Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 8:20pm

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 7:30am

I lived through my death before living my life. At the age of seven my brother died of meningitis, three years before I was born. This shook my mother to the very depths of her being. This brother’s precociousness, his genius, his grace, his handsomeness, were to her so many delights; his disappearance was a terrible shock. She was never to get over it. My parents’ excessive despair was assuaged only by my own birth, but their misfortune still penetrated every cell of their bodies. And within my mother’s womb, I could already feel their angst. My fetus swam in an infernal placenta. Their anxiety never left me.

-Salvador Dali, Maniac Eyeball: The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali (2009)

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 5:24am

Bubbles: “Ain’t no shame in holdin’ on to grief. As long as you make room for other things, too.”

The Wire, Season 5 (2008)

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 8:58am

Know first who you are and what you are capable of. Just as nothing great is created instantly, the same goes for the perfecting of our talents and aptitudes. We are always learning, always growing. It is right to accept challenges. This is how we progress to the next level of intellectual, physical, or moral development. Still, don’t kid yourself: if you try to be something or someone you are not, you belittle your true self and end up not developing in those areas that you would have excelled at quite naturally.

Within the divine order we each have our own special calling. Listen to yours and follow it faithfully.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Fri, 09/01/2017 - 8:46am

There is a universal way people should be treated, a way that respects their dignity as living creatures …

-David Brooks, The Road to Character (2015)

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 2:44pm

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen … yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

-Bradley Whitford

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 8:44am

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

-Marcus Aurelius

Categories: Citizens

August 2017

Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 4:10am

30 Wednesday
– Waking up early and feeling as though you slept late.
– Weakness. Oh what emotions it stirs!

29 Tuesday
– Sadness. For then you know how much you care.
– Despair. For then you know what you have lost.
– Weakness. For then you know you are not hiding.

28 Monday
– Cool air as you make puddles of sweat.
– A day without the phone.
– Finally completing a task that had been in the back of your mind for longer than you can remember.
– What happens when you keep going despite discomfort.

27 Sunday
– Standing in the dewy grass, your dog contentedly sniffing the ground and chewing on some grass, butter coffee on hand and writing coming without effort.
– Sunday workouts: they turn the day into something it never used to be.
– Friends who make you laugh and take you in even if you suspect they think you’re a little weird.

26 Saturday
– In the office all alone — save for a couple of helmet-wearing maintenance men — getting ahead, finishing a project.
– Afternoon naps.
– Listening to your soul.

25 Friday
“The Wire.”

24 Thursday
Free lunch.

22 Tuesday
Looking down at your dog during morning walk and feeling your heart fill. He has been with you all these years, through the toughest challenges of your life and some of your highest moments, too, and he will be with you on these morning walks, sniffing trees and watering mailboxes, for at least a handful more. Though the vet says his heart is getting bigger, you’re struck by how he’s shown you how yours has grown some, too.

21 Monday
Having a best day after waking up in a worst kind of mood.
– The instant attitude adjustment that comes after squatting 380 pounds.

20 Sunday
– Realizing it takes more to knock you down now.
– An air of change.

19 Saturday
– When you suddenly figure out something you’ve been sitting with for weeks, then, whoosh, it’s decided in a five-second flash.
– Learning about Judav Payeng, a man who on his own created a forest.
– Moments of stillness.
– What happens when you show up without a script.

18 Friday
Sleeping through the morning workout. Sometimes it’s hard to do. Really. Not today!

17 Thursday
When the to-do list actually gets … a little bit … smaller.

16 Wednesday
Sending your friend something in the mail you just know he’s going to laugh hard at.

15 Tuesday
– Going to the hardware store. A real one. Not one where people where smocks and the ceilings are 48 feet high.
– Getting all kinds of smiles at the hardware store because you brought your little buddy with.

14 Monday
Learning a new language.

13 Sunday
Receiving a thoughtful, unexpected message.

9 Wednesday
– The day off.
– Clean carpets.
– Being proactive about the little buddy’s health care.

8 Tuesday
– The day off!
– Yoga. Again. It’s becoming a thing.
– Lights that look like the moon.

7 Monday
– The day off!
– Being around people who make you want to root for them.
– Opening boxes of memories.

6 Sunday
– Evening yoga.
– Sweat.
– Disclosure’s “You Help Me Lose My Mind”
– A clean home.
– The car wash.
– Finding yourself at the car wash as it’s about to rain.
– Getting soaked.

