wisdom work

Remember the separation of tasks (Or, It is not my job to make you like me)

After getting reamed via a late night email by a parent of a child enrolled in the free writing workshop I offer for children, I sighed. Clearly this person has forgotten the important rule of being sane: the separation of tasks. To enable us all to keep that important principle in mind, here are some choice passages from The Courage To Be Disliked:

  • Other people are not living to satisfy your expectations.
  • Intervening in other people’s tasks and taking on other people’s tasks turns one’s life into something heavy and full of hardships. Learn the boundary of ‘From here on, that is not my task.’ And discard other people’s tasks. That is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler.
  • All that you can do with regard to your own life is choose the best path that you believe in. On the other hand, what kind of judgment do other people pass on that choice? That is the task of other people, and it is not a matter you can do anything about.
  • It isn’t your job to be liked by people at the place you work.
  • Do not intervene in other people’s tasks, or even allow a single person to intervene in one’s own tasks. We are trying to talk about freedom.
  • –Quotes from The Courage To Be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2013), pp. 129-132.
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day four, and our patience is wearing thin


Ok, so now it’s day four of this blog series and day six of my family’s decision to “Shelter in Place.” Can hardly wait to make it one whole week: that’s pretty much all I’ve got on my calendar for tomorrow. LOL.

This cartoon by Clay Jones, from The Week pretty much sums up family relations across the country.  (Unless you’ve got kids at home. We’ve got a Millennial in the house too, and he’s been known to reply to our wise comments with an eye-roll and mumbled, “OK Boomer.”  The nerve!)

Patience tested during quarantine

To make this state of anxiety more palatable, here’s a fine quote reminding us of how long it takes for humans to find enlightenment, or that is, freedom from ignorance:

“I continue to think that this task requires work on our limits, that is, a patient labor giving form to our impatience for liberty.”*

A patient labor may make patience less laborious.  It’s worth a try.


see you tomorrow.


*Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth: Essential Works of Foucault 1954–84, trans. Catherine Porter, ed. Paul Rabinow,  (New York: The New Press, 1997), 319.

happiness music travel wisdom

two months til the epic road trip! preparing with music


Hello everybody!

April 28 marks the two-month mark til our departure for the West Coast! it will be a strangely uncomplicated journey, since our house in South Bend, Indiana is just a few miles south of the entrance onto what we call “The Toll Road,” aka Interstate 80/90, which later on turns into I-90 and leads right into downtown Seattle.  When I-90 ends, all we need to do is jog south on I-5 for a few miles, get on the West Seattle Bridge, and minutes later we’ll be at our new house!  It’s straight northwest of here, from 41.6764° N, 86.2520° W, to 47.6062° N, 122.3321° W.

“Why so long?” you might ask. “It is only 2,160 miles or 32 hours of driving. One could make the trip in two days.”

“Ah, yes,” I would reply, “but don’t forget Honey Girl!  When you have a big heart and travel with a big dog, it is like traveling with a small child. You have to stop for potty breaks and snacks, and turn in early for the evening so we can go on our daily walks. (Not to mention that I plan to continue doing the morning routine every day too, which may delay departures a bit.) What’s the rush, anyway?  Maybe Dickinson, North Dakota is worth a few hours to visit!”

So how to get ready!?

I’m starting at the top–with my head.  The other details are already underway–the house sale is chugging along toward closure, the moving company quotes will soon be known and discussed, and my work obligations are dwindling down too. The more important preparations involve one’s perception of reality, thus the study of Zen is helpful, as are music and journey myths. For today, I’ll stick with music. (Haven’t yet received my copy of Joseph Campbell!  More to come on that.)

MUSIC!   I’m compiling a list of “Songs of Freedom” to celebrate this transition, and I plan to sing them all the way there. (We’re taking two cars, fyi   ^_^).

So far, I’ve got 30 (I posted some videos of lesser-known favorites) .

Submit your favorites!  We’ve got four days to fill, so the more the better.


  1. “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley
  2. “I’m Free” by The WHO from Tommy
  3. “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley
  4. “The Little Stream of Whiskey” by Doc Watson & Son
  5. “Age of Aquarius” by The Fifth Dimension
  6. “Stone Free” by Jimmy Hendrix
  7. “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
  8. “Me and Bobby McGee” by Kris Kristofferson
  9. “Take this Job and Shove It!” by Johnny Paycheck
  10. “The Seattle Song” by Perry Como
  11. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago
  12. “The Happy Song” by Pharrell Williams
  13. “This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie
  14. “To Beat the Devil” by Kris Kristofferson
  15. “Carey” by Joni Mitchell
  16. “Free Man in Paris” by Joni Mitchell
  17. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
  18. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole
  19. “Liberté” by Carla Bruni
  20. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bob Marley
  21. “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” by Bob Marley
  22. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper
  23. “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty
  24. “Freedom! ’90” by George Michael
  25. “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles
  26. “I’ll Fly Away” by Johnny Cash
  27. “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado
  28. “Stand Up for Love” by Carl Douglas
  29. “Parting Glass” by The High Kings
  30. “RESPECT” by Aretha Franklin
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spring’s here–emancipate yourself from mental slavery!

As you go about your day, how about singing songs of freedom?  Remember what Bob Marley tried to teach us, in “Redemption Song”:

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds


meditation social media T'ai chi wisdom Zen philosophy

day five, free at last

Hello on the final day of the five day meditation in the mirror challenge,

This experience has made me realize that I was on the right path before this challenge. Despite whatever anyone else might think, gazing out at nature is more valuable than getting too immersed in the self. Perhaps for those just starting out, it is useful to gaze into a mirror, but after ten months of the morning routine I have found the mirror meditation to be a tiresome and unnecessary addition to my life.

I also find many human interactions tiresome and unnecessary. (Sorry!)  As Bob Klein has noted, “Usual human interactions, centered around issues of self-worth, control and power in a social sense, become bewildering to a person involved in spirit breathing. The purpose and benefit of such interaction becomes unclear when viewed from the perspective of the Body-Mind. This perspective does not include the idea ‘I am better than you because…’ It is a perspective of connecting and unifying rather than overpowering.”  (Movements of Power, 75).

Nevertheless, here are the photos and descriptions as promised on 3/7. The setting: the sunroom of my beautiful historical house which will go on the market this Wednesday, via Cressy & Everett.  The mirror: an antique hand mirror with a long handle inherited from my mom, Mary Somerville (Sept. 7, 1930–March 11, 2015).

The photos are here and I leave you to draw whatever conclusions you choose.