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The Art of Unmotivated Celebration


What is the importance of celebration to our lives?

When the artist Marc Chagall turned 80, a party was held to celebrate his life and work.

At the party, Chagall expressed his appreciation and then added, “But, you know, I could have really used this kind of encouragement when I was a young, struggling artist.”

This suggests two different ways to think about celebration.

Usually, we celebrate at the END of something, when we reach a goal or milestone. We celebrate graduations, promotions, anniversaries, when our team finally wins, etc.

But Chagall points to celebration as something that can support and encourage and ENERGIZE us in the midst of life, as we face our challenges.

We might call this the Art of Unmotivated Celebration. It says that joy and celebration are so important to our lives that we should not wait to celebrate until there’s a special reason.

The Art of Unmotivated Celebration is the daily celebration of just being alive—the most precious gift in the world.

It’s the celebration of being human—the most valuable thing in the world.

It’s the celebration of our ability to live and create, our ability to meet challenges, survive failures, love and be loved, forgive and be forgiven, change and grow.

It’s the celebration of our uniqueness—there’s no one exactly like you, never has been, and never will be again.

Mark Twain believed in the Art of Unmotivated Celebration. He put it like this:

“On with the dance, let joy be unconfined” is my motto, whether there’s any dance to dance or any joy to unconfine.

 We can sense the joy and Unmotivated Celebration of life-its-own-self in Twain’s writings, which brought joy to millions.

Chagall and Twain remind us: Celebrating milestones is great. But don’t wait to celebrate your life!

(Maybe you can even think of someone who could use a little Unmotivated Celebration this week.)

How to be a good neighbor


This past week saw the publication of The Good Neighbor (by Maxwell King), the biography of Fred Rogers, the gentle soul behind the popular, long-running children’s TV show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

 Mr. Rogers reminded us that sometimes profound things are simple, and sometimes the simplest truths are the most profound—if only we would listen to them carefully and take them to heart.

In his honor, I’d like to give several of his quotations, along with some brief reactions.

 When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Some people thought Fred Rogers was naïve, not aware of the problems in the world. Actually, he was very aware of the stresses children experience growing up in the world, and he tried to help equip and encourage them.

It’s certainly easy to look at the world today and complain or criticize and say, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” Or we can say, “I am somebody. I can do something.”

Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like “struggle.” To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.

Love is also a verb. It’s what we do when we care. And the more ornery a person, the more he or she needs someone who cares about them.

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of.There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.

Of course, the question is, what do I leave behind? What is that lingering aroma of my life?

Someone has said (and I’ve repeated this before in this blog): the greatest gift you give the people in your life is a you that’s fun to be with.

There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.


“To be a person worthy of your own respect”


We lost the prolific and immensely entertaining playwright Neil Simon last week (author of The Odd Couple and many others). In honor of him, here, for your reflection—without comment—is an excerpt from one of his commencement addresses:

“Don’t listen to those who say, ‘It’s not done that way.’ Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don’t listen to those who say, ‘You’re taking too big a chance.’ Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine Floor and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside you rears its ugly head and says, ‘They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have more connections…’ I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sympathy and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts—not making success or failure the criteria by which you live—the chances are, you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.”