5 Saturday

3 Thursday
The fact that the psyche affords limitless — inexhaustible — opportunities to grow.

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 10:40am

What happens when people open their hearts?

They get better.

-Haruki Murakami

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 6:36am

So keep your held high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.

-Marilyn Monroe

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 8:44pm

The number of people who love you is growing. A new environment you visit will give you a boost in more ways than one, so make sure to put yourself where you’ve never been before.

-Holiday Mathis, “Horoscope,” StarTribune, 8-27-2017

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 10:48am

Self-importance is not the way of the true philosopher. Nobody enjoys the company of a braggart. Therefore, don’t oppress people with dramatic stories of your own exploits. Nobody cares that much about your war stories and dramatic adventures, though they may indulge you for a while to appear polite. To speak frequently and excessively of your own achievements is tiresome and pompous.

You don’t need to be the class clown. Nor do you need to resort to other indelicate methods in order to convince others you are clever, sophisticated, or affable.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 4:04am

But ask around and people in the know will say [San Jose Sharks forward Joe] Pavelski, the 205th player drafted in 2003, is a true student of the game, blessed with hockey smarts. Which is why less than 48 hours after his double-metal miss (in a crucial playoff game), he had already reviewed the video, trying to turn heartbreak into a learning experience. “You watch it a little bit because you want to see what it really was like,” Pavelski said. “You try to learn from your mistakes. And whether it was a mistake or not, there are certain areas where you’re still always trying to get a little better.”

-David Pollak, “Aging Like Fine Wine,” The Hockey News, 2017-2018 Yearbook

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Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 12:25pm

A veterinarian named Dave Jolly sent me an e-mail that cut to the chase:

“The heart cannot be taught in a classroom intellectually, to students mechanically taking notes. … Good, wise hearts are obtained through lifetimes of diligent effort to dig deeply within and heal lifetimes of scars … You can’t teach it or e-mail it or tweet it. It has to be discovered within the depths of one’s own heart when a person is finally ready to go looking for it, and not before.

“The job of the wise person is to swallow the frustration and just go on setting an example of caring and digging and diligence in their own lives. What a wise person teaches is the smallest part of what they give. The totality of their life, of the way they go about it in the smallest details, is what gets transmitted.

“Never forget that. The message is the person, perfected over lifetimes of effort that was set in motion by yet another wise person now hidden from the recipient by the dim mists of time. Life is much bigger than we think, cause and effect intertwined in a vast moral structure that keeps pushing us to do better, become better, even when we dwell in the most painful confused darkness.”

-David Brooks, The Road to Character (2015)

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 8:41am

Strong people will automatically stop trying if they feel unwanted. They won’t fix it or beg. They will just walk away.

-Book of Prosperity

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Sat, 08/26/2017 - 10:22pm

Occasionally … you come across certain people who seem to possess an impressive inner cohesion. They are not leading fragmented, scattershot lives. They have achieved inner integration. They are clam, settled, and rooted. They are not blown off course by storms. They don’t crumble in adversity. Their minds are consistent and their hearts are dependable. Their virtues are not the blooming virtues you see in smart college students; they are the ripening virtues you see in people who have lived a little and have learned from joy and pain.

Sometimes you don’t even notice these people, because while they seem kind and cheerful, they are also reserved. They possess the self-effacing virtues of people who are inclined to be useful but don’t need to prove anything to the world: humility, restraint, reticence, temperance, respect, and soft self-discipline.

They radiate a sort of moral joy. They answer softly when challenged harshly. They are silent when unfairly abused. They are dignified when others try to humiliate them, restrained when others try to provoke them. But they get things done. They perform acts of sacrificial service with the same modest everyday spirit they would display if they were just getting the groceries. They are not thinking about what impressive work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all. They just seem delighted by the flawed people around them. They just recognize what needs doing and they do it.

They make you feel funnier and smarter when you speak with them. They move through different social classes not even aware, it seems, that they are doing so. After you’ve known them for a while it occurs to you that you’ve never heard them boast, you’ve never seen them self-righteous or doggedly certain. They aren’t dropping little hints of their own distinctiveness and accomplishments.

