Words of wisdom
“I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.” -—Pietro Aretino
Our parents and teachers offered advice for success in life, like “Haste makes waste” or “Look before you leap” or “He who hesitates is lost” (which contradicts the first two).
My dad’s favorite wisdom was the title of an article he read in, I think, Reader’s Digest: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” That saying fit his temperament well. Notwithstanding, we hope that others do sweat the small stuff, like the pharmacist filling our prescription or the nurse administering the dosage.
I asked myself this morning what words of wisdom I have to impart. These three came first to mind.
1. “We are disturbed, not by things, but by the views we take of them.” Stoic philosophers, like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, said so. That our thoughts rule our emotions and behavior is Life Lesson 101. How we talk to ourselves about the things out there, instead of the things, makes all the difference.
2. “You don’t have to do everything you can do.” I once knew a man who had almost unlimited aptitudes. He did everything, it seemed to me, well. Those who are so gifted sometimes have a problem setting boundaries. For peace of mind, they might consider giving themselves permission occasionally to say no.
3. “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” This dramatic saying probably originates from Lin Chi, 9th century Buddhist teacher, who warned his students to beware of any charismatic, two-legged animal who would teach them how to live happily ever after if they’d only let him (or her) be their guru.
Sixteenth-century satirist Pietro Aretino, who earned the reputation “scourge of princes and popes,” might have said, “Let only your own mind rule your only self.”