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Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude by Lionel Fisher
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“People who need people are threatened by people who don’t. The idea of seeking contentment alone is heretical, for society steadfastly decrees that our completeness lies in others.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“I don't believe in funerals.

Funerals aren't for the dead. The dead are gone. They couldn't care less.

Funerals are for the living.

They're for the people trying to feel better about the things they could have said, the things they could have done for the dead while they were still alive.

The dead don't give a damn.

The dead couldn't care less about what's being said to them, about them.

Hell, they're dead.

The dead know the living aren't there for them, but for themselves. To feel better, to feel less guilty, less regretful, to feel loved, better appreciated by all the other living people who, like them, should have paid attention to the dead while it still mattered, while they were still alive.

So screw funerals.

Forget the dead.

Tend to the living.

Before it's too late.

Before they're dead”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Enough is never enough.

Not for our massive, marauding, relentlessly acquisitive egos whose eternal cry is 'More!'

'More!'

Forever 'More!'

Wisdom, then, is the simple realization, the grateful acknowledgment, 'Hey, I'm good.'

I have enough.

I don't need more.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
tags: enough
“Happiness is an ‘I’ thing,” Culligan says. “It’s within yourself. Nothing external is going to make you happy.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“crows going in flocks and wolves in packs, but the lion and the eagle are solitaires.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“I can believe whatever I want to believe.

Who's to prove me wrong this side of the big dirt nap?

Doesn't matter, either, what anyone else believes.

Or whether anyone else believes what I believe.

The important thing is to believe. Really, truly believe.

That's why they call it faith.

And nobody's business but my own.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
tags: faith
“Americans are funny," Terence O'Donnell pointed out in a conversation we had about our national need to own as much as possible, including our joy.
"We look for a state of happiness," said O'Donnell. "But the French know that's ridiculous. They accept that there are only les petits bonheurs, the little happinesses, only the moments: a sudden view, awakening to a superb morning, the sun's warmth, a cooling breeze.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“In the 1991 movie City Slickers, Jack Palance gives Billy Crystal some profoundly simple advice. When Crystal asks him the secret of life, Palance holds up a forefinger, answers with a single word: "One."

Choose one thing. Do it to the best of your ability. Let it go. Pick something else. Repeat endlessly.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Men are jerks. If I were a woman I'd be a lesbian. You get to make love to other women and have little to do with asshole men. Lesbians are better lovers, too, because they know where everything is.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“The Art of Self, I've learned, is indispensable to material success but corrosive to the human spirit. What's more, much of the misery in the world, I've decided, is caused by people who take themselves too seriously. Certainly, most of the unhappiness I've brought on myself has come from trying to impress others.

The people I find most appealing nowadays are those so secure in who they are, so lacking in ego, pretense, and guile, that they can allow others simply to be themselves. It is, I think, the rarest of privileges, the freedom to be completely oneself in the company of others.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“My poignant regret is that I so nonchalantly ended my youth, blithely discarding those remaining seasons in the sun.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“Learn to forgive. First others, then yourself—mostly yourself. But you have to forgive. “Get rid of the negativity. So much of your life can go down this dark drain if you let it. Every negative feeling makes you sicker. Every positive feeling makes you better.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“In the 1991 movie, City Slickers, Jack Palance gives Billy Crystal some profoundly simple advice. When Crystal asks him the secret of life, Palance holds up a forefinger, answers with a single word: "One."

Choose one thing. Do it to the best of your ability. Let it go. Pick something else.

Repeat endlessly.

How sad that so much of our lives is spent looking back over our shoulders or gazing far ahead instead of wringing full benefit from the only thing we truly own: Now. This moment. None other.

There is no other.

How tragic, therefore, not to fulfill its unique promise before it passes from us forever.

How much of our regret comes from wasting so many of our moments wanting something better, something different, something other than what we have at the moment we have it.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Reading a newspaper account of one young woman's fatal accident on a midsummer morning a few years ago got me thinking about how I would have liked to have departed before my time if that had been my destiny.

If I'd had to die young, hers is the death I would have chosen.

She was twenty-two, the story disclosed, bright, talented, beautiful, her future spread before her like a brilliant, textured tapestry. She'd just graduated from a prestigious eastern university, had accepted a communications position with a New York television network, and would depart the following day on a four-week holiday in Europe before embarking on her promising career and the rest of her exciting life.

