The Treasure Chest (8-minute read)

Words make a difference. They influence our thoughts, which in turn become our actions.

Dad had a fabulous memory. He made a life-long practice of storing meaningful things he came across in his “mental treasure chest.” He was fond of reciting entries from memory. Dad said his “treasure chest” brought inspiration during difficult times.

I don’t have a fabulous memory, but I have a smartphone. Whenever I come across a meaningful line or something that just stops and makes me think, I edit/cut/paste it into a file.

Like my dad, I’ve been doing this for years.

As 2021 draws to a close, I thought I would share some favorite entries with you.


You don’t see things as they are. You see them as you are.
-From the Talmud

Say not “I have found the truth,” but rather, ‘ I have found a truth.”
-Khalil Gibran

Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.
-The 14th Dalai Lama

We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. -Richard Rohr

The first half of life is about building a strong container; the second half is about discovering the contents the container was meant to hold. -Richard Rohr

The less there was of me, the happier I got. -Leonard Cohen

Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself.

If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside.
-Jim Kwik

Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.
-Jonathan Lockwood Huie

We create the conditions into which we attract future outcomes.
-Greg Brandon

Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.
-John-Paul Sartre

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

By the sheer power of it’s energy, love draws everything into an endless depth of greater wholeness.
-Richard Rohr

People do not think; they feel. They do not believe what is true; they regard as true that which they wish to believe.
-David Frum

Leave a door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself come from, and where you will go.
-Rebecca Solnit

All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness.
-David Whyte

There are three ascending levels of how one mourns: with tears, that is the lowest, with silence, that is higher, and with song, that is the highest
-Abraham Joshua Heschel

When we belong, we have an outside mooring to prevent us from falling into ourselves.
-John O’Donohue

Your genius is the way everything meets inside you.
-David Whyte

Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
Everything changes.
Love alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has Love lacks nothing.
Love alone is enough.
-St. Teresa of Avila (Substituting the word Love for God)

How we see a tree is how we see the world, and in the act of seeing we reveal what we are.
-William Blake

You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.
-Bob Marley

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.
-Mark Twain

We’ve got to be as clear-headed about human beings as possible, because we are still each other’s only hope.
-James Baldwin

The act of love is the surrender of self into life as it is.
-Anne Hillman

A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.
-James Baldwin

When no influence is strong enough to unify people, they divide.
-Octavia Butler

There comes a moment when the ego is no longer able to hold us together, and our identity is cast to the mercy of Being itself.
-Cynthia Bourgeault

The opposite of poverty is justice.
-Bryan Stevenson

Circumstances of men’s lives do much to determine man’s philosophy but conversely their philosophy does much determine their circumstances.
-Bertrand Russell

The learning of many things teaches not understanding.

A circle expands forever
It covers all who wish to hold hands
And its size depends on each other
-Mercy Amba Oduyoye

Love knows not it’s own depth until the hour of separation.
-Kahlil Gibran

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
-Simone Weill

There is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.
-Maya Angelou

Our undoing always serves an invitation to learn new modes of making: making beauty, making meaning, making the life we want to live and the world we want to live it in.
-Abraham Lincoln

Teach me to know that life is ever
On the side of the future.
Keep alive in me the forward look, the high hope.
-Howard Thurman, Conversations With God, Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans

Happy people die whole. Wholeness itself is a participatory act — both a faculty of being and a function of becoming, to be mastered and refined in the course of living.
-Robinson Jeffers

Just remember, though trouble never starves, it’s gotta get dark to see the stars…
-Son of Mel

In meditation, we move from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being fear-driven to being love-drawn.
-Richard Rohr

Our outer world and its inner significance must come together for there to be any wholeness and holiness.
-Richard Rohr

If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
-W.H. Auden

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was duty.
I worked — and behold, duty was joy.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Where all human connections are distrusted, the human being is very quickly lost.
-James Baldwin

