Live and Let Live

I saw a re-post on Facebook this morning that caught my attention. I wasn’t sure whether the words simply resonated with me because I endorse the sentiment they convey or, instead, whether they caused me to have an intensely introspective moment:

If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more?

Many of the comments that accompanied the post expressed gratitude to a supernatural being for gifts bestowed on the commenter. I found those comments especially shallow and utterly meaningless. They expressed appreciation “to” something external to the commenter. They seemed to me to position the commenters as helpless beings whose good fortunes, such as they were, came about because of some benevolent creature over which the commenters have no control. Something about that repulses me. Those comments almost caused me to turn away from the statement as just another hokey, imbecilic meme that extracts hokey, imbecilic comments from deeply superficial people.

It is foolish to squander the time you have to live your life here on Earth by telling others how to live their own lives.

~ The Grammarist ~

But I did not allow the responses, which I found pathetic and empty, to control my response to the assertion contained in the question. Even though the question is, in my opinion, an unnecessarily negative way of expressing a highly positive philosophical position, I think one’s response to the question is what matters. The more I thought about it, the more I realized why the words hit me the way they did. And, as I continued to contemplate the words—and my harsh reaction to the comments they elicited from others—the more I realized my reaction constituted unnecessary emotional expense. And those words made me recall my several short-lived attempts to develop a daily practice of gratitude. I suppose my idea of a “practice of gratitude” is akin to others’ practices of meditation. Maybe it is exactly the same thing. Whatever it is, I want to rekindle or resurrect the desire to develop a practice of gratitude. By doing so, I expect I will more fully appreciate my existence. Not that I will happily welcome every experience I have, but that I will try to take from every experience a lesson in living.


A friend suggested to me not so long ago that I frequently use the word “shard” in my writing. Instantly, I realized she was right. I not only used it, I over-used it. I used it because I thought it seemed precisely right for those instances in which I used it.  But I could have and probably should have selected another word if for no other reason than variety.

Another word I used with greater-than-average frequency is “spectrum.” I think the ideas I convey when I use that word cannot be as effectively conveyed with any other words. It just fits, perhaps because its meaning expresses my perception of the range and density of experience. It applies not just to the range of colors on a scale of visible light, but to the range of related experience in every facet of our existence.

I may find another way of expressing the range of related experiences. Until I do, though, I will continue to use and perhaps over-use and very possibly misuse “spectrum.”


The underlying philosophy that guides my life—except when I allow my biases and emotions and prejudices and multitudinous flaws intervene—is embodied in the proverb that says “live and let live.” The world would be a far better and more peaceful place if humankind would simply adopt and, more importantly, live by that philosophy.  This morning, as I pondered the extent to which I embrace what I consider my core philosophy, I read what others have to say about the phrase and its meaning. Here’s something I found online at; I think it is especially illuminating:

To “live and let live” means to be tolerant, to live one’s own life in the manner that he wishes and to allow the other fellow to live his life in the manner that he wishes. The philosophy of live and let live does not necessarily embrace or condone the differences of others, but it promotes accepting the differences of others without trying to change them. It is foolish to squander the time you have to live your life here on Earth by telling others how to live their own lives.

It is easy to express that “live and let live” is one’s guiding philosophy but much more difficult (at least for me) to accept and respond accordingly to that guidance. I find it more than a little hypocritical to espouse tolerance while simultaneously condemning intolerant behaviors (and the people who exhibit them) in others. The preceding sentence should be tattooed across my forehead as a reminder of my own hypocrisy. Something like it should be printed on bathroom mirrors all across the planet. Actually, a paragraph or two might be necessary to fully express the underlying message.

One shouldn’t belittle oneself. Except when warranted.


Once again, I went to bed late, yet could not sleep past 3:00 a.m. It’s about a quarter past 5 and I’m beginning to feel like I might be able to sleep if I were to try, but I’d probably sleep until 8 or 9 if I did. I have things to do today, so I’ll try to stay awake for the duration.

Time to slice a cantaloupe for this morning’s breakfast. I might supplement cantaloupe with breakfast sausage. Or I might fall asleep in front of the stove.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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