Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year


My best wishes to all readers for a great year 2010.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by wwarby under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Happy New Year


My best wishes to all readers for a great year 2010.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by wwarby under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Throw away ideas that do not work (Part 3 of 3)


[4] The idea that you are too young, too old, or inadequate to ameliorate your situation: such restrictions never hold true overall, although they might apply to specific goals in certain environments; for instance, learning to play the piano at an advanced age can be a lot of fun, but it makes difficult to pursue a career as a pop artist.

Restrictions can often be lifted or circumvented by changing the context; goals can be slightly modified in order to seek better market opportunities; personal limitations can inspire us to figure out more effective approaches to make or sell products; careers can be redefined; professions can be combined in order to serve clients in surprising ways.

[5] The idea that, if you have not already attained success, you'd better give up because you have no chance: despite the fact that extraordinary achievements are reported daily by newspapers, few people possess the strength of character to encourage friends and neighbours to pursue challenging goals.

Psychologically, watching the outstanding performance of athletes on television is less menacing that seeing a friend start up a business; praising the latest film of our favourite actor feels less threatening than supporting our spouse's dream to become a novelist. We do not mind being surpassed by those we have never met, but we dread the idea that someone close to us might grow faster than ourselves.

You have to let go of prejudices that prevent you from developing your potential; you have to discard traditions that are not in line with current opportunities. We live in an era of abundant resources and unlimited possibilities. By throwing away ideas that do not work, we open the door to realistic plans, workable solutions, and satisfactory results.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by motumboe under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Throw away ideas that do not work (Part 2 of 3)


[1] The idea that the purpose of life should be to serve other people: the problem with this belief is that it is partly true. Interacting with other human beings and providing good service to them is highly rewarding. Men and women draw deep satisfaction from the gratitude of customers, patients, or clients.

On the other hand, helping strangers for the sake of achieving ethical perfection should not be taken to such an extreme that it destroys your life. Cost-effective service to customers can only be sustained permanently when it is provided commercially, that is, on a profit-making basis. Service rendered on the basis of personal sacrifice can be viable in some circumstances, but faces major difficulties to remain operational in the long-term.

[2] The idea that you need the approval of dozens of people before you can improve your life: gregariousness is an essential component of the human psychology; we all love to be appreciated by friends and colleagues; on many occasions, honours and distinctions are as important as monetary rewards; nevertheless, this is not the same as professing that individuals are incapable of affecting their destiny unless they have obtained social approval.

In industrialized societies, personal initiative plays a determinant role in individual happiness. Innovation and change disrupt social structures; any person who deviates from the standard behaviour risks criticism and ostracism; innovators frequently find these psychological obstacles harder to overcome than lack of access to capital.

[3] The idea that resources are limited and that you have to content yourself with whatever you currently possess: physical resources are indeed limited, but this fact should not prevent you from establishing ambitious goals for yourself. Money and other assets can be borrowed if you demonstrate that you can use them productively.

The global economy is a scenario where resources are continuously shifted from low to high productivity areas. Purpose and initiative play a crucial role in exploiting assets to the maximum; men with visionary business models discover new applications for old technologies and additional customers for existing products. Even if material resources are limited, the only constrain to economic growth is human creativity.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by katesheets under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Throw away ideas that do not work (Part 2 of 3)


[1] The idea that the purpose of life should be to serve other people: the problem with this belief is that it is partly true. Interacting with other human beings and providing good service to them is highly rewarding. Men and women draw deep satisfaction from the gratitude of customers, patients, or clients.

On the other hand, helping strangers for the sake of achieving ethical perfection should not be taken to such an extreme that it destroys your life. Cost-effective service to customers can only be sustained permanently when it is provided commercially, that is, on a profit-making basis. Service rendered on the basis of personal sacrifice can be viable in some circumstances, but faces major difficulties to remain operational in the long-term.

[2] The idea that you need the approval of dozens of people before you can improve your life: gregariousness is an essential component of the human psychology; we all love to be appreciated by friends and colleagues; on many occasions, honours and distinctions are as important as monetary rewards; nevertheless, this is not the same as professing that individuals are incapable of affecting their destiny unless they have obtained social approval.

In industrialized societies, personal initiative plays a determinant role in individual happiness. Innovation and change disrupt social structures; any person who deviates from the standard behaviour risks criticism and ostracism; innovators frequently find these psychological obstacles harder to overcome than lack of access to capital.

[3] The idea that resources are limited and that you have to content yourself with whatever you currently possess: physical resources are indeed limited, but this fact should not prevent you from establishing ambitious goals for yourself. Money and other assets can be borrowed if you demonstrate that you can use them productively.

The global economy is a scenario where resources are continuously shifted from low to high productivity areas. Purpose and initiative play a crucial role in exploiting assets to the maximum; men with visionary business models discover new applications for old technologies and additional customers for existing products. Even if material resources are limited, the only constrain to economic growth is human creativity.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by katesheets under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 28 December 2009

Throw away ideas that do not work (Part 1 of 3)


Sooner or later, human beings come to realize that some ideas that they hold in high regard do not work. The most common reaction in those cases is denial. Few individuals like the uncertainty of change; even fewer are willing to admit mistakes and take openly the blame.

Ideas engage people and people move the world. Our convictions contribute to our effectiveness more than our material resources. If we hold the right ideas, we will progress; if we believe in falsehoods and inconsistencies, we will fail. There is no escape from this principle.

Are your ideas helping you to improve your life? Are your beliefs promoting fear or prompting you to take effective action? Have you acquired a clear view of the world? Can you see reality without the distortions of wishful thinking? Can you face life without envy and discouragement? Are your convictions hindering or supporting your motivation?

We can define ideas that work as those that allow us to identify problems, analyse their causes, and figure out workable solutions. Worthless opinions are those that render us insensitive to danger, lead us to react irrationally to difficulties, and contaminate our emotions with anger or anxiety. Counter-productive views are those that sabotage our initiatives and waste our potential.

The first step to improve your life is to throw away all ideas that do not work; you have to let go of unproven theories before you embrace feasible solutions; you cannot become efficient until you discard all excuses for rigidity and inertia.

In order to move forward, we must stop pushing backwards; in order to look at the horizon, we must lift our eyes from the ground. Let us review briefly five widespread convictions that are at odds with reality.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Wolfgang Staudt under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The truth about career choice


Every magician knows that there are three tricks that he should never perform in public: predicting catastrophes, letting wild animals free, and making food disappear.

As it happens, career counsellors have also inherited a deep abhorrence against these practices. This is why you will seldom hear them recommend anyone to take risks, go for an artistic profession, or choose a path that might lead to unemployment.

Studies have identified a dozen factors that contribute to career success, but so far, nobody has been able to build a convincing model to predict an individual's future or how much happiness a certain profession will bring him.

Conscious of their inability to foretell the future, most career counsellors have narrowed their purpose. Advice is no longer intended to ensure satisfaction, but to achieve social insertion. Risk is identified as a problem; boredom has become the solution. The problem is that recommendations based on convention never inspire daring adventurers.

In the year 1820, Bertel Thorvaldsen, an acclaimed romantic sculptor, travelled back from Rome to his native Denmark. Thorvaldsen was then 50 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. During his stay in Copenhagen, he talked to many aspiring artists, giving them advice and encouragement.

One night, when Thorvaldsen returned to his hotel after a reception in his honour, he was told that a boy had been waiting for him all day. Intrigued, Thorvaldsen looked around the hotel hall and found a poorly dressed kid asleep on a chair.

