When I was a boy we had a barrel of sorghum in the woodshed. When
mother wanted to make ginger-bread or cookies, she would send me to
the woodshed to get a bucket of sorghum from that barrel.
Some warm September day I would pull the plug from the barrel and
the sorghum would fairly squirt into my bucket. Later in the fall
when it was colder, I would pull the plug but the sorghum would not
cold winter day I would pull the plug, but the sorghum would not
I discovered it was the temperature.
I have brought a barrel of sorghum to this audience. The name of
the sorghum is "The University of Hard Knocks." I can only pull the
plug. I cannot make it run. That will depend upon the temperature
No matter how the sorghum runs, you have to have a bucket to get
it. How much any one gets out of a lecture depends also upon the
size of the bucket he brings to get it in. A big bucket can get
filled at a very small stream. A little bucket gets little at the
greatest stream. With no bucket you can get nothing at Niagara.
the next person says he got nothing out of it.
growing up from the Finite to the Infinite, and that it is done by
Have you noticed that no sentence, nor a million sentences, can
bound life? Have you noticed that every statement does not quite
success rule can alone solve the problem. You must average it all
We are told that the stomach needs bulk as well as nutriment. It
would not prosper with the necessary elements in their condensed
form. So abstract truths in their lowest terms do not always
promote mental digestion like more bulk in the way of pictures and
discussions of these truths. Here is bulk as well as nutriment.
If you get the feeling that the first personal pronoun is being
lecture. You cannot confess without referring to the confesser.
family. I believe in your Inside, not in your Outside, whoever you
I believe in the Angel of Good inside every block of human marble.
I believe it must be carved out in The University of Hard Knocks.
hypocrisy and human frailty are the Outside that must be chipped
I believe the Hard Knocks cannot injure the Angel, but can only
about your present. I care much about your future for that is to
see more of the Angel in you.
The University of Hard Knocks
The Books Are Bumps
THE greatest school is the University of Hard Knocks. Its books are
Every bump is a lesson. If we learn the lesson with one bump, we do
not get that bump again. We do not need it. We have traveled past
it. They do not waste the bumps. We get promoted to the next bump.
But if we are "naturally bright," or there is something else the
matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we
have just gotten, then that bump must come back and bump us again.
The tuition in the University of Hard Knocks is not free.
Experience is the dearest teacher in the world. Most of us spend
our lives in the A-B-C's of getting started.
We matriculate in the cradle.
We never graduate. When we stop learning we are due for another
There are two kinds of people--wise people and fools. The fools are
the people who think they have graduated.
The playground is all of God's universe.
The university colors are black and blue.
The yell is "ouch" repeated ad lib.
The Need of the Bumps
When I was thirteen I knew a great deal more than I do now. There
"Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
no running brooks. They'd get wet. And that sermons in stones! They
get preachers to preach sermons, and they build houses out of
But I am happy today that I have traveled a little farther. I am
happy that I have begun to learn the lessons from the bumps. I am
happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the
preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.
Children, I fear you will not be greatly interested in what is to follow.
I was not interested when father and mother told me these things.
I knew they meant all right, but the world had moved since they were
It is so hard to tell young people anything. They know better. So
they have to get bumped just where we got bumped, to learn that two
But if you will remember some of these things, they will feel like
poultices by and by when the bumps come.
The Two Colleges
two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not
We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has
two colleges--The College of Needless Knocks and The College of
The College of Needless Knocks
The Bumps That We Bump Into
NEARLY all the bumps we get are Needless Knocks.
There comes a vivid memory of one of my early Needless Knocks as I
say that. It was back at the time when I was trying to run our home
to suit myself. I sat in the highest chair in the family circle. I
That day they had the little joy and sunshine of the family in his
high-chair throne right up beside the dinner table. The coffee-pot
coffee-pot in my business. I reached over to get the coffee-pot.
Then I discovered a woman beside me, my mother. She was the most
meddlesome woman I had ever known. I had not tried to do one thing
in three years that that woman had not meddled into.
And that day when I wanted the coffee-pot--I did want it. Nobody
The longer I thought about it the more angry I became. What right
has that woman to meddle into my affairs all the time? I have stood
I stopped it. I got the coffee-pot. I know I got the coffee-pot. I
got it. I got about a gallon of the reddest, hottest coffee a bad
There were weeks after that when I was upholstered. They put
anything else the neighbors could think of. They would bring it
over and rub it on the little joy and sunshine of the family, who
You see, my mother's way was to tell me and then let me do as I
pleased. She told me not to get the coffee-pot and then let me get
it, knowing that it would burn me. She would say, "Don't." Then she
Why don't mothers knit today?
Mother would say, "Don't fall in the well." I could go and jump in
the well after that and she would not look at me. I do not argue
that this is the way to raise children, but I insist that this was
the most kind and effective way to rear one stubborn boy I know of.
The neighbors and the ladies' aid society often said my mother was
cruel with that angel child. But the neighbors did not know what
kind of an insect mother was trying to raise. Mother did know. She
knew how stubborn and self-willed I was. It came from father's
"side of the house."
Mother knew that to argue with me was to flatter me. Tell me, serve
notice upon me, and then let me go ahead and get my coffee-pot.
That was the quickest and kindest way to teach me.
I learned very quickly that if I did not hear mother, and heed, a
coffee-pot would spill upon me. I cannot remember when I disobeyed
my mother that a coffee-pot of some kind did not spill upon me, and I
got my blisters. Mother did not inflict them. Mother was not much of an
inflicter. Father attended to that in the laboratory behind the
And thru the bumps we learn that The College of Needless Knocks
runs on the same plan. The Voice of Wisdom says to each of us,
"Child of humanity, do right, walk in the right path. You will be
wiser and happier." The tongues in the trees, the books in the
running brooks and the sermons in the stones all repeat it.
But we are not compelled to walk in the right path. We are free
We get off the right path. We go down forbidden paths. They seem
And going down the wrong path, we get bumped harder and harder
We are lucky if we learn the lesson with one bump. We are unlucky
when we get bumped twice in the same place, for it means we are
to learn the lesson of the bump and find the right path, so that
The seeress is the soothing syrup for mental infants.
The other day I watched a blind man go down the aisle of the car to
get off the train. Did you ever study the walk of a blind man? He
seat. Then he did what every blind man does, he lifted his hand
his lesson with one bump, and you have to go bumping into the same
Let me repeat, things that go downward will run themselves. Things
Notice that churches, schools, lyceums, chautauquas, reform
movements--things that go upward--never run themselves. They must
be pushed all the time.
If you are making no effort in your life, if you are moving in the
Look out for the bumps!
Look over your community. Note the handful of brave, faithful,
unselfish souls who are carrying the community burdens and pushing
upward. Note the multitude making little or no effort, and even
getting in the way of the pushers.
Majorities do not rule. Majorities never have ruled. It is the
the tomorrow of communities that go upward. Majorities are not
willing to make the effort to rule themselves. They are content to
for nothing. They must be led--sometimes driven--by minorities.
People are like sheep. The shepherd can lead them to heaven--or to
Bumping the Prodigals
Human life is the story of the Prodigal Son. We look over the fence
of goodness into the mystery of the great unknown world beyond and
Down the great white way of the world go the million prodigals,
seeking happiness where nobody ever found happiness. Their days
fill up with disappointment, their vision becomes dulled. They
become anaemic feeding upon the husks.
They just must get their coffee-pot!
How they must be bumped to think upon their ways. Every time we do
wrong we get a Needless Knock. Every time! We may not always get
bumped on the outside, but we always get bumped on the inside. A
bump on the conscience is worse than a bump on the "noodle."
"I can do wrong and not get bumped. I have no feelings upon the
the subject. You have pounded your soul into a jelly. You don't
How the old devil works day and night to keep people amused and
so that they will not think upon their ways! How he keeps the music
and the dazzle going so they will not see they are bumping
themselves!
Consider the Sticky Flypaper
Did you ever watch a fly get his Needless Knocks on the sticky
The last thing Mamma Fly said as Johnny went off to the city was,
"Remember, son, to stay away from the sticky flypaper. That is
where your poor dear father was lost." And Johnny Fly remembers for
several minutes. But when he sees all the smart young flies of his
set go over to the flypaper, he goes over, too. He gazes down at
his face in the stickiness. "Ah! how pretty I am! This sticky
place to skate. Just see how close I can fly over it and not get
stuck a bit. Mother is such a silly old worryer. She means all
can't catch us. They were too strict with me back home."
You see Johnny fly back and forth and have the time of his
lands in the stickiness. "Well, well, how nice this is on the feet,
It shows he is not a prisoner. He is a strong-minded fly. He can
feet down in the stickiness. It is harder to pull them out. Then he
puts three down and puts down a few more trying to pull them out.
doesn't pull loose. He feels tired and he sits down in the sticky
flies are around him. He does like the company. They all feel the
same way--they can play in the sticky flypaper or let it alone,
just as they please, for they are strong-minded flies. They have
another drink and sing, "We won't go home till morning."
Most of them stay. They just settle down into the stickiness
The tuition in The College of Needless Knocks is very high indeed!
The man who goes to jail ought to congratulate himself if he is
guilty. It is the man who does not get discovered who is to be
The world loves to write resolutions of respect. How often we
when we might reasonably ask whether the victim was "removed" or
There is a good deal of suicide charged up to Providence.
The College of Needful Knocks
The Bumps That Bump Into Us
BUT occasionally all of us get bumps that we do not bump into. They
bump into us. They are the guideboard knocks that point us to the
You were bumped yesterday or years ago. Maybe the wound has not yet
You were doing right--doing just the best you knew how--and yet
was darkened, your plans were wrecked, you thought you had nothing
never known anyone who had not had more trouble than anyone else.
We all must learn, if we have not already learned, that these blows
are lessons in The College of Needful Knocks. They point upward to
In other words, we are raw material. You know what raw material
The clothing we wear, the food we eat, the house we live in, all
have to have the Needful Knocks to become useful. And so does
humanity need the same preparation for greater usefulness.
I should like to know every person in this audience. But the ones
I should most appreciate knowing are the ones who have known the
most of these knocks--who have faced the great crises of life and
have been tried in the crucibles of affliction. For I am learning
that these lives are the gold tried in the fire.
The Sorrows of the Piano
See the piano on this stage? Good evening, Mr. Piano. I am glad to
here. This is no reflection upon the janitor. You became a piano by
the Needful Knocks.
Did you get the meaning of that, children? I hope you are green.
There you stood in the forest, a perfectly good, green young tree.
were the best young tree you could be.
That is why you were bumped--because you were good! There came a
man into the woods with an ax, and he looked for the best trees
there to bump. He bumped you--hit you with the ax! How it hurt you!
And how unjust it was! He kept on hitting you. "The operation was
It is a very sad story. They took you all bumped and bleeding to
the sawmill and they bumped and ripped you more. They cut you in
They did not bump the little, crooked, dissipated, cigaret-stunted
trees. They were not worth bumping.
bumped here. All the beauty, harmony and value were bumped into you.
The Sufferings of the Red Mud
One day I was up the Missabe road about a hundred miles north of
Duluth, Minnesota, and came to a hole in the ground. It was a big
hole--about a half-mile of hole. There were steam-shovels at work
"Kind sir, why are they throwing that red mud out of that hole?" I
"That hain't red mud. That's iron ore, an' it's the best iron ore
in the world."
"It hain't worth nothin' here; that's why they're movin' it away."
There's red mud around every community that "hain't worth nothin'"
Not very long after this, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I saw some
of this same red mud. It had been moved over the Great Lakes and
the rails to what they call a blast furnace, the technological name
of which being The College of Needful Knocks for Red Mud.
limestone, charcoal and other textbooks. Then they corked it up and
school began. They roasted it. It is a great thing to be roasted.
When it was done roasting they stopped. Have you noticed that they
roasted, perhaps we are not done!
Then they pulled the plug out of the bottom of the college and held
promotion exercises. The red mud squirted out into the sand. It was
not red mud now, because it had been roasted. It was a freshman--
Some of the pig iron went into another department, a big teakettle,
Some of the sophomore steel went up into another grade where it was
It seemed as tho I could hear the suffering red mud crying out, "O,
why did they take me away from my happy hole-in-the-ground? Why do
they pound me and break my heart? I have been good and faithful. O,
why do they roast me? O, I'll never get over this!"
But after they had given it a diploma--a pricemark telling how much
it had been roasted--they took it proudly all over the world,
labeled "Made in America." They hung it in show windows, they put
fine work!" They paid much money for it now. They paid the most
money for what had been roasted the most.
the price had gone up into thousands of dollars.
My friends, you and I are the raw material, the green trees, the
red mud. The Needful Knocks are necessary to make us serviceable.
a larger life. The diamond and the chunk of soft coal are exactly the
same material, say the chemists. But the diamond has gone to The College
of Needful Knocks more than has her crude sister of the coal-scuttle.
There is no human diamond that has not been crystallized in the
crucibles of affliction. There is no gold that has not been refined
in the fire.
Illinois, a crippled woman was wheeled into the tent and brought
right down to the foot of the platform. The subject was The
University of Hard Knocks. Presently the cripple's face was shining
brighter than the footlights.
She knew about the knocks!
coming here. I have the feeling that I spoke the words, but you are
the lecture itself."
What a smile she gave me! "Yes, I know about the hard knocks," she
They told me this crippled woman was the sweetest-spirited,
best-loved person in the town.
But her mother petulantly interrupted me. She had wheeled the
cripple into the tent. She was tall and stately. She was
well-gowned. She lived in one of the finest homes in the city. She
buy the frown from her face.
why am I not happy? My daughter is always happy and she hasn't a
single thing to make her happy. I am not happy. I have not been
happy for years. Why am I not happy?"
What would you have said? Just on the spur of the moment--I said,
"Madam, I don't want to be unkind, but I really think the reason
you are not happy is that you haven't been bumped enough."
right, I need another bump.
The cripple girl had traveled ahead of her jealous mother. For
to congratulate the patients lying there. They are learning the
They are getting the education in the humanities the world needs
sympathize. They are to become a precious part of our population.
The world needs them more than libraries and foundations.
The Silver Lining
There is no backward step in life. Whatever experiences come to us
them.
We think this is true of the good things that come to us, but we do
not want to think so of the bad things. Yet we grow more in lean
prosperity do not often travel hand-in-hand. When we become
materially very prosperous, so many of us begin to say, "Is not
this Babylon that I have builded?" And about that time there comes
some handwriting on the wall and a bump to save us.
now. A conflagration might sweep your town from the map. Your
name might be tarnished. Bereavement might take from you the one
You would never know how many real friends you have until then. But
You are down and out." Do not believe that you are down and out,
for it is not true. The old enemy of humanity wants you to believe
The truth is, another chapter of your real education has been
opened. Will you read the lesson of the Needful Knocks?
other public disaster brings sympathy, bravery, brotherhood and
There is a silver lining to every hard knocks cloud.
Out of the trenches of the Great War come nations chastened by
sacrifice and purged of their dross.
"Shake The Barrel"
NOW as we learn the lessons of the Needless and the Needful Knocks,
One day the train stopped at a station to take water. Beside the
track was a grocery with a row of barrels of apples in front. There
a sack of the big, red, fat apples. Later as the train was under
way, I looked in the sack and discovered there was not a big, red,
fat apple there.
All I could figure out was that there was only one layer of the
big, red, fat apples on the top, and the groceryman, not desiring
to spoil his sign, had reached down under the top layer. He must
have reached to the bottom, for he gave me the worst mess of runts
and windfalls I ever saw in one sack. The things I said about the
grocery business must have kept the recording angel busy.
Then I calmed down. Did the groceryman do that on purpose? Does
the groceryman ever put the big apples on top and the little
Do you? Is there a groceryman in the audience?
until that day on the train that the groceryman does not put the
big ones on top and the little ones down underneath. He does not
need to do it. It does itself. It is the shaking of the barrel that
pushes the big ones up and the little ones down.
Shake to Their Places
and smooth that things do not shake on the road to town. But back
in the Black Swamp of Ohio we had corduroy roads. Did you ever see
a corduroy road? It was a layer of logs in the mud. Riding over it
was the poetry of motion! The wagon "hit the high spots." And as I
hauled a wagon-bed full of apples to the cider-mill over a corduroy
road, the apples sorted out by the jolting. The big apples would
try to get to the top. The little, runty apples would try to hold
a mass meeting at the bottom.
I saw that for thirty years before I saw it. Did you ever notice
how long you have to see most things before you see them? I saw
that when I played marbles. The big marbles would shake to the top
of my pocket and the little ones would rattle down to the bottom.
You children try that tomorrow. Do not wait thirty years to learn
that the big ones shake up and the little ones shake down. Put some
big ones and some little things of about the same density in a box
or other container and shake them. You will see the larger things
shake upward and the smaller shake downward. You will see every
thing shake to the place its size determines. A little larger one
When things find their place, you can shake on till doomsday, but
you cannot change the place of one of the objects.
Mix them up again and shake. Watch them all shake back as they were
before, the largest on top and the smallest at the bottom.
At this place the lecturer exhibits a glass jar more than
Let us try that right on the platform. Here is a glass jar and
forbearance. I am discovering that we can hear faster thru the eye
than thru the ear. I want to make this so vivid that you will never
forget it, and I do not want these young people to live thirty
years before they see it.
If there are sermons in stones, there must be lectures in cans.
This is a canned lecture. Let the can talk to you awhile.
You note as I shake the jar the little beans quickly settle down
and the big walnuts shake up. Not one bean asks, "Which way do I
go?" Not one walnut asks, "Which way do I go?" Each one
automatically goes the right way. The little ones go down and the
Note that I mix them all up and then shake. Note that they arrange
themselves just as they were before.
down in the bottom saying, "Help me! Help me! I am so unfortunate
and low down. I never had no chance like them big ones up there.
the top. See! I have boosted him. I have uplifted him.
See, the can shakes. Back to the bottom shakes the little bean. And
The can shakes. The little bean again shakes back to the bottom. He
is too small to stay up. He cannot stand prosperity.
Then I hear Little Bean say, "Well, if I cannot get to the top, you
make them big ones come down. Give every one an equal chance."
down. You Big Nuts get right down there on a level with Little
Bean!" And you see I put them down.
But I shake the can, and the big ones go right back to the top with
the same shakes that send the little ones back to the bottom.
There is only one way for those objects to change their place in
the can. Lifting them up or putting them down will not do it. But
change their size!
Equality of position demands quality of size. Let the little one
grow bigger and he will shake up. Let the big one grow smaller and
The Shaking Barrel of Life
O, fellow apples! We are all apples in the barrel of life on the
way to the market place of the future. It is a corduroy road and
the barrel shakes all the time.
In the barrel are big apples, little apples, freckled apples,
speckled apples, green apples, and dried apples. A bad boy on the
front row shouted the other night, "And rotten apples!"
In other words, all the people of the world are in the great barrel
of life. That barrel is shaking all the time. Every community is
shaking, every place is shaking. The offices, the shops, the
stores, the schools, the pulpits, the homes--every place where we
live or work is shaking. Life is a constant survival of the
The same law that shakes the little ones down and the big ones up
in that can is shaking every person to the place he fits in the
And do you not see that we are very foolish when we want to be
the eternal law of life.
We shake right back to the places our size determines. We must get
ready for places before we can get them and keep them.
The very worst thing that can happen to anybody is to be
is something like a train and if we do not get to the depot in time
destiny. There is destiny--that jar.
shall have a great destiny. We cannot dodge our destiny.
The objects in that jar cannot change their size. But thank God,
you and I are not helpless victims of blind fate. We are not
And when we have reached the place our size determines, we stay
there so long as we stay that size.
In order to hold his place he must hold his size. He must fill the
In order to stay the same size he must grow enough each day to supply
the loss by evaporation. Evaporation is going steadily on in lives
as well as in liquids. If we are not growing any, we are rattling.
the places you fit. And when you are in your places--in stores,
If you want a greater place, you simply grow greater and they
cannot keep you down. You do not ask for promotion, you compel
with various sizes of objects. When an employee would come into the
would say, "Go shake the jar, Charlie. That is the way you get
This jar tells me so much about luck. I have noted that the lucky
people shake up and the unlucky people shake down. That is, the
lucky people grow great and the unlucky people shrivel and rattle.
Notice as I bump this jar. Two things happened. The little ones
shook down and the big ones shook up. The bump that was bad luck to
the little ones was good luck to the big ones. The same bump was
Luck does not depend upon the direction of the bump, but upon the
size of the bump-ee!
The "Lucky" One
So everywhere you look you see the barrel sorting people according
the Chicago house where a number of young ladies worked. Some of
them had been there for a long time. There came a raw, green Dutch
girl from the country. It was her first office experience, and she
got the bottom job.
The other girls poked fun at her and played jokes upon her because
"Is not she the limit?" they oft spake one to another. She was. She
made many blunders. But it is now recalled that she never made the
same blunder twice. She learned the lesson with one helping to the
And she never "got done." When she had finished her work, the work
to be done, and she would go right on working, contrary to the
rules of the union! Without being told, mind you. She had that rare
faculty the world is bidding for--initiative.
The other girls "got done." When they had finished the work they
had been put at, they would wait--O, so patiently they would
Within three months every other girl in that office was asking
questions of the little Dutch girl. She had learned more about
business in three months than the others had learned in all the
time they had been there. Nothing ever escaped her. She had become
the most capable girl in the office.
The barrel did the rest. Today she is giving orders to all of them,
for she is the office superintendent.
The other girls feel hurt about it. They will tell you in
confidence that it was the rankest favoritism ever known. "There
was nothing fair about it. Jennie ought to have been made
The "Unlucky" One
The other day in a paper-mill I was standing beside a long machine
making shiny super-calendered paper. I asked the man working there
some questions about the machine, which he answered fairly well.
Then I asked him about a machine in the next room. He said, "I
don't know nothing about it, boss, I don't work in there."
I asked him about another process, and he replied, "I don't know
nothing about it, I never worked in there." I asked him about the
pulpmill. He replied, "No, I don't know nothing about that,
neither. I don't work in there." And he did not betray the least
Going out of the building, I asked the foreman, "Do you see that
man over there at the supercalendered machine?" pointing to the man
The foreman's face clouded. "I hate to talk to you about that man.
He is one of the kindest-hearted men we ever had in the works, but
we've got to let him go. We're afraid he'll break the machine. He
isn't interested, does not learn, doesn't try to learn."
Life's Barrel the Leveler
gone up and down. You may have noticed two brothers start with the
same chance, and presently notice that one is going up and the
other is going down.
Some of us begin life on the top branches, right in the sunshine of
popular favor, and get our names in the blue-book at the start.
Some of us begin down in the shade on the bottom branches, and we
do not even get invited. We often become discouraged as we look at
the top-branchers, and we say, "O, if I only had his chance! If I
were only up there I might amount to something. But I am too low
And afterwhile we are all in the barrel of life, shaken and bumped
about. There the real people do not often ask us, "On what branch
of that tree did you grow?" But they often inquire, "Are you big
The Fatal Rattle!
doing pretty much the same things over and over. Every day we
appear to have about the same round of duties.
But if we let life become routine, we are shaking down. The very
routine or we become unhappy. If we go on doing just the same
things in the same way day after day, thinking the same thoughts,
and not growing any, pretty soon we become mere machines. We wear
smaller. The joy and juice go out of our lives. We shrivel and rattle.
The success, joy and glory of life are in learning, growing, going
forward and upward. That is the only way to hold our place.
The farmer must be learning new things about farming to hold his
place this progressive age as a farmer. The merchant must be
competitors. The minister must be getting larger visions of the
ministry as he goes back into the same old pulpit to keep on
filling it. The teacher must be seeing new possibilities in the
same old schoolroom. The mother must be getting a larger horizon in
We only live as we grow and learn. When anybody stays in the same
place year after year and fills it, he does not rattle.
Unless the place is a grave!
I shiver as I see the pages of school advertisements in the
Child." I know the schools generally mean all right, but I fear the
students will get the idea they are being finished, which finishes
them. We never finish while we live. A school finishing is a
commencement, not an end-ment.
I am sorry for the one who says, "I know all there is to know about
The greater and wiser the man, the more anxious he is to be told.
I am sorry for the one who struts around saying, "I own the job.
They can't get along without me." For I feel that they are getting
ready to get along without him. That noise you hear is the
Big business men keep their ears open for rattles in their
I am sorry for the man, community or institution that spends much
For it is mostly rattle. The live one's "my day" is today and
tomorrow. The dead one's is yesterday.
We young people come up into life wanting great places. I would not
give much for a young person (or any other person) who does not
want a great place. I would not give much for anybody who does not
We often think the way to get a great place is just to go after it
and get it. If we do not have pull enough, get some more pull. Get
But unless we have grown as great as the place we would be a great
joke, for we would rattle. And when we have grown as great as the
We do not become great by getting into a great place, any more than
a boy becomes a man by getting into his father's boots. He is in
gets greater boots. But he must get the feet before he gets the
We must get ready for things before we get them.
Moses was eighty years getting ready to do forty years work. The
We can be a pumpkin in one summer, with the accent on the "punk."
We can be a mushroom in a day, with the accent on the "mush." But
we cannot become an oak that way.
The world is not greatly impressed by testimonials. The man who has
the most testimonials generally needs them most to keep him from
It is dangerous to overboost people, for the higher you boost them
the farther they will fall.
The Menace of the Press-Notice
Now testimonials and press-notices very often serve useful ends. In
lyceum work, in teaching, in very many lines, they are often useful
The danger is that the hero of them may get to leaning upon them.
Then they become a mirror for his vanity instead of a monitor
Most testimonials and press-notices are frank flatteries. They
magnify the good points and say little as possible about the bad
progress by reading my press-notices instead of listening to the
few press-notices. "There, I am all right, for this clipping says
I am the greatest ever, and should he return, no hall would be able
to contain the crowd."
Alas! How often I have learned that when I did return the hall that
was filled before was entirely too big for the audience! The
editors of America--God bless them! They are always trying to boost
a home enterprise--not for the sake of the imported attraction but
for the sake of the home folks who import it.
We must read people, not press-notices.
When you get to the place where you can stand aside and "see
rejoice, for the kingdom of success is yours.
The Artificial Uplift
There are so many loving, sincere, foolish, cruel uplift movements
in the land. They spring up, fail, wail, disappear, only to be
succeeded by twice as many more. They fail because instead of
having the barrel do the uplifting, they try to do it with a
The victims of the artificial uplift cannot stay uplifted. They
rattle back, and "the last estate of that man is worse than the
You cannot uplift a beggar by giving him alms. You are using the
derrick. We must feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but that is
not helping them, that is propping them. The beggar who asks you to
help him does not want to be helped. He wants to be propped. He
cannot help many people, for there are not many people willing to
be helped on the inside. Not many willing to grow up.
When Peter and John went up to the temple they found the lame
beggar sitting at the gate Beautiful. Every day the beggar had been
"helped." Every day as they laid him at the gate people would pass
thru the gate and see him. He would say, "Help me!" "Poor man,"
they would reply, "you are in a bad fix. Here is help," and they
And so every day that beggar got to be more of a beggar. The public
hopeless cripple. No doubt he belonged after a few days of the
"helping" to the Jerusalem Beggars' Union and carried his card.
as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise
Fix the People, Not the Barrel
times a day. We need oculists, not opportunities.
I used to work on the "section" and get a dollar and fifteen cents
a day. I rattled there. I did not earn my dollar fifteen. I tried
to see how little I could do and look like I was working. I was the
Artful Dodger of Section Sixteen. When the whistle would blow--O,
joyful sound!--I would leave my pick hang right up in the air. I
would not bring it down again for a soulless corporation.
I used to wonder as I passed Bill Barlow's bank on the way down to
the section-house, why I was not president of that bank. I wondered
why I was not sitting upon one of those mahogany seats instead of
pumping a handcar. I was naturally bright. I used to say "If the
rich wasn't getting richer and the poor poorer, I'd be president of a
I am so glad now that I did not get to be president of the bank.
They are glad, too! I would have rattled down in about fifteen
minutes, down to the peanut row, for I was only a peanut. Remember,
the hand-car job is just as honorable as the bank job, but as I was
not faithful over a few things, I would have rattled over many
The fairy books love to tell about some clodhopper suddenly
the clodhopper is enchanted into readiness for kingship before he
lands upon the throne.
The only way to rule others is to learn to rule ourself.
I used to say, "Just wait till I get to Congress." I think they are
to be the same size. Yes, I'll pass laws to turn the barrel upside
down, so the little ones will be on the top and the big ones will
be at the bottom."
But I had not seen that it wouldn't matter which end was the top,
the big ones would shake right up to it and the little ones would
shake down to the bottom.
The little man has the chance now, just as fast as he grows. You
cannot fix the barrel. You can only fix the people inside the
Have you ever noticed that the man who is not willing to fix
himself, is the one who wants to get the most laws passed to fix
other people? He wants something for nothing.
O, I am so glad I did not get the things I wanted at the time I
wanted them! They would have been coffee-pots. Thank goodness, we
do not get the coffee-pot until we are ready to handle it.
wanted them yesterday. O, how we wanted them! But a cruel fate
would not let us have them. Today we have them. They come to us as
them, and the barrel has shaken us up to them.
Today you and I want things beyond our reach. O, how we want them!
But a cruel fate will not let us have them.
Do you not see that "cruel fate" is our own smallness and
many are trying to grow great on the outside without growing great
on the inside. They rattle on the inside!
They fool themselves, but nobody else.
There is only one greatness--inside greatness. All outside
greatness is merely an incidental reflection of the inside.
Greatness is not measured in any material terms. It is not measured
in inches, dollars, acres, votes, hurrahs, or by any other of the
not leave our kitchen or blacksmith shop. We take the kitchen or
Come, let us grow greater. There is a throne for each of us.
"Getting to the Top"
"Getting to the top" is the world's pet delusion. There is no top.
The higher we rise, the better we see that life on this planet is
the going up from the Finite to the Infinite.
The world says that to get greatness means to get great things. So
the world is in the business of getting--getting great fortunes,
folderol. Afterwhile the poor old world hears the empty rattle of
the inside, and wails, "All is vanity. I find no pleasure in them.
being things on the inside, not in getting things on the outside.
I weary of the world's pink-sheet extras about "Getting to the Top"
and "Forging to the Front." Too often they are the sordid story of
a few scrambling over the heads of the weaker ones. Sometimes they
are the story of one pig crowding the other pigs out of the trough
and cornering all the swill!
The Secret of Greatness
There came to him those two disciples who wanted to "get to the
top." Those two sons of Zebedee wanted to have the greatest places
in the new kingdom they imagined he would establish on earth.
They got very busy pursuing greatness, but I do not read that they
were half so busy preparing for greatness. They even had their
mother out electioneering for them.
"O, Master," said the mother, "grant that these my two sons may sit,
the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom."
The Master looked with love and pity upon their unpreparedness.
"Are ye able to drink of the cup?" Then he gave the only definition
That is we cannot be "born great," nor "have greatness thrust upon"
us. We must "achieve greatness" by developing it on the
We cannot buy a great arm. Our arm must become a great servant, and
We cannot buy a great mind. Our mind must become a great servant,
We cannot buy a great character. It is earned in great moral
The First Step at Hand
This is the Big Business of life--going up, getting educated,
getting greatness on the inside. Getting greatness on the outside
Everybody's privilege and duty is to become great. And the joy of
it is that the first step is always nearest at hand. We do not have
to go off to New York or Chicago or go chasing around the world to
We must take the first step now. Most of us want to take the
hundredth step or the thousandth step now. We want to make some
workshop or our office and take the first step, solve the problem
solve and dissolve the difficulties and turn our burdens into
blessings, we find love, the universal solvent, shining out of our
lives. We find our spiritual influences going upward. So the winds
of earth are born; they rush in from the cold lands to the warm
currents set upward, the world is drawn toward us with its
of power. We find the world around us rising up to call us blessed.
As we grow greater our troubles grow smaller, for we see them thru
greater eyes. We rise above them.
begin to see them. They are around us all the time, but we must get
greater eyes to see them.
Generally speaking, the smaller our vision of our work, the more we
admire what we have accomplished and "point with pride." The
greater our vision, the more we see what is yet to be accomplished.
It was the sweet girl graduate who at commencement wondered how one
small head could contain it all. It was Newton after giving the
have been only a boy playing on the seashore * * * while the great
The Widow's Mites
The great Teacher pointed to the widow who cast her two mites into
the treasury, and then to the rich men who had cast in much more.
"This poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these
have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she
of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."
Tho the rich men had cast in more, yet it was only a part of their
possessions. The widow cast in less, but it was all she had. The
Master cared little what the footings of the money were in the
treasury. That is not why we give. We give to become great. The
saveth his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for the
advancement of the kingdom of happiness on earth shall find it
Our greatness therefore does not depend upon how much we give or
upon what we do, whether peeling potatoes or ruling a nation, but
upon the percentage of our output to our resources. Upon doing with
cannot get to do. Rejoice in doing the things you can get to do.
