Abraham Lincoln experienced many hardships in his life, suffering from what in his day was known as “melancholy,” but today we would call clinical depression. Despite this, the United States’ 16th President loved to laugh and tell jokes. His many witty stories elicited chuckles and groans in equal measure, while his sharp one-liners were used to poke fun at his rivals as well as at himself.

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be block-head enough to have me.

Abraham Lincoln poked fun at himself as much as at anyone else, as shown in this line from a letter written to Mrs. Orville H. Browning in 1838 (four years before he married Mary Todd).

I didn’t want the [damned] fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols.

In 1842, the young Abraham Lincoln publicly ridiculed politician James Shields during a debate about banking in Illinois, leading Shields to challenge Lincoln to a duel. Being the far larger and stronger man , Lincoln, who had the privilege of choosing the weapons, went with “cavalry broadswords of the largest size.” The two men later called a truce on the day of the duel.

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One of the most remarkable descriptions ever written. When I first read these words. I had to catch my breath, clear my mind, and read them again and again and again. It is truly a gift to think these thoughts and to put them into language.

“It had been one of those spectacular Wyoming sunsets, the ones everybody thinks only happen in an Arizona Highways magazine. Broiling waves of small bonfires leaped on top of one another as far as the horizon with injured purples drifting in multilayered, frozen sheets back to the skyline.”  –  The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

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“Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

In March I turn 80.

I’m not dealing well with that.

My perspective was changing rapidly with each new ache and pain. With each lost thought.

It took me about year and a confrontation with a mirror to come to grips with the truth:

I’m an old man. A VERY OLD MAN.

Recently, I undertook a STUDY of the situation. I called several of my friends and asked questions.

Were they experiencing similar afflictions of the body and the mind?

They were.

In many cases worse.

I was not alone.

So now my outlook has changed. Now I realize, given how I abused my body in my youth, I’m very fortunate even to be alive

“A Pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

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About mistakes, it’s funny. You’ve got to make your own; and not only that, if you try to keep people from making theirs, they get mad.”

“So Big” is a novel about mistakes. When Dirk, an architect turned stock broker, decides to abandon the pursuit of art in search of money, he’s warned of his mistake by his mother. Slowly, his life falls apart and he is ultimately left alone regretting his decision to pursue the superficial. In the end, he learns an important lesson — one he might never have learned without making his own mistakes.

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It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil…. The stage is too big for the drama.
— Richard Feynman, physicist

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Rose Franken was a Jewish American novelist and playwright celebrated for her work in the first half of the 20th century. On the whole, Franken’s writing was characterized by a playful sense of humor and unexpected plot twists. Her famous “Claudia” stories centered around a naive 18-year-old adjusting to married life. Franken herself outlived two husbands in her 92 years of life, giving an air of authority to her proclamation that only real lovers can be silly. To let loose with a loved one requires a vulnerability that passion doesn’t necessarily include. To see someone as they are, even as they act a fool, and to love them even more for it, is something special indeed.

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George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984” centers around the dangers of nationalism, censorship, and totalitarianism. But the author also deftly dissects what it means to be human. In a moment of clarity, the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, recognizes that all people, even his enemies, have an intrinsic desire for connection. With this line, he observes that even love itself can feel lacking without true understanding to give it depth.

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A look in the mirror

The unexamined life is not worth living.
– Socrates

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A multitude of words is no proof of a prudent mind.
– Thales of Miletus

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Shine – Light – Shine

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