He walked up to the boy, shook his arm gently, and whispered to him “It is late, kid, go home.” Startled, the boy opened his eyes and jumped to his feet. “I was waiting for you, Herr Thorvaldsen, I have been waiting for you all day.”

That must be true, thought Thorvaldsen, since the boy looked so exhausted and hungry that he was pitiful to see. “I wanted to ask you for advice on my career choice,” the kid went on. “I cannot decide whether I should become a novelist or a poet.”

Out of compassion, Thorvaldsen ordered a glass of warm milk for the boy and listened to his story. It was a heartbreaking tale. With adolescence, the kid had lost the striking voice that had gained him some praise and donations in his home town, turning into one more unemployed youth on the streets.

“This is why I have thought of becoming a writer,” the boy explained shyly, taking three ruffled pages out of his pocket and handing them over to Thorvaldsen. Strange enough, the idea of asking a sculptor for literary advice seemed to fit the kid's pathetic situation.

Thorvaldsen devoted a few minutes to reading the text and was appalled to see innumerable grammar and spelling mistakes. It was obvious that the boy had no chance of becoming a writer. Even if it was cruel, it was better to tell him the truth, so that he could at least learn a trade.

“What is your name?” asked Thorvaldsen, returning the pages. “Hans-Christian,” replied the boy full of hope. “Hans-Christian Andersen.” A silence ensued, as the sculptor searched for the least hurtful way to express his judgement.

He stared at Hans-Christian Andersen for a long while as he remembered his own artistic ambitions as a young man, many years ago, but of course, his own situation had been completely different. Thorvaldsen took in a deep breath and shook his head. “Look, Hans-Christian,” he began, “I don't know how to tell you this.”

At that moment, Andersen nodded and gave the sculptor a crazy smile. That was what he had been waiting for. He was about to hear the words of encouragement that he needed so badly. He was sure that an artist of the calibre of Thorvaldsen would be immediately able to recognize his talent and point him in the right direction.

“What do you think, Herr Thorvaldsen, should I become a novelist or a poet?” he asked again, this time full of confidence. Fascinated, Thorvaldsen looked at the kid straight in the eye and realized how foolish he had been. “I have no doubt, Hans-Christian,” he answered softly, “that you can become both.”

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Vividy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The truth about career choice


Every magician knows that there are three tricks that he should never perform in public: predicting catastrophes, letting wild animals free, and making food disappear.

As it happens, career counsellors have also inherited a deep abhorrence against these practices. This is why you will seldom hear them recommend anyone to take risks, go for an artistic profession, or choose a path that might lead to unemployment.

Studies have identified a dozen factors that contribute to career success, but so far, nobody has been able to build a convincing model to predict an individual's future or how much happiness a certain profession will bring him.

Conscious of their inability to foretell the future, most career counsellors have narrowed their purpose. Advice is no longer intended to ensure satisfaction, but to achieve social insertion. Risk is identified as a problem; boredom has become the solution. The problem is that recommendations based on convention never inspire daring adventurers.

In the year 1820, Bertel Thorvaldsen, an acclaimed romantic sculptor, travelled back from Rome to his native Denmark. Thorvaldsen was then 50 years old and at the pinnacle of his fame. During his stay in Copenhagen, he talked to many aspiring artists, giving them advice and encouragement.

One night, when Thorvaldsen returned to his hotel after a reception in his honour, he was told that a boy had been waiting for him all day. Intrigued, Thorvaldsen looked around the hotel hall and found a poorly dressed kid asleep on a chair.

He walked up to the boy, shook his arm gently, and whispered to him “It is late, kid, go home.” Startled, the boy opened his eyes and jumped to his feet. “I was waiting for you, Herr Thorvaldsen, I have been waiting for you all day.”

That must be true, thought Thorvaldsen, since the boy looked so exhausted and hungry that he was pitiful to see. “I wanted to ask you for advice on my career choice,” the kid went on. “I cannot decide whether I should become a novelist or a poet.”

Out of compassion, Thorvaldsen ordered a glass of warm milk for the boy and listened to his story. It was a heartbreaking tale. With adolescence, the kid had lost the striking voice that had gained him some praise and donations in his home town, turning into one more unemployed youth on the streets.

“This is why I have thought of becoming a writer,” the boy explained shyly, taking three ruffled pages out of his pocket and handing them over to Thorvaldsen. Strange enough, the idea of asking a sculptor for literary advice seemed to fit the kid's pathetic situation.

Thorvaldsen devoted a few minutes to reading the text and was appalled to see innumerable grammar and spelling mistakes. It was obvious that the boy had no chance of becoming a writer. Even if it was cruel, it was better to tell him the truth, so that he could at least learn a trade.

“What is your name?” asked Thorvaldsen, returning the pages. “Hans-Christian,” replied the boy full of hope. “Hans-Christian Andersen.” A silence ensued, as the sculptor searched for the least hurtful way to express his judgement.

He stared at Hans-Christian Andersen for a long while as he remembered his own artistic ambitions as a young man, many years ago, but of course, his own situation had been completely different. Thorvaldsen took in a deep breath and shook his head. “Look, Hans-Christian,” he began, “I don't know how to tell you this.”

At that moment, Andersen nodded and gave the sculptor a crazy smile. That was what he had been waiting for. He was about to hear the words of encouragement that he needed so badly. He was sure that an artist of the calibre of Thorvaldsen would be immediately able to recognize his talent and point him in the right direction.

“What do you think, Herr Thorvaldsen, should I become a novelist or a poet?” he asked again, this time full of confidence. Fascinated, Thorvaldsen looked at the kid straight in the eye and realized how foolish he had been. “I have no doubt, Hans-Christian,” he answered softly, “that you can become both.”

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Vividy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 26 December 2009

There is a garden beyond the desert


"When I was a kid, I also lived myself in the desert," I begin my story. "We hardly had enough to eat. Sometimes, a week went by without having eaten much except cheese and some dates."

The children, with wide-open eyes, are sitting on the ground, staring at me incredulously. For them, the whole world is a desert. They have never seen anything else. Their parents have never gone anywhere else. In their minds, life itself is a desert.

"I wanted to escape, to go somewhere else, to move to a better place," I continued my story. "Every morning, I walked around the tents looking at the horizon, hoping to find a path in the sand. Every evening, I prayed to see a far away light after the sun went down."

At that point, I always walk around the children, theatrically looking around in all directions, as though trying to find a city beyond the desert. The boys and girls turn their heads and follow me with their eyes. Nevertheless, they don't bother to look at the desert. They know that there is nothing to be found in the sand.

"Years passed and, one morning, when I was about to give up, a stranger arrived," I tell the children. "Nobody knew where he was coming from nor how he had found the way through the desert. I just woke up one day and the stranger was there."

The oldest kid in the group shakes his head. I doubt that he has heard my story before, but he is sceptical. I see him hesitate before asking me a question. "Who was that man? What did he come here for?"

"These are the same questions that I asked him myself," I reply, nodding to the kid. "The man was wearing garments in colours I had never seen and his eyes were unusually bright." The children, who are all wearing white tunics made of rough cotton, examine my new red-green shirt, my blue jeans, and my brown sport shoes.

I take a piece of old-yellow paper out of my pocket and show it to the children. "When the stranger told me that he was coming from a garden beyond the desert, I asked him the way and wrote his directions on this piece of paper."

A little girl stands up in the middle of the group. She must be nine or ten years old. She points at the paper in my hand and calls me a liar. The other kids tell her to shut up. Even if my story is not true, they want to hear the end. The girl repeats that I am a liar and sits down again.

