Learning new things is something I have loved since very young and my mother taught me to read when I was four years old. I learned how to sound out words and understood prefixes and suffixes at an early age so it was like a game to figure out the meaning of big words.
If I wasn’t playing a song on the piano, I had my happy contented head buried in a good book or cook book.
This love of language then progressed into writing the lyrics to songs, of which I have 50 with copyrights in the Library of Congress, and would love the world to hear them one day. It has always been one of my dreams to have them recorded in a nice studio with instruments and arranged. I met someone recently who is a recording engineer, who I hope to make that a reality.
Back to Ernest Dimnet’s thought provoking poignant quote about concentration.
“Certainly we cannot help thinking any more than we can help breathing, but, just as we can choose to breathe pure air in a pine wood on a high hill, we can place our mind where the images it will work upon will be of a higher nature.” -by Ernest Dimnet from “The Art of Thinking”
I got lucky and opened up three books that said on their spine “The World’s Greatest Literature” that were in my friend’s house sitting lonely on the shelf. A good book always longs for someone to hold it and caress its pages and love it, remember it and hopefully, if it is a really great book pass it down to others and share its glory, knowledge, lore and the many benefits within its covers. I guess a great book has a lot in common with me! Except I want my gifts and talents to be shared with the right people who can appreciate them!
When I spotted Ernest Dimnet’s “The Art of Thinking” Copyright 1928 by Simon & Schuster and read a few of the paragraphs-(I learned how to speed read but only use it to know if I want to read something in depth)-and I knew it was something special- and it was.
I was also surprised in the three volumes how many authors I had never heard of, considering I was in Honors English and took every class Garden Grove High School taught and loved each one of them.
Writing and doing the exercises my great teachers had me do was as though I was a sculptor carving marble or alabaster until I chiseled the words to my liking. Reading great literature is like a journey into some of the greatest minds that ever lived. Learning about the lives of the writers and what kind of people they were and where they lived helped me understand why they wrote what they did as well.
The more you read the more it exposes you to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of thinking and in general new horizons. Every book alters the course of your life because you will never be the same after you read it. After all, any time a person gains new knowledge they are in a sense “enlightened”. Remember Helen Keller when Anne Sullivan fingerspelled the word W-A-T-E-R in her hand? At that moment she realized that everything in the world had a name and her dark world void of sound or images was lit with the knowledge of the world around her.
Sometime go to your public library or look on GoogleBooks.com and read just one of the books Helen Keller wrote. You will be awed and amazed at how well she wrote and what a literal genius she became, especually since she was totally blind and deaf!
Books you think are boring now for required reading in school or college you’ll find years later a deeper appreciation of having read it will emerge; that is what I discovered.
In regards to solitude, Ernest Dimnet made me realize that the greatest minds of all time craved solitude so they could think and work out problems and CREATE. Now I don’t feel so bad and like a “loner” when I take that special time. It is needed if you problem solve, work on what I call “cerebral stuff” above-the-neck-stuff a lot.
There are happy mediums for everything in life and balance in life and the types of activities you incorporate are key to a happy, healthy life too. For instance, if your job entails computer work, which is largely solitary and requires concentration and is sedentary, that means that you have to set LIMITS. No more than an hour at a time with 15 minute breaks. If you do more you begin to turn into what I call a “cyborg” at Starbucks! I see people all the time almost hooked to the computers with their eyes glazed over, not seeing anything or anyone around them. It scares me when I see that. People like that are desensitized to everything around them, to where they don’t see or hear anything-since an iPod is usually playing making it impossible to hear what is going on around them.
Now mind you I go to lots of places and do work and have music playing on my iPod, but I am never so engrossed I cannot talk to a human being and pay attention to my surroundings. Remember this:
Computers are Things
Before Computers There Were People
Unplug yourself and phones for at least an hour or more a day.
You will feel your blood pressure go down, feel more relaxed and not be “hooked to anything” but the moments, the sounds of the birds or the person next to you talking to you.
