Uncle Iroh’s Wisdom

“Is it your own destiny, or is it a destiny someone else has tried to force on you? … It’s time for you to look inward and begin asking yourself the big questions. Who are you and what do you want?”

“There’s nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity. I suggest you think about what it is that you want from your life, and why.”

“Sometimes, life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel. But if you just keep moving — you will come to a better place.”

“But you have light and peace inside of you. If you let it out, you can change the world around you.”

-Iroh, in Avatar: the Last Airbender

Waiting for Godot

ESTRAGON:(violently). Enough! (Silence.) I suppose I might as well sit down.He looks for a place to sit down, then goes and sits down on the mound.

VLADIMIR:That’s where you were sitting yesterday evening.

ESTRAGON:If I could only sleep.

VLADIMIR:Yesterday you slept.

ESTRAGON:I’ll try.He resumes his foetal posture, his head between his knees.

VLADIMIR:Wait. (He goes over and sits down beside Estragon and begins to sing in a loud voice.)

Bye bye bye bye

Bye bye–

ESTRAGON:(looking up angrily). Not so loud!VLADIMIR:(softly).

Bye bye bye bye
Bye bye bye bye
Bye bye bye bye
Bye bye . . .

Estragon sleeps. Vladimir gets up softly, takes off his coat and lays it across Estragon’s shoulders, then starts walking up and down, swinging his arms to keep himself warm. Estragon wakes with a start, jumps up, casts about wildly. Vladimir runs to him, puts his arms around him.) There . . . there . . . Didi is here . . . don’t be afraid . . .


VLADIMIR:There . . . there . . . it’s all over.

ESTRAGON:I was falling—

VLADIMIR:It’s all over, it’s all over.

ESTRAGON:I was on top of a—

VLADIMIR:Don’t tell me! Come, we’ll walk it off.He takes Estragon by the arm and walks him up and down until Estragon refuses to go any further.

ESTRAGON:That’s enough. I’m tired.

VLADIMIR:You’d rather be stuck there doing nothing?


VLADIMIR:Please yourself.He releases Estragon, picks up his coat and puts it on.

ESTRAGON:Let’s go.

VLADIMIR:We can’t.


VLADIMIR:We’re waiting for Godot.


“Waiting for Godot” by Samual Beckett


A Stranger in a Strange Land

It was a very pretty problem.

On the third planet Valentine Michael Smith was not concerned with the burning issue on Mars; he had never heard of it. His Martian keeper and his keeper’s water brothers had not mocked him with things he could not grasp. Smith knew of the destruction of the fifth planet and its emotional importance – just as any human school boy learns of Troy and Plymouth Rock, but he had not been exposed to art that he could not grok. His education had been unique, enormously greater than that of his nestlings, enormously less than that of an adult; his keeper and his keeper’s advisers among the Old Ones had taken a large passing interest in seeing just how much and of what sort this nestling alien could learn. The results had taught them more about the potentialities of the human race than that race had yet learned about itself, for Smith had grokked very readily things that no other human being had ever learned.

But just at present Smith was simply enjoying himself with a lightheartedness he had not experienced in many years. He had won a new water brother in Jubal, he had acquired many new friends, he was enjoying delightful new experiences in such kaleidoscopic quantity that he had no time to grok them; he could only file them away to be relived at leisure.

His brother Jubal had assured him that be would grok this strange and beautiful place more quickly if he would learn to read, so he had taken a full day off to learn to read really well and quickly, with Jill pointing to words and pronouncing them for him. It had meant staying out of the swimming pool all that day, which had been a great sacrifice, as swimming (once he got it through his head that it was actually permitted) was not merely an exuberant, sensuous delight but almost unbearable religious ecstasy. If Jill and Jubal had not told him to do otherwise, he would never have come out of the pool at all.


Stranger in a Strange Land – Heinlein Robert

The Subjugation of a Ghost

A young wife fell sick and was about to die. “I love you so much,” she told her husband, “I do not want to leave you. Do not go from me to any other woman. If you do, I will return as a ghost and cause you endless trouble.”

Soon the wife passed away. The husband respected her last wish for the first three months, but then he met another woman and fell in love with her. They became engaged to be married.

Immediately after the engagement a ghost appeared every night to the man, blaming him for not keeping his promise. The ghost was clever too. She told him exactly what had transpired between himself and his new sweetheart. Whenever he gave his fiancee a present, the ghost would describe it in detail. She would even repeat conversations, and it so annoyed the amn that he could not sleep. Someone advised him to take his problem to a Zen master who lived close to the village. At length, in despair, the poor man went to him for help.

“Your former wife became a ghost and knows everything you do, ” commented the master. “Whatever you do or say, whatever you give your beloved, she knows. She must be a very wise ghost. Really you should admire such a ghost. The next time she appears, bargain with her. Tell her that she knows so much you can hide nothing from her, and that if she will answer you one question, you promise to break your engagement and remain single.”

“What is the question I must ask her?” inquired the man.

The master replied: “Take a large handful of soy beans and ask her exactly how many beans you hold in your hand. If she cannot tell you, you will know that she is only a figment of your imagination and will trouble you no longer.”

The next night, when the ghost appeared the man flattered her and told her that she knew everything.

“Indeed,” replied the ghost, “and I know you went to see that Zen master today.”

“And since you know so much,” demanded the man, “tell me how many beans I hold in this hand!”

There was no longer any ghost to answer the question.

-Zen proverb

The Color Purple

About a month ago, Corrine asked me not to invite Samuel to my hut unless she were present. She said it gave the villagers the wrong idea. This was a real blow to me because I treasure his company. Since Corrine almost never visits me herself I will have hardly anybody to talk to, just in friendship. But the children still come and sometimes spend the night when their parents want to be alone. I love those times. We roast groundnuts on my stove, sit on the floor and study maps of all the countries in the world. Sometimes Tashi comes over and tells stories that are popular among the Olinka children. I am encouraging her and Olivia to write them down in Olinka and English. It will be good practice for them. Olivia feels that, compared to Tashi, she has no good stories to tell. One day she started in on an “Uncle Remus” tale only to discover Tashi had the original version of it! Her little face just fell. But then we got into a discussion of how Tashi’s
people’s stories got to America, which fascinated Tashi. She cried when Olivia told how her grandmother had been treated as a slave.

No one else in this village wants to hear about slavery, however. They acknowledge no responsibility whatsoever. This is one thing about them that I definitely do not like.


The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Catcher in the Rye

She was a funny girl, old Jane. I wouldn’t exactly describe her as strictly beautiful. She knocked me out, though. She was sort of muckle-mouthed. I mean when she was talking and she got excited about something, her mouth sort of went in about fifty directions, her lips and all. That killed me. And she never really closed it all the way, her mouth. It was always just a little bit open, especially when she got in her golf stance, or when she was reading a book. She was always reading, and she read very good books. She read a lot of poetry and all. She was the only one, outside my family, that I ever showed Allie’s baseball mitt to, with all the poems written on it. She’d never met Allie or anything, because that was her first summer in Maine–before that, she went to Cape Cod–but I told her quite a lot about him. She was interested in that kind of stuff.

Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger