Erich Fromm

If the individual realizes his self by spontaneous activity and thus relates himself to the world, he ceases to be an isolated atom; he and the world become part of one structuralized whole; he has his rightful place, and thereby his doubt concerning himself and the meaning of life disappears. This doubt sprang from his separateness and from the thwarting of life; when he can live, neither compulsively nor automatically but spontaneously, the doubt disappears. He is aware of himself as an active and creative individual and recognizes that there is only one meaning of life: the act of living itself.

— Erich Fromm was born this day in 1900.  In the wake of Freud, who sought to legitimize a science of the mind, Fromm sought to infuse compassion and joy (no pun intended) into psychotherapy.

Man is the only animal that can be bored, the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem.

Conscience

[Margaret: ] “I have lied—my sin is sinned. I have now to put it behind me, and be truthful for evermore, if I can.”

[Mr. Bell: ] “Very well. If you like to be uncomfortable and morbid, be so. I always keep my conscience as tight shut up as a jack-in-a-box, for when it jumps into existence it surprises me by its size. So I coax it down again, as the fisherman coaxed the genie. “Wonderful,” say I, “to think that you have been concealed so long, and in so small a compass, that I really did not know of your existence. Pray, sir, instead of growing larger and larger every instant, and bewildering me with your misty outlines, would you once more compress yourself into your former dimensions?” And when I’ve got him down, don’t I clap the seal on the vase, and take good care how I open it again, and how I go against Solomon, wisest of men, who confined him there.”

But it was no smiling matter to Margaret. She hardly attended to what Mr. Bell was saying.

— Elizabeth Gaskell, from North and South

Einstein said it, so it must be true

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The sidewalk in front of Einstein’s house was just paved, when two neighborhood boys come to make hand impressions in the wet cement.  Einstein runs out of the house to chase them away.  A man passing by remarks, “Dr Einstein, you have a reputation as a man who loves children.”  He responds, “I do love children, but in the abstract, not in the concrete.”      — appocryphal

Education is what is left after you have forgotten all you have learned in school.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

Everything should be made as simple as it can be, but not simpler.
— erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, born this day in 1879

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
— This one is real (1931)

Today’s Daily Inspiration sourced by the Quote Investigator

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This is a photo of actor Ben Kingsley, made up to look like Einstein.

Rhapsodic

Maurice Ravel, born this day in 1875, was among the most significant and influential composers of the early twentieth century. Although he is frequently linked with Claude Debussy as an exemplar of musical impressionism, and some of their works have a surface resemblance, Ravel possessed an independent voice that grew out of his love of a broad variety of styles, including the French Baroque, BachMozartChopin, Spanish folk traditions, and American jazz and blues. His elegant and lyrically generous body of work was not large in comparison with that of some of his contemporaries, but his compositions are notable for being meticulously and exquisitely crafted. He was especially gifted as an orchestrator, an area in which he remains unsurpassed.

The Secret

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.
I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me
(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even
what line it was.  No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,
the line, the name of
the poem.  I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,
and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that
a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines
in other
happenings.  And for
wanting to know it,
for
assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.
~ Denise Levertov ~

Thanks once again to Joe Riley for acquainting me with this poem.

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Picasso, 1934

What’s Ahead? The Big Picture

The new story is not something we create. It is a being, an archetype or a god that wants to be born on this Earth and is calling us into its service and revealing its face to us in little living glimpses. These revelations take the form of experiences we have that are so amazing, of such deep connection, cooperation and participation in healing; a reconnection with the layer of reality that is outside the current story in which we live and is a promise not just a diversion.

It gives us hope of a future, not just one fixed future but, once we see it, we can describe the glimpse and know it’s real.

We don’t have to know it all or have the big picture, just the next step that comes to what calls to our care. We find ourselves in deep fellowship with others whose work may be very different from ours and yet we see that we’re both dedicated to the same thing. This is how we come to serve elements of the new story—as glimpses and being called into its service.

You will get continuous initiations that demolish your illusion of what you thought it ( New Story) was. If we saw the whole thing at once it would be unbearable compared to the world we now live in. We are given as large a glimpse as we can handle to sustain us and to share with others.

Worship at the Office

Today, it is fair to say that elite American men have transformed themselves into the world’s premier workaholics, toiling longer hours than both poorer men in the U.S. and rich men in similarly rich countries.  This shift defies economic logic—and economic history. The rich have always worked less than the poor, because they could afford to. The landed gentry of preindustrial Europe dined, danced, and gossiped, while serfs toiled without end. In the early 20th century, rich Americans used their ample downtime to buy weekly movie tickets and dabble in sports. Today’s rich American men can afford vastly more downtime. But they have used their wealth to buy the strangest of prizes: more work!

Read more from Derek Thompson at The Atlantic

A man sleeps at his desk.

As our work has become more dissociated from anything we can value as a benefit to our communities or to ourselves, we have responded by throwing more of ourselves into it. Is it because we are escaping the emptiness inside us by keeping busy?  Or is it because the work is so inherently unsatisfying that we do more of it to try to squeeze out a modicum of gratification?