A peevish post

One of my pet peeves on social media these days is the continuous recycling of inspirational quotes, preferably accompanied by an evocative photo. They are almost always wise and beautiful words by wise and beautiful thinkers, poets, and philosophers. But I invariably read them with an impatient sigh. The fact that they come by on an average of at least once a day makes me wonder if anyone has anything original to say.

However, I always distrust my strong reactions to something, so I decided to examine this feeling of irritation more closely.

I struggle, as many people do, with this business of sharing. What do we think and experience that is worth sharing? What did we share with friends and acquaintances before we had Facebook, Twitter, and other unlimited possibilities? Important life events, thoughts on our lives and future, experiences that moved us deeply. Did we constantly quote Rumi, Lao-Tzu, etc. to each other? Maybe occasionally during a deep philosophical conversation. So what prompts us to do it now?

Another aspect of this that concerns me is the search for spiritual enlightenment, peace of mind, higher consciousness, or whatever else one might call it. We are all – and those who have read my book Passage of the Stork know that I’m no different – searching for a meaningful life. Do we find that by reading and sharing the words of gurus? Only superficially, I believe. We need to make our own mistakes, struggle with life as it presents itself to us, fall down, pick ourselves up, and look at our experiences with new eyes.

Reading does help us understand what has happened to us. Healers can alleviate our pain. Coaches, therapists, and teachers can point out our blind spots and show us that there are more paths than the path we are on. But we walk our paths alone; there’s no other way to do it.

If we do not have the courage to walk our own, unique path, to strike out into that wilderness we call authenticity, we will never do more than parrot the words of our books, healers, teachers, etc.

Hawk: a welcome visitor, but not a spirit animal

Hawk: a welcome visitor, not a spirit animal

There is no magical trick that heals your wounds and turns you into a wise person and a teacher or healer. No matter what some teachers and healers try to tell you, there is no quick fix. Carrying the right gemstones, paying attention to your personal daily horoscope, finding your spirit animal, performing the right rituals… there are many reasons you might want to do any of these things. But it does not take the place of the hard work that is needed to accept who you are: the pain you’ve been living with, the mistakes you’ve made, the parts of you that are hard to accept, and the beautiful, perfect person you’ve been all along.

We’re all different, and we all learn these lessons in our own, unique process. This may sound odd coming from a person who just wrote a book about her learning process. But I tried to be very clear that my words serve to inspire others and give them courage, but not to encourage others to emulate what I did.

So strike out into unknown territory. And, if you feel the urge to share some of what you’ve learned, to inspire others, find your unique voice to tell your unique story.



  1. Well said, Maddi. Technology is proving powerfully addictive. By providing us with so many crutches, it’s making it increasingly difficult for us to auto-power our brains. There’s a device to serve practically every need. And, as you note, countless quotes and images, begging to be shared, only a click away – which we, with another click, barely hesitate to fire off to one or one hundred “friends”. To regain some of our ability to be authentic, original, unique – to be who we are – we’ve got to try to break the habit of letting some THING else do the thinking for us. I’m hoping there’ll soon be a Technoholics Anonymous movement.

    • Well said, Sabine. I like to say that I’m not techno-phobic, but technically challenged, because I just don’t naturally take to all the ins and outs of working at my computer. I have to write each step down, then I’m all right. Being on our Hog Island Osprey site was a first for me and it took me some time to get all the fine points of being there. TA members, unite! Liebe Grüße! Mombird Helene

    • Thank you, Sabine. I do believe that this is not just a technological problem. There is an increasing understanding that a meaningful life is out there, to be had. And something nudges us to want it as quickly and painlessly as possible. So my plea is for real authenticity, with or without the technology.

  2. You’re so right, Maddi. Inspiration won’t be found in slogans and lovely pictures. They might, however, lead us to study the lives of people whose lives we feel have made it to where we’d like to be. We can all learn to meditate, but it’s what happens during those quiet times that makes the difference. I sat quietly one morning at Hog Island last summer, and just let inspiration find me…and it did. Those moments are too far and few for me lately. The one “slogan” I repeat as a mantra is “pay attention.” It’s my best advice to me.

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