Untethered Dog

A Commonplace By Tom Swift


The movies will always be one of my top all-time out activities. But to be honest, the peak moment for me is always being on the way to the movies. I love being on the way to the movies.

We’re in the car, trying to get there in time. Maybe you’ll have good seats. Maybe it’ll be a good movie. Maybe everything will be good. You don’t know, and when you’re on the way it’s still possible. I love that I’m definitely doing something and I haven’t done it yet. That’s a pure life moment. After you get a job and before you have to do it. Nothing beats that. It’s the spaces between life that I like the most.

-Jerry Seinfeld, SeignLanguage (1994)


3. Focus on the here and now. Self 1 won’t be at peace unless it does something useful — and that can be observing and monitoring the performance of Self 2. Concentrate on what is happening rather than on what you fear or hope will happen. When you’re skiing, for example, be aware of how your feet feel as your edges bite into the hill, instead of thinking about falling. “Anxiety is fear about what may happen,” [Timothy] Gallwey writes. “But when your attention is on the here and now, the actions that need doing have the best chance of being accomplished.”

-Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr., “How to Do Better at Almost Everything (by Not Really Trying), Reader’s Digest (1982)


I wish I could calm down, but maybe being on edge is what makes me what I am. Maybe I need fear and pressure to keep me going.

-Kelly Hrudey as told to Pat Calabria, “Red-Light District: The Islanders’ Kelly Hrudey Cannot Overcome His Fear of Failure,” Inside Sports (1989)


If you don’t understand or accept the basic principle of kindness — that it is an unbroken continuum that encompasses all life, including the animals, and if you dismiss this as not being important — you won’t get anything else right.

-Silva Battista, co-founder, Best Friends animal sanctuary


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)


The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.

-Bob Marley


“It just goes to show you,” the coach said, “when you have passion, you have a dream and you want to get things done, it’s unbelievable what you can do.”

-Sean Fitz-Gerald, “Maple Leafs Coach Mike Babcock Outlines Lessons to be Learned from Virtue and Moir,” The Athletic, 2-20-2018


Pain is unrelenting. It will get our attention. Despite our attempts to drown it in addiction, to physically beat it out of one another, to suffocate it with success and material trappings, or to strangle it with our hate, pain will find a way to make itself known.

Pain will subside only when we acknowledge it and care for it. Addressing it with love and compassion would take only a minuscule percentage of the energy it takes to fight it, but approaching pain head-on is terrifying. Most of us were not taught how to recognize pain, name it, and be with it. Our families and culture believed that the vulnerability that it takes to acknowledge pain was weakness, so we were taught anger, rage, and denial instead. But what we know now is that when we deny our emotion, it owns us.

-Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness (2017)


Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don’t look back,

the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits—
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours

To write on, blow open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You’ll never know
who’s down there, frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.

-Rita Dove, “Dawn Revisited,” On the Bus With Rosa Parks (1999)


Leonna Barrett: “What happened this morning is an outrage! My boy’s no criminal! He and those children belong in school, not back out on the streets! Our kids don’t deserve this! Some of those children are smart. They’re just discouraged what chances they got out there, what kind of jobs they got waiting for them. What chance do they have now? He insulted the black football coach! The man’s gone crazy! He’s declared war on his own people!”

Mrs. Arthur: “May I remind you, Miss Barrett, that Mr. Clark was nice enough to come to this emergency meeting after a very trying day?”

Barrett: “That’s what he gets paid for!”

Arthur: “I think we owe him a chance to respond.”

[the audience claps in agreement]

Joe Clark: [getting up, standing before the group] “They say one bad apple spoils the bunch.”

[shouts of protest]

Clark: “But what about 300? Rotten to the core! Now, you’re right, Mrs. Barrett. This is a war. It’s a war to save 2700 other students, most of whom don’t have the basic skills to pass the state exam.”

[some applause]

Clark: “Now if you want to help us, fine.”

[coming over to Barrett]

Clark: “Sit down with your kids and make them study at night. Go get your families off welfare.”

Barrett: [getting up in his face] “How dare you talk to these people about welfare!”

Clark: “Give our children some pride! Tell them to get their priorities straight!”

[Barrett sits down. He walks on down the center of the audience]

Clark: “When Dr. Napier came to me offering this job, I saw the lightning flash. I heard the thunder roll! I felt breakers crashing, swamping my soul!”

Barrett: [getting up again] “We are not in church, Mr. Clark!”

Clark: [facing Barrett] “I fell down on my knees …”

[Mrs. Barrett sits down in exasperation]

Clark: “… and I cried ‘My God, why has thou forsaken me?’ and the Lord said ‘Joe, you’re no damn good. No, I mean this! More than you realize, you’re no earthly good at all unless you take this opportunity and do whatever you have to.’ And he didn’t say ‘Joe, be polite.'”

[the people clap in agreement]

Clark: “Do whatever you have to to transform and transmogrify this school into a special place where the hearts and souls and minds of the young can rise.”

[more clapping in agreement]

Clark: “Where they can grow tall and blossom out from under the shadows of the past. Where the minds of the young are set free. And I gave my word to God, and that’s why I threw those bastards out …”

[the crowd starts to shout in both agreement and protest]

Clark: “… and that’s all I’m gonna say!”

[He walks out as the audience gets loud and boisterous]

Lean on Me (1989)