Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I first posted this two years ago - Today's editon of The Writer's Almanac reminded me of this. I thought I'd repost it for some of my newer readers because I really like that quote from him. Happy Birthday J.W.
Andy Warhol's version of our Birthday Boy

Ah, yes, August 28th. Can’t you just hear the cheers? Can’t you just see the fireworks? You are, of course, very aware of whose birthday we celebrate today, aren’t you? You really don’t know? Why it’s Johann Wolfgang von Goethe! I’m sure you just forgot that momentarily. Goethe, we rarely use his full name, born in 1749, was what they call a polymath. He wrote works in drama, poetry, literature, science, theology, and philosophy. This guy was interested in everything at a time when, such as it was with da Vinci, it was still possible to know a lot about a lot of things. Not too many of us can go through life without hearing a reference to Goethe’s most famous work: Faust.

What I want to bring to your notice is a line of his, a thought for the day that can be of use to us all: “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” I keep a small collection of ‘pithy’ sayings, and that one is one of the best. Written in the eighteenth century, it can easily be interpreted for today’s mode of living. I don’t interpret it for today to mean that you have to do all those things, but do break out of your quotidian routine to do something inspiring, or educational (look up ‘quotidian’), charitable, or just plain fun.

Part of my own quotidian routine is to check several of my favorite websites for thoughts or poems of the day. I do prefer rhyming poems over free verse, some of which read more like a novel than a poem. Thoughts, especially when you catch them at an early hour, can get right into the flavor of your day. From ‘Anonymous’ to named sources, from ancient times to modern, valuable thoughts abound. Here are some of my favorites:

“The wise man achieves balance by reducing his needs to the level of his possessions.” Anonymous (but sometimes attributed to Aristotle)

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” Douglas Adams

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Don’t believe everything you think.” Anonymous

“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself of much of life. Be not simply good; be good for something.” Henry David Thoreau

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Bertrand Russell

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou

“Function in disaster, finish in style.” Lucy Madeira

E. B. White said: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Get your daily fix, a daily thought, and try to do both: improve and enjoy the world.


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