“When I grow up I want to be rich!” The young boy announced.

His father didn’t bat an eye.

“And what makes you think you're not already rich?” Came his quick and simple reply.


The son gave his father a look…somewhere between exasperated and bored.

“Because,” he said, “there’s so many things I want I know we can’t afford.”


The father listened…for he always listened…then knowingly nodded his head…and after a moment to think it through…”Here’s what I want you to do.” he said,


“I want you to get a sheet of paper and on it list everything which…when you are older, just like me, you think will make you rich.”


“List anything you can think of that will bring you celebrity, fortune or fame…and while you’re making your list…I will do the same.”


The son returned in no time…on his list was money, a big house, a new car and a boat…“This will make me rich.” He said. “Now show me what you wrote.”


“My list is very old.” His father smiled. “It’s a list that, hopefully, never ends.”

“The first item on my list is time spent with family and friends.”


“In fact you’ll find family and friends on my list quite often…they are very important to me…for I never would be rich without my friends and family.”


”You’ll find humor, gratitude and happiness on my list…to me…more important than prosperity or wealth…wisdom is also listed… as well as generosity…and good health.”


“Holding hands…hugs and kisses…help to make me richer every day

as well as eyes that see into others hearts and ears that listen to what others say.”


Sharing the sun as it rises in the morning…or in the evening as it sets…

I’ve listed the aroma of Nana’s cookies…as well as eating them…with no regrets.


My father handed me this list years ago…I’ve added a few of my own as you can see…

and now I give my list to you…with the same message my father gave to me:


He said, “If there is one piece of knowledge upon you I wish to impart…

It’s that you can’t estimate the true value of anything that is measured by the heart.


If you use your heart to add items to this list…quickly you will see…

how rich you’ve always been…and how rich you’ll always be.


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Sapiens Mulier

They call us homo sapiens which is Latin for wise man

but I don’t think we’re as wise as those who labeled us had planned..


If you look at the world we ‘wise’ men have created…

which is leading to our demise….

not only have we not acted human…

but we’ve been anything but wise.


So perhaps the time of the wise man is over.

Perhaps there are better times ahead

if we retire the term homo sapiens

and use Sapiens Mulier instead…


I think we’ve given the wise man his chance…

It’s time to bid his reign adieu…

It’s now time for the wise woman 

to show what she can do.


Homo sapiens…we did our best

But we set the bar too low…

Sapiens Mulier…it’s your turn

to see how high that bar can go.


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I saw her standing in the grass…an owl…tiny, proud…but mute

which I thought odd because in the early morning owls usually love to hoot.


I‘ve heard owls are intelligent…and are said to be wise too

so, while I had her full attention, I thought I’d see if that was true.


I wanted to show this wise little owl that I had an intellect too

so I asked her existentially…”Little owl, tell me…who are you?”


“Who am I?” The little owl smiled, “as she looked up to the stars…

“Why who I am, who anyone is…depends on who you are.”


With that she flapped her wings and flew away.

I admit to feeling foul…

left standing in the middle of the street

befuddled by an owl…


But in my defense I am just a human. 

Wisdom in our species has long been overdue….

Which, once again, in my conversation with an owl

I discovered to be true.

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So many things in life are out of our control

We don’t control the sun, the moon,, the stars, the wind…the rain

We don’t control those moments when our heart fills up with pain.


Perhaps then while we’re alive it should be our goal

to do the best that we can do….with the things we can control.


We cannot control our past…and the future’s not always in our hands…

but we can control how we treat the animals…and how we treat the land.


We can control how we treat others…if we are unkind or humane

We can control if we cause another person’s happiness…or pain.


If we make treating the animals, 

the land around us 

and people 

with compassion as our goal….

It becomes much easier to accept those things that are out of our control.


For they will be there to support us through the uncontrollable winds and rain

and they will be there when we need them most…when our hearts fill up with pain.

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I’ve heard it said with age comes wisdom.

I’d like to think that’s true.

I like to think I’m wiser now than I was at 22


Wise enough to know family is important

how it’s influence is vast

how our present and our future are connected to our past


Wise enough to understand we are all one race

as every God has tried to guide us

one family, one community,

no matter what labels we use to divide us. 