I lift the piece of paper and pretend to decipher some old lines. Of course, I do it all for effect, since I know the text by heart. "The advice from the stranger was very simple," I go on. "He told me to leave behind all that is useless, to take any direction I wanted, and to walk straight ahead until I found the garden."

The children are now silent, trying to make sense of my words. The oldest kid is the first to react. He asks me the same question that every kid had asked me before. The same question that every kid will always ask until the end of time.

"Did you follow the stranger's advice?" he wants to know. "Did you find the garden?" Before I give a positive answer, I stretch my arms in order to let them admire my shirt, my blue jeans, and my sport shoes. Those are the proof that the garden exists.

The little girl stands up again. Is she going to call me a liar once more? No, instead, she draws the other children's attention to the obvious contradiction in my story. "If you found the garden, what are you doing here?" she questions me angrily. "Why did you come back to the desert?"

I never reply immediately to that last question. A long silence is the best way to underline my point. "I came back to the desert," I answer, "in order to tell you this story."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by RA_photography under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

There is a garden beyond the desert


"When I was a kid, I also lived myself in the desert," I begin my story. "We hardly had enough to eat. Sometimes, a week went by without having eaten much except cheese and some dates."

The children, with wide-open eyes, are sitting on the ground, staring at me incredulously. For them, the whole world is a desert. They have never seen anything else. Their parents have never gone anywhere else. In their minds, life itself is a desert.

"I wanted to escape, to go somewhere else, to move to a better place," I continued my story. "Every morning, I walked around the tents looking at the horizon, hoping to find a path in the sand. Every evening, I prayed to see a far away light after the sun went down."

At that point, I always walk around the children, theatrically looking around in all directions, as though trying to find a city beyond the desert. The boys and girls turn their heads and follow me with their eyes. Nevertheless, they don't bother to look at the desert. They know that there is nothing to be found in the sand.

"Years passed and, one morning, when I was about to give up, a stranger arrived," I tell the children. "Nobody knew where he was coming from nor how he had found the way through the desert. I just woke up one day and the stranger was there."

The oldest kid in the group shakes his head. I doubt that he has heard my story before, but he is sceptical. I see him hesitate before asking me a question. "Who was that man? What did he come here for?"

"These are the same questions that I asked him myself," I reply, nodding to the kid. "The man was wearing garments in colours I had never seen and his eyes were unusually bright." The children, who are all wearing white tunics made of rough cotton, examine my new red-green shirt, my blue jeans, and my brown sport shoes.

I take a piece of old-yellow paper out of my pocket and show it to the children. "When the stranger told me that he was coming from a garden beyond the desert, I asked him the way and wrote his directions on this piece of paper."

A little girl stands up in the middle of the group. She must be nine or ten years old. She points at the paper in my hand and calls me a liar. The other kids tell her to shut up. Even if my story is not true, they want to hear the end. The girl repeats that I am a liar and sits down again.

I lift the piece of paper and pretend to decipher some old lines. Of course, I do it all for effect, since I know the text by heart. "The advice from the stranger was very simple," I go on. "He told me to leave behind all that is useless, to take any direction I wanted, and to walk straight ahead until I found the garden."

The children are now silent, trying to make sense of my words. The oldest kid is the first to react. He asks me the same question that every kid had asked me before. The same question that every kid will always ask until the end of time.

"Did you follow the stranger's advice?" he wants to know. "Did you find the garden?" Before I give a positive answer, I stretch my arms in order to let them admire my shirt, my blue jeans, and my sport shoes. Those are the proof that the garden exists.

The little girl stands up again. Is she going to call me a liar once more? No, instead, she draws the other children's attention to the obvious contradiction in my story. "If you found the garden, what are you doing here?" she questions me angrily. "Why did you come back to the desert?"

I never reply immediately to that last question. A long silence is the best way to underline my point. "I came back to the desert," I answer, "in order to tell you this story."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by RA_photography under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas


My best wishes for Christmas to all readers.

[Image by Per Ola Wiberg under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Merry Christmas


My best wishes for Christmas to all readers.

[Image by Per Ola Wiberg under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 24 December 2009

How to slow down for the big run


“You are a strange man, Ludovico,” complained Alessandra Benucci. “You say that you love me, but you care as little for me as you do for your career.” Ludovico Ariosto looked out of the window and did not reply immediately.

His new job as governor of Lucca was difficult and his salary meagre, but the beauty of Tuscany never ceased to astonish him whenever he looked outside. “Sometimes, you have to slow down to prepare yourself for a long run,” answered Ludovico, shrugging his shoulders. “Anyway, at this moment, this was the only job I could get.”

“But you promised that we would get married soon,” went on Alessandra, walking up to him and setting her hand on his shoulder. It was June of 1516 and, in three months, Ludovico would be 42 years old. He turned around to face Alessandra and saw his promises reflected in her eyes.

“I am just asking you to have a little patience, my love,” he said, taking in a deep breath. “We will be married as soon as I have saved enough money to lead a proper life.” How often had he tried to explain that to her? A hundred or a thousand times, it didn't matter.

Ludovico had changed jobs often, always moving forward, working endless days to be able to devote the nights to his passion. After years of efforts, he had just completed his poem “Orlando Furioso,” although he was still planning to make some revisions.

“You should just let it go as it is now, Ludovico,” exhorted Alessandra. “Your poem is more than good; it is even more than wonderful! It is high time for you to work on something else. Why don't you write a Venetian comedy to please the Bishop? Or a song dedicated to the Duke?”

During the following eight years, Ludovico saved as much money as he could from his small salary. Shortly after his 50th birthday, he fulfilled his promise and married Alessandra. The couple purchased a small farm near Ferrara and retired to live there.

When Ludovico Ariosto's poem “Orlando Furioso” was published, only eighty six copies were printed. During his retirement in the farm, his revisions of the poem never ceased. It is believed that he rewrote parts of it at least two hundred times.

Little by little, the reputation of “Orlando Furioso” began to grow. By the time Ludovico was 57 years old, his poem had been already reprinted many times and was already considered the work of a genius. Ludovico, nevertheless, continued to make new revisions. After his death, Alessandra Benucci published the final version. It was absolutely perfect.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Diego Cupolo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

How to slow down for the big run


“You are a strange man, Ludovico,” complained Alessandra Benucci. “You say that you love me, but you care as little for me as you do for your career.” Ludovico Ariosto looked out of the window and did not reply immediately.

His new job as governor of Lucca was difficult and his salary meagre, but the beauty of Tuscany never ceased to astonish him whenever he looked outside. “Sometimes, you have to slow down to prepare yourself for a long run,” answered Ludovico, shrugging his shoulders. “Anyway, at this moment, this was the only job I could get.”

“But you promised that we would get married soon,” went on Alessandra, walking up to him and setting her hand on his shoulder. It was June of 1516 and, in three months, Ludovico would be 42 years old. He turned around to face Alessandra and saw his promises reflected in her eyes.

“I am just asking you to have a little patience, my love,” he said, taking in a deep breath. “We will be married as soon as I have saved enough money to lead a proper life.” How often had he tried to explain that to her? A hundred or a thousand times, it didn't matter.

Ludovico had changed jobs often, always moving forward, working endless days to be able to devote the nights to his passion. After years of efforts, he had just completed his poem “Orlando Furioso,” although he was still planning to make some revisions.

