Words of Wisdom

Like many of us, I enjoy quotations. They inspire, comfort, teach, and bring joy and sadness through their words. When I am asked my favorite quotation, I am often at a loss to answer. This is not because I do not have a favorite, but rather because I have too many for me to choose just one. Each of the quotations on this page is among my favorites, for various reasons (some of which are explained below). In every case, the quotation has taught me something valuable about life.

"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play." - James Tiberius Kirk

As important as work is, so much greater is play. Work exhausts both mind and body, and play allows us to recover that loss. Of course, play takes many different forms, from physical games such as baseball to simple mental pursuits such as crossword puzzles. Whatever your passion, take a little time each day to do it. You will be surprised at how much better you will feel.

"Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand."

I've heard this one paraphrased a dozen ways, and I've seen it attributed to everyone from Kong Qiu to Albert Einstein, but it always comes out the same in the end. It's a basic principle that I think that modern society has gotten away from (and should return). I have great difficulty in a classroom environment, primarily because I have a very poor memory. I do not take tests well, and my scores throughout school and college largely reflect that. If you want me to learn, gain my interest and get me involved in the process. I will not only then remember; I will begin to expand on that knowledge.

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill

This quotation carries great meaning for me; a plaque inscribed with these words hung on the wall of my bedroom for many years. I consider myself a pacifist; I prefer diplomacy to fighting, and I tend to be non-confrontational. I believe that violence is the last resort of the civilized mind. Many people who do not know me take this attitude for cowardice. But make no mistake. If pressed, I will fight. And once the battle has begun, I will not leave the field unless I am carried off, or the enemy is dispatched.

"For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship." - Jedi Master Yoda

It seems odd to draw wisdom from a science-fiction film that was largely aimed at children, but Master Yoda is correct. Indeed, we are luminous beings. Our bodies are merely vessels that permit us to experience the physical. But our egos—our IDs, our souls, if you will—they are eternal.

"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein

As this page continues to grow, you'll likely find a lot of quotes from Einstein hereon. This one reminds us that while you can judge someone by their deeds and accomplishments, you may not be getting the whole story.

"I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." - Stephen Hawking

Hawking was once interviewed by the New York Times and was asked the inevitable question, "What is your I.Q.?" This was the answer he gave in response. The questioner went on to ask Hawking if he felt that he were not a genius, to which the professor replied, "I hope I'm near the upper end of the range." The lesson here is simple; anyone can score well on a test; true genius reveals itself in due course.

"I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right?" - Ellie Arroway

Ellie is the central character from Carl Sagan's <i>Contact</i> and the quote, well, it just makes perfect sense to me. It is interesting to note that, mathematically speaking, it is an absolute that there is extra-terrestrial life. Consider:

Conservative estimates put the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone at 300 billion, and the Hubble space telescope has counted no less than 125 billion galaxies. That means that there are over one sextillion stars in the universe. Even if we assume that the odds of intelligent life being capable of forming elsewhere in the universe are as great as 1 in 100 quintillion, there are no fewer than 10 other planets with intelligent life forms.

Will we ever meet them? Probably not. The distances are just too great. It would be like trying to locate a needle on the surface of the sun, but rest assured, they are out there.

"I can haz cheezeburger?"

This quote reminds me that every day, we have to take a moment to laugh. It's the only way to remain mentally stable.

To do great work, a man must be very idle as well as very industrious." - Samuel Butler

Again, a quotation that reminds us of the value of downtime. If you are to be great in anything, you must allow yourself time to rest. Remember the adage, "Work 8 hours, play 8 hours, and sleep 8 hours."

"And so my king died, and my brothers died, barely a year ago. Long I pondered my king's cryptic talk of victory. Time has proven him wise, for from free Greek to free Greek, the word was spread that bold Leonidas and his three hundred, so far from home, laid down their lives. Not just for Sparta, but for all Greece and the promise this country holds."

[takes his spear from a soldier]

"Now, here on this ragged patch of earth called Plataea, Xerxes's hordes face obliteration!

Just there the barbarians huddle, sheer terror gripping tight their hearts with icy fingers... knowing full well what merciless horrors they suffered at the swords and spears of three hundred. Yet they stare now across the plain at ten thousand Spartans commanding thirty thousand free Greeks!

The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine."

[puts on his helmet]

"Give thanks, men, to Leonidas and the brave 300! TO VICTORY!"

[the Greek army roars and charges]

- Dilios

I cannot read this speech, nor hear the words spoken, without feeling a surge of adrenaline through my body. It speaks volumes to me. In many ways, it serves to remind me of the sacrifices made by many men and women throughout history so that we may live free. It is not merely about the mythical 300; it is any for soldier who has ever given their life to preserve the freedoms of others.