Wise enough when I see hate to know…

love is the key

that love, compassion and acceptance 

is humanity.


Wise enough to know 

the way I want to be defined...

as a man who followed this philosophy:

It’s always better to be kind.


I turn 67 years old today….

and look forward to the new adventures that await

that will help me be a little wiser


when I turn 68.

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There is a wise old saying…an ancient Chinese gem: 

When three people walk together my teacher is among them.


We had a simple dinner with some friends and the first thing I was taught

was if you listen but a little…you’re bound to learn a lot..


I learned a lot about sadness

sadness that our basic foundation seems destined to destroy…

I learned if we are ever to survive that sadnesses

we must discover joy. 


I learned a lot about how the sadness of a natural disaster, 

of divorce

of sickness 

of wars that never seem to end

can be offset by the joy that floats around a table

filled with family and friends. 


I learned in the midst of a sad world

there is more joy than one might think

as I watched the laughter, support and wisdom 

of people sharing food and drink. 


As luck would have it other friends came into the restaurant

It was like a holiday!

They were celebrating their 5th grandchild…

born earlier that day.


I learned although weakness can come from sadness, 

meant to injure, to bruise…to annoy

our courage, our determination…our strength

comes from our faith, our love…our joy.


I learned this simple lesson which I will from this day forward now employ….

I shall not close my eyes to sadness

but I shall open them more…to joy…


Any ancient Chinese scholar sitting in that restaurant would have smiled…

It would have been easy for he…or she…to see

there was more than one teacher in that room that night…


In truth…they were surrounding me.

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I had a dream last night…

I know dreams aren’t always as they appear…

this one had me teaching……and I’ve been retired for 6 years.


For me to remember a dream…is extraordinarily rare

and I don’t remember this entire dream…just bits and pieces here and there.


When I awoke on the other side of my dream…ready to begin my day

I had to stop and wonder what my dream was trying to say.


Perhaps it was reminding me…trying to make me comprehend

that even in retirement…teaching never ends.


That there is always someone out there…someone I can reach

someone with whom to share my wisdom…someone I can teach.


Another reason for my dream was easy to discern…

to remind me I will always be a student…who has a lot to learn.


Reminding me in life through adventures big and small

no teacher…no person in this world…

ever knows it all.


Reminding me in life…through my successes and my flops

if I’m lucky…if I’m truly blessed

my learning never stops


Reminding me wherever I go…east, west, north or south…

A good teacher is one whose ears…get as much exercise as their mouth…


Yes, I had a dream last night…

that I was still teaching

and still learning too…

and I woke up this morning realizing…


that dream keeps coming true.

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On the bottom shelf in an old bookstore this dusty book he came across

It was filled with a myriad of chapters including this one…about loss.


And as he read these words…he thought…wouldn’t it be great if we could found a way

to etch these words into the hearts and minds of the people of today.


Words like these provide wisdom…if we take the chance to read them

and they can change the world…if we take the time to heed them:



If you lose your fortune…you’ve lost nothing…f

or it’s only material things you lack

and if you’ve had a fortune once…

you can always get it back.


If you lose the courage to stand up for what you believe in…

to practice what you’ve been taught

then unlike losing your fortune…

you have lost a lot.


If you lose your honor and integrity…

then you’ve lost even more

for without these no matter how wealthy you become…

you…are truly poor.


And if you lose your soul…

for whatever reason large or small…

and fail to get it back…


then you have lost it all. 

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After listening to his final lesson 

the wise one was approached by a young woman and young man…

“We have a question.” they asked softly. 

He nodded, 

“I will answer it if I can.”


“We’ve listened to all your teachings.” They said

“We’ve taken them to heart.

You’ve taught us about beauty 

about friendship, love and art.” 


“You’ve taught us about acceptance and compassion

about how to have an open mind.

You’ve taught us about peace, 

about wisdom.

You’ve taught us to be kind.”


“We’ve listened and we’ve learned.” they said

“We’ve held on to your every breath.

Yet of all the subjects you have taught…

Yet you never speak of death?”


Their teacher looked at them and smiled, 

touched their shoulders 

then began to speak…

“Death eventually finds us.” he said…

“All the others…


we must seek.”