“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Having been bitten by the travel bug early in life, I have taken just about every opportunity that came my way to spend time in a place foreign to me. At times the destination was distant and exotic, while at others it was some place I had never been just up the road. Regardless of the port of call, I found each trip I was fortunate to take to be enriching, even if challenging or uncomfortable.

Spending time out of the familiar – even if it is an afternoon or a weekend – can wreak havoc on your prejudices, superstitions, and stereotypes in a way that reading about it, watching it on TV or in the cinema, or living vicariously through the travelogues of others cannot. In most cases, doing so expands your capacity for empathy and other “…kindly instincts that nature put in…” (Mark Twain, Letter to San Francisco Alta California, dated May 18th, 1867; published June 23, 1867).

Travel – real “foot on the ground” travel – is the best way to learn about mankind’s many faces and the world’s many marvelous places. So push yourself, dare to experience the world firsthand, and I can assure you that you will learn many things about others, but equally as importantl, about yourself.

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I heard the statement somewhere that “‘Fine’ is the calling card of conformity.” It stood out to me because I believe in living life zestfully.

No one was born to muddle through a life of mediocrity. No one was born to be average, that is, to conform to a state that has all the greatness, adventure, and joy carved out of it.

Leaving aside the obvious attempt to attract guests to a pity party, if you answer “fine” to a question, you’re likely struggling with the fact that you feel disconnected from your inner passion, that part of you knows that you were born to be a great person or to do great things. 

“Fine” says you’ve fallen off the horse and you see the game moving on without you. But where “fine” is a genuine call for help, and is backed by a willingness to be open to the help of another or by a desire to be vulnerable to the call of greatness, it is likely that you will soon find the means to put your foot back in the stirrup and your rear end back in the saddle.

The next time you say “fine,” think about what you’re asking for. Is it the “fine” that says “woe is me” and that contents itself with attention but not a change of heart, or is it the “fine” which marks the reemergence of the uniquely wonderful and special you? 

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Untroubled Heart

“Rest and be thankful.” – William Wordsworth

Rest does not necessarily imply idleness. Rest is the natural state of being which attends an untroubled heart. A heart centered in gratitude will always be at peace with the world.

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“Our sensible Brown Cow” farmers go inside when it’s cold. But some crazy farmer’s in the northeast walk around in the snow drilling holes in maple trees. And thank goodness they do.” – Brown Cow Maple Yogurt label

In the world of form, function, and fashion, what is sensible to one may border on the ridiculous to another…and rightly so. But when it comes to matters of the heart, forgiveness, compassion, patience, and a willingness to listen are universally sensible.

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Wellspring of New Strength

Every new day can begin at the wellspring of new strength and fresh thoughts. The only prerequisite to doing so is that one must go to bed the night before with a clean and tranquil heart. Such a state of heart cannot be forced or faked; it is produced by virtue of (1) forgiveness of oneself and of others for the transgressions of the day and (2) a willingness to be at rest relative to the unknown in one’s world.

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Opinions and Character

“People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man may bemoan his lot in life, denounce his fellows, or bewail the injustice of his situation, but in so doing he is subjugating the infinite power and wisdom within himself to the fleeting circumstances over which he was born to have dominion.

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