make-a-crane

Category: Life

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Check out The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which 193 countries have ratified, excluding the United States, Somalia and South Sudan:

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Humanity

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

No Man’s Land (2001)

What do you get when you stick a Bosnian and a Serb together between the front lines? Plus one Bosnian stuck on a mine? Absurdity and allegory abound in No Man’s Land, set in 1993 during the Bosnian War. Consider watching this very funny and very moving Oscar-winning, debut film from director Danis Tanovic. BTW, it beat Amelie (2001) for the best foreign film Oscar–which is saying something.

What else to be?

“For myself, I am an optimist–it does not seem much use being anything else.” –Winston Churchill

StoryCorps

Check out StoryCorps! Here is a description from their website:

StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

On Compassion

An especially good observation, one that I hope this blog communicates–compassion is more than charity:

“True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves, but from realizing our kinship with all beings.” –Pema Chodron

Half the Sky

Just saw New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof speak at Brown University! Wonderful, invigorating presentation from a man doing a lot of good in this world. Kristof spoke of numerous women he has encountered through his work, expressed hope that us students would challenge ourselves to experience the new despite fear of the unknown, and presented a very nuanced reflection on just how much a difference we can make. We’ve won “the lottery of life,” he said — we’ve got a bit of responsibility to those who have not.

Generosity

One might be generous with:

time
smiles
encouragement
positivity
love
letters
emails
text messages
compliments
kind words
touch
art
advice
songs
wisdom
recipes
friendship
reading material
handpicked bouquets
(Money isn’t even in that long sentence!)

Let me know if I forgot anything.
Oh and comments and likes 😉

Henry David Thoreau

Here is a wonderful 3-part series on Thoreau, a great thinker who lived peacefully, with integrity, and in harmony with nature. He stressed the importance of individual reflection and thought.

 

 

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is a must-read from Maria Popova for those who care about anything interesting! Subscribe for emails, check out recommended books, find some wise words, enjoy learning about life, love, writing… Here is the websites’ description:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.

 

World’s Most Powerful Photographs

The Americans

An excerpt (the last stanza) from a poem by Robert Hayden:

confess i am curiously drawn     unmentionable     to
the americans     doubt i could exist among them for 
long however     psychic demands far too severe 
much violence     much that repels     i am attracted 
none the less     their variousness their ingenuity 
their elan vital     and that some thing     essence 
quiddity     i cannot penetrate or name

My life has been the poem I would have writ

This lovely poem is by Henry David Thoreau:

My life has been the poem I would have writ

But I could not both live and utter it.

Eyes and Names

Make eye contact with people, often.

Remember people’s names.

Ask lots of questions.

Share yourself.

Listen.

These are basic but sometimes forgettable motions of daily life. They are good. Do them more.

Pise Con Cuidado

Literally translated thanks to Google, this means “Step with care.” The sign is on the bus I ride on each day, and there is no English version. It reminds me of the beautiful religion, Jainism. Followers of Jainism (ideally) tred with care, mindful of the creatures on the ground who might be hurt. I try to in daily life as well. Construed more broadly, “Pise con cuidado” could be applied to any kind of interaction and approach to life. Be mindful of those around, be kind.

Give A Gift Every Day For 1 Month

Cami Walker launched 29gifts.org on Day 29 of a month of giving. She documented her giving in the bestseller 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. Here is the website description:

29 Gifts is a global giving movement with more than 16,300 members in 43 countries. Our collective mission at 29 Gifts is to revive the giving spirit in the world. We change our lives—and change the world—one gift at a time. Learn how our 29-Day Giving Challenge works and sign up now.

YOUR GIFTS DO GOOD. A portion of 29 Gifts Boutique profits are donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 29 Gifts Founder and Author, Cami Walker, and two million others worldwide live with MS. Create a world free of MS by shopping in the 29 Gifts Boutique.

All You Need Is Love

“Welcome to the world’s nicest prison”

See the full CNN article for details and definitely watch the movie clip! This is a wonderful approach to rehabilitation.

“Who would you rather have as your neighbor? Someone who’s set free after years behind bars–or a prisoner who for such a long time has had the chance to be part of a community?”

“This is what we call ‘human ecology’…It has to do with human relationships and the awareness that you’re part of a greater whole.”

–Arne Kvernik Nilsen, governor of Bastoy prison

An Optimist’s Guide to Life

“Happiness is like a spark…Fate Lights it, but it’s your decision whether it will burn out or ignite.” –Anthony Devergillo, who began a blog, “An Optimist’s Guide to Life.” Anthony has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which makes him constantly smile.

Happiness and Life

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon

Dancing Unites!

Different countries, colors, scenery, people…

Loving, Living, Letting Go

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” — Buddha

Coca Cola Captures Happy Moments

Life is more than theft and violence! Ads have an opportunity to be enjoyable experiences!

Solitude

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. – Arthur Schopenhauer

Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life.  Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Khaled Hosseini,  Amir in The Kite Runner

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness. – George MacDonald

These quotes are thanks to Steve McCurry’s beautiful collection of images and quotes on solitude and silence.

