Ideas to Live By

The older I’ve become, the surer I’ve gotten about how little I’ve known. What wisdom I’ve gained has come through learning from others; in the spirit of passing it on, and on passing my fortieth decade, here are ideas that have changed my life.

What more can you ask for than to be real?

In life, what more can you ask for than to be real? To fulfill one’s potential instead of wasting energy on [attempting to] actualize one’s dissipating image, which is not real and an expenditure of one’s vital energy. We have great work ahead of us, and it needs devotion and much, much energy. To grow, to discover, we need involvement, which is something I experience every day — sometimes good, sometimes frustrating. No matter what, you must let your inner light guide you out of the darkness.

Bruce Lee

I heard this at 13, right when I was starting to find my way. Lee’s quote inspired me to take life-long learning as my North Star, and it has made all the difference.

The world breaks everyone

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.

Ernest Hemingway

In the struggle to grow, you will fail. The aftermath matters: how you handle the fall defines you: whether you can grow past it, or whether you’ll stop growing.

Hopelessness is the basic ground

Hopelessness is the basic ground. Otherwise, we’re going to make the journey with the hope of getting security. If we make the journey to get security, we’re completely missing the point.

Pema Chödrön

There’s a Buddhist saying that life is like getting into a boat that’s about to sink. Being insecure, I sought security my whole life, only to find surety an illusion. Embracing uncertainty, fearful as it is, is the key to breathing life into every moment.

Nothing more beautiful than kindness

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.

Leo Tolstoy

If every person on the planet were a little kinder tomorrow, we could save it. If a little crueller, we would destroy it.

Kindness gets little attention, but it can save the world. It can save you.

Cross the river

If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.

Anthony Bourdain

Travel — experiencing how life was bigger than I could imagine — changed me. It helped me leave old biases behind and see so many beautiful ways to live.

There’s a lot out there. I hope we both see more of it.