Woody Guthrie’s New Year Rulin’s

New Year’s resolutions from Woody Guthrie’s notebook 1943.  It was an interesting time; the world was at war, America was coming out of an economic depression coupled with huge crop failures and sleazy bank practices, and the Guthries had made their way West to California with record numbers of displaced migrants looking for a better life.

1. Work more and better

2. Work by a schedule

3. Wash teeth if any

4. Shave

5. Take bath

6. Eat good – fruit – vegetables – milk

7. Drink very scant if any

8. Write a song a day

9.  Wear clean clothes – look good

10. Shine shoes

11. Change socks

12. Change bed clothes often

13. Read lots good books

14. Listen to radio a lot

Some are personal but most of these transfer well to anybody.  We all need improvement…

15. Learn people better

16. Keep ranch clean

17. Don’t get lonesome

18. Stay glad

19. Keep hoping machine running

20. Dream good

21. Bank all extra money

22. Save dough

23. Have company but don’t waste time

24. Send Mary and kids money

25. Play and sing good

26. Dance better

27. Help win war – Beat Fascism

28. Love Mama

29. Love Papa

30. Love Pete

31. Love everybody

32. Make up your mind

33. Wake up and fight

Science and Self-Correction

“One of the reasons for its success is is that science has a built-in, error correcting machinery at its very heart. Some may consider this an overbroad characterization, but to me every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test against the outside world, we are doing science. When we are self-indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition.”

 

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, p. 27

Wisdom of Dan Beard

On Loneliness

“When you feel you are sleeping on the breast of your mother, the earth, while your father, the sky, with his millions of eyes is watching over you, and that you are surrounded by your brother, the plants, the wilderness is no longer lonesome even to the solitary traveler.”

~Dan Beard

Your Rights vs. Doing the Right Thing

Chesterton, G.K.

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same
as to be right in doing it.

G.K. Chesterton

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Three_acres_and_a_cow.JPG

Chesterton self-portrait based on the Distributist slogan “Three acres and a cow.”

I’ve had an interest in Chesterton for quite a few years now and have really enjoyed reading his philosophy.  I’m no expert, but know that I find myself in congruence with many of his thoughts.  His famous and odd novel, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare was my first real introduction beyond reading some of his more famous quotes and I suggest it for anyone as an interesting story.  It is a story of anarchists, detective work, poets, and Edwardian politics; what more do you need?  I certainly don’t agree with many of his tenets but he is a gem of a thinker for sure.

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He was quite a “looker” too.

For further reading, here is an interesting article, giving a glimpse into the man and his thoughts: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/07/07/the-back-of-the-world

Our personal education should never end…

Thoughts on Labor – 1854

“The aim of the laborer should be, not to get his living, to get “a good job,” but to perform well a certain work; and, even in a pecuniary sense, it would be economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, or even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”

Henry David Thoreau, Life Without Principle 1854

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It is far easier to excel when you find something you can love to do.  The one who does what he loves will do a far better job than the one who is just putting in the time for money.

Wilderness Time – Wise Words from John Muir

Photo from The Daily Beast.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. Awakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease.”John Muir (1838-1914)

The serenity of the forest. Photo from The Outdoor Project. Click the image for more information.

These thoughts are over 100 years old when the human population of the world was about 1/4 of what it is today…  We need to take heed of these thoughts more than ever.

John Muir

Dream On and March to the Beat of Your Own Drummer

Don_Quixote_16“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

donquixotereading

Take some advice from an unlikely hero, Don Quixote. 

Do your own thing… Have an adventure, go live in a cabin,

just follow your dreams…

Real Comforts

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

kentgriswold's-tinyhouseblog-cabin-at-loch-voil-in-the-scottish-highlands-a-simply-beautiful-idyllic-place-to-be-photo-by-alex-von-der-assen-theflyingtortoise

Photo by Alex von der Assen as featured on Kent Griswold’s Tiny House Blog.

Heavy words when you think about them.

I like nice stuff.  I buy good clothes, decent shoes, and drive a new(ish) vehicle.  We all like new, nifty, better, and clever things.  The problem is that we are trained from a young age to grab the newest gizmo and gimmick presented to us.  We are programmed to stockpile and hoard.  Advertisers know this.  Bankers know this.  We spend what we earn, and then a little more.