The world says some of us have golden gifts and some have copper
gifts. But when we cast them all into the treasury of right
service, there is an alchemy that transmutes every gift into gold.
Finding the Great People
I do not know who fitted the boards into the floor I stand upon. I
do not know all the great people who may come and stand upon this
floor. But I do know that the one who made the floor--and the one
who sweeps it--is just as great as anybody in the world who may
come and stand upon it, if each be doing his work with the same
We have to look farther than the "Who's Who" and Dun and Bradstreet
to make a roster of the great people of a community. You will find
the community heart in the precious handful who believe that the
service of God is the service of man.
The great people of the community serve and sacrifice for a better
tomorrow. They are the faithful few who get behind the churches,
the schools, the lyceum and chautauqua, and all the other movements
They are the ones who are "always trying to run things." They are
the happy ones, happy for the larger vision that comes as they go
higher by unselfish service. They are discovering that their
sweetest pay comes from doing many things they are not paid for.
They rarely get thanked, for the community does not often think of
thanking them until it comes time to draft the "resolutions of
I had to go to the mouth of a coal-mine in a little Illinois town,
to find the man the bureau had given as lyceum committeeman there.
I wondered what the grimy-faced man from the shaft, wearing the
miner's lamp in his cap, could possibly have to do with the lyceum
the tickets and had done all the managing. He was superintendent of
the Sunday school. He was the storm-center of every altruistic
effort in the town--the greatest man there, because the most
The great people are so busy serving that they have little time to
strut and pose in the show places. Few of them are "prominent
clubmen." You rarely find their names in the society page. They
rarely give "brilliant social functions." Their idle families
I found a great man lecturing at the chautauquas. He preaches in
he founded by his own preaching. He is the mainspring of so many
uplift movements that his name gets into the papers about every day,
under trees or letting the mind become a blank. But this Chicago
preacher went from one chautauqua town to another, and took his
vacation going up and down the streets. He dug into the local
history of each place, and before dinner he knew more about the
place than most of the natives.
"There is a sermon for me," he would exclaim every half-hour. He
were doing nothing. In every town he would discover somebody of
the humdrum travel map into a wonderland. He scolded lazy towns and
praised enterprising ones. He stopped young fellows on the streets.
"What are you going to do in life?" Perhaps the young man would
chance," the man on his vacation would reply.
his vacation. He was busy about other people's business. He did not
once ask the price of land, nor where there was a good investment
His friends would sometimes worry about him. They would say, "Why
doesn't the doctor take care of himself, instead of taking care of
everybody else? He wears himself out for other people until he
Sometimes they were right about that.
glorious. This man's preaching did not make him great. His college
did not make him great. His books did not make him great. These are
the by-products. His life of service for others makes him
This Chicago man gives his life into the service of humanity, and
it becomes the fuel to make the steam to accomplish the wonderful
things he does. Let him stop and "take care of himself," and his
and writing it all down in the contract, most likely Dr. Frank W.
the backwoods of Morrow county, Ohio.
great things. Give it now! Give your dollar now, rather than your
thousands afterwhile. You need to give it now, and the world needs
The Problem of "Preparedness"
THE problem of "preparedness" is the problem of preparing children
for life. All other kinds of "preparedness" fade into
insignificance before this. The history of nations shows that their
strength was not in the size of their armies and in the vastness
of their population and wealth, but in the strength and ideals
of the individual citizens.
As long as the nation was young and growing--as long as the people were
But when the struggle stopped, the strength waned, for the strength
came from the struggle. When the people became materially prosperous
and surrendered to ease and indulgence, they became fat, stall-fed weaklings.
Then they fell a prey to younger, hardier peoples.
Has the American nation reached that period?
All over America are fathers and mothers who have struggled and
have become strong men and women thru their struggles, who are
living for our children. We are going to give them the best
Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away
from their children their birthright--their opportunity to become
"We are going to give our children the best education our money can buy."
They think they can buy an education--buy wisdom, strength and
understanding, and give it to them C. O. D! They seem to think they
will buy any brand they see--buy the home brand of education, or
a bucketful or a tankful of education. If they are rich enough,
maybe they will have a private pipeline of education laid to their
home. They are going to force this education into them regularly
until they get them full of education. They are going to get them
Toll the bell! There's going to be a "blow out." Those inflated
Father and mother cannot buy their children education. All they can
do is to buy them some tools, perhaps, and open the gate and say,
"Sic 'em, Tige!" The children must get it themselves.
A father and mother might as well say, "We will buy our children
the strength we have earned in our arms and the wisdom we have
acquired in a life of struggle." As well expect the athlete to give
them his physical development he has earned in years of exercise.
As well expect the musician to give them the technic he has
acquired in years of practice. As well expect the scholar to give
them the ability to think he has developed in years of study. As
well expect Moses to give them his spiritual understanding acquired
They can show the children the way, but each child must make the
The Story of "Gussie"
There was a factory town back East. Not a pretty town, but just a
great, dirty mill and a lot of little dirty houses around the mill.
The hands lived in the little dirty houses and worked six days of
the week in the big mill.
There was a little, old man who went about that mill, often saying,
"I hain't got no book l'arnin' like the rest of you." He was the
man who owned the mill. He had made it with his own genius out of
nothing. He had become rich and honored. Every man in the mill
loved him like a father.
The little old man often said, "I'm going to give that boy the best
the minute the child could sit up in the cradle and notice things.
He sent him to the astrologer, the phrenologer and all other
"ologers" they had around there. When Gussie was old enough to
export, he sent the boy to one of the greatest universities in the
land. The fault was not with the university, not with Gussie, who
The fault was with the little old man, who was so wise and great
about everything else, and so foolish about his own boy. In the
The birthright of every child is the opportunity of becoming
You remember, then, that after he matriculates--after he gets the
grand bump, said steer does not have to do another thing. His
and receives it. There is a row of professors with their sleeves
rolled up who give him the degrees. So as Mr. T. Steer of Panhandle
They "canned" Gussie. He had a man hired to study for him. He rode
from department to department. They upholstered him, enameled him,
done and the paint was dry. He was a thing of beauty.
the baggage-car. It was checked. The mill shut down on a week day,
the first time in its history. The hands marched down to the depot,
and when the young lord alighted, the factory band played, "See,
the Conquering Hero Comes."
A few years later the mill shut down again on a week day. There was
crape hanging on the office door. Men and women stood weeping in
the streets. The little old man had been translated.
When they next opened up the mill, F. Gustavus Adolphus was at its head.
He had inherited the entire plant. "F. Gustavus Adolphus, President."
fill so great a place. In two years and seven months the mill was
a wreck. The monument of a father's lifetime was wrecked in two
years and seven months by the boy who had all the "advantages."
So the mill was shut down the third time on a week day. It looked
had a new kind of boss. If I were to give the new boss a
would swell up. How fast he grew! He became the most useful man in
the community. People forgot all about Bill's lowly origin. They
So when the courts were looking for somebody big enough to take charge
of the wrecked mill, they simply had to appoint Hon. William Whackem.
It was Hon. William Whackem who put the wreckage together and made
the wheels go round, and finally got the hungry town back to work.
After that a good many people said it was the college that made a
fool of Gussie. They said Bill succeeded so well because he never
went to one of "them highbrow schools." I am sorry to say I thought
The book and the college suffer at the hands of their friends. They
say to the book and the college, "Give us an education." They cannot
do that. You cannot get an education from the book and the college
You cannot get physical education by reading a book on gymnastics.
The book and the college show you the way, give you instruction and
furnish you finer working tools. But the real education is the
journey you make, the strength you develop, the service you perform
with these instruments and tools.
Gussie was in the position of a man with a very fine equipment of
tools and no experience in using them. Bill was the man with the
poor, homemade, crude tools, but with the energy, vision and
The "Hard Knocks Graduates"
people liberally educated who cannot write their own names. But
they have served and overcome and developed great lives with the
poor, crude tools at their command.
many or any books. Yet they are educated to the degree they have
acquired these elements of greatness in their lives.
They realized how they have been handicapped by their poor mental tools.
That is why they say, "All my life I have been handicapped by lack of
The young person with electrical genius will make an electrical
see how much more he will achieve with the same genius and with
Get the best tools you can. But remember diplomas, degrees are not
an education, they are merely preparations. When you are thru with
the books, remember, you are having a commencement, not an
end-ment. You will discover with the passing years that life is
Go out with your fine equipment from your commencements into the
school of service and write your education in the only book you
ever can know--the book of your experience.
That is what you know--what the courts will take as evidence when
they put you upon the witness stand.
The Tragedy of Unpreparedness
The story of Gussie and Bill Whackem is being written in every
These fathers and mothers who toil and save, who get great farms,
fine homes and large bank accounts, so often think they can give
greatness to their children--they can make great places for them in
life and put them into them.
They do all this and the children rattle. They have had no chance
to grow great enough for the places. The child gets the blame for
making the wreck, even as Gussie was blamed for wrecking his
father's plant, when the child is the victim.
A man heard me telling the story of Gussie and Bill Whackem, and he
his boy was not there to hear it. But that good, deluded father now
has his head bowed in shame over the career of his spoiled son.
I rarely tell of it on a platform that at the close of the lecture
somebody does not take me aside and tell me a story just as sad
For years poor Harry Thaw was front-paged on the newspapers and
gibbeted in the pulpits as the shocking example of youthful
a man. He seems to have been robbed of his birthright from the
cradle. Yet the father of this boy who has cost America millions in
court and detention expenses was one of the greatest business
generals of the Keystone state. He could plat great coal empires
ignorant of the fact that the barrel shakes.
It is the educated, the rich and the worldly wise who blunder most in
the training of their children. Poverty is a better trainer for the rest.
The menace of America lies not in the swollen fortunes, but in the
shrunken souls who inherit them.
But Nature's eliminating process is kind to the race in the barrel
shaking down the rattlers. Somebody said it is only three
this nation produces. Steam heat is a fine thing, but do you notice
how few of our strong men get their start with steam heat?
You boys and girls, God bless you! You live in good homes. Father
and mother love you and give you everything you need. You get to
take care of me, and when they are gone I'll inherit everything
they have. I'm fixed for life."
to rattle. Father and mother can be great and you can be a peanut.
a strong mind and back. Anybody who does for you regularly what you
Father and mother can put money in your pocket, ideas in your head
and food in your stomach, but you cannot own it save as you digest
insect struggling inside the cocoon. It was trying to get out of
the envelope. It seemed in trouble and needed help. He opened the
envelope with a knife and set the struggling insect free. But out
and under-developed wings. He learned that helping the insect was
killing it. He took away from it the very thing it had to have--the
Not Packhorse Work
But remember there is little virtue in work unless it is getting us
lie down to sleep, then another day of the same grind, then a year
of it and years following until our machine is worn out and on the
means one day nearer the scrapheap.
Such a worker is like the packhorse who goes forward to keep ahead
of the whip. Such a worker is the horse we used to have hitched to
the sorghum mill. Round and round that horse went, seeing nothing,
hearing nothing, his head down, without ambition enough to prick up
his ears. Such work deadens and stupefies. The masses work about
that way. They regard work as a necessary evil. They are
right--such work is a necessary evil, and they make it such. They
follow their nose. "Dumb, driven cattle."
that is the work that brings the joy and the greatness.
even the packhorse job, because it is our "meal ticket" that
"Helping" the Turkeys
One time I put some turkey eggs under the mother hen and waited day
by day for them to hatch. And sure enough, one day the eggs began
to crack and the little turkeys began to stick their heads out of
the shells. Some of the little turkeys came out from the shells all
right, but some of them stuck in the shells.
But they stuck to the shells.
hand." So I picked the shells off. "Little turkeys, you will never
know how fortunate you are. Ordinary turkeys do not have these
advantages. Ordinary turkeys do not get shelled by hand."
Did I help them? I killed them, or stunted them. Not one of the turkeys
was "right" that I helped. They were runts. One of them was a regular
Harry Thaw turkey. They had too many silk socks. Too many "advantages."
The cards are against him. He must succeed in spite of his "advantages."
character, for the joy of having a larger life. I am pleading with
you to know the joy of overcoming and having the angels come and
Children, I am pleading with you to find happiness. All the world
The happiness is in going up--in developing a greater arm, a
Happiness is the joy of overcoming. It is the delight of an
expanding consciousness. It is the cry of the eagle mounting
upward. It is the proof that we are progressing.
We find happiness in our work, not outside of our work. If we
cannot find happiness in our work, we have the wrong job. Find the
work that fits your talents, and stop watching the clock and
Loving friends used to warn me against "breaking down." They scared
found my job in my work, not away from it, and the work refreshed
the undertaker. I am an editor in the daytime and a lecturer at
almost every day of the year--maybe two or three times some
days--and then take a vacation by editing and writing. Thus every
day is jam full of play and vacation and good times. The year is
one round of joy, and I ought to pay people for the privilege of
speaking and writing to them instead of them paying me!
If I did not like my work, of course, I would be carrying a
to be "absent from the body and present with the Lord." Thus this
old body behaves just beautifully and wags along like the tail
follows the dog when I forget all about it. The grunter lets the
tail wag the dog.
multitudes killing themselves by taking vacations.
The people who think they are overworking are merely overworrying.
To work at the things you love, or for those you love, is to turn
When we love our work, it is not work, it is life.
The world is trying to find happiness in being amused. The world is
What a sad, empty lot of rattlers! Look over the bills of the movies,
look over the newsstands and see a picture of the popular mind,
for these places keep just what the people want to buy. What a lot
There are ten literary drunkards to one alcoholic drunkard. There
We have to have amusement, but if we fill our lives with nothing
Almost every day as I go along the street to some hall to lecture,
I hear somebody asking, "What are they going to have in the hall
The speaker is perfectly honest. He has no place to put a lecture.
I am not saying that he should attend my lecture, but I am grieving
at what underlies his remark. He does not want to think. He wants
to follow his nose around. Other people generally lead his nose.
The man who will not make the effort to think is the great menace
to the nation. The crowd that drifts and lives for amusement is the
crowd that finds itself back near the caboose, and as the train of
progress leaves them, they wail, they "never had no chanct." They
want to start a new party to reform the government.
The Lure of the City
Do you ever get lonely in a city? How few men and women there. A
jam of people, most of them imitations--most of them trying to look
like they get more salary. Poor, hungry, doped butterflies of the
bright lights,--hopers, suckers and straphangers! Down the great
white way they go chasing amusement to find happiness. They must be
amused every moment, even when they eat, or they will have to be
alone with their empty lives.
The Prodigal Son came to himself afterwhile and thought upon his
ways. Then he arose and went to his father's house. Whenever one
will arise and go to his father's house of wisdom. But there is no
hope for the person who will not stop and think. And the devil
works day and night shifts keeping the crowd moving on.
That is why the crowd is not furnishing the strong men and women.
they contract, then they relax. But the muscle that goes on
continually relaxing is degenerating. And the individual, the
community, the nation that goes on relaxing without
The more you study your muscles, the more you learn that while one
muscle is relaxing another is contracting. So you must learn that
over to contracting another set of muscles.
Go to the bank president's office, go to the railroad magnate's
office, go to the great pulpit, to the college chair--go to any
place of great responsibility in a city and ask the one who fills
the place, "Were you born in this city?"
The reply is almost a monotony. "I born in this city? No, I was
ago and went to work at the bottom."
Give us steam heat and push-buttons. There is no virtue in a
log-cabin, save that there the necessity for struggle that brings
strength is most in evidence. There the young person gets the
that young person comes to the city and shakes in the barrel among
the weaklings of the artificial life, he rises above them like the
The cities do not make their own steam. The little minority from
the farms controls the majority. The red blood of redemption flows
from the country year by year into the national arteries, else
these cities would drop off the map.
If it were not for Poseyville, Indiana, Chicago would disappear.
If it were not for Poseyville, New York would disintegrate
"Hep" and "Pep" for the Home Town
But so many of the home towns of America are sick. Many are dying.
It is the lure of the city--and the lure-lessness of the country.
The town the young people leave is the town the young people ought
to leave. Somebody says, "The reason so many young people go to
hell is because they have no other place to go."
What is the matter with the small town? Do not blame it all upon
the city mail order house. With rural delivery, daily papers,
telephones, centralized schools, automobiles and good roads, there
are no more delightful places in the world to live than in the
country or in the small town. They have the city advantages plus
sunshine, air and freedom that the crowded cities cannot have.