“You should just let it go as it is now, Ludovico,” exhorted Alessandra. “Your poem is more than good; it is even more than wonderful! It is high time for you to work on something else. Why don't you write a Venetian comedy to please the Bishop? Or a song dedicated to the Duke?”

During the following eight years, Ludovico saved as much money as he could from his small salary. Shortly after his 50th birthday, he fulfilled his promise and married Alessandra. The couple purchased a small farm near Ferrara and retired to live there.

When Ludovico Ariosto's poem “Orlando Furioso” was published, only eighty six copies were printed. During his retirement in the farm, his revisions of the poem never ceased. It is believed that he rewrote parts of it at least two hundred times.

Little by little, the reputation of “Orlando Furioso” began to grow. By the time Ludovico was 57 years old, his poem had been already reprinted many times and was already considered the work of a genius. Ludovico, nevertheless, continued to make new revisions. After his death, Alessandra Benucci published the final version. It was absolutely perfect.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Diego Cupolo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Get out of losing situations (Part 3 of 3)


In this sense, each of us should acquire the habit of not volunteering personal information. There is little advantage in providing details of our private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to our circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the power to use that information against you?

Rudeness is rarely necessary to protect your privacy. Giving a vague reply to prying questions is usually sufficient. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life; it is easier than you think and it might spare you trouble down the road.

A second habit that you should acquire is saving regularly, if possible, every month. Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to help you get out of losing situations. Savings protect your peace of mind and personal freedom.

Even when subjected to intensive pressure, a man who possesses savings won't be easily tempted to engage in doubtful business practices. Instead, he can use his accumulated resources to quit his unpleasant job and search for a new position.

You don't need to be a millionaire in order to escape losing situations. A little financial foresight will do. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial reserve to help you get through difficult times.

Establish a monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desired level of safety. By adopting simple measures such as this and implementing them consistently, you will improve your ability to deal with problems and get out of losing situations.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Dan Queiroz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Get out of losing situations (Part 3 of 3)


In this sense, each of us should acquire the habit of not volunteering personal information. There is little advantage in providing details of our private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to our circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the power to use that information against you?

Rudeness is rarely necessary to protect your privacy. Giving a vague reply to prying questions is usually sufficient. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life; it is easier than you think and it might spare you trouble down the road.

A second habit that you should acquire is saving regularly, if possible, every month. Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to help you get out of losing situations. Savings protect your peace of mind and personal freedom.

Even when subjected to intensive pressure, a man who possesses savings won't be easily tempted to engage in doubtful business practices. Instead, he can use his accumulated resources to quit his unpleasant job and search for a new position.

You don't need to be a millionaire in order to escape losing situations. A little financial foresight will do. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial reserve to help you get through difficult times.

Establish a monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desired level of safety. By adopting simple measures such as this and implementing them consistently, you will improve your ability to deal with problems and get out of losing situations.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Dan Queiroz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Get out of losing situations (Part 2 of 3)


Life doesn't have to be that way. Playing the constraints of society against the honesty of a hermit is a powerful literary ploy, not an accurate portrait of reality. You don't need to run away from the world in order to become happy. Reason can show you the way to get out of losing situations and move on to better conditions. The dichotomy presented in Robinson Crusoe makes a great story, but does not match real life.

Independence and self-determination seldom come for free and there is no reason why they should. Each individual must learn to think for himself, beyond the influence of family and friends. Man owes loyalty exclusively to the facts of reality, not to any intellectual fashion.

Getting out of a losing situation depends more on self-confidence than on material resources. Helpful and benevolent people can be of enormous help; especially in difficult times, those are the sort of friends that you want to have.

Your dreams and ambitions are meant to be exchanged only with those who are congenial to your happiness. Do not waste time discussing your plans with people who are inimical to your success. Anyone who admonishes you that you should be content with your current life may not have your best interest in mind.

If prudence counsels you to keep silent about your goals, heed the advice of your heart. Seek out men and women who bring out the best in you. Those are the people who will help you surmount obstacles.

Increasing your personal independence is a fundamental skill that should be taught at school. Everyone can take steps to get out of destructive roles, or even better, to avoid falling into such traps in the first place.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Jeff Pang under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Get out of losing situations (Part 2 of 3)


Life doesn't have to be that way. Playing the constraints of society against the honesty of a hermit is a powerful literary ploy, not an accurate portrait of reality. You don't need to run away from the world in order to become happy. Reason can show you the way to get out of losing situations and move on to better conditions. The dichotomy presented in Robinson Crusoe makes a great story, but does not match real life.

Independence and self-determination seldom come for free and there is no reason why they should. Each individual must learn to think for himself, beyond the influence of family and friends. Man owes loyalty exclusively to the facts of reality, not to any intellectual fashion.

Getting out of a losing situation depends more on self-confidence than on material resources. Helpful and benevolent people can be of enormous help; especially in difficult times, those are the sort of friends that you want to have.

Your dreams and ambitions are meant to be exchanged only with those who are congenial to your happiness. Do not waste time discussing your plans with people who are inimical to your success. Anyone who admonishes you that you should be content with your current life may not have your best interest in mind.

If prudence counsels you to keep silent about your goals, heed the advice of your heart. Seek out men and women who bring out the best in you. Those are the people who will help you surmount obstacles.

Increasing your personal independence is a fundamental skill that should be taught at school. Everyone can take steps to get out of destructive roles, or even better, to avoid falling into such traps in the first place.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Jeff Pang under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 21 December 2009

Get out of losing situations (Part 1 of 3)


Fifty-nine years is a long time in the life of a man. Days go by without trace, leaving nothing behind, turned to dust by the daily grind. During such a long period, most men choose to ply their trade quietly. Few are those who prefer to go on a crusade. For writer Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), fifty-nine years was the time it took him to get out of a losing situation and find his own way.

In his immortal novel Robinson Crusoe, Defoe wrote that “it was then when I began to feel how much happier my current life was, despite its miserable circumstances, than the wicked, cursed, abominable life that I had led in the past.”

The book was published in 1719, just when Defoe had turned fifty-nine. During the initial forty years of his life, he had been repeatedly prosecuted and imprisoned for speaking out his mind. In financial desperation, he had then wasted the following decade writing propaganda for different employers, a truly losing situation.

It was only in his late fifties that Defoe felt secure enough to write a major work of fiction. Robinson Crusoe was the result, the story of a man stranded on a solitary island with no company other than his thoughts.

When we consider Defoe's personal background, it is not surprising that he wrote a novel about a man who breaks free of society's constrains. The narration, written in the first person, continues to appeal modern generations due to its profound philosophical style, which reflects Defoe's desire for truth and independence.

In the novel, Crusoe laments in retrospect that “now I look back upon my desolate solitary island as the most pleasant place in the world and all the happiness my heart could wish for is to be there again.”

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Paul Ohmer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Get out of losing situations (Part 1 of 3)


Fifty-nine years is a long time in the life of a man. Days go by without trace, leaving nothing behind, turned to dust by the daily grind. During such a long period, most men choose to ply their trade quietly. Few are those who prefer to go on a crusade. For writer Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), fifty-nine years was the time it took him to get out of a losing situation and find his own way.

In his immortal novel Robinson Crusoe, Defoe wrote that “it was then when I began to feel how much happier my current life was, despite its miserable circumstances, than the wicked, cursed, abominable life that I had led in the past.”

The book was published in 1719, just when Defoe had turned fifty-nine. During the initial forty years of his life, he had been repeatedly prosecuted and imprisoned for speaking out his mind. In financial desperation, he had then wasted the following decade writing propaganda for different employers, a truly losing situation.

