Monday, November 2, 2009

Mark Twain

I don't think anyone can argue against common sense, and against folks who have made it a part of the lexicon of America, like Will Rodgers and Mark Twain. While much of what they said was said in jest or humor, and some would argue there's little if any difference between the two and often they're both about truth, it could be argued they also said a lot about the simplicity and complexity of the world and life in a spoken throught.

Take for example the beginning of Mark Twain's book, "Following the Equator" where there is a photo of him on the steamship above the inscription, "Be good and you will be lonesome." Well, Jimmy Buffett took it farther in a verse in the song "That's what living is to me", when he wrote,

Be good and you will be lonesome.
Be lonesome and you will be free.
Live a lie and you will live to regret it.
That's what living is to me,
That's what living is to me.

I'm not sure what this has to do with Taoism, and maybe why I'm not much good at understanding the depth of Taoism, but somehow it struck me as something of the essence of the Tao. It's about being and who you are, your personality and character. As Martin Luther King said, "Let them be judged by the content of their character."

How often do we sacrifice being good? How many times a day? And at the end of the day do we still consider ourselves to be a good person? Will others see us as a good person? Based on what we did today? Or what we did to or with them?

The reality is we can't. We can only try and do our best, and then hope it's good. And then learn from both what we did and what good we may have done, or not done. And hope people understand to judge us fairly, by our intentions, our decisions and our actions, all reflecting our character.

The truth is we don't think about being good when we're thinking, deciding and acting. We think about the issue, the problem or whatever is in front of us. We simply do and let hindsight judge us. Good is what it's called later.