When I was going to college years ago in 1984 and graduated in 1986 before my marriage to the rocket scientist-(which lasted a good fifteen years)…cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and Twitter and Facebook were a pipe dream.
Hard to image how I existed, but I did.
In relation to solitude Ernest Dimnet wrote:
“The Art of Thinking is the art of being one’s self and this art can only be learned if one is by one’s self.”
He also wrote, which is food for thought:
“Solitude produces exhilaration of consciousness, the consciousness of our innermost, whatever that may be.”
I hope these quotes from great minds like Ernest Dimnet and myself help you look at life in a different way and to capture the lost minutes in ways you never thought of.
Did you know that Lamoignons had a wife who always kept him waiting for dinner? He kept a pad of paper and a pen by the table and wrote during that time. All of those captured minutes, as I call them were transformed into several volumes of spiritual meditations.
Since I commute on the bus every day for 45 minutes one way, I am going to take my pad and pen with me and try writing and see if I can manage to do it. I do listen to my iPod or a good PodCase on iHeart Radio or live Radio Show, which is entertaining and as good as any “book on tape” or “Audio Book.”…and free if you have a SmartPhone or iPod.
Are there minutes you can “repurpose” rather than waste? If you commute on a bus bring a book, bring an old fasioned pad of paper and a pen. If you can’t afford a computer for a word processing program like MS Word like I swear by, everyone can afford a pad of paper and pen. Also, if you have a SmartPhone, you can write on a blog or on the NotePad or on a file on Box.com-a collaboration tool that allows you to collaborate with anyone in the world on books or anything you desire. (The files are private so only you and the people you choose can see or manipulate them!)
Books will never ever be outdated. There is a place for Nooks, Kindles, iPods and books with covers and pages.
Pros for a book: No electricity and moderately priced and you can pick one up in a flash of a second and put it away when you feel like it. Many things are only available in book form today. Plus there is something special about reading a book that is nearly 70 years old and in the original, unmodified text.
Many like The Fannie Farmer Cook Book have been through so many revisions, Fannie Farmer isn’t even mentioned in newer printings!! She created the first cooking school and regulated measurements that we know today like teaspoons, cups etc. Before that it was a “pinch of this or that”. To elimate the founder of The Boston Cooking School is a major blunder, but that is what happens when too many editors touch something. The original message gets lost key elements are left out. Revisions in books are like having different cooks adding their own ingredients to a pot of soup. After twenty years worth, the book becomes nothing like what the original author wrote. I like to read what the author wrote. It is part of history.
Make sure during your day, after exercising your brain for hours that you take time and do some yoga, take a nice walk and reflect on the day. It will make you feel better, clear your mind and create a balance by exercising yourself “below the waist”. That is something I am working on and am using my BodyTrac that is like a sophisticated rowing machine.
To sum this, if you are not American or are from another country and English is your second language, LEARN ENGLISH FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CHILDREN and YOU and YOUR CHILD’s FUTURE. Children in America are required to learn English in schools but their parents are not.
The pros to learning English:
You will be able to communicate easily to anyone in the United States.
You can communicate with your children, make more friends and get higher paying jobs. I am sure you never thought about reading, writing and English literacy that way before. I hope if I did one thing by writing this, that I inspire people to learn and become more than what they are by learning a basic skill kids learn in grade school. Literacy will change your life for the better in countless ways.
Those reasons should be enough to get into an adult literacy course. Most libraries offer them for FREE, or they can direct you where to go to learn English in your area.
We as human beings, have many parts to our beings. The trick is to accomplish what you need to without overdoing it in any one area.
Allow yourself at least an hour or more of solitude and pay attention to how much better you feel and how much more productive you are when you are around people.
It is true.
Written by Paulette Le Pore Motzko
Copyright January 2014
Clouds and Blue Sky Image from Google Imgages
All other photographs taken by Paulette L. Motzko with exception to Paulette Le Pore at her Nanny’s Henry F. Miller piano, which was taken by my dad Ernest C. Le Pore when I was 9 years old. The year I began playing piano & writing music, cooking and exploring writing.