First Steps Down New Roads

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision” - Ayn Rand

Books by Ayn Rand

Finding Stability -- Within

In his introduction to his 1994 book, "The Six Pillars Of Self Esteem", author Nathaniel Branden wrote:

"The turbulence of our times demands strong selves with a clear sense of identity, competence, and worth. With a breakdown of cultural consensus, an absence of worthy role models, little in the public arena to inspire our allegiance, and disorientingly rapid change a permanent feature of our lives, it is a dangerous moment in history not to know who we are or not to trust ourselves. The stability we cannot find in the world we must create within our own persons"

This is as true as ever in today's turbulent world of change, uncertainty and doubt. It had always been true; the only difference were the labels used to describe it. We must all create within our own persons the stability we seek.

Haiku - Amid Willowy Mists

Amid willowy mists I stand
Waters beckon to fallen leaves
Shadows dance on the lake

Great Writing

Here is one of the greatest of all speeches ever made. Millions of Americans have probably heard it, heard of it or read of it in some way. But we can use it in another way: as an exercise in great writing.

If you' would improve your writing style, if you would enhance the impact of your writing, read the words of this speech in your own words, your own (quiet) and unique style. Feel the speech in your gut.

Feel the language pattern. Feel the flow of the words. Pretend YOU are the one speaking or writing it or as if you're in a play, dramatizing it. By this means alone, you can improve not only your writing, but also your command of the English language.

I'd suggest that you read the text first in the way prescribed above, and then listen to the speech. See if the actual speech then makes a more memorable impact on you.

Here it is: Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream"

"O Me, O Life"

In the movie “Dead Poets Society”, the inspirational teacher, John Keating (played brilliantly by Robin Williams) said:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.

And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here--that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?"

The powerful play of of the human drama goes on; it has been going on for millennia, and will continue to go on for as long humans walk the earth. It goes on because life exists, and identity. Tap the archetypes of identity and the verse you contribute will be nothing short of magnificent.

Return To Roots

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it" - Santayana

Lately, having reached a certain age (And what age would that be? Ahhh, you'd like to know, wouldn't you?), it seems expedient to me to entertain the notion that history has something to teach us...especially the history that comes from our own ethnic and/or cultural roots.

On an off-the-cuff suggestion of my old-time online friend, Paul Myers (Rascal! He has a habit of making you think), I've begun to deepen my already existing examination into the roots of my own culture. We were having a short private message "discussion" and somehow I said to Paul, "I'm too "Westernized" to be a card-carrying traditionalist and too traditional to be a card-carrying 'Westerner'"

And Paul replied to the effect "Lots of people find themselves in this situation. Maybe there's a book in there somewhere".

While the idea of a book sounds intriguing, the main reason is to go back and take a long, deep look at my roots, which is Chinese. I was educated in an education system that was English-medium-based, and had never learned to read and write Chinese. At that time, there wasn't much need for a Chinese education in my country. While I can communicate in Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien, I had never learned to read and write. These days, I can do a little of both but I'm a long way off from average proficiency. In all other respects, however, you'd find me a "typical" Chinese, whatever that may be.

In her book "Watching The Tree", Adeline Yen quotes an old Chinese proverb that goes "Even if the tree grows to the height of 10,000 feet, falling leaves return to their roots" (Su gao qian zhang, luo ye gui ken). A reading of Lin Yutang's "My Country And My People" seem to corroborate that sentiment.

And so, I' embark on a quest to understand my Chinese roots and how 5,000 years of history has influenced the way I, a Chinese, live in the present day. I'm brushing up on written Chinese and on the history of China and the Chinese people through all its history, successes, and turmoil. And I'm also taking a prolonged look at the development and transformation of China as a modern-day superpower and how this would impact (and IS impacting) our world as a whole.

Whether you're Chinese or not, I believe you'd agree that China the New is already having a tremendous impact on the world on all fronts and that this impact will only increase in the times ahead.

In your own way, perhaps you can join me in this fascinating journey and, together, we may play a small part in shaping our world.

We write because we must, we write because we are members of the human race. From the beginning of humankind to the present, we as a race have always been attempting to communicate in one way or another.

Writing is one of those ways.

We write because we're human. And we have stories to tell. Stories of love, of romance, of heroic struggles. We write because deep within us we must tell our stories, lest they (and the memory of "us") be lost to the winds of time. We write because we want to leave a legacy, a memory, in order that others may know that we had passed this way, and that we had lived.

Thus we write as a witness to our lives -- for ourselves and for posterity.

I'm not a professional author. I have no bestsellers on the market. Neither am I a professor of languages, nor a teacher of writing. I write only for my own pleasure. I write because I must. I write as a witness to my own life.

Writing, then, is all about LIFE...about OUR lives, and writing thus becomes the instrument we use to explore it.

Leaves Fall

Leaves fall.

That is the "secret" of life. It speaks more profoundly of the truth of life than all the voluminous tomes ever written on the subject throughout the ages.

Leaves fall, dying.

But in dying, they nurture the next generation of trees, bushes, flora, etc. In dying, they continue to "live" in the next generation of life. They never really "die". They live on. And so it is with us. We "die" but we do not die. We live some way.

Whatever that way may be, however you believe it to be, if you remember that we live on, then life and death become simply the natural "turning of the wheel". There is nothing to be scared of, nothing to fear.

There is only LIFE...

Leaves fall, but they live on. We, too, fall. But we, too, live on. So, live well, live free, and bring light to the next generation...