It was only in his late fifties that Defoe felt secure enough to write a major work of fiction. Robinson Crusoe was the result, the story of a man stranded on a solitary island with no company other than his thoughts.

When we consider Defoe's personal background, it is not surprising that he wrote a novel about a man who breaks free of society's constrains. The narration, written in the first person, continues to appeal modern generations due to its profound philosophical style, which reflects Defoe's desire for truth and independence.

In the novel, Crusoe laments in retrospect that “now I look back upon my desolate solitary island as the most pleasant place in the world and all the happiness my heart could wish for is to be there again.”

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Paul Ohmer under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 20 December 2009

For those who cannot draw


Giacomo Raffaelli discovered his passion for drawing already when he was a kid playing in the streets of the Trastavere district in Rome. His father died in 1765, when Giacomo was only 12 years old, leaving him no other choice than to take a job at his uncle's quarry.

Work at the quarry was all-consuming and Giacomo had no time to devote to drawing, but he found an opportunity to get closer to art when he was 15 years old.

One afternoon, while Giacomo's uncle was away, a priest walked into the quarry and requested a quotation for coloured stones to repair medieval mosaics at Santa Cecilia Church. Giacomo made a quick calculation, offered a good price, and received the commission. As of that day, he began to learn everything he could about mosaics.

It did not take Giacomo long to start a business of his own offering his services to churches to repair old mosaics or lay new ones. The drawing abilities required by the mosaics business were modest, since most scenes consisted of geometrical decorations, flowers, and animals.

Year after year, Giacomo longed to land a commission for a large mosaic that would let him display his artistic talent, but that was not to be. At night, he would spend hours by the fire making drawings for grandiose mosaics, but the costs of European wars had dried out funding for new projects.

The mosaic-repair business slowed down during the French invasion and Giacomo took to spending whole days at home making drawings for his future masterpiece. With the drawings in hand, he made a tour of churches and monasteries, trying to obtain a commission for his project, a twenty-meter long mosaic representing the Garden of Eden.

During the next nine years, Giacomo collected 82 rejections from places as far away as Ravenna and Aix-en-Provence. Only in December 1809, the Church of San Giovanni Laterano showed interest in a scaled-down version of the Garden of Eden project.

The price offered by the San Giovanni Church was so low that made it almost impossible for Giacomo to break even, let alone make a profit, precisely at the time when he needed money, since he had recently married Simonetta Cappella, a petite 32 year-old Venetian widow.

On the other hand, the commission of the San Giovanni Church would give Giacomo a unique opportunity to make a name for himself and gain recognition as an artist. Giacomo was then close to his 57th birthday. Was it worth it for him to take such a risk? Should he not rather concentrate on his profitable mosaic-repair business?

A visit from a captain of the Imperial Dragons in January 1810 took Giacomo by surprise. "Emperor Napoleon is in Rome and wants to discuss a commission with you," announced the captain.

Excited by the prospect of a major commission, Giacomo collected his drawings of the Garden of Eden and followed the captain to a villa in the Pallatino.

Emperor Napoleon greeted Giacomo warmly and, by means of an interpreter, explained that he had seen the high quality of Giacomo's work and that he was planning to grant Giacomo a commission for a large mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna.

"I will be marrying the Duchess of Parma this summer," went on Napoleon. "This mosaic will be my wedding present." Giacomo tried to show his Garden of Eden drawings, but the Emperor shook his head. "The Duchess has already chosen a design for the mosaic. She wants to have a copy of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. Can you do that?"

Napoleon's request made Giacomo's heart stand still for a second. The Emperor was offering him a commission to make a copy of an old painting! To copy another artist's work! When Napoleon mentioned the price of the commission, Giacomo asked the interpreter to repeat it. It was a real fortune, more money than Giacomo had ever made in all his life.

The Emperor had not expected to see Giacomo hesitate. What was that man thinking? Any other artisan in the French Empire would have immediately accepted such a generous commission. "I need a day to think it over," replied Giacomo after taking a deep breath. "I have to consult my wife."

Giacomo returned home, only to find a priest from San Giovanni Church waiting for him. "Cardinal Mazzelli wants to know if you accept the commission for the Garden of Eden mosaic," inquired the priest. "Otherwise, the budget will be used to make repairs in the apse."

That night, Giacomo had a long discussion with Simonetta. Their first child was on the way and Cardinal Mazelli's price was twenty times lower than Napoleon's offer. "Take the Emperor's commission, Giacomo," concluded Simonetta. "You will have other opportunities later to do the Garden of Eden."

Giacomo knew that Simonetta was lying, but he loved her too much. What if he never had another chance to prove himself as an artist? What if he consumed his life making silly decorations and reproducing other artists' works? He spent the night contemplating his Garden of Eden drawings and, in the morning, he accepted Napoleon's commission.

The mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna made Giacomo Raffaelli a rich man. He lived comfortably for another twenty-six years and had five children with Simonetta.

In our days, the mosaic reproducing Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper can be still admired in Vienna, although it has lost most of it colours.

Giacomo Raffaelli's drawings of the Garden of Eden were purchased by a collector in 1838 and, still today, they remain in private hands. Those who have seen the drawings say that they are astonishingly beautiful.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Boston Public Library under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

For those who cannot draw


Giacomo Raffaelli discovered his passion for drawing already when he was a kid playing in the streets of the Trastavere district in Rome. His father died in 1765, when Giacomo was only 12 years old, leaving him no other choice than to take a job at his uncle's quarry.

Work at the quarry was all-consuming and Giacomo had no time to devote to drawing, but he found an opportunity to get closer to art when he was 15 years old.

One afternoon, while Giacomo's uncle was away, a priest walked into the quarry and requested a quotation for coloured stones to repair medieval mosaics at Santa Cecilia Church. Giacomo made a quick calculation, offered a good price, and received the commission. As of that day, he began to learn everything he could about mosaics.

It did not take Giacomo long to start a business of his own offering his services to churches to repair old mosaics or lay new ones. The drawing abilities required by the mosaics business were modest, since most scenes consisted of geometrical decorations, flowers, and animals.

Year after year, Giacomo longed to land a commission for a large mosaic that would let him display his artistic talent, but that was not to be. At night, he would spend hours by the fire making drawings for grandiose mosaics, but the costs of European wars had dried out funding for new projects.

The mosaic-repair business slowed down during the French invasion and Giacomo took to spending whole days at home making drawings for his future masterpiece. With the drawings in hand, he made a tour of churches and monasteries, trying to obtain a commission for his project, a twenty-meter long mosaic representing the Garden of Eden.

During the next nine years, Giacomo collected 82 rejections from places as far away as Ravenna and Aix-en-Provence. Only in December 1809, the Church of San Giovanni Laterano showed interest in a scaled-down version of the Garden of Eden project.

The price offered by the San Giovanni Church was so low that made it almost impossible for Giacomo to break even, let alone make a profit, precisely at the time when he needed money, since he had recently married Simonetta Cappella, a petite 32 year-old Venetian widow.

On the other hand, the commission of the San Giovanni Church would give Giacomo a unique opportunity to make a name for himself and gain recognition as an artist. Giacomo was then close to his 57th birthday. Was it worth it for him to take such a risk? Should he not rather concentrate on his profitable mosaic-repair business?

A visit from a captain of the Imperial Dragons in January 1810 took Giacomo by surprise. "Emperor Napoleon is in Rome and wants to discuss a commission with you," announced the captain.