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When we pick up an object, we don’t always think of how this thing will add value to our life; or whose life was devalued to make it and bring it to us.

More stuff is not the path to happiness…

Jobs, Work, and Taking Control of Possessions (an updated ramble)

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

Comfort in the parlour. Artist, John Edward Soden, ca.1836–1897.

Comfort in the Parlour. Artist, John Edward Soden, ca.1836–1897.

Possessions don’t make us happy!  Situations do.

Possessions, desire, covetousness, craving, yearning, lust; these forces drive humanity. Somehow each generation of moral thinkers know these things are ultimately wrong and look for something deeper.  With virtually every major religion and most schools of moral philosophy reiterating this through the millennia it’s surprising any of us even pretend to a higher conscience in the age where consumption is a human’s primary role.

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A Taoist monk wearing a coat made from cast-off scraps of cloth as a sign of his un-attachment.

And yet, each generation produces it’s share of radicals who cling to the hope that we can get more from life by having less. 

At some point, some of us have an epiphany about what is truly important in life.  It’s not the pursuit of money.  Life is short, so if you don’t enjoy what you do from day-to-day, them something needs to change.  Look around.  How many ways are people and companies trying to sell you something you didn’t even know you wanted?  Is it worth selling your soul, one hour at a time?  Not to me.  Not any more.  Like so many people before me, I wasted much of my youth.  Not all of it, but large swaths of time were sold away to an employer for mere money.  Not that giving time to a cause is an evil in itself.  Helping a friend, working with kids, or teaching a skill; all are noble pursuits and are, in a sense, work.  These things just don’t fall into that class of mindless drudgery that makes up most day jobs.

Filling a McMansion with junk is not a road to happiness. It's the road to enslavement.

Filling a McMansion with things you don’t need while struggling to pay the mortgage is not a road to happiness. It’s the road to enslavement.

Even in our hobbies, generally they are just fillers.  Something to be done in our leisure time, and somehow not part of “real life.”  Isn’t this backwards?  Shouldn’t we fill our days with things we love; music, family, reading, writing, wandering, or just plain idling?  We are taught to criticize the idle and there is possibly some logic to it.

At a family or village level, its easy to see how we might resent someone who doesn’t pull their weight; and rightly so, but that doesn’t mean we need to forget to live a satisfying life along the way.

I am often amazed how angry even the most privileged people become when they think someone is getting a handout for free.  Taking this to an extreme, people relish in the schadenfreude*.

I think many of us are that person at some point in our lives, but with  spiritual growth, this petty thinking will be only a phase.

vino_monaco

Finding your  joy.  In this case, a little wine, song, and presumably, camaraderie.

We have, as a society, confused real and honest work, with mindlessly stumbling to a job.  Even with a so-called “good job” most of us have no stake in our employer, other than making sure the check comes regularly.  Choosing to not punch the clock does not make one a slacker.  My friends and acquaintances who choose to live outside this system are the hardest working people I know.

They just don’t sell their lives cheaply for others’ gain.

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Maintaining a garden is work, but providing for yourself and family directly eliminates the constant need for the middle-men.

Taking control of your needs, even a little, alleviates some of the more abstract time demands paid out to someone else by serving yourself directly.  The most negative comment I have heard about doing these things for oneself is “I don’t have enough time!”  Yes, doing things like gardening or making clothes or furniture or tools takes time but at some point it becomes a trade-off.  Is it a bigger waste of time to commute and hour to work each way or spend two hours with the kids in the garden?

For me, there’s no question; and I’m certainly not the first person to reach this conclusion.

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Finding your inner peace.  Dervish, with leopard and a lion, ca 1650.

I think this need for, or as a result of, spiritual awakening is the driving force behind many religious and philosophical movements over many thousands of years.  And, of course, they are all the one true path, religion, paradigm, whatever-you-call-it (leading to division, persecution, strife, and war; some irony, eh?).  Once the epiphany hits, there is realization that the system is not really necessary.  To make it through life, few possessions are truly essential.

Join me on a journey to a better life…

gandhi

A well-known photo of the personal effects of Mahatma Gandhi.

“Chase your passion, not your pension.”
— Denis Waitley

*Schadenfreude– the feeling of joy or pleasure when one sees another fail or suffer misfortune; an all-too common evil in humanity.