I asked the keeper who was showing me thru the insane asylum at
people in this institution and only a score of guards to keep them
in. Aren't you in danger? What is to hinder these insane people
from getting together, organizing, overpowering the few guards and
The keeper was not in the least alarmed at the question. He smiled.
"Many people say that. But they don't understand. If these people
could get together they wouldn't be in this asylum. They are
insane. No two of them can agree upon how to get together and how
to break out. So a few of us can hold them."
It would be almost unkind to carry this further, but I have been
thinking ever since that about three-fourths of the small towns of
America have one thing in common with the asylum folks--they can't
get together. They cannot organize for the public good. They break
factions and neutralize each other's efforts.
A lot of struggling churches compete with each other instead of
massing for the common good. And when the churches fight, the devil
stays neutral and furnishes the munitions for both sides.
So the home towns stagnate and the young people with visions go
away to the cities where opportunity seems to beckon. Ninety-nine
out of a hundred of them will jostle with the straphangers all
their lives, mere wheels turning round in a huge machine.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred of them might have had a larger
opportunity right back in the home town, had the town been awake
We must make the home town the brightest, most attractive, most
promising place for the young people. No home town can afford to
spend its years raising crops of young people for the cities. That
is the worst kind of soil impoverishment--all going out and nothing
coming back. That is the drain that devitalizes the home towns more
than all the city mail order houses.
America is to be great, not in the greatness of a few crowded
cities, but in the greatness of innumerable home towns.
The slogan today should be, For God and Home and the Home Town!
Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr, founder of the Ohio Northern University at
pride, "Our students come to school; they are not sent."
He encouraged his students to be self-supporting, and most of them
were working their way thru school. He made the school calendar and
courses elastic to accommodate them. He saw the need of combining
the school of books with the school of struggle. He organized his
school into competing groups, so that the student who had no
struggle in his life would at least have to struggle with the
others during his schooling.
debating societies to compete with each other. He arranged contests
for the military department. His school was one surging mass of
contestants. Yet each student felt no compulsion. Rather he felt
that he was initiating an individual or class effort to win. The
literary societies vied with each other in their programs and in
win over the others. They would go miles out on the trains to
intercept new students, even to their homes in other states. Each
old student pledged new students in his home country. The military
companies turned the school into a military camp for weeks each
Those students went out into the world trained to struggle. I do
not believe there is a school in America with a greater alumni roll
I believe the most useful schools today are schools of struggle
work their way thru and to act upon their own initiative.
The old "deestrick" school is passing, and with it the small
teacher, as in the old days of the lyceum in Athens, when the
pupils sat around the philosopher in the groves.
From these schools came the makers and the preservers of the nation.
wonderful equipment. Today we are replacing the many small colleges
universities. We are spending millions upon them in laboratories,
equipment and maintenance. Today we scour the earth for specialists
to sit in the chairs and speak the last word in every department of
O, how the students of the "dark ages" would have rejoiced to see
this day! Many of them never saw a germ!
But each student has the same definite effort to make in
assimilation today as then. Knowing and growing demand the same
personal struggle in the cushions of the "frat" house as back on
the old oak-slab bench with its splintered side up.
I am anxiously awaiting the results. I am hoping that the boys and
girls who come out in case-lots from these huge school plants will
not be rows of lithographed cans on the shelves of life. I am
hoping they will not be shorn of their individuality, but will have
it stimulated and unfettered. I am anxious that they be not
veneered but inspired, not denatured but discovered.
men--great men. I am anxious that the modern school have the modern
equipment demanded to serve the present age. But I am more anxious
from life, not from laboratories, and we have life more abundantly
endowment, when the fact is that its struggle for existence and the
when the money endowment comes the spiritual endowment goes in
calamities in the financial prosperity that has engulfed them.
foundations? That is the question the age is asking.
You and I are very much interested in the answer.
The Salvation of a "Sucker"
The Fiddle and the Tuning
learning one sentence, "You can't get something for nothing." I
have not yet learned it. Every few days I stumble over it
For that sentence utters one of the fundamentals of life that
fiddles. Not violins--fiddles.
I have had the feeling ever since that you and I come into this
world like the fiddle comes from the factory. We have a body and a
neck. That is about all there is either to us or to the fiddle. We
When the human fiddles are about six years old they go into the
primary schools and up thru the grammar grades, and get the first
string--the little E string. The trouble is so many of these human
fiddles think they are an orchestra right away. They want to quit
We must show these little fiddles they must go back into school and
go up thru all the departments and institutions necessary to give
them the full complement of strings for their life symphonies.
After all this there comes the commencement, and the violin comes
forth with the E, A, D and G strings all in place. Educated now?
lot of discord. The violin is to give music.
So there is much yet to do after getting the strings. All the book
and college can do is to give the strings--the tools. After that
the violin must go into the great tuning school of life. Here the
pegs are turned and the strings are put in tune. The music is the
You do not know what you have memorized, you know what you have
vitalized, what you have written in the book of experience.
All of us are Christopher Columbuses, discovering the same new-old
continents of Truth. That is the true happiness of
idea of them. We hear the preacher utter truths and we say with
little feeling, "Yes, that is so." We hear the great truths of life
over and over and we are not excited. Truth never excites--it is
see it with our own eyes. Then there is a thrill. Then the old
truth becomes a new blessing. Then the oldest, driest platitude
consciousness. This joy of discovery is the joy of living.
There is such a difference between reading a thing and knowing a
thing. We could read a thousand descriptions of the sun and not
know the sun as in one glimpse of it with our own eyes.
I used to stand in the row of blessed little rascals in the
"If--I-p-p-play--with--the--f-f-f-i-i-i-i-r-r-e--I--will--g-e-e-et
I did not learn it. I wish I had learned by reading it that if I
play with the fire I will get my fingers burned. I had to slap my
Then I had to go around showing the blisters, boring my friends and
This is not a lecture. It is a confession! It seems to me if you in
the audience knew how little I know, you wouldn't stay.
"You Can't Get Something for Nothing"
get something for nothing." That is, getting it in partial tune. It
longer than a human being. They are so smart you cannot teach them
with a few bumps. They have to be pulverized.
That sentence takes me back to the days when I was a "hired man" on
the farm. You might not think I had ever been a "hired man" on the
you might not believe that I had ever trained an orphan calf to
drink from a copper kettle. But I have fed him the fingers of this
hand many a time. You might not think that I had ever driven a yoke
of oxen and had said the words. But I have!
I remember the first county fair I ever attended. Fellow sufferers,
you may remember that at the county fair all the people sort out to
their own departments. Some people go to the canned fruit
department. Some go to the fancywork department. Some go to the
swine department. Everybody goes to his own department. Even the
"suckers"! Did you ever notice where they go? That is where I
went--to the "trimming department."
I was in the "trimming department" in five minutes. Nobody told me
where it was. I didn't need to be told. I gravitated there. The
barrel always shakes all of one size to one place. You notice
that--in a city all of one size get together.
Right at the entrance to the "local Midway" I met a gentleman. I
a little light table he could move quickly. Whenever the climate
were three little shells in a row, and there was a little pea under
the middle shell. I saw it there, being naturally bright. I was the
only naturally bright person around the table, hence the only one
who knew under which shell the little round pea was hidden.
Even the gentleman running the game was fooled. He thought it was
under the end shell and bet me money it was under the end shell.
You see, this was not gambling, this was a sure thing. (It was!)
I had saved up my money for weeks to attend the fair. I bet it all
on that middle shell. I felt bad. It seemed like robbing father.
family to keep. But I would teach him a lesson not to "monkey" with
But I needn't have felt bad. I did not rob father. Father cleaned
I went over to the other side of the fairgrounds and sat down. That
was all I had to do now--just go, sit down. I couldn't see the
mermaid now or get into the grandstand.
Sadly I thought it all over, but I did not get the right answer.
I said the thing every fool does say when he gets bumped and fails
to learn the lesson from the bump. I said, "Next time I shall be
I Bought the Soap
Learn? No! Within a month I was on the street a Saturday night when
another gentleman drove into town. He stopped on the public square
and stood up in his buggy. "Let the prominent citizens gather
Immediately all the prominent "suckers" crowded around the buggy.
I am putting these cakes of Wonder Soap in my hat. You see I am
wrapping a ten-dollar bill around one cake and throwing it into the
hat. Now who will give me five dollars for the privilege of taking
And right on top of the pile was the cake with the ten wrapped
around it! I jumped over the rest to shove my five (two weeks' farm
work) in his hands and grab that bill cake. But the bill
disappeared. I never knew where it went. The man whipped up his
I grew older and people began to notice that I was naturally bright
and therefore good picking. They began to let me in on the ground
floor. Did anybody ever let you in on the ground floor? I never
could stick. Whenever anybody let me in on the ground floor it
seemed like I would always slide on thru and land in the cellar.
kept my investments in it. I mean, the investments I did not have
to lock up. You get the pathos of that--the investments nobody
open that drawer and "view the remains."
I had in that drawer the deed to my Oklahoma corner-lots. Those
lots were going to double next week. But they did not double I
doubled. They still exist on the blueprint and the Oklahoma
metropolis on paper is yet a wide place in the road.
I had there my oil propositions. What a difference, I have learned,
between an oil proposition and an oil well! The learning has been
I used to wonder how I ever could spend my income. I do not wonder now.
I had in that drawer my "Everglade" farm. Did you ever hear of the
"Everglades"? I have an alligator ranch there. It is below the
frost-line, also below the water-line. I will sell it by the
my gold and silver mine stock, I often noticed that it was printed
in green. I used to wonder why they printed it in green--wonder if
they wanted it to harmonize with me! And I would realize I had so
much to live for--the dividends. I have been so near the dividends
I could smell them. Only one more assessment, then we will cut the
melon! I have heard that all my life and never got a piece of the rind.
Why go farther? I am not half done confessing. Each bump only
increased my faith that the next ship would be mine. Good, honest,
buy because I knew the minister was honest and believed in it. He
was selling it on his reputation. Favorite dodge of the promoter to
get the ministers to sell his shares.
I pitied his lack of vision. Bankers were such "tightwads." They
had no imagination! Nothing interested me that did not offer fifty
or a hundred per cent.--then. Give me the five per cent. now!
By the time I was thirty-four I was a rich man in worthless paper.
savings into the bottom of the sea.
Then I got a confidential letter from a friend of our family I had
never met. His name was Thomas A. Cleage, and he was in the Rialto
Were you ever selected? If you were, then you know the thrill that
He knew me! He was the only man who did know me. So I took the
in with us in the inner circle and get a thousand per cent.
Did you get that? I hope you did. I did not! But I took a night
train for St. Louis. I was afraid somebody might beat me there if
money for Tom, the friend of our family. But I see now I need not
have hurried so. They would have waited a month with the
respect not my feelings. I am not going to tell you a thing that
could not learn it at home, back in Ohio. I had to go clear down to
dollars to corner the wheat market of the world. That is all I paid
him. I could not borrow any more. I joined what he called a "pool."
That bump set me to thinking. My fever began to reduce. I got the
have always regarded the eleven hundred as the finest investment I
had made up to that time, for I got the most out of it. I do not
feel that we should endow them. How else can we save a sucker? You
cannot tell him anything, because he is naturally bright and knows
sentence, You cannot get something for nothing. Life just begins to
a big ad, "Grasp a Fortune Now!" I will not do it! I stop my
subscription to that paper. I simply will not take a paper with
I will not grasp a fortune now. Try me, I dare you! Bring a
fortune right up on this platform and put it down there on the
floor. I will not grasp it. Come away, it is a coffee-pot!
Today when somebody offers me much more than the legal rate of
If he offers me a hundred per cent. I call for the police!
been selected--" I never read farther than the word "selected."
Meeting is adjourned. I select the waste-basket. Here, get in there
O, Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son! Learn it early in life. The
You can't get something for nothing. If you do not learn it, you
will have to be "selected." There is no other way for you, because
look like the biggest sucker on the local landscape.
The other night in a little town of perhaps a thousand, a banker
took me up into his office after the lecture in which I had related
some of the above experiences. "The audience laughed with you and
pathetic. It was a picture of what is going on in our own little
I wish you could see the thousands of hard-earned dollars that go
as you described. The saddest part of it is that the money nearly
always goes out of the pockets of the people who can least afford
Learn that the gambler never owns his winnings. The man who
Even the young person who has large fortune given him does not own
The owning is in the understanding of values.
have earned and stored in your life, not merely in your pocket,
one sentence, I see the need of an eternity.
To me that is one of the great arguments for eternal life--how slowly
I learn, and how much there is to learn. It will take an eternity!
The young person says, "By next June I shall have finished my
Bless them all! They will have put another string on their fiddle.
After they "finish" they have a commencement, not an end-ment, as
they think. This is not to sneer, but to cheer. Isn't it glorious
I love to attend commencements. The stage is so beautifully
decorated and the joy of youth is everywhere. There is a row of
geraniums along the front of the stage and a big oleander on the
side. There is a long-whiskered rug in the middle. The graduates
sit in a semicircle upon the stage in their new patent leather. I
know how it hurts. It is the first time they have worn it.
Then they make their orations. Every time I hear their orations I
like them better, because every year I am getting younger. Damsel
"Beyond the Alps (sweep arms forward to the left, left arm leading)
lieth Italy!" (Bring arms down, letting fingers follow the wrist.
How embarrassing at a commencement for the fingers not to follow
the wrist! It is always a shock to the audience when the wrist
sweeps downward and the fingers remain up in the air. So by all
means, let the fingers follow the wrist, just as the elocution
2 stands at the same leadpencil mark on the floor, resplendent in
a filmy creation caught with something or other.
inclined). We are not drifting (hands slide downward)."
Children, we are not laughing at you. We are laughing at ourselves.
We are laughing the happy laugh at how we have learned these great
truths that you have memorized, but not vitalized.
You get the most beautiful and sublime truths from Emerson's
essays. (How did they ever have commencements before Emerson?) But
that is not knowing them. You cannot know them until you have lived
them. It is a grand thing to say, "Beyond the Alps lieth Italy,"
up over Alps of difficulty and seeing the Italy of promise and
victory beyond. It is fine to say, "We are rowing and not
but you cannot really say that until you have pulled on the oar.
was "short-circuited." The "brethren" waited upon me and told me I had
been "selected": Maybe this was a local call, not long distance.
They gave me six weeks in which to load the gospel gun and get
ready for my try-out. I certainly loaded it to the muzzle.
But I made the mistake I am trying to warn you against. Instead of
going to the one book where I might have gotten a sermon--the book
of my experience, I went to the books in my father's library. "As
the poet Shakespeare has so beautifully said," and then I took a
to the poet Tennyson." Come here, Lord Alfred. So I soldered these
fragments from the books together with my own native genius. I
worked that sermon up into the most beautiful splurges and spasms.
fourteen, where I had made a little mark in the margin which meant
"cry here." This was the spilling-point of the wet climax. I was to
cry on the lefthand side of the page.
I committed it all to memory, and then went to a lady who taught
I got the most beautiful gestures nailed into almost every page.
You know about gestures--these things you make with your arms in
the air as you speak. You can notice it on me yet.
I am not sneering at expression. Expression is a noble art. All
a mirror for six weeks, day by day, and said the sermon to the
and that sermon would not have hesitated.
Then came the grand day. The boy wonder stood forth and before his
grandly than ever to a mirror. Every gesture went off the bat
according to the blueprint. I cried on page fourteen! I never knew
Then I did another fine thing, I sat down. I wish now I had done
that earlier. I wish now I had sat down before I got up. I was the
last man out of the church--and I hurried. But they beat me
out--all nine of them. When I went out the door, the old sexton
said as he jiggled the key in the door to hurry me, "Don't feel
you don't know nothin' yet."
I cried all the way to town. If he had plunged a dagger into me he
would not have hurt me so much. It has taken some years to learn
that the old man was right. I had wonderful truth in that sermon.
No sermon ever had greater truth, but I had not lived it. The old
man meant I did not know my own sermon.
"Peeling Potatoes," and you are most likely to hear the applause
Out of every thousand books published, perhaps nine hundred of them
do not sell enough to pay the cost of printing them. As you study
the books that do live, you note that they are the books that have
been lived. Perhaps the books that fail have just as much of truth
in them and they may even be better written, yet they lack the
vital impulse. They come out of the author's head. The books that
live must come out of his heart. They are his own life. They come
surging and pulsating from the book of his experience.
The best part of our schooling comes not from the books, but from
the men behind the books.
We study agriculture from books. That does not make us an
the knowing in the doing.
"There was never a picture painted,
There was never a poem sung,
But the soul of the artist fainted,
And the poet's heart was wrung."
