Wisdom in a Phrase

Once in a while everyone stumbles across a short phrase that seems poignant, insightful or profound. Mariner has collected phrases over time that are significant. Just a few below:

֎ A very recent one from the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” is the phrase ‘When a dead tree is more important than a living tree; when a dead whale is more important than a living whale, our priorities are not in order.’ This was spoken in the context that society ranked monetization and profit above respect for a natural world.

֎ Victor Hugo wrote an oxymoron that is one of mariner’s favorites, especially for older folks. He said, ‘Melancholy is the joy of depression.’ Hasn’t everyone sat around remembering the good old days, the young social world and when life was full of excitement? Those melancholy feelings are the joy that can be had only by way of depression or boredom.

֎ A term that has long been an expression of wisdom is the phrase, ‘My gut tells me . . .’ Today this term has become pejorative because scientists have discovered that the gut (AKA subconscious) doesn’t use facts to form opinions.

֎ Mariner’s wife contributes the next one, a phrase that keeps one’s perspective about where the self fits in the world:

“There are many ways of being in this circle we call life” is the first line from a John Denver song, The Wings That Fly Us Home. The words were written by Joe Henry, music by John Denver.

“There are many ways of being” has been a mantra for me for many years. It is a way of acknowledging and accepting the world in all of its variety, and the differences among people, too. Everyone has a right to his own interpretation of life, his own choices, his own quirks of personality. Often I say it with a rueful puzzlement–“what were they thinking? Oh, well–there are many ways of being…” It reminds me that my way is not the only way, or necessarily the right way. But it applies to the larger world, too, from grass and trees, to birds and fish, rabbits and moles; so many ways of being in this world. So many different ways of perceiving the world.

For your viewing pleasure:


֎ Albert Schweitzer is a top hero in mariner’s Pantheon. Albert had many famous quotes but the one that should hang under any portrait is ‘Help me to fling my life like a flaming firebrand into the gathering darkness of the world.’ Albert put his life where it was needed and, to associate it with another phrase from Life is Like a Mountain Railroad, ‘never falter, never fail’.

Pause a moment to find a poignant phrase in your life.

Ancient Mariner

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