This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished; if you’re alive, it isn’t.
— Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
I came to Richard Bach via Neil Diamond’s soundtrack to Jonathan Livingston Seagull. While the metaphors in Jonathan Livingston Seagull are rather obvious now, the wisdom and insights from Illusions remain much more subtle and lasting.
Richard Bach was quite popular in the late 70’s and 80’s. Amazon calls him the Kahil Gibran of the Me! generation. I was in my twenties at the time and, like most people in that decade of their life, I had an overwhelming sense of calling. I had a deep sense that I was placed on this earth to complete a mission, to help people see themselves, and the world, in a fresh way.
Much has transpired since those heady days of youth. I think I have helped many people along the way, albeit never in the grand style I envisioned in my twenties. Nevertheless, on a quite day, I can still hear that voice calling inside. Since I am very much alive again today, it is good to know that my mission is not yet complete.
If you want to experience the joys of yacht racing in the comfort of your own home, simply stand fully clothed in an ice cold shower and tear up $100 bills.
In the glance of a speechless animal there is a discourse that only the soul of the wise can really understand.
— An Indian Poet
While in graduate school at Purdue many years ago a friend and I made a road trip to the west coast. Along the way we took the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon with a goal of hiking down to the canyon floor. Although we were experienced hikers, neither of us were in the best of shape, and we were further weakened by the several days we had just spent driving across the country in a Honda Civic. Hiking all the way down to the canyon floor and all the way back up in a single day was strongly discouraged by the park authorities. Since campsites on the canyon floor were reserved far into the future, we were fortunate to snag a reservation for a campsite that was a couple of miles up from the canyon floor on a different trail. Our plan was to hike down one trail all the way to the bottom, take in the grandeur, then hike back up a few miles to camp for the night. The next day we would hike back out and continue our westward journey.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Harold Whitman