On that golden summer day, the young woman had just finished her morning run. She had sprinted the last half mile, then stopped abruptly to catch her breath. She was bent at the waist, hands on her knees, eyes on the ground, her mind a world away, perhaps in Barcelona or Tuscany or Rome, exulting in the enchanting sights she would soon see, the splendid life she would have.

It was then that the train hit her.

Unaware, unthinking, oblivious to everything but the beguiling visions in her head, she had ended her run on the railroad tracks that wound through the center of her small Oregon town, one moment in the fullest expectancy of her glorious youth, adrenaline and endorphins coursing through her body, sugarplum visions dancing in her head, the next moment gone, the transition instantaneous, irrevocable, complete.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“There's one thing you ought to know about old people," Alberto Terégo told me on our early morning walk on the beach.

"Like what?" I asked my friend in reply.

"Like old people don't mind if you kill them," Terégo said. "Just don't give them any more crap while you're doing it."

"Are you talking about yourself?" I said. "You're telling me you'd rather have someone kill you than give you a hard time?”

My head was starting to hurt. It usually did when I talked with Terégo, but never so soon into our daily conservation. He was grinning now, knowing he had me again. I just stared at him. He has this uncanny knack of making me feel he's laid a booby trap of punji sticks on which I'm about to impale myself.

“That's ridiculous," I said finally, feeling like a kid for not being able to come up with a better response to his bizarre suggestion.

“No, it's life,” Terégo said, his grin growing larger.

“What's life?” I said.

“Taking crap,” he said.

"Taking crap is life?" I said.

The grin hung ear to ear now. “It's what nice people do,” Terégo said. “There's an 18th century proverb that says we all have to eat a peck of dirt before we die. We do it from an early age, so old people have been doing it for a very long time, way beyond the proverbial amount that broke the camel's back.”

“Eating dirt is life?” I said, feeling the pain grow under my arched eyebrows.

"That's right," he said.

"Eating dirt?" I repeated dully.

"We do it to be team players, so we don’t rock the boat, to go with the flow," Terégo said. "We put up, shut up, get along--no matter what--with people even the Dalai Lama would slap silly. We defer to their foolishness, stupidity, biases, racism, ego, telling them what they want to hear, keeping quiet when we ought to be speaking up loud and clear. We put a sock in it even though it chokes us. We do it so we won’t offend, to fit in, be neighborly, sociable, kind. We do it so people will like us, love and reward and hire and promote us. We do it to be successful, secure, happy."

"We eat dirt to be happy," I said, my eyes starting to glaze over like frost on window panes in deep winter.

"You see the supreme irony in that," Terégo said, the triumph in his voice almost palpable, galling me no end.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Regrets are particularly poignant for the old, those of us who have used up most of the chances we'll ever get and are left to make peace with our failed choices. Most things distance themselves with space and time to eventually slide off the edge of our consciousness, but not regrets. You can shove them aside, disavow them for a lifetime, but they always return. And the longer you deny them, the more they punish you when they can no longer be held at bay.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“On that golden summer day, the young woman had just finished her morning run. She had sprinted the last half mile, then stopped abruptly to catch her breath. She was bent at the waist, hands on her knees, eyes on the ground, her mind a world away, perhaps in Barcelona or Tuscany or Rome, exulting in the enchanting sights she would soon see, the splendid life she would have.

It was then that the train hit her.

Unaware, unthinking, oblivious to everything but the beguiling visions in her head, she had ended her run on the railroad tracks that wound through the center of her small Oregon town, one moment in the fullest expectancy of her glorious youth, adrenaline and endorphins coursing through her body, sugarplum visions dancing in her head, the next moment gone, the transition instantaneous, irrevocable, complete.

If I'd had to die young, hers is the death I would have chosen.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Whatever you are doing, therefore, whatever you are thinking, whatever you are feeling becomes of crucial importance at that moment,”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“I used to feel sorry for them, those people who cling to people. I always thought they brought more needs than gifts. I felt that if they didn’t want to be by themselves, with themselves, I surely didn’t want to be with them either.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“Think back. How many of your sweetest dreams, your greatest hopes, your most cherished desires have come true?

On the other hand, how much of what you didn't really care about wound up happening anyway?

What you have to understand is that it's the god of solitude who also happens to be in charge of denying us what we desperately want.

She does it because she believes the more we get what we desperately want, the more miserable we become, even more so than we already are.

