0) A widow grieved her husband of sixty years. None could console her. Family treated her with concern and caution, as if she were made of brittle glass. Friends, meaning well, selfishly described their own losses and how they had coped. Priests lectured and quoted, their promises eternally missing the point. Still, she grieved.

Then a stranger came to her and listened attentively as she recounted her stories and memories, made light with her humor, and wept her tears openly. All the while, the stranger sat in discomfort and listened.

The widow then asked, “Why do you merely sit there and listen? All of the others tried to console me, but not you.”

The stranger shook their head and said, “I feel the urge to do so, but I must not. I do not wish to cheapen your loss by claiming that I can understand or soothe it. Yours is a deep, true sorrow that must not be diminished through consolation; I am equipped merely to acknowledge it.”

And the widow thanked the stranger from the bottom of her breaking heart.

0 unread) A hardworking person once observed, “There is really nothing better than the relief of gazing upon an empty inbox.”

1) A thoughtful person said, “When it comes to matters of existential significance, I often feel as though I am careening through a profound and limitless darkness at breakneck velocity, spinning in dizzying, predictable circles that ultimately take me nowhere. But then again, so is the planet, so why shouldn’t I? I learned it all from Mother Earth – blame the parents, that’s what I always say.”

1 + 1) A bridge builder said, “Bridges are meant to be crossed, but then again, people are meant to be together, so what do I know?”

1 & 1) A bigoted person turned to a persecuted person and said, “I sure do hate your guts.”

The persecuted person stared back in bewilderment, saying, “How can you hate me so fiercely? You don’t know anything about me.”

The bigoted person beamed with validation and said, “Yes! Thank you! That’s it, that’s exactly it. Good Lord, it’s so nice to finally have someone understand me.”

2) A sane person said to a psychotic person, “What is it like being disconnected from reality as you are? I find it so difficult to imagine.”

The psychotic person fixed the sane person with a quizzical stare and replied incisively, “And yet you have no difficulty imagining that you yourself are not somehow disconnected from reality. Which of us is truly the delusional one?”

The sane person said, “Yes, that’s a perfect example. What is it like for you to think that way?”

2 or even 3) An aging person mistook a young person for a street performer. Upon discovering to their disappointment that breakdancing was not going to spontaneously ensue, the aging person exclaimed, mostly in jest, “This generation sucks!”

The young person did not say anything but laughed aloud. They laughed with the consideration of it all: how difficult it was to learn to dance; how expensive it was to learn, such that dancing straight into debt was all but inevitable; how exhausting it was to dance two or even three dances simultaneously for the sake of their loved ones, to do so for all of their days with no promise of rest or relief near the end; and of course, how the aging person had already done all of the easiest dances in their time and had left none, and how they might never be made to understand who had been sacrificed in the name of their indulgence.

Held down by this bitter weight, how could the young person dance? It was astonishing that they could even draw breath to laugh.

4) A young man said, “I was standing in line at the movies with my stepfather recently. He was talking excitedly about an upcoming fishing trip he had planned for us. I mentioned offhandedly that I hadn’t gone fishing since the divorce. A look of sympathetic concern came over his face as he laid a reassuring hand on my shoulder, saying something unhelpful about how some people would say that all fathers are absent fathers. I shrugged him off and said, ‘Omigod whatever, Steve, you’re not even my reel dad.’”

5 or more) An angry person said, “You know, I think I feel the most in control when I’m completely out of control.” He then opened another beer.

6) The sign outside the realtor’s office said, “HOME IS A FEELING”. Beneath this sentimental declaration, in somewhat smaller letters, it also said, “GO EAGLES”.

9) A neophyte artist complained to their mentor, “I want so badly to create something bold and memorable, but I cannot find the inspiration!”

The mentor regarded the novice and asked, “Have you been trying?”

The novice despaired, “Yes, I feel as though I have tried everything, but it doesn’t seem to matter what I do – still I am uninspired!”

The mentor said, “This is your mistake; you must not try. Inspiration is very much like a cat; if you beckon to it, attempt to entice or coerce it, or chase after it, then it soon becomes distant. It is when you are still, self-assured, disinterested, and non-striving that the cat, sensing a spirit like its own, will come close.”

The novice paused to consider, and then said, “Perhaps what you say is true, but I know of many people who claim that fortune favors the bold. They would say of non-striving, I think, that not to try is to fail.”

The mentor smiled knowingly and said, “Those people do not have a cat; rather, a cat would never have them.”

