An Ancient Longing by Randall LaGro, oil and mixed media on panel, photo courtesy of the Blue Rain Gallery, Taos, New Mexico.
Waiting in the dentist's office Tuesday, I distracted myself by reading Alexandra Stoddard's book You Are Your Choices. It's an inspiring collection of essays about "living the good life."
An excerpt of Stoddard's essay Have as few Regrets as Possible:
"What are you making of yourself when those around you are lazy and indifferent? What are you doing with your life? It's never too late to choose to change yourself. Do not give up or run away from the opportunity to grow. That is the ultimate tragedy. There's no place to go and hide in life. Your job, your duty, your responsibility is to make the most you can of you." "... Don't regret that you were unable to shape up others; only regret when you don't live up to your own vast potential for good."
"Work on yourself every day. We can't sprint at the end and catch up. We need to strengthen our intellectual muscles now before our brain loses synapses. We need to build upon our virtuous habits of choice every single day in order to have fewer...regrets."
"Don't be afraid to do what only you can do. Rather than having chest pains trying to do work you no longer are capable of or enjoy, it may be better to cut your losses. You will feel great joy and satisfaction doing something you know you love to do. What would you choose to do if you knew you couldn't fail? Do that very thing, because it is there where you'll develop your potential."
"You and I are capable of so much more. We should encourage each other to do more to express who we are. We can cut through our difficulties by our belief in our self. The only way we can fail is not to try. Michaelangelo wrote, "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
"Our consciousness is ours to raise as high as we're able, as soon as possible. We all have lots of work to do. All of our experiences give us knowledge and inspiration to build on. Our glass, we will discover, is more than half full..." "Use all your powers while you can. It is tragedy to die before we're fully born. We can't afford to let our creative spirit die inside while we're still able to make life-changing choices. We're only using a fraction of our capacity. All the rush and franctic busy-ness is keeping us from the good choices that will allow us to live with as few regrets as possible."
"One choice I persistently try to make is to be perservering. When we stay the course, when we keep trying, we will have fewer regrets. Perseverance leads to good habits that help us over the inevitable rough patches. Live with an appreciative awareness of the precious gift of your life. Don't miss the mark by not making your own brave choices. This is your challenge. Don't feel sorry for what might have been. You are your choices. Own your choices. Hear the cry and choose to follow what is the good life for you."
Don't Die before You're Dead is the title of a book by the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko.