Category Archives: commonplace book

The Promotion of Human Welfare

I read this great essay and within it was this quotation,

“…it would be far more socially beneficial to induce men to accept the promotion of human welfare on earth as their major purpose in life.”

That is beautiful!

Think about it for one moment. Imagine what would happen if everyone looked out for one another. Imagine what the world would be like if we all took on this challenge personally.

It doesn’t take much to do either. Next time someone is following you into the mall, hold open the door for that person. Simple things can mean a lot. It doesn’t have to be a large task to help someone out.

Scouts Canada has a saying that all its members should, “Do a good turn daily.” This means that they should do something nice for someone everyday. I think this is a rule we all should live by. I often look for ways to help people out. And I don’t expect anything in return.

This quotation continues,

“Moreover, men can achieve far greater and more immediate personal satisfaction from success in their effort to promote human welfare in this world than from any other effort to achieve bliss in the next world. And the observation of visible success is bound to strengthen any purpose.”

Think about it. Try to do something today to promote human welfare. It will make you feel good and it will do a lot for the world.

quotation from Burnham P. Beckwith, American Atheist, March 1986. as is appeared in Richard Robinson, Life Has No Purpose – We Create It from Constructing a Life Philosophy. 2002 Greenhaven Press.

Commonplace Weekdays

Tuesdays used to be the day where I would share one of my quotations from my commonplace book. I’ve collected over 300 quotations on all sorts of interesting topics. I’ve enjoyed sharing them here with you.

My commonplace book has grown and continues to grow. It actually demanded its own blog and as such, I have spun off my Commonplace Tuesday’s feature into Thoughtful Cacophony. I think I already have enough quotations to keep this new blog running well for two years.

Head on over there this week to read some great quotes from R. Crumb, Soul Asylum, Everwood, Paulo Coelho, and an anonymous Graffiti artist. I hope you will enjoy it.

Announcing Thoughtful Cacophony

Commonplace Book Tuesdays has now been spun off into its own blog. I have wanted to do this for some time now. The best thing about it is that I will be able to effectively share my extensive collection of quotations. I will organize the entries by theme, topic, author, and any other label I deem appropriate.

I will be doing weekly features on this new blog as well. Motivational Mondays will focus on quotations that are inspirational. This will help start off the week on a good note. Tube Tuesdays will showcase wisdom pulled from television shows and movies. What!?! Wednesdays will highlight song lyrics that have made me pause and admire excellent songwriting. Thursdays and Fridays will be open for me to post anything from my extensive collection that I wish to share.

I am not sure whether I should continue this feature here as well. My online commonplace book can go places where I wouldn’t be able to here. I am really looking forward to this new format of my commonplace book. I hope that you will head on over to check out Thoughtful Cacophony.

I will probably keep up this feature for a few weeks to help promote this new blog. I could also pick my favourite quotation from the week and post it here on Tuesdays to keep this feature alive and well here. Let me know what you think. And if you have any great quotes that you would like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks.

Blog Entries on Google

I shocked myself today as I did some research online. I was trying to see if there were any websites that were dedicated to quotes from rap songs. I was researching my idea about publishing my commonplace book in a blog.

I have wanted to find a good way to organize the quotations I have collected for quite some time now. I thought that a new blog would be the perfect vehicle for this endeavor. I could post up all of the entries in my commonplace book and they could be organized easily by theme, author, genre, and any other appropriate tag by putting labels on the posts.

My commonplace book now has 300 entries in it. If I post at the same pace as I do on this blog, I would have enough entries to last just over a year. I thought that a good way to add to my collection would be to add some of my favourite rap song lyrics. So I typed “rap commonplace book” into the Google search engine and got my post “Hip Hop in Final Jeopardy.” This really shocked me. I have searched by my name before and got a hit but I have never found a blog entry of mine by doing a regular search. It was so cool to see this happen.

I have started my new blog but won’t be regularly posting until the New Year. I want to run regular features on it like I do here in this blog. I will probably have a specific weekday to shed light on hip-hop. I am still working out exactly how I will post up entries. I want this to be a great collection that I can share with you.

Since a commonplace book is a personal collection of striking passages from any source, I thought it appropriate to title this new blog, Thoughtful Cacophony. It is a collection of thoughts and it fits ties in nicely with the title of this blog.

Please head on over to Thoughtful Cacophony and let me know what you think.