They have not led lives of conflict-free tranquility, but have struggled toward maturity. They have gone some way toward solving life’s essential problem, which is that, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties, either — but right through every human heart.”

-David Brooks, The Road to Character (2015)

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 08/23/2017 - 7:14am

WAPAKONETA, OHIO — We were driving up the highway, and off to the side of the road were telephone wires bare and black against the leaves of autumn. Winter wheat had been planted, and the cornfields remained. There was a barn constructed of gray wood. I saw the sign saying that the next exit was Wapakoneta, and I said that we should stop and look around.

So we did. Wapakoneta is a town of 9,214 in northwestern Ohio. It looks like so many small Ohio towns — its borders are invisible, but it is a self-contained universe, and a person can be born here, go to school here, work his whole life here, and be buried here. If you didn’t know anything about Wapakoneta, you might get the impression that a person who grows up here is pretty much destined to stay in Wapakoneta forever.

Yet no town on the globe may be more representative of the power and grandeur of the human dream. Many of the people who are born in Wapakoneta do stay here, and lead good lives here, and are happy here. One man who grew up in Wapakoneta decided that the boundaries around his town — around any town — are not permanent and not constraining. He left Wapakoneta and he went to the moon. In the history of the world he was the first man to step upon the moon, and this is where he got started. This is where the dream was allowed to be born.

Neil Armstrong grew up walking these Wapakoneta streets. He attended Blume High School here in the 1940s; at the age of 15 he began taking flying lessons at an airstrip north of town. He received his student pilot’s license before he got his driver’s license. On July 20, 1969, as commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, he stepped onto the moon, something no one else had ever done.

On this bright autumn afternoon we drove slowly through Wapakoneta. School had just let out; there were children on the sidewalks, heading for home. The day’s edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News beckoned readers from vending boxes on corners; the Farmers Insurance Group branch office was open for business. At the corner of Wood and Bellefontaine a house bore a “Fore Sale” sign; at the Zip Stop convenience store, Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper were being featured.

You can do anything. If you want it badly enough, you can do anything that anyone ever dared to dream, and some things that no one ever dreamed. On this October afternoon, people worked on their cars on the streets of Wapakoneta, and three men sat and talked on the front stoop, and leaves were on the ground. You can do anything in the world.

On the outskirts of town, there was an air and space museum named in Armstron’s honor. I went inside; there were’t many visitors today. I looked at his spacesuit, and I studied the pictures of him that were on the wall. I asked if there was any biographical information available on him, and a woman who worked in the museum directed me to a skimpy four-page pamphlet printed on blue paper, which she said cost 25 cents a copy. “That’s the story of his life, what there is to tell,” she said.

I bought a copy. “You do’t have anything more complete?” I said.

There’s not much written about him,” she said. “He’s a very private man.” She said that he now lives elsewhere in Ohio, and does his best to avoid publicity.

Does he ever come back to Wapakoneta and look around your museum?” I asked.

“The last time he was in here was 12 years ago,” she said.

“Did he like the museum?“ I asked.

“He didn’t say he didn’t,” she said.

Encased in plastic, attached to the wall, were newspaper front pages from around the world-front pages from the day after Armstrong walked on the moon. There were papers from Italy and from Thailand, from England and from Germany; there was The New York Times, recording for history the day a man did what no one had ever done before. And then there was the Wapakoneta Daily News, the edition of July 21, 1969. The headline:  “Neil Steps on the Moon.”

You can do anything. You don`t have to be from a big town or a famous town; you don’t have to be from New York or from London or from Los Angeles. You can do anything you want, and you’re the only one who can decide to do it. On this autumn afternoon in 1992 the Auglaize River flowed gently through Wapakoneta, and a woman walked past the United Methodist Church holding her child’s hand, and at the Wapa Theater Sneakers was showing and tickets were three dollars apiece. The highway runs right past this town, and most travelers speed by without giving it a second thought, and you can do anything. You can do anything you dream.

-Bob Greene, “In Wapakoneta, the Sky’s the Limit,” Chicago Tribune, 10-19-1992

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