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philosophy

Essential Life-Learnings from 14 Years of Brain Pickings

On the weight of the world and the weight of the sky. …

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How Alive Are We? Alan Turing, Trees, and the Wonder of Life

“The more a creature’s life is worth, the less of it is alive.” …

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Poetry Is Not a Luxury: Audre Lorde on the Courage to Feel as an Antidote to Fear and a Fulcrum of Action, Power, and Possibility

“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized.” …

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Bruce Lee on Death and What It Takes to Be an Artist of Life

“The intangible represents the real power of the universe. It is the seed of the tangible. It is living void because all forms come out of it, and whosoever realizes the void is filled with life and power and the love of all beings.” …

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Nobel Laureate Louise Glück’s Love Poem to the Love of Life at the Horizon of Death

A subtle, stunning serenade to the lifelong hunger for self-love and self-forgiveness. …

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John Muir on the Calm Assurance of Autumn as a Time of Renewal and Nature as a Tonic for Mental and Physical Health

“Although the dying time, it is also the color time, the time when faith in the steadfastness of Nature is surest… The seeds all have next summer in them, some of them thousands of summers.” …

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Bertrand Russell on the Two Most Vital Things for Human Flourishing

“Love is wise, hatred is foolish.” …

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How an Artist is Like a Tree: Paul Klee on Creativity

“Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection.” …

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Frederick Douglass on the Wisdom of the Minority and the Real Meaning of Solidarity

“There are times in the experience of almost every community… when… the appointed leaders… exert their powers of mind to complicate, mystify, entangle and obscure the simple truth… to mislead the popular mind, and to corrupt the public heart, — then the humblest may stand forth… opposing… the torrent of evil.” …

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“I Go Down to the Shore”: Natascha McElhone Reads Mary Oliver’s Spare, Splendid Antidote to Melancholy and Personal Misery

Consolation for the waves of sorry from the waves of the sea. …

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Proust on the Essence of Creativity and the Hallmark of Artistic Genius

“Genius [consists] in reflecting power and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.” …

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The Sun, the Shadow, and the Unselved Self: Helen Macdonald on Eclipses as an Antidote to Ideologies of Otherness and a Portal to Human Connection

“A total eclipse wreaks havoc on your sense of self, on rational individuality.” …

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The Love of Life in the Face of Death: Keith Haring on Self-Doubt, the Fragility of Being, and Creativity as the Antidote to Our Mortal Anxiety

“It is very important to be in love with life… Life is very fragile and always elusive. As soon as we think we ‘understand,’ there is another mystery. I don’t understand anything. That is, I think, the key to understand everything.” …

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Of Owls and Roses: Mary Oliver on Happiness, Terror, and the Sublime Interconnectedness of Nature

“The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I live too. There is only one world.” …

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The Mountain and the Meaning of Life: René Daumal’s Alpine Allegory of Courage and the Measure of Wisdom

“There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know.” …

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Octavia Butler on How (Not) to Choose Our Leaders

“To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.” …

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Creativity in the Time of COVID: Zadie Smith on Writing, Love, and What Echoes Through the Hallway of Time Suddenly Emptied of Habit

“There is no great difference between novels and banana bread. They are both just something to do. They are no substitute for love… Love is not something to do, but something to be experienced, and something to go through — that must be why it frightens so many of us and why we so often approach it indirectly.” …

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A Cat: Leonard Michaels’s Playful and Poignant Meditations on the Enigma of Our Feline Companions and How They Reveal Us to Ourselves

“If you think long enough about what you see in a cat, you begin to suppose you will understand everything, but its eyes tell you there is nothing to understand, there is only life.” …

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Wonder and the Grandeur of the Universe as the Antidote to Human-Manufactured Bias and Divisiveness: Marilyn Nelson’s Stunning Poem “The Children’s Moon”

A lyrical time-capsule of human history being made under the unblinking eye of cosmic time. …

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Nick Cave on Living with Loss and the Central Paradox of Grief as a Portal to Aliveness

“The paradoxical effect of losing a loved one is that their sudden absence can become a feverish comment on that which remains… a luminous super-presence.” …

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D.H. Lawrence on Trees, Solitude, and How We Root Ourselves When Relationships Collapse

“One must possess oneself, and be alone in possession of oneself.” …

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Viktor Frankl on How Music, Nature, and Our Love for Each Other Succor Our Survival and Give Meaning to Our Lives

“Do we not know the feeling that overtakes us when we are in the presence of a particular person and, roughly translates as, The fact that this person exists in the world at all, this alone makes this world, and a life in it, meaningful.” …

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The Poet of the People Sings of Freedom: Carl Sandburg on Transcending the Pride and Vanity that Paralyze Social Justice

How to protect yourself from the “misuse and violation of the sacred portions of your personality.” …

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Leibniz’s Blades of Grass: The Philosophy of Plants, Difference as the Wellspring of Identity, and How Diversity Gives Meaning to the World

“The world… flourishes only in and as the variance among the beings that comprise it. Difference is at the origin of the world: it ‘worlds.’” …

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Beloved Writers on Nature as an Antidote to Depression

On the consolations of monarchs and of stars. …

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Poet and Philosopher David Whyte’s Gorgeous Letter to Children About Reading, Amazement, and the Exhilaration of Discovering the Undiscovered

A celebration of the delicious enchantment of the very first time. …

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