Archive for April, 2011

On Being Right

“Each of us has his own private little idea of rightness, and almost by definition the utopian condition of which we all dream is that in which all people finally see the error of their ways and agree with us. And underlying nearly all our attempts to bring agreement is the assumption that agreement is brought about by changing people’s minds. Other people’s.”

S.I. Hayakawa


I read this little nugget about forty years ago in, of all places, a Readers Digest. I was just a strapling, but it stuck in my mind. Something in a murky corner of my seldom-used teenage brain reared its head, wiped the sleep from its eyes and said, “Keep this. You’re going to need it.” So I memorized the quote, word for word, and ever since then it has served as a kind of guard-rail to my thought processes.

For a…


I apologize for being away from the blog for a while.  The simple truth is, sometimes I can’t think of anything I really want to say.  I finally thought of something I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but didn’t know quite how to go about it.  It’s an odd truth, one that gets buried under piles of rubbish— the detritus of living every day, surviving, chopping wood and carrying water, working at a job we don’t like in order to pay for things we don’t need— but it’s important.  The best I’ve ever heard it said was a little section in Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  It’s not even in the body of the book, but in a preface that Frankl himself wrote for the 1992 reprint.  He tells his students this:

“Don’t aim at success— the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.  For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of…