So many young people think because they have a good voice and they have
cultivated it, they are singers. All this cultivation and irritation
and irrigation and gargling of the throat are merely symptoms of
They think the song comes from the diaphragm. But it comes from the
heart, chaperoned by the diaphragm. You cannot sing a song you have
not lived.
Jessie was singing the other day at a chautauqua. She has a
attended to. She sang that afternoon in the tent, "The Last Rose of
Summer." She sang it with every note so well placed, with the
sweetest little trills and tendrils, with the smile exactly like
her teacher had taught her. Jessie exhibited all the machinery and
trimmings for the song, but she had no steam, no song. She sang the
notes. She might as well have sung, "Pop, Goes the Weasel."
The audience politely endured Jessie. That night a woman sang in
the same tent "The Last Rose of Summer." She had never been to
Berlin, but she had lived that song. She didn't dress the notes
half so beautifully as Jessie did, but she sang it with the
tremendous feeling it demands. The audience went wild. It was a
"this is the best singing lesson you have ever had. Your study is
cannot sing "The Last Rose of Summer" yet, for you do not know very
much about the first rose of summer. And really, I hope you'll
never know the ache and disappointment you must know before you can
sing that song, for it is the sob of a broken-hearted woman. Learn
to sing the songs you have lived."
Why do singers try to execute songs beyond the horizon of their
lives? That is why they "execute" them.
The Success of a Song-Writer
The guest of honor at a dinner in a Chicago club was a woman who is
one of the widely known song-writers of this land. As I had the
songs the people want to sing?"
But in the hour she talked with her friends around the table I
found the answer to every question. "Isn't it good to be here?
meal a day and didn't know where the next meal was coming from. I
know what it is to be left alone in the world upon my own
discouraged and down and out. It was in my little back-room, the
only home I had, that I began to write songs. I wrote them for my
heart and what the struggles were teaching me. No one is more
surprised and grateful that the world seems to love my songs and
asks for more of them."
The woman was Carrie Jacobs-Bond, who wrote "The Perfect Day,"
simple little songs so full of the pathos and philosophy of life
that they tug at your heart and moisten your eyes.
Anybody could write those songs--just a few simple words and notes.
No. Books of theory and harmony and expression only teach us how to
write the words and where to place the notes. These are not the
song, but only the skeleton into which our own life must breathe
the life of the song.
The woman who sat there clad in black, with her sweet, expressive
the University of Hard Knocks. She here became the song philosopher
loneliness, she never would have been able to write the songs that
appeal to the multitudes who have the same battles.
The popular song is the song that best voices what is in the
songs that are trashy and voice the tawdriest human impulses, yet
it is a tribute to the good elements in humanity that the
continue to hold their popularity.
Theory and Practice
My friends, I am not arguing that you and I must drink the dregs of
around me in the affairs of everyday life, that none of us will
success flows from the fullness of our experience just as the songs
came from the life of Carrie Jacobs-Bond.
The world is full of theorists, dreamers, uplifters, reformers, who
have worthy visions but are not able to translate them into
practical realities. They go around with their heads in the clouds,
looking upward, and half the time their feet are in the flower-beds
or trampling upon their fellow men they dream of helping. Their
the anvil of experience.
Many of the most brilliant theorists have been the greatest
There are a thousand who can tell you what is the matter with
things to one person who can give you a practical way to fix them.
anything you could think of was discussed, and perhaps the page. He
Indeed, in my childhood I thought he was the greatest man in the
But he was one of the most helpless men I have ever seen in
himself. He could quote a page of John Locke, but somehow the page
didn't supply the one sentence needed for the occasion. The man was
a misfit on earth. He was liable to put the gravy in his coffee
and the gasoline in the fire. He seemed never to have digested any
of the things in his memory. Since I have grown up I always think
The greatest book is the textbook of the University of Hard Knocks,
the Book of Human Experience the "sermons in stones" and the "books
Note the sweeping, positive statements of the young person.
Note the cautious, specific statements of the person who has lived
Our education is our progress from the sweeping, positive,
wholesale statements we have not proved, to the cautious, specific
Tuning the Strings of Life
Many audiences are gathered into this one audience. Each person
here is a different audience, reading a different page in the Book
I know there are chapters of heroism in the lives of you older
the floor when you could not sleep. You have learned that "beyond
the Alps lieth Italy."
ago, and the wound has not healed. You think it never will heal.
for a little while. I know there are people in this audience in pain.
Never do this many gather but what there are some with aching hearts.
And you young people here with lives like June mornings, are not
man talking about? I haven't had these things and I'm not going to
have them, either!"
sleep. You are going to walk the floor when you cannot sleep. Some
of you are going to know the keen sorrow of having the one you
horizon. You will say, "God, let me die. I have nothing more
For all lives have about the same elements. Your life is going to
be about like other lives.
And you are going to learn the wonderful lesson thru the years, the
bumps and the tears, that all these things somehow are necessary to
These bumps and hard knocks do not break the fiddle--they turn the pegs.
These bumps and tragedies and Waterloos draw the strings of the
pitch, where the discords fade from our lives and where the music
divine and harmonies celestial come from the same old strings that
had been sending forth the noise and discord.
Thus we know that our education is progressing, as the evil and
Memories of the Price We Pay
I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, altho it is quite
father being a country preacher, we had tin spoons. We never had to
tie a red string around our spoons when we loaned them for the
Do you remember the first money you ever earned? I do. I walked
several miles into the country those old reaper days and gathered
sheaves. That night I was proud when that farmer patted me on the
head and said, "You are the best boy to work, I ever saw." Then the
handle it, hence the tale that follows.
There is hope for green things. I was so tall and awkward then--I
several dollars the lowest bidder. They said out that way, "Anybody
My second, Make, em recite. That is, fill 'em up and then empty 'em.
the time, to save money. I think I had all teaching methods in use.
With the small fry I used a small paddle to win their confidence and
arouse their enthusiasm for an education. With the pupils larger and
more muscular than their teacher I used love and moral suasion.
We ended the school with an "exhibition." Did you ever attend the
old back-country "last day of school exhibition"? The people that
day came from all over the township. They were so glad our school
was closing they all turned out to make it a success. They brought
great baskets of provender and we had a feast. We covered the
school desks with boards, and then covered the boards with piles of
Then we had a "doings." Everybody did a stunt. We executed a lot of
literature that day. Execute is the word that tells what happened
speak their "pieces." I hardly knew them and they hardly knew me,
for we were "dressed up." Many a head showed father had mowed it
with the sheepshears. Mother had been busy with the wash-rag--clear
back of the ears! And into them! So many of them wore collars that
stuck out all stiff like they had pushed their heads on thru their
I can see them speaking their "pieces." I can see "The Soldier of
the Legion lay dying in Algiers." We had him die again that day,
and he had a lingering end as we executed him. I can see "The boy
stood on the burning deck, whence all but he had fled." I can see
"Mary's little lamb" come slipping over the stage. I see the
There came a breathless hush as "teacher" came forward as the last
act on the bill to say farewell. It was customary to cry. I wanted
mouth, it was a great opening, but nothing came out. It came out of
my eyes. Tears rolled down my cheeks until I could hear them
And my pupils wept as their dear teacher said farewell. Parents
wept. It was a teary time. I only said, "Weep not for me, dear
them up, but they wept the more.
never got home with the money. Talk about the fool and his money
For on the way home I met Deacon K, and he borrowed it all. Deacon K
was "such a good man" and a "pillar of the church." I used to wonder,
tho, why he didn't take a pillow to church. I took his note for $240,
season. I really thought a note was not necessary, such was my
confidence in the deacon.
For years I kept a faded, tear-spattered, yellow note for $240,
scarcely know whether to look up or down as I say that. He never
but I paid all the money I got from it--two hundred and forty
thirteen-mile-a-day dollars to learn one thing I could not learn
from the books, that it takes less wisdom to make money, than it
does to intelligently handle it afterwards. Incidentally I learned
Which is no slap at the church, but at its worst enemies, the foes
Calling the Class-Roll
imagine most lecturers have a hard time lecturing in the home town.
Their schoolmates and playmates are apt to be down there in the
front rows with their families, and maybe all the old scores have
not yet been settled. The boy he fought with may be down there.
Perhaps the girl who gave him the "mitten" is there.
And he has gotten his lecture out of that home town. The heroes and
villains live there within striking distance. Perhaps they have
come to hear him. "Is not this the carpenter's son?" Perhaps this
is why some lecturers and authors are not so popular in the home
I went back to the same hall to speak, and stood upon the same platform
"Greece is gone and Rome is no more, but fe-e-e-e-ear not,
Then I went back to the little hotel and sat up alone in my room
half the night living it over. Time was when I thought anybody who
could live in that hotel was a superior order of being. But the
time had come when I knew the person who could go on living in any
a picture of the school in that town that had been taken twenty-one
years before, just before commencement. I had not seen the picture
these twenty-one years, for I could not then afford to buy one. The
charge of the world. They were so glad the world had waited so long
on them. They were so willing to take charge of the world. They
There was one boy in the class who was not naturally bright. It was
not the one you may be thinking of! No, it was Jim Lambert. He had
intellect. He was "conditioned" into the senior class. We all felt
As commencement day approached, the committee of the class
appointed for that purpose took Jim back of the schoolhouse and
broke the news to him that they were going to let him graduate, but
they were not going to let him speak, because he couldn't make a
speech that would do credit to such a brilliant class. They hid Jim
on the stage back of the oleander commencement night.
Shake the barrel!
The girl who was to become the authoress became the helloess in the
the community. The girl who was to become the poetess became the
goddess at the general delivery window and superintendent of the
stamp-licking department of the home postoffice. The boy who was
going to Confess was raising the best corn in the county, and his
wife was speaker of the house.
Most of them were doing very well even Jim Lambert. Jim had become
the head of one of the big manufacturing plants of the South, with
a lot of men working for him. The committee that took him out
behind the schoolhouse to inform him he could not speak at
marked, "Mr. Lambert, Private." They would have to send up their
cards, and the watchdog who guards the door would tell them, "Cut
it short, he's busy!" before they could break any news to him
They hung a picture of Mr. Lambert in the high school at the last
alumni meeting. They hung it on the wall near where the oleander
you do not seem to learn like some in your classes can you not get
a bit of cheer from the story of Jim?
that school picture and the twenty-one years. There were fifty-four
young people in that picture. They had been shaken these years in
the barrel, and now as I called the roll on them, most of them that
Congress and one had gone to the penitentiary. Some had gone to
almost every note on the keyboard of human possibility had been
struck by the one school of fifty-four.
When that picture was taken the oldest was not more than eighteen,
yet most of them seemed already to have decided their destinies.
The twenty-one years that followed had not changed their courses.
The only changes had come where God had come into a life to uplift
that the foolish dreams of success faded before the natural
unfolding of talents, which is the real success. I saw better that
"the boy is father to the man."
The boy who skimmed over his work in school was skimming over his
work as a man. The boy who went to the bottom of things in school
was going to the bottom of things in manhood. Which had helped him
to go to the top of things!
Jim Lambert had merely followed the call of talents unseen in him
The lazy boy became a "tired" man. The industrious boy became an
industrious man. The sporty boy became a sporty man. The
domineering egotist boy became the domineering egotist man.
The boy who traded knives with me and beat me--how I used to envy
him! Why was it he could always get the better of me? Well, he went
on trading knives and getting the better of people. Now, twenty-one
years afterwards, he was doing time in the state penitentiary for
when he did the same things on a smaller scale they called him
The "perfectly lovely" boy who didn't mix with the other boys, who
combed, and said, "If you please," used to hurt me. He was the
teacher's model boy. All the mothers of the community used to say
to their own reprobate offspring, "Why can't you be like Harry?
He'll be President of the United States some day, and you'll be in
believe Mr. Webster defines a model as a small imitation of the
because he hadn't the energy to be anything else. It was the boys
who had the hustle and the energy, who occasionally needed
I have said little about the girls of the school. Fact was, at that
age I didn't pay much attention to them. I regarded them as in the
way. But I naturally thought of Clarice, our social pet of the
class--our real pretty girl who won the vase in the home paper
beauty contest. Clarice went right on remaining in the social
spotlight, primping and flirting. She outshone all the rest. But it
popularity for success. The boys voted for her, but did not marry
her. Most of the girls who shone with less social luster became the
happy homemakers of the community.
But as I looked into the face of Jim Lambert in the picture, my
heart warmed at the sight of another great success--a sweet-faced
these years to support a home and care for her family. She had kept
her grace and sweetness thru it all, and the influence of her
The Boy I Had Envied
Frank was the boy I had envied. He had everything--a fine home,
a loving father, plenty of money, opportunity and a great career
Everybody said Frank would make his mark in the world and make
the town proud of him.
I was the janitor of the schoolhouse. Some of my classmates will
never know how their thoughtless jeers and jokes wounded the
sensitive, shabby boy who swept the floors, built the fires and
carried in the coal. After commencement my career seemed to end and
the careers of Frank and the rest of them seemed to begin. They
But the week after commencement I had to go into a printing office,
roll up my sleeves and go to work in the "devil's corner" to earn
Many a time as I plugged at the "case" I would think of Frank and wonder
why some people had all the good things and I had all the hard things.
Twenty-one years afterward as I got off the train in the home town,
I asked, "Where is he?" We went out to the cemetery, where I stood
at a grave and read on the headstone, "Frank."
I had the story of a tragedy--the tragedy of modern unpreparedness.
It was the story of the boy who had every opportunity, but who had
all the struggle taken out of his life. He never followed his
a fortune, broke his father's heart, shocked the community, and
It revived the memory of the story of Ben Hur.
Do you remember it? The Jewish boy is torn from his home in
committed. Ben Hur did not get a fair trial. Nobody can get a fair
trial at the hands of this world. That is why the great Judge has
said, judge not, for you have not the full evidence in the case. I
Then they condemn him. They lead him away to the galleys. They
chain him to the bench and to the oar. There follow the days and
long years when he pulls on the oar under the lash. Day after day
he pulls on the oar. Day after day he writhes under the sting of
the lash. Years of the cruel injustice pass. Ben Hur is the
That seems to be your life and my life. In the kitchen or the
the oar and pulling under the sting of the lash of necessity. Life
seems one futureless round of drudgery. We wonder why. We often
look across the street and see somebody who lives a happier life.
That one is chained to no oar. See what a fine time they all have.
Why must we pull on the oar?
How blind we are! We can only see our own oar. We cannot see that
they, too, pull on the oar and feel the lash. Most likely they are
looking back at us and envying us. For while we envy others, others
But look at the chariot race in Antioch. See the thousands in the
circus. See Messala, the haughty Roman, and see! Ben Hur from the
galleys in the other chariot pitted against him. Down the course
dash these twin thunderbolts. The thousands hold their breath. "Who
will win?" "The man with the stronger forearms," they whisper.
There comes the crucial moment in the race. See the man with the
stronger forearms. They are bands of steel that swell in the
forearms of Ben Hur. They swing those flying Arabians into the
inner ring. Ben Hur wins the race! Where got the Jew those huge
forearms? From the galleys!
Had Ben Hur never pulled on the oar, he never could have won the
mistakes in the bookkeeping. As we pull on the oar, so often lashed
interest in the bank account of strength. Sooner or later the time
on--when we win the victory, strike the deciding blow, stand while
those around us fall--and it is won with the forearms earned in the
galleys of life by pulling on the oar.
That is why I thanked God as I stood at the grave of my classmate.
I thanked God for parents who believed in the gospel of struggle,
and for the circumstances that compelled it.
I am not an example of success.
But I am a very grateful pupil in the first reader class of The
The Book in the Running Brook
THERE is a little silvery sheet of water in Minnesota called Lake Itasca.
There is a place where a little stream leaps out from the lake.
"Ole!" you will exclaim, "the lake is leaking. What is the name of
So even the Father of Waters has to begin as a creek. We are at the
cradle where the baby river leaps forth. We all start about alike.
It wabbles around thru the woods of Minnesota. It doesn't know
where it is going, but it is "on the way."
to the place where all of us get sooner or later. The place where
Paul came on the road to Damascus. The place of the "heavenly vision."
It is the place where gravity says, "Little Mississippi, do you
want to grow? Then you will have to go south."
The little Mississippi starts south. He says to the people,
"Goodbye, folks, I am going south." The folks at Itascaville say,
get out of the county." That is a fact, but he is not trying to get
out of the county. The Mississippi is only trying to go south.
