Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The voice of hope undeterred: "I know he's still alive, because he doesn't call and he doesn't write, which is exactly like him."
"We spend the first third of life complaining that nobody really knows us, the second two-thirds trying to keep it that way."
"While it's romantic to talk about growing old together, it mostly happens while you're napping."
"While I find that I can keep my nose out of other people's business, I do have a curiosity about their non-business activities."
"There are no strangers. There are just people you know whom you haven't met yet."
"When everything worth doing has been done, there will be plenty worth undoing."
"I often think about the end of time -- how, for example, they'll be able to determine the winner in Olympic downhill skiing."
"I assume, when the Lord assigns credit for loving thy neighbor, He will count crying at movies."
Saying to someone in need, "You know where to reach me," overlooks the fact that they have already reached you.
"A question that comes up in retirement is what to do when a police officer tells you to go about your business."
I have concluded that the poetic contraction for "sprinkling" is "spr'ing."
"It is a dubious favor to teach a mortal being to tell time."
~~ Robert Brault
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I agree that we are close kin in regard to faith, godseekers both. And your theory that a person is a cynic in inverse proportion to his former idealism is certainly spot on. But we two are not so much cynics, I suspect, as pilgrims to a lost shrine.
I did read your piece on the crosses in the pines. I’m more inclined to see the hand of God in the pines themselves than in the “crosses.” But you present this well. You write a simple narrative that accomplishes its purpose without being the least insistent. You have a nice hand at painting a word picture, and I like the way, after painting it, you don't hang a heavy lesson on us. You simply hang the picture on the wall and say "Cool, eh?”
To Mary A:
I cannot offer you words of wisdom, for you are now wiser than I. I have never lost a loved one so suddenly and with so little chance to ready my emotions. But I can tell you that you now begin the journey in life for which your mom prepared you, and you must trust that God would not have taken her if He did not feel you ready. You have not lost your mom's love and support; you will feel her love upon you always -- and most powerfully when you most need it -- and you will find support in the memory of the countless encouragements she gave you. You will be quite amazed at the moments in your life when you find her by your side.
To Tyler, a student:
Okay, you asked for it.
By far the greatest influence on me as a young man was Thoreau, not just “Walden” but the essays, “Civil Disobedience” and “Life Without Principle.” I believe Thoreau is more politically relevant than ever today. In Philosophy, you want to go right back to Plato and steep yourself in the Dialogues. As a godseeker, make sure you read Dostoyevsky, especially “The Possessed” and “The Brothers Karamazov.” And, for a real trek into self-discovery, find yourself a copy of Saul Bellow’s, “Henderson the Rain King.”
Thank you for your kind interest. I think that the great happiness in life is to find someone to whom you can express your feelings openly. Indeed, some things, like kindness and gratitude, exist only in their expression.
Thanks so much. Emerson and Thoreau are my gods and C. S. Lewis my favorite Christian apologist. I've also heard of Twain, Einstein and Churchill. Being placed among them is further circumstantial evidence that I'm a dead white male. If you really put my quotes in your husband's lunch everyday, I assume he likes liverwurst (woulda said baloney, but it seemed too obvious.)
To Eric, a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan:
Supposedly, there are no more than six degrees of separation between any two human beings. Whatever the number of degrees between us used to be, it is now just one. I am proud to know you. Thanks for the good-will vibes, and I return them with whole heart. I send you a fellow stranger's sincere wish for your well-being and safety. Thanks much for what you're doing and may the New Year bring you pleasant surprises.
Sometimes my attempts at humor are a little clumsy. I wanted to make clear that I am no more God's agent than anyone else, but that seems to be what you meant, so I'm okay with that. Yes, I accept the existence of God. His presence in our everyday lives is what I'm seeking to get a handle on. Most of my thoughts on God are attempts to suggest such a presence, but, for me, it's still more a quest than a confidence.
Thanks so much. No, there's no previous book. My past work exists only in a few anthology collections, magazine archives and newspaper microfiche. I started the blog with the idea of bringing it all together but quickly diverted to writing new thoughts, which seems to be what readers prefer.
I'm pleased to hear from you. In '61, while in the U.S. Army, I sold a couple items to Reader's Digest and was hooked. Although my writing has always been avocational, I've done it all my life and was able to make a steady side income from it before the internet ended the paying market for the sort of things I do: quips, anecdotes, thoughts, short humor, light verse, personal reminiscence, op-ed pieces.
To my namesake, Bob Brault, the American poet:
Since you asked, I'm 71 but can still pass for 110. I’ve spent my life making the rounds of the Hartford insurance companies, programming everything from unit record wire boards to internet websites -- the whole gamut. Sounds like you turned out pretty well for a beat poet. Were you the inventor of rap or what? You were ahead of your times, my friend. Strikes me that you could be big on today's scene. Grow long whiskers and get an agent.
My first communication with Ken Devine:
I've noticed, looking at your Brittany photos, that you've turned a very French-looking overgrown landscape into a manicured setting -- the British compulsion toward very proper lawns and gardens, I suppose. I think I would have left the grounds as they were, but that's the Frenchman in me, happy to sit in clutter while honing fine sentences.
~~ Robert Brault
Friday, March 19, 2010
"How often we choose to continue the life we know, only to look back and realize that it was not one of the choices."
"To be an optimist in this topsy-turvy world, you have to believe in Yhprum's Law."
An obit idea I bequeath to anyone who wishes to use it:
"She leaves her husband.., three children..., a brother.., a sister..., six grandchildren, several nephews and nieces, and many strangers who would have loved to know her."
"He was a blogger, which is to say, he died known only to strangers."
"One's blog is no more likely to be mentioned in one's presence than one's big nose."