Excited by the prospect of a major commission, Giacomo collected his drawings of the Garden of Eden and followed the captain to a villa in the Pallatino.

Emperor Napoleon greeted Giacomo warmly and, by means of an interpreter, explained that he had seen the high quality of Giacomo's work and that he was planning to grant Giacomo a commission for a large mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna.

"I will be marrying the Duchess of Parma this summer," went on Napoleon. "This mosaic will be my wedding present." Giacomo tried to show his Garden of Eden drawings, but the Emperor shook his head. "The Duchess has already chosen a design for the mosaic. She wants to have a copy of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. Can you do that?"

Napoleon's request made Giacomo's heart stand still for a second. The Emperor was offering him a commission to make a copy of an old painting! To copy another artist's work! When Napoleon mentioned the price of the commission, Giacomo asked the interpreter to repeat it. It was a real fortune, more money than Giacomo had ever made in all his life.

The Emperor had not expected to see Giacomo hesitate. What was that man thinking? Any other artisan in the French Empire would have immediately accepted such a generous commission. "I need a day to think it over," replied Giacomo after taking a deep breath. "I have to consult my wife."

Giacomo returned home, only to find a priest from San Giovanni Church waiting for him. "Cardinal Mazzelli wants to know if you accept the commission for the Garden of Eden mosaic," inquired the priest. "Otherwise, the budget will be used to make repairs in the apse."

That night, Giacomo had a long discussion with Simonetta. Their first child was on the way and Cardinal Mazelli's price was twenty times lower than Napoleon's offer. "Take the Emperor's commission, Giacomo," concluded Simonetta. "You will have other opportunities later to do the Garden of Eden."

Giacomo knew that Simonetta was lying, but he loved her too much. What if he never had another chance to prove himself as an artist? What if he consumed his life making silly decorations and reproducing other artists' works? He spent the night contemplating his Garden of Eden drawings and, in the morning, he accepted Napoleon's commission.

The mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna made Giacomo Raffaelli a rich man. He lived comfortably for another twenty-six years and had five children with Simonetta.

In our days, the mosaic reproducing Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper can be still admired in Vienna, although it has lost most of it colours.

Giacomo Raffaelli's drawings of the Garden of Eden were purchased by a collector in 1838 and, still today, they remain in private hands. Those who have seen the drawings say that they are astonishingly beautiful.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Boston Public Library under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The easy way to prosperity (Part 2 of 2)


Choose the easy way to prosperity and do not try to sell products where there are no buyers. Sometimes, you find large numbers of empty houses in a thinly inhabited area. This happened because real estate developers made a wrong calculation and wasted a fortune.

Putting up buildings on locations where few people are interested to buy or rent constitutes pure waste. The lesson to be drawn is clear. Focus your efforts on places where there are customers.

Nobody should go to Siberia on holidays seeking warm weather. People who prefer to live in areas where cold temperatures reign most of the year usually have good reasons for doing so, such as cheap housing, low criminality, or specific job opportunities.

Location is not a philosophical issue. A man can choose to live wherever he likes best, but if you happen to love warm weather, Siberia shouldn't be amongst your favourite destinations.

Every minute devoted to pursuing the impossible is gone forever without profit. The world is complicated enough as it is. Attempting to hit unattainable targets is pointless; it does not even make a good hobby. Take the easy way to prosperity: stay away from barren fields and focus your efforts on fruitful land.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Sotelo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The easy way to prosperity (Part 2 of 2)


Choose the easy way to prosperity and do not try to sell products where there are no buyers. Sometimes, you find large numbers of empty houses in a thinly inhabited area. This happened because real estate developers made a wrong calculation and wasted a fortune.

Putting up buildings on locations where few people are interested to buy or rent constitutes pure waste. The lesson to be drawn is clear. Focus your efforts on places where there are customers.

Nobody should go to Siberia on holidays seeking warm weather. People who prefer to live in areas where cold temperatures reign most of the year usually have good reasons for doing so, such as cheap housing, low criminality, or specific job opportunities.

Location is not a philosophical issue. A man can choose to live wherever he likes best, but if you happen to love warm weather, Siberia shouldn't be amongst your favourite destinations.

Every minute devoted to pursuing the impossible is gone forever without profit. The world is complicated enough as it is. Attempting to hit unattainable targets is pointless; it does not even make a good hobby. Take the easy way to prosperity: stay away from barren fields and focus your efforts on fruitful land.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David Sotelo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Friday, 18 December 2009

The easy way to prosperity (Part 1 of 2)


If you want to waste your life, you just have to devote your days to searching for things where there aren't. A second formula for squandering your resources is to chase people that are unavailable. The same goes for attempting to travel to places that are not accessible.

We all engage in this kind of pursuits occasionally and that's fine, since nobody possesses perfect knowledge. What is heartbreaking is when someone persists in trying to reach an impossible goal. Children engage in such attempts and so do mice trapped in a maze; adults should know better than that.

Counter-productive behaviour arises from self-inflicted blindness. We sabotage our interests when we allow our desire for comfort to obscure the truth. If you want cheap oranges, go to Morocco, not to the airport deli.

If you wish to move towards prosperity, take action consistent with reason. This principle, if applied consistently, can bring major improvements to your life. A wise man in search of a job does not go to the desert. If you do that, you might get lucky and find the only opening available, but chances are that you won't.

Imagine that you are working at a factory located in a small town that does not offer other employment possibilities. What should you do if the factory shuts down? You should not waste time hanging around waiting for a miracle. You should pack your things, get into your car, and drive to a place where companies are hiring.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dalbera under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The easy way to prosperity (Part 1 of 2)


If you want to waste your life, you just have to devote your days to searching for things where there aren't. A second formula for squandering your resources is to chase people that are unavailable. The same goes for attempting to travel to places that are not accessible.

We all engage in this kind of pursuits occasionally and that's fine, since nobody possesses perfect knowledge. What is heartbreaking is when someone persists in trying to reach an impossible goal. Children engage in such attempts and so do mice trapped in a maze; adults should know better than that.

Counter-productive behaviour arises from self-inflicted blindness. We sabotage our interests when we allow our desire for comfort to obscure the truth. If you want cheap oranges, go to Morocco, not to the airport deli.

If you wish to move towards prosperity, take action consistent with reason. This principle, if applied consistently, can bring major improvements to your life. A wise man in search of a job does not go to the desert. If you do that, you might get lucky and find the only opening available, but chances are that you won't.

Imagine that you are working at a factory located in a small town that does not offer other employment possibilities. What should you do if the factory shuts down? You should not waste time hanging around waiting for a miracle. You should pack your things, get into your car, and drive to a place where companies are hiring.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by dalbera under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The day I saw the truth


I parked my car in the village and took the path along the stream. It was not difficult to find the house. Just as they had told me, it was a ten minute's walk. I stood still in front of the door and looked around. The sunshine on the grass was bringing out a dozen shades of green, the air was chill, and I was too tired.

During my drive from Marseilles to Brig, I had remained oblivious to the Swiss landscape. My mind had been too busy rehearsing what I was going to tell Elise, the precise words, the exact intonation.

How long had I known Elise, her husband, her parents, and her friends? Ten? Fifteen years? Elise's sudden departure had taken all of them by surprise, but not me. I had been sort of awaiting it. I had long sensed her hunger, her wish for change.

Elise opened the door before I had gathered the courage to knock. In the Swiss mountains, her smile had grown warmer, wider. She listened to me patiently, like a friend who knows you too well. I gave her twenty reasons to return home, to her husband, to her former life.