The Mississippi knows nothing about the Gulf of Mexico. He does not
to go south. He has not much water, but he does not wait for a
thought! He has water enough to start south, and he does that.
He goes a foot south, then another foot south. He goes a mile
goes on south. He picks up another stream and grows some more. Day
My friends, here is one of the best pictures I can find in nature
orations, especially in high school commencements, entitled, "The
Value of a Goal in Life." But the direction is vastly more
important than the goal. Find the way your life should go, and then
We do not have to figure out how far we have to go, nor how many
supplies we will need along the way. All we have to do is to start
and we will find the resources all along the way. We will grow as
we flow. All of us can start! And then go on south!
Success is not tomorrow or next year. Success is now. Success is
not at the end of the journey, for there is no end. Success is
every day in flowing and growing. The Mississippi is a success in
You and I sooner or later hear the call, "Go on south." If we
haven't heard it, let us keep our ear to the receiver and live a
more natural life, so that we can hear the call. We are all called.
It is a divine call--the call of our unfolding talents to be used.
Remember, the Mississippi goes south. If he had gone any other
Three wonderful things develop as the Mississippi goes on south.
3. He blesses the valley, but the valley does not bless him.
You never meet the Mississippi after he starts south, but what he
The Mississippi gets to St. Paul and Minneapolis. He is a great
river now--the most successful river in the state. But he does not
does not stop. He goes on south and grows greater.
Do you know why the Mississippi goes on south? To continue to be
the Mississippi. If he should stop and stagnate, he would not be
the Mississippi, river. he would become a stagnant, poisonous pond.
As long as people keep on going south, they keep on living. When
they stop and stagnate, they die.
That is why I am making it the slogan of my life--GO ON SOUTH AND
each day. I wish I could write it over the pulpits, over the
schoolrooms, over the business houses and homes--GO ON SOUTH AND
GROW GREATER. For this is life, and there is no other. This is
education--and religion. And the only business of life.
You and I start well. We go on south a little ways, and then we
retire. Even young people as they start south and make some little
their press notices. Their friends crowd around them to congratulate
them. "I must congratulate you upon your success. You have arrived."
So many of those young goslings believe that. They quit and get
canned. They think they have gotten to the Gulf of Mexico when they
have not gotten out of the woods of Minnesota. Go on south!
one victory. Success goes to the head and defeat goes to "de feet."
It makes them work harder.
The Plague of Incompetents
The one who keeps on going south defies custom and becomes unorthodox.
But contentment with present achievement is the damnation of the race.
The mass of the human family never go on south far enough to
become good servants, workmen or artists. The young people get a
smattering and squeeze into the bottom position and never go on
south to efficiency and promotion. They wonder why their genius is
not recognized. They do not make it visible.
few shorthand characters and irritate a typewriter keyboard. They
a stenographer. They mangle the language, grammar, spelling,
capitalization and punctuation. Their eyes are on the clock, their
minds on the movies.
Nine out of ten workmen cannot be trusted to do what they advertise
to do, because they have never gone south far enough to become
efficient. Many a professional man is in the same class.
Half of our life is spent in getting competents to repair the
I used to know a violinist who would say, "If I were not a genius,
I could not play so well with such little practice." The poor
fellow did not know how poor a fiddler he really was. Well did
is the opiate that Nature administers to deaden the pains of mediocrity.
always get results. See the one shrivel who goes around
front-paging his age. Age is not years; age is grunts.
We say, "I've seen my best days." And the undertaker goes and
Go on south! We have not seen our best days. This is the best day
A-B-C's. I do not utter that as a bit of sentiment, but as the
great fundamental of our life. I hope the oldest in years sees that
We are not going on south to old age, we are going on south to
eternal youth. It is the one who stops who "ages rapidly." Each day
We have left nothing behind but the husks. I would not trade this
moment for all the years before it. I have their footings at
compound interest! They are dead. This is life.
Yesterday I had a birthday. I looked in the glass and communed with
You children cheer up. Your black hair and auburn hair and the other
Don't worry about gray hair or baldness. Only worry about the location
of your gray hair or baldness. If they get on the inside of the head,
worry. Do you know why corporations sometimes say they do not want
to employ gray-headed men? They have found that so many of them
have quit going on south and have gotten gray on the inside--or bald.
These same corporations send out Pinkertons and pay any price for
gray-headed men--gray on the outside and green on the inside. They
are the most valuable, for they have the vision and wisdom of many
years and the enthusiasm and "pep" and courage of youth.
The preacher, the teacher--everyone who gets put on the retired
The most wonderful person in the world is the one who has lived
years and years on earth and has perhaps gotten gray on the
outside, but has kept young and fresh on the inside. Put that
person in the pulpit, in the schoolroom, in the office, behind the
ticket-window or on the bench--or under the hod--and you find the
O, I want to forget all the past, save its lessons. I am just
come to me and tell me how to improve--what to do and what not to
the "limit." I shiver as I think what I was saying then. I want to
go on south shivering about yesterday. These years I have noticed
the people on the platform who were contented with their offerings,
were not trying to improve them, and were lost in admiration of
what they were doing, did not stay long on the platform. I have
watched them come and go, come and go. I have heard their fierce
invectives against the bureaus and ungrateful audiences that were
"prejudiced" against them.
Birthdays are not annual affairs. Birthdays are the days when we
have a new birth. The days when we go on south to larger visions.
The more birthdays we have, the nearer we approach eternal youth!
The spectacle of Sarah Bernhardt, past seventy, thrilling and
gripping audiences with the fire and brilliancy of youth, is
inspiring. No obstacle can daunt her. Losing a leg does not end her
acting, for she remains the "Divine Sarah" with no crippling of her
work. She looks younger than many women of half her years. "The
years are nothing to me."
ninety-two was working as hard and hopefully as any man of the
the Odd Fellows' Home near Elkins, where he lived. On the porch of
the home was a row of old men inmates. The senator shook hands with
these men and one by one they rose from the bench to return his
The last man on the bench did not rise. He helplessly looked up at
the senator and said, "Senator, you'll have to excuse me from
getting up. I'm too old. When you get as old as I am, you'll not
get up, either."
The senator at ninety-two was younger than the man "past sixty,"
When I was a little boy I saw them bring the first phonograph that
Mr. Edison invented into the meeting at Lakeside, Ohio. The people
cheered when they heard it talk.
screeched and stuttered. You would not have it in your barn today
But the people said, "Mr. Edison has succeeded." There was one man
who did not believe that Mr. Edison had succeeded. His name was
south. A million people would have stopped there and said, "I have
arrived." They would have put in their time litigating for their
rights with other people who would have gone on south with the
on south. A young lady succeeded in getting into his laboratory the
other day, and she wrote me that the great inventor showed her one
I doubt if there are ten men in America who could go on south in
the face of seven thousand failures. Today he brings forth a
what he has said to reporters and what he said to the young lady,
"I have not succeeded. I am succeeding. All I have done only shows
me how much there is yet to do."
That is success supreme. Not "succeeded" but "succeeding."
What a difference between "ed" and "ing"! The difference between
Moses, the great Hebrew law-giver, was eighty years old before he
started south. It took him eighty years to get ready. Moses did not
even get on the back page of the Egyptian newspapers till he was
eighty. He went on south into the extra editions after that!
If Moses had retired to a checkerboard in the grocery store or to
pitching horseshoes up the alley and talking about "ther winter of
fifty-four," he would have become the seventeenth mummy on the
thirty-ninth row in the green pickle-jar!
Imagine Moses living today amidst the din of the high school
orations on "The Age of the Young Man" and the Ostler idea that you
time" when he becomes the leader of the Israelite host.
I would see his scandalized friends gather around him. "Moses! Moses!
what is this we hear? You going to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land?
And keep out of the night air. It is so hard on old folks."
I see Moses at eighty starting for the Wilderness so fast Aaron
enthusiastic than ever. The people say, "Isn't Moses dead?" "No."
They appoint a committee to bury Moses. You cannot do anything in
America without a committee. The committee gets out the invitations
and makes all the arrangements for a gorgeous funeral next
Thursday. They get ready the resolutions of respect--
Then I see the committee waiting on Moses. That is what a committee
does--it "waits" on something or other. And this committee goes up
to General Moses' private office. It is his busy day. They have to
stand in line and wait their turn. When they get up to Moses' desk,
the great prophet says, "Boys, what is it? Cut it short, I'm busy."
The committee begins to weep. "General Moses, you are a very old
man. You are eighty-five years old and full of honors. We are the
committee duly authorized to give you gorgeous burial. The funeral
Why, boys, every hour is taken next Thursday. I simply cannot
They cannot bury Moses. He cannot attend. You cannot bury anybody
who is too busy to attend his own funeral! You cannot bury anybody
until he consents. It is bad manners! The committee is so
mortified, for all the invitations are out. It waits.
Moses is eighty-six and the committee 'phones over, "Moses, can you
The committee waits. Moses is ninety and rushed more than ever.
himself. But he makes the committee wait.
Moses is ninety-five and burning the candle at both ends.
He is a hundred. And the committee dies!
is a hundred and twenty. Even then I read, "His eye was not dim,
nor his natural force abated." He had not time to stop and abate.
So God buried him. The committee was dead. O, friends, this is not
irreverence. It is joyful reverence. It is the message to all of
us, Go on south to the greater things, and get so enthused and
absorbed in our going that we'll fool the "committee."
All the multitudes of the Children of Israel died in the Wilderness.
They were afraid to go on south. Only two of them went on south--
Joshua and Caleb. They put the giants out of business.
The Indians once owned America. But they failed to go on south.
So another crop of Americans came into the limelight. If we modern
Americans do not go on south we will join the Indians, the auk
and the dodo.
The "Sob Squad"
I am so sorry for the folks who quit, retire, "get on the shelf" or
They generally join the "sob squad."
They generally discover the world is "going to the dogs." They cry
on my shoulder, no matter how good clothes I wear.
They tell me nobody uses them right. The person going on south has
not time to look back and see how anybody uses him.
They say nobody loves them. Which is often a fact. Nobody loves the
They say, "Only a few more days of trouble, only a few more
they do with them when they get them there? They would be dill
pickles in the heavenly preserve-jar.
They say, "I wish I were a child again. I was happy when I was a
child and I'm not happy now. Them was the best days of my life
the horrors of childhood could not be hired to live it over again.
If there is anybody who does not have a good time, if there is
Waiting till the "Second Table"
I wish I could forget many of my childhood memories. I remember the
palmy days. And the palm!
I often wonder how I ever lived thru my childhood. I would not take
my chances living it thru again. I am not ungrateful to my parents.
I had advantages. I was born in a parsonage and was reared in the
nurture and admiration of the Lord. I am not just sure I quoted
about all there was to inherit. I cannot remember when I was not
hungry. I used to go around feeling like the Mammoth Cave, never
children going sadly into the next room to "wait till the second
that my heart does not go out to them. I remember when I did that.
Elder Berry always stayed for dinner. He was one of the easiest men
Mother would stay home from "quart'ly meeting" to get the big
dinner ready. She would cook up about all the "brethren" brought in
at the last donation. We had one of those stretchable tables,
and mother would stretch it clear across the room and put on two
table-cloths. She would lap them over in the middle, where the hole was.
I would watch her get the big dinner ready. I would look over the
long table and view the "promised land." I would see her set on the
jelly. I don't just remember if they had blue jelly, but if they
had it we had it on that table. All the jelly that ever "jelled"
meeting" day. I would watch the jelly tremble. Did you ever see
I would see mother put on the tallest pile of mashed potatoes you
ever saw. She would make a hollow in the top and fill it with
butter. I would see the butter melt and run down the sides, and I
would say, "Hurry, mother, it is going to spill!" O, how I wanted
And then Elder Berry would sit down at the table, at the end
nearest the fried chicken. The "company" would sit down. I used to
"company" had to come and gobble it up. They would fill the table
and father would sit down in the last seat. There was no place for
me to sit. Father would say, "You go into the next room, my boy,
and wait. There's no room for you at the table."
The hungriest one of that assemblage would have to go in the next
room and hear the big dinner. Did you ever hear a big dinner when
you felt like the Mammoth Cave? I used to think as I would sit in
the next room that heaven would be a place where everybody would
eat at the first table.
I would watch them thru the key-hole. It was going so fast. There
was only one piece of chicken left. It was the neck. O, Lord, spare
the neck! And I would hear them say, "Elder Berry, may we help you
to another piece of the chicken?"
And Elder Berry would take the neck!
Many a time after that, Elder Berry would come into the room where
I was starving. He would say, "Brother Parlette, is this your
boy?" He would come over to the remains of Brother Parlette's boy.
My head was not the place that needed the benediction.
When all the chicken was gone and he had taken the neck! "My boy,
you are seeing the best days of your life right now as a child."
The dear old liar! I was seeing the worst days of my life. If there
is anybody shortchanged--if there is anybody who doesn't have a
and today is the best day of all. Go on south!
more like mine like a piece of sandpaper. There are chapters of
afterwhile the same child will hold a quart.
I think I hold a gallon now. And I see people in the audience who
must hold a barrel! Go on south. Of course, I do not mean
So we cannot grow old. Our life never stops. It goes on and on
forever. Anything that does not stop cannot grow old or have age.
will never grow old, for God cannot grow old. You and I will go on
I am not worried today over what I do not know. I used to be
worried. I used to say, "I have not time to answer you now!" But
today it is such a relief to look people in the face and say,
"I do not know."
And I have to say that to many questions, "I do not know." I often
think if people in an audience only knew how little I know, they
would not stay to hear me.
But some day I shall know! I patiently wait for the answer. Every
day brings the answer to something I could not answer yesterday.
As the Mississippi River goes on south he finds obstacles along the
They have built a great concrete obstacle clear across the path of
the river. It is many feet high, and many, many feet long. The
river cannot go on south. Watch him. He rises higher than the
Over the great power dam at Keokuk sweeps the Mississippi. And then
you see the struggle of overcoming the obstacle develops light and
power to vitalize the valley. A hundred towns and cities radiate
the light and power from the struggle. The great city of St. Louis,
many miles away, throbs with the victory.
So that is why they spent the millions to build the obstacle--to
get the light and the power. The light and the power were latent in
the river, but it took the obstacle and the overcoming to develop
but it is all latent and does no good until we overcome obstacles
Obstacles are the power stations on our way south!
And where the most obstacles are, there you find the most power to
be developed. So many of us do not understand that. We look
southward and we see the obstacles in the road. "I am so
unfortunate. I could do these great things, but alas! I have so
many obstacles in the way."
Thank God! You are blessed of Providence. They do not waste the
obstacles. The presence of the obstacles means that there is a lot
I hear people saying, "I hope the time may speedily come when I
ring up the hearse, for you will be a "dead one."
Life is going on south, and overcoming the obstacles. Death is
The fact that we are not buried is no proof that we are alive. Go
along the street in almost any town and see the dead ones. There
they are decorating the hitching-racks and festooning the
storeboxes. There they are blocking traffic at the postoffice and
depot. There they are in the hotel warming the chairs and making
the guests stand up. There they are--rows of retired farmers who
they will never need anything more than burying.
For they are dead from the ears up. They have not thought a new
thought the past month. Sometimes they sit and think, but generally
they just sit. They have not gone south an inch the past year.
Usually the deadest loafer is married to the livest woman. Nature
They block the wheels of progress and get in the way of the people
trying to go on south. They say of the people trying to do things.
They do not join in to promote the churches and schools and big
brother movements. They growl at the lyceum courses and chautauquas,
because they "take money outa town." They do not take any of their
money "outa town." Ringling and Barnum & Bailey get theirs.
I do not smile as I refer to the dead. I weep. I wish I could
squirt some "pep" into them and start them on south.
But all this lecture has been discussing this, so I hurry on to the
last glimpse of the book in the running brook.
Here we come to the most wonderful and difficult thing in life. It
is the supreme test of character. That is, Why go on south? Not for
blessing nor cursing, not for popularity nor for selfish ends, not
for anything outside, but for the happiness that comes from within.
The Mississippi blesses the valley every day as he goes on south
and overcomes. But the valley does not bless the river in return.
The valley throws its junk back upon the river. The valley pours
its foul, muddy, poisonous streams back upon the Mississippi to
defile him. The Mississippi makes St. Paul and Minneapolis about
all the prosperity they have, gives them power to turn their mills.
But the Twin Cities merely throw their waste back upon their
The Mississippi does not resign. He does not tell a tale of woe. He
does not say, "I am not appreciated. My genius is not understood.