Geography

For those of us who’ve neglected our geography lessons and/or live in an egocentric society that emphasizes our own little part of the world, here is a useful site for life.

WWOOF

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms…living, learning, sharing organic lifestyles

WWOOF is a world wide network of organisations. We link volunteers with organic farmers, and help people share more sustainable ways of living.

WWOOF is an exchange – In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.

 

“Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry”

Love these investigative multiple-page articles.

“A poem is a sword.” -Saheera Sharif

“Making love to an old man is like

Making love to a limp cornstalk blackened by fungus.”

-Gulmakai, 22, an Afghan woman whose father made her marry an old man at 15

Ecotopia

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. Definitely going to read this.

On Air

Today I saw my first published poem in VISIONS, at their release party! Here it is:

On Air

What if the world was a feather and we were lost on a piece of dirt?

Infinite landscape of bushes and rough-leaved trees.

What if my breasts could kiss the clouds?

Wet air clinging to warmth.

What if my tongue were to lick the dusty sweet surface of the moon?

Stars setting fire to my skin as the Milky Way wrapped me up with black softness.

What if a melody of light filled me with deep strokes of night sky?

Dimension becomes a synonym for displacement.

What if gravity melded me heavy to the raindrops so I became the sum of my falling?

A weighted speck of dust, lying on the landscape stretched out.

“Urban Nirvana”

I love all these articles that keep popping up about chickens! Here is one published today. Here is one  that mentions the joy, fun, and wonder of chickens. Another old one. Some advice on raising chickens in one very practical article. One on raising chickens in tough times. These are some photos of chickens I’ve taken in the past:

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Poetry

Maybe poetry is the closest thing to experiencing life again and again. And photography and creating and writing and synthesizing. So maybe experiencing life is a life experienced over and over again. So maybe, then, as all the Buddhist philosophers remind us, living in the moment is the only true way to experience life.

Lucas Foglia

For a series called “A Natural Order,” Lucas Foglia photographed people living self-sufficiently (“off the grid”) in southeastern America. Here is his website, which includes resources for those interested in such a lifestyle.

Givology

Great idea on giving.

The Costs* Of War

This was written September 8, 2011, by Hugh Gusterson. It mentions a study sponsored by Brown University, and the link to the site – which has quite a bit of information and a video – is here.

*What are costs? Pages on the website include:

Human Costs

Economic Costs

Social and Political Costs

Are there Benefits

Alternatives and Recommendations

Free Documentary Site

This is a wonderful site! You can watch documentaries ranging the spectrum of possibilities.

Steve McCurry’s Photos On Afghanistan

This is a beautiful photo essay by Steve McCurry, a worldwide photographer. It is called “Afghanistan: A Look Back.” Subscribe to his blog to get these kinds of posts by email.

Buddhism and Mosquitoes

I cannot bring myself to kill mosquitoes (which, in part, draws me to explore Buddhism and Jainism), so in China – where there are a lot of mosquitoes – my housemate would always be the one killing them.

Below is a fun video (the title of which is awfully misleading). I dislike that Bill Moyer/others sort of suggests that not killing mosquitoes is a radical and unnecessary extension of environmentalism. While both are based on empathy and respect, I believe that the consciousness in not killing a mosquito more closely and specifically represents the Buddhist way of living a peaceful life. It is not an extreme tangent of the more general save-the-environment attitude – which of course is a good attitude to have, but one that seems somehow less conscious if it does not embrace all of life…and so we must have the consciousness of not killing a mosquito in the same way we approach the environment as a whole, applying the very basic principal of recognizing a small being to recognizing the whole being of the earth and all around…and so environmentalism could in fact be seen as an extension of our attention to a little mosquito and all other little and large lives.

I lately have loved to learn about the Buddha’s original teachings and have compiled a list of various things/characteristics I now associate with Buddhism. I am typing this up having, in the last few weeks, heard a talk introducing Buddhism at the local temple, read the chapter on Buddhism in Huston Smith’s “The Illustrated World’s Religions,” and seen PBS’s two-hour documentary “The Buddha.”

-the miracle of life – there need not be any other miracle greater (i.e. magic, etc)
-living in the moment
-being aware
-compassion for all creatures (bugs included)
-interconnectedness
-impermanence
-mindfulness of all
-reason/rationality/freedom to debate (the Buddha wanted followers not to blindly follow, but experiment for themselves and challenge things they disagreed with)
-lack of ritual (original Buddhism)
-generosity
-wisdom
-having humor
-humbleness
-the path, not the end
-hopefulness (the end of suffering* is possible, in recognizing and addressing the cause of suffering, desire*)
*suffering = along the lines of dissatisfaction
*desire = many forms, and not necessarily bad, like the desire to attain enlightenment; the kind that causes harm is what we want to end
(these are two words that are often misconstrued and taken too literally in the simplistic teaching of the basic Four Noble Truths; the words turned me off at first)

Peace Train

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has a wonderful blog featuring his photography from around the world. Here are a few quotes of his:

There is nothing more gratifying than helping people whom I have photographed because most often, it is impossible to locate them again.

I have always been interested in the ways that people around the world share things in common. All of those things remind us of what the human condition is really about.