Commonplace Book # 13

“But it must be said from the outset that a disease is never a mere loss or excess – that there is always a reaction, on the part of the affected organism or individual, to restore, to replace, to compensate for and to preserve its identity, however strange the means may be . . . “ – Sacks, Oliver. The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales. Summit: New York, 1985. pg 6

Compensation is an amazing thing. Science is often unable to explain how people manage to recover from certain conditions. I have read accounts about the brain that are absolutely fascinating.

My favourite superhero is Daredevil. He is a blind man whose only super power is that the rest of his senses are all heightened. He can actually “see” all around himself in a sort of built in radar. His powers were the result of accidentally being dosed with radioactive chemicals. However, my favourite storyline in the comics dealt with him losing his powers. His trainer and confidant told him that it was never the radiation that endowed him with powers. He said that everyone had this ability but had forgotten how to use it.

It is possible that we don’t really know how to use our minds and bodies to their fullest potential. That is why they can act on our behalf to compensate when need be. It is a fascinating topic, definitely worth more exploration.

Commonplace Book # 12

“Luria thought a science of this kind would be best introduced by a story – a detailed case-history.” – Sacks, Oliver. The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales. Summit: New York, 1985. pg 5

I always thought that the humanities had a lot to say about the nature of reality. I have always been an admirer of good stories. I love literature. I loved studying books in class and writing essays. I don’t know a lot of people who actually like writing essays in university but I loved it. It was actually a bit of a loss when I no longer had to write them. I found that I missed it.

Analyzing stories was something that I had done for almost my entire school career. But now that I had my degree, I no longer needed to do this. It didn’t seem to sit right with me. That was when I realized that story is everywhere. It isn’t just in books. Everything tells a story, even science. This quotation helped me to finally understand what science is, and it started my collection of story quotables. There will be a lot more to follow.

Commonplace Book # 11

“Is it logical that two people can disagree and that both can be right? It’s not logical; it’s psychological. And it’s very real. And unless we value the differences in our perceptions, unless we value each other and give credence to the possibility that we’re both right, that life is not always a dichotomous either/or, that there are always third alternatives, we will never be able to transcend the limits of conditioning.” – Barton, Bruce. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Calendar.

Most scenarios that we can think of have a winner and a loser. Games and sports obviously are that dichotomous. However, this is not always the case. My father taught me that is isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game. This advice has served me well. For instance, I can play chess with my brother and lose every single game. Yet, just having the opportunity to play with him and share this time makes it special. So, even when he whips my sorry little butt, I don’t lose.

Commonplace Book # 10

“Much of our satisfaction in life depends on our skills in connecting with other people – skills of dialogue we might call them.” – Bonnycastle, Stephen. In Search of Authority pg 23

Connecting with people is a skill? Does that mean that we can learn how to do it better? I think it does. This quotation is brilliant because it opens up a whole new way of thinking. If dialogue is a skill, that means we can develop it. Any good skill comes with practice and effort. How many of us actually try to get better at dialogue?

I know that it took me a long time to learn how to listen to people. I still don’t do it very well. I am often too caught up in my own thoughts to truly listen. I sometime am thinking of what I want to say instead of actually listening to the other person. I sometimes monopolize the conversation. I sometimes come across as authoritative. I know that these things actually cut me off from connecting with other people.

The other interesting thing about this entry in my commonplace book is the author’s use of the word satisfaction. I know that happiness often comes down to family and friends. In this life, I don’t think there are two more important things. Yet he says that happiness comes from how we connect with other people. Which leads me to ask, what makes a friend a friend? Is it the way that we connect with them? Is that related to dialogue or is there a lot more going on? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I can be more aware of my skills in this area and try to improve them. After all, it couldn’t hurt.

Meaning From and In Books

“Reading books and writing books makes life more meaningful.”

So said Elizabeth Hay as she accepted the Giller Prize for Canadian Literature last night. In a great speech, she congratulated everyone who made the short list for the award. She then went on to congratulate everyone who had written a book this year. I immediately threw my hands up in the air as if her comment was meant solely for me. After all, I did write a book this year.

I wrote a second book as well. I have given the story lots of distance and am now ready to look at it again with fresh eyes. I will sit down and read the entire novel in one sitting this weekend as I start the editing and rewriting stage.

There is quite a sense of accomplishment that you get when you complete a story. I am new to the craft of story writing but I am enjoying it immensely. I have always loved reading and constantly have a book or two on the go sitting on my nightstand. I get a lot from reading and writing.

I have not read any of Elizabeth Hay’s work but her words struck a chord with me last night. Meaning can be found in both the reading and writing of books. I am adding this quotation to my commonplace book. Congratulations on your prize! and thank you for honouring the craft and all writers.