It’s an old but useful trick. Well, not a trick, really, as in a deception to fool someone. It’s more like magic. Like a tool. A tool that, for me right now, is in the shape of a crutch.

I don’t mind grabbing for the crutch, though, because it’s like a ladder. A ladder that I reach for and climb when I want to share something meaningful and worthwhile, except my brain has yet to give birth to whatever it is I’m grabbing for. And writing about myself has become exceedingly difficult and perhaps even torturous to those who stop by here each week. So, I pull out my bag of tricks, literally yank it off the bookshelf.

Five books of quotations; two symbol dictionaries; two volumes about religions of the world, The Little Zen Companion, two thesauruses, a dictionary of global culture, a seven language dictionary, an AAA guide to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, a Word Book, two dictionaries—Webster’s and Random House, two books about natural herb gardening, Volume 4 of ‘Dispatch Detroit’ (containing two of my merchant marine buddy Rick’s journal entries as he sailed Lake Superior on the M/V W.J. McCarthy) and a volume of poetry called ‘Whistling in the Dark’ sit above my head here at work. They are filled, packed, literally bursting with beautifully strung together words— strands and strands of them. Gems of wisdom, tidbits of nonsense, pure humor and utter craziness all glistening like a peaceful moon captured in neatly bound volumes resting above the gray mass of my brain.

Rather than even attempt to shape my elusive but pressing ideas into something others can gain from, or write, yet again, about myself (yawn), I think I’ll just serve as an echo for my bag—my shelf—of tricks…

“The next message you need is always right where you are.”—Ram Dass

“Tenderness contains an element of sadness. It is not the sadness of feeling sorry for yourself or feeling deprived but it is a natural situation of fullness. You feel so full and rich, as if you were about to shed tears. Your eyes are full of tears, and the moment you blink, the tears will spill out of your eyes and roll down your cheeks. In order to be a good warrior, one has to feel this sad and tender heart. If a person does not feel alone and sad, he cannot be a warrior at all.”—Chogyam Trungpa; Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

“We must continually discipline ourselves to remember how it felt the first moment.”—Sarah Caldwell.

“If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”—Meister Eckhart

“Part of me is still wanting to grow up, to be an adult, and the other part knows there is no such thing.”—Richard Dreyfuss.

“Artistic growth is, more than anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.”—Willa Cather

“Just when I found out the meaning of life, they changed it.”—George Carlin

“Villainy wears many masks, none of which so dangerous as virtue.”—source unknown

“Love until it hurts.”—Mother Teresa

“If you are reluctant to ask the way, you will be lost.”—Mayan proverb

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”—Zen saying

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”—Emily Dickinson

“It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.”—Henry David Thoreau

“Water which is too pure has no fish.”—Ts’ai Ken T’an

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.”—Tom Stoppard

“Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with truth.”—Thich Nhat Hahn

“Pizza Pie. Frank Sinatra. Chow. That’s all the Eye-talian I know.”—Rick Metcalf

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”—Chinese Proverb

“Magic time is created when unconventional persons come.”—fortune cookie

And on that note…

“I am astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown.”—Woody Allen

Email Catherine at cminolli@pageone-inc.com.

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Catherine Minolli

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.