10) “And yet,” the neophyte artist continued, not yet fully convinced, “when I am still, self-assured, disinterested, and non-striving, I am not completely at ease; I remain possessed by the urge to create, plagued by the thought that if I am not engaged in the creative process moment to moment, then my entire being is all for naught.”

The mentor nodded solemnly, saying, “Yes, that belief may always nag at you, though you may feel it more acutely or less at times. Why, even now, there is a particular painting that I have been unable to complete to my own satisfaction, and naturally I chide myself for it. Even now, my mind wanders down this unhelpful path.”

The novice looked to the mentor with great surprise, saying, “Even you? I can scarcely believe it, accomplished visionary that you are.”

The mentor gestured to the empty space beside them and said, “Do you see a cat sitting here?”

12) A wise watchmaker said, “Most sensible are those who make time rather than find it.” Then his wife returned to him a timepiece that he had misplaced some days ago, and he stood corrected.

20 / 20) An eyedoctor said, “I fail to see why corrective lenses are so popular. Why, I often wish that my own vision could be more imperfect. A distorted view is a merciful view, especially when one looks in the mirror. I must stop doing that.”

20 mg QD) A suffering person said, “The only simple thing about mental health is that it simply isn’t.”

Her psychiatrist said, “Take your meds as prescribed.”

24) A chronically worried person said, “Expect the worst, hope for the best.”

45) The master observed his student training and said, “When you punch, you must square your shoulders, and turn your hips.”

The student was confused and said, “But Master, this is how you taught me to punch. I have been doing it this way for months, and you never said anything!”

The master smiled patiently and explained, “You needed that time to practice keeping your feet firmly held in a deep, wide stance. You were not yet ready to learn to square your shoulders and turn your hips – now you are ready. Remember that a tree with shallow roots topples easily in a storm.”

The student nodded with some reluctance and said, “I understand, Master, but my parents always say that money doesn’t grow on trees, and I think that’s probably true even if the roots are very deep, and so because my family is paying forty-five dollars an hour for my lessons, I would like to go ahead and learn how to punch correctly now.”

The master sighed and said, “Now you will do forty-five push-ups.”

69) Sylvia Plath said, “Kiss me and you will see how important I am.”

A fan of Sylvia Plath said, "I wish she could have kissed herself."

420) An enlightened person said, “Some would say that flag burning is the highest expression of patriotism. I’m inclined to agree, but only if one inhales the fumes. And only if one shares with one’s fellow patriots – puff, puff, pass, that’s just Common Sense, that’s what Tommy Paine would say, that’s what Jesus and the rest of the Founding Fathers would want.”

10,000) A philosopher said, “Too often, I am struck by a noteworthy thought or idea, only to find myself frantically piling ten thousand other thoughts and ideas on top of it – without fail, I lose the one somewhere in the meddlesome piles of thousands. Rather than thinking, I would be better off writing, and better off still if I were sharing, and even better off than that if I were laughing.”

bootstraps) A person who had never needed to try very hard said, “People should stop complaining and just try harder.”

A person who had tried very hard and succeeded said, “I am fortunate.”

every 1) An everyman said to an actor, “What is it like to pretend to be someone else all the time?”

The actor smiled wryly and replied, “You are quite an actor yourself, pretending that you have no idea.”

every 7) A pious man said to his employer, “I shall henceforth need to be absent from the office every Monday, for I have just recently become fully committed to my one true faith.”

The employer arched a skeptical eyebrow, his lips twisted up in a frown as he replied, “Well, this is rather unusual. I’m sure I’ve never heard of anyone needing off every Monday for religious reasons.”

The pious man held himself with a humble sort of pride, and with patience and grace he explained, “I have pledged myself to the First National Holy Church of Garfield, Inc. Monday is our day of reverent observance for reasons that are self-evident, and so I am afraid that I will be unable to attend to my occupational responsibilities on that day.”

The employer became red in the face, and with great offense, he exclaimed, “Garfield! Indeed! Utterly ridiculous! Certainly I must be a fool to have believed for a moment that you would make such a ludicrous request in the name of any real religion!”

The pious man merely smiled, letting the red-faced man’s words hang in the air like a cross.

in’) A humorous person said, “I had a guy the other day tell me I was bein’ prejudiced. Are you kiddin’ me? I was just jokin’ around, this guy can’t take a fuckin’ joke – what a pussy. He probably loves his girlfriend, too, the fuckin’ queer.”

no 1) A serious person said, “I thought for a long time that my values, principles, and aspirations were beyond the reach of mockery. Then I noticed, funnily enough, that no one was taking me seriously.”