As Truman Capote put it, "More tears are shed for answered prayers than unanswered ones."

So the god of solitude is only trying to help us not be miserable getting what we thought would make us happy.

Though once in a while she'll let it happen to teach us the secret of happiness is to be grateful for what we already have. Not constantly wanting, trying to get more.

The way to outsmart her, then, is not to care one way or the other.

That way, too, when you don't get what you want, you won't be disappointed because it won't really matter.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Now that you’re old, cut yourself some slack, would you?

Let yourself off the hook.

Give yourself a break.

You don’t have to do it all anymore. Take it easy for a change.

It’s OK with the rest of the world. So why not you?

For the first time in your life, do what you want.

Not what everyone else thinks you should.

Not what you think everyone else thinks you should.

Do what you want.

Excuse yourself. Say no. Back out. Beg off. Stay home. Take a rain check. Take a nap. Watch the ball game on TV.

Anything but what you’d rather not do but feel you have to for everyone else's sake but your own. And then feel bad about having done it. That's plain wrong.

And ask for some help when you need it: 'It’s too heavy.' 'It's too far.' Too near. Too cold. Too hot. Too bright. Too dark.

Whatever.

It's OK because there's always going to be something you need help with anymore.

And be grateful for the helping hand. You'll find more and more people extend one to you these days. Whatever the reason for accepting you’ve got the best excuse in the world. The only one you’ll ever need:

'Hey, I’m old.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Winter again. The summer people have gone. The early morning walks are solitary once more. Fog wraps the ocean and sky like a wet, gray glove. Sprinting through the frosty dune grass, my dog Buddy emerges soaked and grinning. He's become a man-child, his boundless puppy love and mindless exuberance caroming off the walls in a muscular body. He lives by one rule: To be alive is to be gloriously happy. Not a bad way to be, I often remind myself.

Comfortable in the ebb and flow of each other's idiosyncracies and needs, he keeps me company while I work, I join him often in his play. His unflagging high spirits urge me to cram activity and joy into every waking moment as he does. By so doing, I tell myself, I will multiply my allotted time by dog years and dilate the remaining seasons accordingly. A good way to look at life, I figure.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Such an incredible, stupefying realization: I am not, indeed, the center of the universe.

Not! Not! Not!

And the overwhelming gratitude, the flooding relief that comes from finally being able to give myself the permission to lay down that excruciating, exhausting burden of needing to prove to the world, every waking moment, that I am, indeed, undeniably, irrefutably The Center of the Universe.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
tags: ego
“you can forget about the ‘Well, where shall we go for dinner tonight?’ routine and all it entails. If you really feel like a McDonald’s fix—and you’re in Paris—you just go.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“We are the sum of our choices.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“Another plus, Henley pointed out, was that he didn’t own a car, which meant it would be difficult for him to “just show up” at her home in the rural area to which she had moved several months earlier.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“There was a man who installed a bathtub and water heater in my house when I first moved in. It took him six weeks! And he spent half that time making sexual innuendos. I finally had to tell him bluntly I wasn’t interested.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“That’s the best way to judge a relationship. Do you like the person you are when you’re with him?”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone
“I woke up this morning with the words clomping around in my head: "Truth does not become wisdom until the exact moment you're ready for it." No one can force it on you, even though everyone thinks they have a right to try. So the rest of us should just put a sock in it. Bug out. Leave everyone to discover their own truths, each in their own way, all in their own time. And go find our own wisdom. Which will happen. But not until that exact, excruciating Aha! moment when, at long last, confusing, convoluted truth becomes simple, crystal-clear wisdom. Because we're finally, gloriously, ready for it. Not a second before.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude
“Putting thoughts into words is vastly different from putting truth into words. For words are not truth. As ardently as writers sort and select and polish their words, at the end of the day they are still words. They are not, in themselves, truth. However carefully we choose our words, no matter how eloquently we compile and conjoin and convey them, they remain just words, merely signposts that point to the truth, as Eckhart Tolle put it. Just as preachers, politicians, PR spin masters and the media can’t create truth by writing or speaking words they say are true, authors can't validate truth by putting it into print. And the rest of us can't know it by simply hearing or reading the words. We can only find our way to truth by following the signposts and ultimately believing. It all comes down to believing, to faith, for there is no proof this side of the big dirt nap.”
Lionel Fisher, Celebrating Time Alone: Stories Of Splendid Solitude

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