I am not going a step farther south. I am going right back to Lake
Itasca." No, he does not even go to live with his father-in-law.
few miles below the Twin Cities and see how, by some mysterious
alchemy of Nature, the Mississippi has taken over all the poison
and the defilement, he has purified it and clarified it, and has
made it a part of himself. And he is greater and farther south!
He fattens upon bumps. Kick him, and you push him farther south.
Civilization conspires to defeat the Mississippi. Chicago's
drainage canal pollutes him. The flat, lazy Platte, three miles
wide and three inches deep; the peevish, destructive Kaw, and all
those streams that unite to form the treacherous, sinful,
irresponsible lower Missouri; the big, muddy Ohio, the Arkansas,
the Red, the black and the blue floods--all these pour into the
Day by day the Father of Waters goes on south, taking them over and
purifying them and making them a part of himself. Nothing can
Wonderful the book in the running brook! We let our life stream
along such a heart full of the injuries that other people have done
to those around us. We say, "I can forgive, but I cannot forget."
As you go on south and bless your valley, do you notice the valley
does not bless you very much? Have you sadly noted that the people
you help the most often are the least grateful in return?
Don't wait to be thanked. Hurry on to avoid the kick! Do good to
others because that is the way to be happy, but do not wait for a
There is nobody who does not have that to meet. The preacher, the
teacher, the editor, the man in office, the business man, the
father and mother--every one who tries to carry on the work of the
church, the school, the lyceum and chautauqua, the work that makes
Stop! You are not saying that. The evil one is whispering that into
get the sharp edge started into your thought, he is going to drive
You do not go south and overcome your obstacles and bless the
it to live. You do it to remain a living river and not a stagnant,
YOU ARE SAVING YOURSELF BY SAVING OTHERS. GO ON SOUTH!
ourselves that we are working to do good, when as we do the good,
if we are not praised or thanked for it, if people do not present
us a medal or resolutions, we want to quit. That is why there are
so many disappointed and disgruntled people in the world. They worked
for outside thanks instead of inside thanks. They were trying to
be personal saviours. They say this is an ungrateful world.
O, how easy it is to say these things, and how hard it is to do them!
Reaching the Gulf
But because the Mississippi does these things, one day the train I
science has not yet been able to put a bridge across it.
I watched them pile the steel train upon a ferry-boat. I watched
the boat crossing a river more than a mile wide. Standing upon the
ferry-boat, I could look down into the lordly river and then far
north perhaps fifteen hundred miles to the little struggling
streamlet starting southward thru the forests of Minnesota, there
writing the first chapter of this wonderful book in the running brook.
I thank God that I had gone a little farther southward in my own
life. Father of Waters, you have fought a good fight. You are
conquering gloriously. You bear upon your bosom the commerce of
you get in the right channel, saw you learn the lessons of your
And may we read it into our own lives. May we get the vision of
which way to go, and then keep on going south--on and on, overcoming,
getting the lessons of the bumps, the strength from the struggle
Where shall we stop going south? At the Gulf of Mexico?
The Mississippi knows nothing about the gulf. He goes on south
until he reaches the gulf. Then he pushes right on into the gulf as
tho nothing had happened. So he pushes his physical banks on south
many miles right out into the gulf.
And when he comes to the end of his physical banks, he pushes on
south into the gulf, and goes on south round and round the globe.
south. So we push our physical banks years farther into the gulf.
into the great Gulf of the Beyond, to go on south unfolding thru eternity.
The Defeats that are Victories
blessing that we have not the million. Perhaps it would make us
other people to make them lazy, selfish and unhappy.
O, the problem is not how to get money, but how to get rid of
money with the least injury to the race!
Perhaps getting the million would completely spoil us. Look at the
wild cat and then look at the tabby cat. The wild cat supports
itself and the tabby cat has its million. So the tabby cat has to
If the burden were lifted from most of us we would go to wreck.
Necessity is the ballast in our life voyage.
When you hear the orator speak and you note the ease and power of
his work, do you think of the years of struggle he spent in
preparing? Do you ever think of the times that orator tried to
mortified and broken-hearted? Thru it all there came the
When you hear the musician and note the ease and grace of the
performance, do you think of the years of struggle and overcoming
necessary to produce that finish and grace? That is the story of
the actor, the author and every other one of attainment.
Do you note that the tropics, the countries with the balmiest
climates, produce the weakest peoples? Do you note that the
The tropics are the geographical Gussielands.
Do you note that people grow more in lean years than in fat years?
Crop failures and business stringencies are not calamities, but
blessings in disguise. People go to the devil with full pockets;
they turn to God when hunger hits them. "Is not this Babylon that
I have builded?" says the Belshazzar of material prosperity as he
drinks to his gods. Then must come the Needful and Needless Knocks
handwriting upon the wall to save him.
You have to shoot many men's eyes out before they can see. You have
to crack their heads before they can think, knock them down before
they can stand, break their hearts before they can sing, and
bankrupt them before they can be rich.
Do you remember that they had to lock John Bunyan in Bedford jail
the world will always hear? Do you remember that one author became
blind before writing "Paradise Lost" the world will always read?
remembered had he lived the life of luxury planned for him? He had
to be blinded before he could see the way to real success. He had
to be scourged and fettered to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Do you not see all around you that success is ever the phoenix
rising from the ashes of defeat?
Then, children, when you stand in the row of graduates on
For that is the only way to say, "Success to you!"
Go Up the Mountain
why I was living. I thought I had nothing more to live for. When a
the wounded dog. I wanted to crawl away to lick my wounds.
It is a wonderful experience to climb Mount Lowe. The tourists go
up half a mile into Rubio Canyon, to the engineering miracle, the
triangular car that hoists them out of the hungry chasm thirty-five
hundred feet up the side of a granite cliff, to the top of Echo Mountain.
Here they find that Echo Mountain is but a shelf on the side of
Mount Lowe. Here they take an electric car that winds five miles on
towards the sky. There is hardly a straight rail in the track.
There are places where the tourist wants to grasp his seat and
lift. There is a wooden shelf nailed to the side of the perpendicular
rockwall where his life depends upon the honesty of the man who drove
the nails. He may wonder if the man was working by the day or by the job!
He looks over the edge of the shelf downward, and then turns to the other
side to look at the face of the cliff they are hugging, and discovers
there is no place to resign!
The car is five thousand feet high where it stops on that last shelf,
Alpine Tavern. One cannot ride farther upward. This is not the summit,
but just where science surrenders. There is a little trail that winds
upward from Alpine Tavern to the summit. It is three miles long
To go up that last eleven hundred feet and stand upon the flat rock
at the summit of Mount Lowe is to get a picture so wonderful it
cannot be described with this poor human vocabulary. It must be
feet, more than a mile, into the orange belt of Southern California.
and emerald, where the miles seem like inches, and where his
Just below is Pasadena and Los Angeles. To the westward perhaps
forty miles is the blue stretch of the Pacific Ocean, on westward
the faint outlines of Catalina Islands. The ocean seems so close
one could throw a pebble over into it. How a mountain does reduce
distances. You throw the pebble and it falls upon your toes!
And Mount Lowe is but a shelf on the side of the higher Sierras.
The granite mountains rise higher to the northward, and to the east
This is one of the workshops of the infinite!
All alone I scrambled up that three-mile trail to the summit. All
alone I stood upon the flat rock at the summit and looked down into
the swimming distances. I did not know why I had struggled up into
that mountain sanctuary, for I was not searching for sublimity. I
I saw clouds down in the valley below me. I had never before looked
down upon clouds. I thought of the cloud that had covered me in the
valley below, and dully watched the clouds spread wider and blacker.
Afterwhile the valley was all hidden by the clouds. I knew rain
must be falling down there. The people must be saying, "The sun
doesn't shine. The sky is all gone." But I saw the truth--the sun
was shining. The sky was in place. A cloud had covered down over
that first mile. The sun was shining upon me, the sky was all blue
over me, and there were millions of miles of sunshine above me. I
could see all this because I had gone above the valley. I could see
above the clouds.
the clouds of trouble today, BUT THE SUN IS SHINING!
I must go on up the mountain to see it.
The years have been passing, the stormclouds have many times hidden
my sun. But I have always found the sun shining above them. No
matter how black and sunless today, when I have struggled on up the
mountain path, I have gotten above the clouds and found the sun
Each day as I go up the mountain I get a larger vision. The miles
that seem so great down in the valley, seem so small as I look down
upon them from higher up. Each day as I look back I see more
clearly the plan of a human life. The rocks, the curves and the
struggles fit into a divine engineering plan to soften the
steepness of the ascent. The bumps are lifts. The things that seem
so important down in the smudgy, stormswept valley, seem so
unimportant as we go higher up the mountain to more important
Today I look back to the bump that sent me up Mount Lowe. I did not
see how I could live past that bump. The years have passed and I now
know it was one of the greatest blessings of my life. It closed one
gate, but it opened another gate to a better pathway up the mountain.
Late that day I was clambering down the side of Mount Lowe. Down in
the valley below me I saw shadows. Then I looked over into the
southwest and I could see the sun going down. I could see him sink
lower and lower until his red lips kissed the cheek of the Pacific.
The glory of the sunset filled sea and sky with flames of gold and
fountains of rainbows. Such a sunset from the mountain-side is a
The shadows of sunset widened over the valley. Presently all the
valley was black with the shadow. It was night down there. The
people were saying, "The sun doesn't shine." But it was not night
where I stood. I was farther up the mountain. I turned and looked
up to the summit. The beams of the setting sun were yet gilding
Mount Lowe's summit. It was night down in the valley, but it was
day on the mountain top!
Child of humanity, are you in the storm? Go on upward. Are you in
the night? Go on upward.
For the peace and the light are always above the storm and the
I am going on upward. Take my hand and let us go together. Mount Lowe
showed the way that dark day. There I heard the "sermons in stones."
material things where the storms have raged.
But I shall be on the mountain top. I shall look down upon the
night, as I am learning to climb and look down upon the storms. I
shall be in the new day of the mountain-top, forever above the night.
I shall find this mountain-top just another shelf on the side of
the Mountain of Infinite Unfolding. I shall have risen perhaps only
the first mile. I shall have millions of miles yet to rise.
This will be another Commencement Day and Master's Degree. Infinite
the number on up. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have
entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared
for them that love Him."
We are not growing old. We are going up to Eternal Life.
ANOTHER BEGINNING
The Big Business of Life
This book proves that the real big business is that of getting our
happiness now in our work, and not tomorrow for our work.
Judge Ben B. Lindsey, the kids' Judge, says:
ought to buy them by the gross and send them to their friends."
Dr. J. G. Crabbe, President of the State Teachers College,
"The Big Business of Life is a real joy to read. It is big and
The Augsberg Teacher, a Magazine for Teachers, says:
"In The Big Business of Life we have the practical philosophy
world into a playground. Who will not confess that many
mortals take their work too seriously, and that to them it is a
find it when we are bending to our duties is to possess the
secret of living to the full. And happiness is to be sought
within, and not among the things that lie at our feet. The
a world of good to learn. It recalls the saying of the wise man
Many who have read The Big Business of Life
write us that they think it is even better than "The
University of Hard Knocks," which, they add, is
The Best is Yet to Come
The Salvation of a Sucker
You Can't Get Something for Nothing
These booklets by Ralph Parlette are short stories adapted from
chapters in "The University of Hard Knocks."
John C. Carroll, President of the Hyde Park State Bank of Chicago,
bought 1000 copies of the booklet "It's Up to You!" and of it he
says. "Parlette's Beans and Nuts is just as good as the Message to
Garcia and will be handed around just us much. I have handed the book
own vice president, and they all want another copy to send to some
friend. I would rather be author of it than president of the bank."
Up to You!" for their workers.
William Jennings Bryan says of the booklet "Go On South": "It is
one of the great stories of the day."
Charles Grilk of Davenport, says: "My two children and I read the
Mississippi River story together and we were thoroly delighted."
Instruct us to send one of these booklets to your friends. It will
delight them more than any small present you can make.
End of Project Gutenberg etext of "The University of Hard Knocks"
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Rutger Kortenhorst
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, we are going to spend an hour together looking at the topic ‘Why does my child do Sanskrit in John Scottus?’ My bet is that at the end of the hour you will all have come to the conclusion that your children are indeed fortunate that this extraordinary subject is part of their curriculum.
Firstly, let us look at Why Sanskrit for my child? We are the only school in Ireland doing this language, so this will need some explaining. There are another 8 JSS-type schools around the world that have made the same decision to include Sanskrit in their curriculum (they are all off-shoots from the School of Philosophy).
Secondly, how is Sanskrit taught? You may have noticed your son or daughter singing Sanskrit grammar songs in the back of the car just for the fun of it on the way home from school. I’ll spend some time telling you HOW we approach teaching Sanskrit now since my year in India.
But first of all: WHY Sanskrit? To answer that we need to look at the qualities of Sanskrit. Sanskrit stands out above all other languages for its beauty of sound, precision in pronunciation and reliability as well as thoroughness in every aspect of its structure. This is why it has never fundamentally changed unlike all other languages. It has had no need to change being the most perfect language of Mankind.
If we consider Shakespeare’s English, we realize how different and therefore difficult for us his English language was although it is just English from less than 500 years ago. We struggle with the meaning of Shakespeare’s English or that of the King James Bible. Go back a bit further and we don’t have a clue about the English from the time of Chaucer’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ from around 700 AD. We cannot even call this English anymore and now rightly call it Anglo-Saxon. So English hadn’t even been born! All languages keep changing beyond recognition. They change because they are defective. The changes are in fact corruptions. They are born and die after seven or eight hundred years –about the lifetime of a Giant Redwood Tree- because after so much corruption they have no life left in them. Surprisingly there is one language in the world that does not have this short lifespan. Sanskrit is the only exception. It is a never-dying constant. The reason for the constancy in Sanskrit is that it is completely structured and thought out. There is not a word that has been left out in its grammar or etymology, which means every word can be traced back to where it came from originally. This does not mean there is no room for new words either. Just as in English we use older concepts from Greek and Latin to express modern inventions like a television: ‘tele [far] – vision [seeing]’ or ‘compute –er’. Sanskrit in fact specializes in making up compound words from smaller words and parts. The word ‘Sams - krita’ itself means ‘completely – made’.
So what advantages are there to a fundamentally unchanging language? What is advantageous about an unchanging friend, say? Are they reliable? What happens if you look at a text in Sanskrit from thousands of years ago?
The exceptional features of Sanskrit have been recognised for a few centuries all over the world, so you will find universities from many countries having a Sanskrit faculty. Whether you go to Hawai, Cambridge or Harvard and even Trinity College Dublin has a seat for Sanskrit –although it is vacant at present. May be one of your children will in time fill this position again?
Although India has been its custodian, Sanskrit has had universal appeal for centuries. The wisdom carried by this language appeals to the West as we can see from Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine as well as meditation techniques, and practical philosophies like Buddhism and most of what we use in the School of Philosophy. It supports, expands and enlightens rather than conflicts withlocal traditions and religions.
The precision of Sanskrit stems from the unparalleled detail on how the actual sounds of the alphabet are structured and defined. The sounds have a particular place in the mouth, nose and throat that can be defined and will never change. This is why in Sanskrit the letters are called the ‘Indestructibles’ [aksharáni]. Sanskrit is the only language that has consciously laid out its sounds from first principles. So the five mouth-positions for all Indestructibles [letters] are defined and with a few clearly described mental and physical efforts all are systematically planned: [point out chart]
the mouth
After this description, what structure can we find in a, b, c, d, e, f , g...? There isn’t any, except perhaps that it starts with ‘a’, and goes downhill from there ...
Then there is the sheer beauty of the Sanskrit script as we learn it today. [Some examples on the board]
You may well say: ‘Fine, but so why should my son or daughter have yet another subject and another script to learn in their already busy school-day?’ In what way will he or she benefit from the study of Sanskrit in 2010 in the Western world?
The qualities of Sanskrit will become the qualities of your child- that is the mind and heart of your child will become beautiful, precise and reliable.
Sanskrit automatically teaches your child and anybody else studying it to pay FINE attention due to its uncanny precision. When the precision is there the experience is, that it feels uplifting. It makes you happy. It is not difficult even for a beginner to experience this. All you have to do is fine-tune your attention and like music you are drawn in and uplifted. This precision of attention serves all subjects, areas and activities of life both while in school and for the rest of life. This will give your child a competitive advantage over any other children. They will be able to attend more fully, easily and naturally. Thus in terms of relationships, work, sport– in fact all aspects of life, they will perform better and gain more satisfaction. Whatever you attend to fully, you excel in and you enjoy more.