We drank coffee, as Elise told me about her new life. She told me about the shop she had started in Brig and about her expansion projects. She had also met someone, she added, but it was still too soon to say.

I finished my coffee in silence. I knew that further arguments would be no use, but I was unsure about the reasons for my defeat. She kissed me softly and waved me goodbye from the doorway.

Why had she left? For what had she exchanged her former life? The answer dawned on me as I was half-way to the village. I turned around, stood still, and listened. I heard a bird's cry above. Elise's reason was not the mountains, I realized. It was the freedom.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

The day I saw the truth


I parked my car in the village and took the path along the stream. It was not difficult to find the house. Just as they had told me, it was a ten minute's walk. I stood still in front of the door and looked around. The sunshine on the grass was bringing out a dozen shades of green, the air was chill, and I was too tired.

During my drive from Marseilles to Brig, I had remained oblivious to the Swiss landscape. My mind had been too busy rehearsing what I was going to tell Elise, the precise words, the exact intonation.

How long had I known Elise, her husband, her parents, and her friends? Ten? Fifteen years? Elise's sudden departure had taken all of them by surprise, but not me. I had been sort of awaiting it. I had long sensed her hunger, her wish for change.

Elise opened the door before I had gathered the courage to knock. In the Swiss mountains, her smile had grown warmer, wider. She listened to me patiently, like a friend who knows you too well. I gave her twenty reasons to return home, to her husband, to her former life.

We drank coffee, as Elise told me about her new life. She told me about the shop she had started in Brig and about her expansion projects. She had also met someone, she added, but it was still too soon to say.

I finished my coffee in silence. I knew that further arguments would be no use, but I was unsure about the reasons for my defeat. She kissed me softly and waved me goodbye from the doorway.

Why had she left? For what had she exchanged her former life? The answer dawned on me as I was half-way to the village. I turned around, stood still, and listened. I heard a bird's cry above. Elise's reason was not the mountains, I realized. It was the freedom.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by David under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Always feed crocodiles at dawn

"If you retain just one thing from the training," said the old zoo caretaker, "then remember to feed crocodiles always at dawn."

What nonsense, I thought, as soon as he turned his back. When he went on holidays for two weeks, I was left in charge of feeding all animals in the reptile pavilion.

An easy job for a twenty-one year old student, since all I had to do was to follow a check-list. The instructions specified in detail which kind of food was to be given to which animals each day of the week and in which quantities. Predictably enough, the check-list for the crocodiles indicated "always feed at dawn."

Now, I was not a particularly rebellious youngster, but I must tell you that I have never believed in silly, arbitrary rules. I am the kind of person who must be convinced through reason rather than ordered around.

During my first week alone, I kept strictly to the rule. That meant that I had to wake up very early and take the tramway to the zoo at 5:30 hours in the morning. My stern discipline ended the following Monday.

When I woke up, it was already 8:15 hours in the morning, way past dawn. Big deal, I told myself. I was sure that the crocodiles in the zoo would not mind having a late breakfast once in a while.

I skipped breakfast myself, took the tramway, and arrived at the zoo at around 9:10 hours. The guard at the gate saluted me cheerfully and I was relieved to see that the late start of my duties had remain unnoticed.

I ran to the reptiles pavilion, prepared the food, and walked to the crocodiles dome. On Mondays, the zoo opens its doors at 9:00 hours and a bunch of school kids was already attentively watching the zoo's seven crocodiles.

A young woman, I guess their teacher, was standing amidst the kids, looking fearfully at the crocodiles on the other side of the moat. I nodded to the young woman as I walked past her with a bucket in each hand.

Then I bent over the parapet that surrounded the moat and began to throw food to the crocodiles. The kids congregated around me as I threw live fish at the reptiles.

One by one, the crocodiles got into the water and started to eat up the fish at a great speed. The kids' excitement grew as I uncovered my second bucket and began to throw live mice over the parapet into the water.

In case you don't know, mice can swim pretty well, but of course, crocodiles are faster. The kids applauded and one of them asked me if he could throw some mice himself to the crocodiles.

"No problem," I replied, "but the parapet might be a little too high for you." The kid told me that his name was Jack. He was a courageous little one, that Jack.

I helped him get on the parapet and sit down on the railing, with his legs hanging over the water. I passed a mouse to the kid and, smiling, he threw it down to the crocodiles in the moat. I bent over to pick up another mouse from the bucket, when I heard a shrill female cry.

What was going on? I looked around and saw the school teacher running towards me. I could see terror in her face. Had an accident happened? Was one of the kids missing? She came to a still at the parapet, took hold of Jack's arm, and pushed the kid back.

It goes without saying that she had scared him to death. Then she turned to me and began to accuse me of all kinds of crazy things. I was puzzled. What could that woman possibly have against me?

I had once read that school teachers were always stressed, so I shrugged my shoulders. "Thank you! That was cool!" shouted Jack to me as I walked away with the empty buckets.

When the old caretaker returned to the zoo at the end of the week, he asked me if I had followed the instructions to the letter. I hesitated whether to tell him the truth or not.

I had seen with my own eyes that there was no reason to get up so early in the morning in order to feed crocodiles at dawn. I had seen myself that one can feed crocodiles any time during the day without any problem.

Nevertheless, I realized that the caretaker was an old man, too old to change his ways. What was the point of upsetting him? "Yes," I confirmed. "I have followed the instructions. Once, I was five minutes late and the crocodiles were a bit impatient, but that was all."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by liewcf under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Always feed crocodiles at dawn

"If you retain just one thing from the training," said the old zoo caretaker, "then remember to feed crocodiles always at dawn."

What nonsense, I thought, as soon as he turned his back. When he went on holidays for two weeks, I was left in charge of feeding all animals in the reptile pavilion.

An easy job for a twenty-one year old student, since all I had to do was to follow a check-list. The instructions specified in detail which kind of food was to be given to which animals each day of the week and in which quantities. Predictably enough, the check-list for the crocodiles indicated "always feed at dawn."

Now, I was not a particularly rebellious youngster, but I must tell you that I have never believed in silly, arbitrary rules. I am the kind of person who must be convinced through reason rather than ordered around.

During my first week alone, I kept strictly to the rule. That meant that I had to wake up very early and take the tramway to the zoo at 5:30 hours in the morning. My stern discipline ended the following Monday.

When I woke up, it was already 8:15 hours in the morning, way past dawn. Big deal, I told myself. I was sure that the crocodiles in the zoo would not mind having a late breakfast once in a while.

I skipped breakfast myself, took the tramway, and arrived at the zoo at around 9:10 hours. The guard at the gate saluted me cheerfully and I was relieved to see that the late start of my duties had remain unnoticed.

I ran to the reptiles pavilion, prepared the food, and walked to the crocodiles dome. On Mondays, the zoo opens its doors at 9:00 hours and a bunch of school kids was already attentively watching the zoo's seven crocodiles.

A young woman, I guess their teacher, was standing amidst the kids, looking fearfully at the crocodiles on the other side of the moat. I nodded to the young woman as I walked past her with a bucket in each hand.

Then I bent over the parapet that surrounded the moat and began to throw food to the crocodiles. The kids congregated around me as I threw live fish at the reptiles.

One by one, the crocodiles got into the water and started to eat up the fish at a great speed. The kids' excitement grew as I uncovered my second bucket and began to throw live mice over the parapet into the water.