In any love worthy of the name, the I and the you are ever-changing, so that the love binding the two is ever-renewing
-Maria Popova

Great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.
-Anaid Nin

Don’t try to make life a mathematical problem with your self in the center and everything coming out equal.
-Barbara Kingsolver, Poisonwood Bible

We are our injuries as much as we are our successes.
-Barbara Kingsolver, Poisonwood Bible

Every good artist paints what he is.
-Jackson Pollock

Capitalism, he wrote in “Ways of Seeing,” survives by forcing the majority to define their own interests as narrowly as possible.
-John Berger

Time is without length or breath. The question is what happened during its passing, and what happened is our lives have been joined together.
-Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance

The key to love is to treat it not as a noun — a state to be found and possessed — but as a verb — a practice to be mastered.
-Erich Fromm

I find more and more that attention is the elemental unit of time….. The quality of our attention measures the quantity of our aliveness…Attention, after all, is the native poetry of consciousness and the most elemental form of love.
-Maria Popova

Our certitudes keep us small.
-Wisława Szymborska

Nature is not something to have — it is something we are.
-Maria Popova

Energy follows attention. In other words, wherever you focus your attention is where the energy of your body, mind, and spirit goes.
-Richard Rohr

You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore to decide to be happy.
-Jane Marczewski, a 30-year-old 2021 contestant on America’s Got Talent show who is battling terminal cancer.

Always we walk each other home
And always we walk some of it alone.
-Barbara Kingsolver

Nothing characterizes us as much as our field of attention… This formula might be accepted: tell me where your attention lies and I will tell you who you are.
-Jose Ortega y Gasset

The things which are important lie behind the things that are apparent.
-Jose Ortega y Gasset

Few things limit us more profoundly than our own beliefs about what we deserve, and few things liberate us more powerfully than daring to broaden our locus of possibility and self-permission for happiness.
-Maria Popova

No one starts alone, apart, — we only add to that which has gone before, we are only parts of the whole.
-Edward Weston

Go deep in any one place and you will meet all places.
-Richard Rohr

There is no shortage of good days, it’s good lives that are hard to come by.
-Annie Dillard

The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage is sweet.
-Annie Dillard.

All real meaning occurs in duration.
-Ken Burns

If a product is free, you are the product.
-Sridhar Ramaswamy

We are all a sunlit moment come from a long darkness, what moves us always comes from what is hidden.
-David Whyte

Always there is something beyond your beyond.
-Barbara Kingsolver

Not only our actions but also our omissions become our destiny.
-Abraham Verghese, Cutting For Stone

All great art — and only honest art can be great — is therefore the work of vulnerability and all integrity the function of fidelity to one’s fragilities.
-Maria Popova

This time, Like all times, is very good,
If we know what to do with it.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The moment we begin to see that there are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives, we cease being captive to the myth of normalcy.
-Maria Popova

“Does what goes on inside show on the outside?” “Someone has a great fire in his soul… and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney.”
-Vincent Van Gogh

When you make the effort to listen and hear the other side of the story, your understanding increases and your hurt diminishes.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

The secret of Being is to do nothing but listen so that the song of life — which is the song of love — may be heard.
-Walt Whitman

Everything becomes an eye to everything else.
-David Whyte

Everyone alive on this fluke little planet is “on the spectrum,” that’s what a spectrum is. Life itself is a spectrum disorder, where each of us vibrate on a unique frequency on the continuous rainbow…. Life is something we need to stop correcting.
-Richard Powers, Bewilderment

Maybe the cost of being lost,
Is to keep from being found.
-Hayes Carl

The story in which you believe shapes the society that you create.
-Yuval Noah Harari

Some things are more important felt than known.
-Maria Popova

The deepest task of parenting — unconditional love.
-Maria Popova

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —For put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
In the end, what turned out to be wider than the sky
was not the brain
but life itself.
-Emily Dickinson


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