By studying Sanskrit, other languages can be learnt more easily; this being the language all others borrow from fractionally. The Sanskrit grammar is reflected in part in Irish or Greek, Latin or English. They all have a part of the complete Sanskrit grammar. Some being more developed than others, but always only a part of the Sanskrit grammar, which is complete in itself.
What Sanskrit teaches us that there is a language that is ordered, following laws unfailingly and as they are applied your child gets uplifted, not only when they grow up, but as they are saying it! This means they get an unusual but precise, definite and clear insight into language while they are enjoying themselves.
They learn to speak well, starting from Sanskrit, the mother language of all languages. Those who speak well run the world. Barack Obama makes a difference because he can speak well. Mahatma Gandhi could move huge crowds with well-balanced words. Mother Theresa could express herself with simple words which uplift us even now. The language of the great Master Teachers of mankind from times past is all we have got after centuries and millennia, but they make all the difference. We can enter the remarkable mind of Plato through his words. If your daughter or son can express themselves well through conscious language they will be the leaders of the next generation.
Sanskrit has the most comprehensive writings in the world expressed through the Vedas and the Gítá. The Upanishads –translated by William Butler Yeats have given people from all over the world an insight into universal religious feelings for more than one century now. To know these well expressed simple words of wisdom in the original is better than dealing with copies or translations as copies are always inferior to originals. We really need clear knowledge on universal religion in an age faced with remarkable levels of religious bigotry and terrorism arising from poorly understood and half-baked religious ideas.
Vivekananda, a great spiritual leader from India revered by all in the World Religious Conference of 1880 said:
You can put a mass of knowledge into the world, but that will not do it much good. There must come some culture into the blood. We all know in modern times of nations which have masses of knowledge, but what of them? They are like tigers; they are like savages, because culture is not there. Knowledge is only skin-deep, as civilization is, and a little scratch brings out the old savage. Such things happen; this is the danger. Teach the masses in the vernaculars, give them ideas; they will get information, but something more is necessary; give them culture.
Sanskrit can help your child to express universal, harmonious and simple truths better. As a result you will really have done your duty as a parent and the world will reap the benefits in a more humane, harmonious and united society. Sanskrit can do this as it is the only language that is based in knowledge all the way. Nothing is left to chance.
Just think for the moment how confusing it is for a child to learn to say ‘rough’ , but ‘dough’. And why does the ‘o’ in ‘woman’ sound like an ‘e’ in ‘women’? How come the ‘ci’ in ‘special’ is different from the ‘ci’ in ‘cinema’? Teachers may well say ‘Just learn it’ as there is no logical explanation, but it only demonstrates to a child that it is all a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. What else does this randomness in the fundamental building-blocks of language teach a child about the world? That it’s just a confusing, random chance-event? How can this give anyone any confidence?
Now go to a language where everything is following rules. Where nothing is left to chance from the humble origin of a letter to the most sophisticated philosophical idea. How will that child meet the world? Surely with confidence, clarity and the ability to express itself?
I have seen myself and others growing in such qualities, because of our contact with Sanskrit. I have just spent a year in India. Though it felt a bit like camping in a tent for a year, it was well worth it. For many years, we taught Sanskrit like zealots i.e. with high levels of enthusiasm and low levels of understanding, to both adults in the School of Philosophy and children in John Scottus School. We did not perhaps inspire a lot of our students and may have put a number of them off the study of Sanskrit. It felt to me like we needed to go to the source. Sanskrit teachers worth their salt need to live with people whose daily means of communication is in Sanskrit. I had already spent three summers near Bangalore doing just that and becoming less of an amateur, but it really needed a more thorough study. So I moved into a traditional gurukulam for the year. This meant living on campus, eating lots of rice and putting up with a few power-cuts and water shortages, but by December 2009, I made up my mind that I would step down as vice-principal of the Senior School and dedicate myself to Sanskrit for the rest of my teaching life. It felt like a promotion to me as quite a few could be vice-principal but right now which other teacher could forge ahead in Sanskrit in Ireland? [Hopefully this will change before I pop off to the next world.] With Sanskrit I’m expecting my mind to improve with age even if my body slows down a little. Sanskrit is often compared to the full-time teacher, who is there for you 24/7 whereas the other languages are more like part-timers. The effects of studying Sanskrit on me have been first and foremost a realistic confidence. Secondly, it meant I had to become more precise and speak weighing my words more carefully. It also taught me to express myself with less waffle and therefore speak more briefly. My power of attention and retention has undoubtedly increased.
Now, let me explain for a few minutes, HOW Sanskrit is taught. To my surprise it is not taught well in most places in India. Pupils have to learn it from when they are around age 9 to 11 and then they give it up, because it is taught so badly! Only a few die-hards stick with it, in time teaching the same old endings endlessly to the next generation. This is partly due to India having adopted a craving to copy the West and their tradition having been systematically rooted out by colonialism.
For learning grammar and the wisdom of the East, I was well-placed in a traditional gurukulam, but for spoken Sanskrit I felt a modern approach was missing.
Then I found a teacher from the International School belonging to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. His name is Narendra. He has developed a novel, inspiring and light method to teach grammar, which doesn’t feel like you do any grammar at all. At the same time it isn’t diluted for beginners so you don’t end up with partial knowledge. I also foolowed a few Sanskrit Conversation camps, which all brought about more familiarity.
Narendra says he owes his method to Sri Aurobindo and his companion ‘the Mother’ who inspired him to come up with the course we now follow in Dublin. This is one of the many things ‘the Mother’ said to inspire him:“Teach logically. Your method should be most natural, efficient and stimulating to the mind. It should carry one forward at a great pace. You need not cling there to any past or present manner of teaching.”
This is how I would summarize the principles for teaching Sanskrit as we carry it out at present:
1. Language learning is not for academics as everyone learns to speak a language from an early age before they can read and write and know what an academic is. So why insist in teaching Sanskrit academically?
2. The writing script is not the most fundamental thing to be taught. A language is firstly made of its sounds, words and spoken sentences. [The script we use -though very beautiful- is only a few hundred years old.]
4. Understanding works better than memorisation in this Age. Learning by heart should only take up 10 % of the mental work, rather than the 90 % rote learning in Sanskrit up to the recent present.
5. Don’t teach words and endings in isolation; teach them in the context of a sentence as the sentence is the smallest meaningful unit in language.
6. Any tedious memory work which cannot be avoided should be taught in a song.
7. Do not teach grammatical terms. Just as we don’t need to know about the carburettor, when we learn to drive a car.
8. The course should be finished in two years by an average student according to Narendra. This may be a little optimistic given that we are a little out of the loop not living in India, which is still Sanskrit’s custodian. At present I would say it is going to be a three-year course.
9. Language learning must be playful. Use drama, song, computer games and other tricks to make learning enjoyable.
We have started on this course since September and it has certainly put a smile on our pupils’ faces, which makes a pleasant change. I now feel totally confident that we are providing your children with a thorough, structured and enjoyable course. Our students should be well prepared for the International Sanskrit Cambridge exam by the time they finish –age 14/15- at the end of second year. We will also teach them some of the timeless wisdom enshrined in various verses. At present we are teaching them:
“All that lives is full of the Lord. Claim nothing; enjoy! Do not covet His property”- in the original of course.
The future. Let us look at the 500 – year cycle of a Renaissance. The last European Renaissance developed three subjects: Art, Music and Science to shape the world we live in today. It had its beginning in Florence. The great Humanist Marsilio Ficino made Plato available to the masses by translating it from Greek to Latin. We live in exciting times and may well be at the beginning of a new Renaissance. It also will be based on three new subjects: Some say that these will be Economics, Law and Language.
Language has to become more universal now as we can connect with each other globally within seconds. NASA America’s Space Program is actively looking at Sanskrit in relation to I.T. and artificial intelligence.
It can describe all aspects of human life from the most abstract philosophical to the latest scientific discoveries, hinting at further developments.
Sanskrit and computers are a perfect fit. The precision play of Sanskrit with computer tools will awaken the capacity in human beings to utilize their innate higher mental faculty with a momentum that would inevitably transform the mind. In fact, the mere learning of Sanskrit by large numbers of people in itself represents a quantum leap in consciousness, not to mention the rich endowment it will provide in the arena of future communication. NASA, California
After many thousands of years, Sanskrit still lives with a vitality that can breathe life, restore unity and inspire peace on our tired and troubled planet. It is a sacred gift, an opportunity. The future could be very bright.
You may well have a few questions at this stage after which I would like to introduce you to a plant in the audience. A parent turned into a blazing ball of enthusiasm over Sanskrit grammar: John Doran. I would like him to wrap up.
I’ll give NASA’s Rick Briggs the last word from me:
One thing is certain; Sanskrit will only become the planetary language when it is taught in a way which is exiting and enjoyable. Furthermore it must address individual learning inhibitions with clarity and compassion in a setting which encourages everyone to step forth, take risks, make mistakes and learn.
Power
You’re in high school, trying to get into a good college. You know what you must do: do well in classes, score highly on the SAT, and be active in extracurriculars — and do it better than everyone else.
Actually, I have a different suggestion: train with a friend for the USA Biology Olympiad, score highly in the first two rounds of exams, and qualify for the national training camp and then the national team.
Only a handful of people can follow that strategy. But anyone who could play the standard high-school achievement game and have a good shot at getting into MIT or Stanford could instead play the Olympiad game and have a great one. The USABO is disproportionately high-utility compared to how competitive it is. It comes with a free trip to a national training camp where you receive intense training in biology and bond with a few dozen other top high-schoolers. There are vast swaths of America, including lots of high schoolers studying hard for the SAT, who have never heard of USABO. And yet there are communities where training for Olympiads is such a well-known option that it barely counts as a strategy.
My friend who did this and got into all her colleges didn’t do so by playing the standard high school game better than her competitors, but by stumbling into a different game entirely. In doing so, she could do things the others couldn’t. I think this a fairly common pattern: a lot of what’s involved in making it to the top of anything is not being better at things than other people, but outright being able to do things they can’t. In business, they call it a “competitive advantage.” Peter Thiel calls it a “secret”. For personal life, I like to call it a “source of power.”
The “other people can’t” is the big part. As a source of power percolates into society, it loses its power as an advantage, although whether you should stop doing it depends on whether its value is external or innate. As an example of the former, 200,000 people compete in the American math Olympiad qualifier rounds each year, so training for the math Olympiad is not such a good move for most people. It’s prestigious, but only in proportion to how competitive it is. In economic terms, the free lunch has been eaten. Meanwhile, when Benjamin Franklin was working in London, saving up to open his own print shop, he found it easier than most to be frugal due to his insight that strong beer does not grant physical strength. They nicknamed him the “water American.” Nowadays, his insight is common knowledge, but that doesn’t make it less effective. Instead, it becomes the new bar.
As a warning, I found when writing this that a lot of examples of sources of power I used or wanted to use would strike a lot of people as weird, but it would take a lot of space to justify them. This is inevitable in retrospect: if it’s considered normal, it’s no longer a source of power. I also noticed while writing this that a lot of my examples focus around high school or college. I think that’s largely because life tends to diverge afterwards, and the examples become much more niche.
How can you learn about new opportunities before other people suck them dry? How can you find ways of being better before they become background knowledge? While CEOs often spend much of their time looking for a leg up on the competition, I think there’s enough sources of power and few enough people looking for them that simply trying is enough. In fact, sources of power are sufficiently exploitable that there are many algorithms for finding them with high success probability.
Often, they’re hidden in plain sight, waiting for anyone to read. For a basic example, right now a degree in computer science is a ticket to a decent life. Right now, the meta-skill of “study things that are valuable and will be in demand” is sufficiently uncommon that you can raise your expected earnings (or, dare I say, life outcome) significantly just by following it. Look at the distribution of college majors if you’re not sure. I think the same further applies to specializing in hot-but-difficult subfields like natural language processing or security. Right now, CMU’s Plaid Parliament of Pwning is winning tens of thousands of dollars from application security competitions every year, while only a handful of other American universities have a team at all. More broadly, this idea also applies to entering STEM in general.
This is basically staying ahead of the demand curve. When it comes to personal skills, demand is slow to propagate, and you can gain a lot simply by being faster. Since knowing that you can raise your earnings by becoming a programmer or moving to North Dakota doesn’t cause everyone to instantly become a programmer or move to North Dakota, it will remain exploitable for anyone who wants for quite some time.
It’s interesting to think about trying to be even more ahead of the demand curve by making a big bet and training in what will be hot. This involves predicting the future. But, in life as in stocks, the winner is often not someone who knows what will happen, but someone who figured out slightly more than everyone else. And, for predicting the future, not many are trying. Along these lines, I was surprised when I learned that several prominent companies in the mobile space — in particular AdMob, acquired by Google for $750 million, and Flurry, whose software runs in over 100,000 apps — were actually founded in 2005 or 2006, before the iPhone’s announcement ushered in the modern mobile era. I think a lot of people knew the mobile revolution was coming, although perhaps not that it would be so fast. The people bold enough to actually act on that prediction were in a very good spot when it happened. I’m hoping to do something similar for program analysis.
A lot of the above could perhaps be summarized to find ways to be effective. The interesting part is how people find sources of power. One way is to invent it yourself, whether by finding a loophole, noticing a trend, or doing science. While there are a few places where it’s clear that investigating it may result in disproportionately better capabilities, this can run out of steam pretty fast. It may be possible to gain vitality by eating better, but the reward curve of doing nutrition research probably more resembles climbing the corporate ladder. Most often, the way to find a source of power is to hear of it from other people.
I think it’s a pretty simple effect. People with similar interests like to cluster, but people who also really care about improving will cluster further. They might be able to invent one or two sources of power on their own, but then they share it with the people around them — who also have a secret or two. The effect compounds, with the benefits from sharing ideas dwarfing the loss of exclusivity. Just as IBM found their above-average testers becamedozens of times better when grouped together, what you get are communities that collectively have and share the best ways of doing things. So the way to get good at something is to simply find the right community and join it.
So, for example, you’ve probably heard weight-loss advice from everyone from talk show hosts to your neighbor. This suggests that you can do better by talking to bodybuilders, who can control exactly which day they’ll hit their goal.
But this strategy can be easier said than done. The problem is not the joining: these communities are rarely exclusionary. The problem is the finding: every community wants to seem like them. They get drowned out in the noise.
In 9th grade, I attended a local programming contest. I spent a morning running floppy disks to the judges, and left with a full belly and $500 — I had won by a sizable margin. I immediately went home and Googled for more high school programming contests. I found a pen-and-paper competition in which you answer multiple-choice questions about the BASIC programming language.
I often wonder how my life would have been different if I had instead discovered the USA Computing Olympiad.
For another example, it’s well-known that to get stronger you need to push your muscles to their limits — and specifically their strength limits, rather than their endurance limits. There are vast swaths of the Internet where everyone understands what implications this has for training, with plenty shouting it at the top of their lungs. But if you look around for advice on “how to get fit,” you’re perhaps more likely to find advice to do lots of crunches, or warnings that weights might make you look like a steroid junkie. One journalist described crossing this gap as “I somehow bumbled my way into a parallel universe of American fitness, one in which men know exactly how to get strong.”
As we’ve seen, while sources of power with intrinsic value may merely descend from insight to platitude over time, the externally-valued have a shelf life. Perhaps the big warning from this is for those wishing to help others be successful, especially parents. As Paul Graham wrote, parents are like generals always fighting the last war. I remember seeing a teenager on CollegeConfidential complaining that their parents wanted them to stay home all summer and study for the SAT. Perhaps that would be a rational choice in their home countries, where college admissions were and still are based on grueling exams. Yet here the most advanced standardized math test for college admissions is the Math SAT Subject Test, where it’s possible to miss 7/50 questions and still get a perfect score. Meanwhile, my own mother had occasional aspirations of being a “white tiger,” and would often cajole me during my hacking sessions to “stop playing Java” and go study for the SAT.
This realization — that all these secrets and sources of power I’ve spent so much effort finding might backfire when I try to pass them on — is what scares me. I imagine becoming a parent telling my children to train for Olympiads, not knowing that that’s become advice about as good as spending a summer studying for the SAT.
I think the defense is to recognize the phenomenon but go a meta-level up. Why are people at the top of one field often very good at another? Is it merely grit and intelligence? Just as there’s a meta-skill of finding sources of power, I think there’s a skill of finding and recognizing the people with the genuine secrets, versus the posers and people out to get your money. I believe there’s a way to recognize genuine competence that transcends fields (related concept). That’s a topic in and of its own.
So, find your sources of power, but pass on the meta-skill of finding them. To get your children into college, help them find the new secrets.

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