In case you don't know, mice can swim pretty well, but of course, crocodiles are faster. The kids applauded and one of them asked me if he could throw some mice himself to the crocodiles.

"No problem," I replied, "but the parapet might be a little too high for you." The kid told me that his name was Jack. He was a courageous little one, that Jack.

I helped him get on the parapet and sit down on the railing, with his legs hanging over the water. I passed a mouse to the kid and, smiling, he threw it down to the crocodiles in the moat. I bent over to pick up another mouse from the bucket, when I heard a shrill female cry.

What was going on? I looked around and saw the school teacher running towards me. I could see terror in her face. Had an accident happened? Was one of the kids missing? She came to a still at the parapet, took hold of Jack's arm, and pushed the kid back.

It goes without saying that she had scared him to death. Then she turned to me and began to accuse me of all kinds of crazy things. I was puzzled. What could that woman possibly have against me?

I had once read that school teachers were always stressed, so I shrugged my shoulders. "Thank you! That was cool!" shouted Jack to me as I walked away with the empty buckets.

When the old caretaker returned to the zoo at the end of the week, he asked me if I had followed the instructions to the letter. I hesitated whether to tell him the truth or not.

I had seen with my own eyes that there was no reason to get up so early in the morning in order to feed crocodiles at dawn. I had seen myself that one can feed crocodiles any time during the day without any problem.

Nevertheless, I realized that the caretaker was an old man, too old to change his ways. What was the point of upsetting him? "Yes," I confirmed. "I have followed the instructions. Once, I was five minutes late and the crocodiles were a bit impatient, but that was all."

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by liewcf under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

For the weight of an ant


One November afternoon, the Buddha was sitting under the wisdom tree meditating about peace. It was cold and the Buddha was hungry. The devil saw the opportunity that he had been awaiting for a long time.

If the devil was ever to corrupt the Buddha, that November afternoon was the perfect time. "I'll give you a house, so that you won't suffer from cold in the winter," proposed the devil. "All you have to do is give me your sandals."

The Buddha shook his head. "I can't do that," he replied. "I need my sandals to walk the path of truth." The devil decided to try again. "I will give you a hundred goats, so that you will always have enough to eat. All you have to do is give me your robe."

The Buddha was very hungry and reflected for a long moment. If he possessed a hundred goats, he could easily exchange one goat for a new robe. If the Buddha accepted the offer, he would only have to go naked for a short while.

Nevertheless, the Buddha shook his head again. "I can't do that," he answered. "I need my robe to keep my dignity." The devil realized that the Buddha was not ready to trade any of his personal possessions. If the devil wanted to corrupt the Buddha, he would have to try a different approach.

"I will give you a house and a hundred goats," retook the devil. "All you have to do is to kill an ant." The Buddha looked at an ant on the ground. It would be so easy for him to crush the ant and make it disappear. Who was going to miss it? Who was going to complain?

A chill wind reminded the Buddha of his cold and his hunger. The Buddha reflected for an hour and then he shook his head once more. "No, I can't do that," he concluded. "The world needs the weight of every single ant to keep its balance."

Upon hearing that, the devil gave up and went away. Shortly after, a good man walked by the wisdom tree, saw the Buddha, and offered him hospitality at his home.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by botrans under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

For the weight of an ant


One November afternoon, the Buddha was sitting under the wisdom tree meditating about peace. It was cold and the Buddha was hungry. The devil saw the opportunity that he had been awaiting for a long time.

If the devil was ever to corrupt the Buddha, that November afternoon was the perfect time. "I'll give you a house, so that you won't suffer from cold in the winter," proposed the devil. "All you have to do is give me your sandals."

The Buddha shook his head. "I can't do that," he replied. "I need my sandals to walk the path of truth." The devil decided to try again. "I will give you a hundred goats, so that you will always have enough to eat. All you have to do is give me your robe."

The Buddha was very hungry and reflected for a long moment. If he possessed a hundred goats, he could easily exchange one goat for a new robe. If the Buddha accepted the offer, he would only have to go naked for a short while.

Nevertheless, the Buddha shook his head again. "I can't do that," he answered. "I need my robe to keep my dignity." The devil realized that the Buddha was not ready to trade any of his personal possessions. If the devil wanted to corrupt the Buddha, he would have to try a different approach.

"I will give you a house and a hundred goats," retook the devil. "All you have to do is to kill an ant." The Buddha looked at an ant on the ground. It would be so easy for him to crush the ant and make it disappear. Who was going to miss it? Who was going to complain?

A chill wind reminded the Buddha of his cold and his hunger. The Buddha reflected for an hour and then he shook his head once more. "No, I can't do that," he concluded. "The world needs the weight of every single ant to keep its balance."

Upon hearing that, the devil gave up and went away. Shortly after, a good man walked by the wisdom tree, saw the Buddha, and offered him hospitality at his home.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by botrans under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 14 December 2009

Rationality is the way to happiness (Part 2 of 2)


Sound principles are as beneficial as they are demanding. Irrationality may seem comfortable in the short-term, but contradictions ultimately result in failure. Individuals determine their own future by their passion to turn dreams into reality and their logic in the choice of means.

No matter how experienced you are, mistakes are inevitable. Reason brings resilience to passion and persistence to ambition. A wise man is not intimidated by difficulties. He sets goals and plans how to accomplish them. If barriers are too high, he will try to circumvent them. If the price is too expensive, he might look for alternatives.

Entrepreneurship epitomizes the rational approach to living. Innovative spirits do not ask if they can attain their objectives, only how. Creative minds are always looking for better options. Originality is an essential element of success. Productiveness is a fundamental ingredient of happiness.

Rationality enables self-reliance and logic sustains motivation. Do not allow lack of capital to stop your dreams, nor lack of contacts, nor massive ridicule. Seek out thoughtful, benevolent human beings who appreciate what you have to offer. Build your future around them and happiness will ensue.

History recounts the same tale again and again. When difficulties arise, scepticism turns into discouragement and irrationality into fear. Pragmatism leads to counter-productive actions and confusing results. Without a long-term perspective, problems soon strike the ship under the waterline.

A fully human life is impossible without thoughtfulness. This principle is universal. It knows no exceptions. No one can escape it. Learn from experience, abandon wishful thinking, and embrace a philosophy that works. Rationality, determination, and consistency are the essential factors of happiness and prosperity. Let them carry the day.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by ufoncz under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Rationality is the way to happiness (Part 1 of 2)


Human action produces the greatest benefits when it is focused on providing rational solutions to critical problems. A wise man uses logic to determine which difficulties are to be addressed with priority. He applies his energies to overcome major obstacles and ignores small inconveniences.

Given sufficient time, logic and consistency produce positive results. A rational approach to living gives you the ultimate advantage in the fields of investment, health, career, or relationships. Barring extreme bad luck or misfortune, ethical actions lead to happiness.

The easiest way to accelerate your personal growth is to concentrate your efforts on the area of your life where problems are most pressing. Successful managers apply this strategy to their businesses. For instance, when assembly difficulties slow down production in a furniture factory, the solution might call for simpler designs.

You only have one life to enjoy and it is up to you to decide which path to follow. Assess your situation objectively, placing facts above prejudice. Ignore empty promises and select your best alternative on solid grounds.

Do not waste time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Discard nonsense and embrace logic. Design your strategy according to reality. See what works well in the world and identify the keys to prosperity.

Complaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual. Ambitious goals can only be achieved through thoughtful plans and consistent implementation. Psychological balance can only be maintained through rational values and a sense of purpose.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by atomicjeep under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]