"Conspicuously absent from the Ten Commandments is any obligation of parent to child. We must suppose that God felt it unnecessary to command by law what He had ensured by love."
"If you are not a figure of authority to your kids, then you should at least pray to God that they find one."
"A child wants more to feel secure in your judgment than to know the reason for everything you ask."
"The average American family raises 2.3 children, although some raise one child with a 2.3 degree of difficulty."
"There is no more distraught an outcast than a teenage girl who has been grounded when all her friends have been disowned."
"Though, Lord knows, you try, you never quite succeed in jumping off your family tree."
"A family tree is a search party that has been fanning out for centuries to find you, just in case you think they're about to let you go."
"Nothing shakes your faith in democracy like the family's three-to-two vote for fudge sundaes for breakfast."
"What you discover in a democracy is that it is difficult to build a house when each nail has an opinion."
"Both the optimist and the pessimist plan for the worst-case scenario, but the optimist doesn't depend on it."
~~ Robert Brault
Sunday, March 14, 2010
If what you say is not necessary, be sure it is kind and true.
If what you say is not kind, be sure it is true and necessary.
If what you say is not true, be sure it is necessary and kind.
Liz passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks later. Her thought was picked up from here by "The Quote Garden" and has found considerable circulation on the net. I am so pleased that Liz has attained this recognition for something she said here.
Now a few new thoughts of my own.
"If you will recognize the blessings in your life, your intellect will soon enough come to accept their source."
"In the soul of every gardener is a vestige of belief in the Tooth Fairy."
"What is a gardener, after all, but a magician's assistant.
"If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden."
"One might define God as whoever it is who knew exactly the kids you would have picked out for yourself."
"You can awaken each day to obligations you never chose -- or you can decide now to choose them."
"Never hold a grudge, especially one whose year of origin can only be determined by radioactive dating."
While others are laid to their rest, an American is buried with a list of "Things I Gotta Do in the Six Weeks the Fingernails Keep Growing."
Talk about a persuasive tongue -- you know those TV ads where they say "Strict limit of three to a caller?" Well, I talked the guy into selling me four.
"At some point in childhood you discover that nothing is fun forever, which news you then have to break to your dog."
"The more side roads you stop to explore, the less likely that life will pass you by."
"What every manipulator of crowds knows is that no two people are alike; it takes three or more."
In one compartment of my mind reside my thoughts and in the compartment below reside my beliefs, and my beliefs keep pounding on the ceiling, shouting, "Be quiet up there!"
"If you haven't time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded."
~~ Robert Brault
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Some couples grow closer with the years, but the Haskells had opted for continuity.
He had dumped his friends, and now, alone with his solitude, he discovered that his solitude preferred his friends.
There were lonely days, when her mind recalled promises not kept, and lonely nights, when her heart recalled promises not made.
Alone with her thoughts, Meg worried that somewhere Carl was alone with his inability to think.
He could read her like an ancient map of the known world.
She had always thought the McDermotts a curious couple, his face a map of Ireland, her face a map of Iceland.
When had she ever entered the world of her thoughts but as a stranger.
She had had several facelifts, and he wondered how she could be comfortable in her own skin when her skin looked so uncomfortable on her.
A bit of dialogue:
"I have several times, sitting bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night, completely comprehended God's plan, but I'm afraid one never has a pencil when one needs one."
"Truth be known, I have never gotten along that well with the part of the world that didn't marry me."
"It was a case of the innermost me falling madly in love with the outermost her."
"Artistic ability? My dear, I couldn't even draw a blank."
And, with apologies to Jane Austen, the opening of my novel of manners : "If God has not yet created a heaven for the good-intentioned, no doubt He intends to."
~~ Robert Brault
Saturday, March 6, 2010
"Hope is what you get if you apply logical inference to the existence of flowers."
"The experience I gained at age 21 would be useful if I were ever 21 again. But I'm 71and new at it and keep making age 71 mistakes."
"Courage: Perseverance against odds. Defined in war as bravery. Defined in parenting as parenting."
"The trick is to convince your kids that schooling can help them in life and is not just, you know, for educational purposes."
Kid to kid: "I don't get my mom -- she expects me to know why I want to do something before I even do it."
Darwin called the sudden appearance of flowers in the fossil record an "abominable mystery." You wonder, if there were proof in the fossil record of God saying, "Let there be flowers," what do you suppose Darwin would have called it?
"Perhaps God gives us a physical body so that every time we change our mind, we won't be someone else."
"Here is the basic question: Are we marionettes, or are we creatures of free will who just happen to have a lot of jerky reflexes?"
"What is a human being but a marionette pulling his own strings -- while trying to do watercolor and needlepoint."
"There is evidence of progress. Soldiers still die in battle, but horses are no longer shot out from under them. "
"It's a nasty divorce when they can't agree on how to divvy up the His and Hers towels."
"It's not over until it's over, but then it is."
"If you aren't honor-bound to do anything else, you aren't honor-bound to get even, either."
~ Robert Brault
Monday, March 1, 2010
Scribbled on the wall of a prehistoric cave dwelling: "They who do not know history are condemned to start it."
The other day I'm thinking, "There but for the grace of God go I," only to realize that I'm looking in a mirror and have seriously overestimated the grace of God.
There are things I have wanted so long that I would only consent to have them if I could keep wanting them.
As to evolution vs creationism, I suppose it's possible that we're living Plan B and keep turning up remnants of Plan A.
Yes, to be a good parent, you have to sacrifice, but this is not a requirement of parenting, it is a requirement of being good at something.
I've always thought that the vastness of the night sky is an incredible example of what you can do with mirrors; I mean, assuming that's the way it was done.
Metaphor for the night sky: A trillion asterisks and no explanations.
~ Robert Brault