ReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”
Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.
Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.
For more inspiration visit or Like:
To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:
Third Magical Word:
Excerpt from The Wisdom of Merlin:
“There are two universes to explore—one inside yourself and one outside. And here’s the best part: How far you travel in each, and what you discover, is entirely up to you.”
“A tool by itself is not good or bad… A hammer can crush someone’s skull—or build someone’s home. The tool isn’t as important as the purpose.”
Quotes on Knowledge:
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Kofi Annan
“Knowledge is love and light and vision.” Helen Keller
Researchers at Northwestern University proved that children who regularly play an instrument showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than children who didn’t learn an instrument. (http://time.com/3634995/study-kids-engaged-music-class-for-benefits-northwestern/)
Regular reading increases an individual’s academic and economic success, and also encourages social and civic engagement. (http://arts.gov/sites/default/files/ToRead.pdf)
Activate, Engage, or Practice:
Read more: blogs, magazines, and/or books. Try a new book genre (fantasy, graphic novel, mystery, etc.), add a new blog to your favorites, and subscribe to a magazine/newsletter that focuses on a topic you would like to explore.
Practice an instrument. Playing music engages different parts of your brain.
Go back to school or take an online course.
Interview or chat with an elder family member or neighbor.
Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Knowledge:
One of my aims in life is to pursue lifelong learning. Amusingly, sometimes the quest for knowledge feels Sisyphean. For the more I learn, the more I realize how very little I know. As Mark Twain said:
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
Ah, the certitude of youth! After the passage of time, we look back on our cocksure, youthful self and realize how little we actually understood. With time and life experience, we gain not only knowledge but wisdom. For this reason, it’s important that we treasure our societal elders while they still walk the earth. This is why I’ve added “interview or chat with an elder family member or neighbor” to the list of suggestions for practicing knowledge for the week. When elders pass on, if we aren’t careful, a wealth of information will die with them. It’s paramount that we not only listen to their stories but document them so their knowledge can be shared with future generations.
Luckily, through books we’ve captured the words and thoughts of countless sage and gifted people who’ve come before us. With books, you can have a dialogue with the great Greek philosopher Socrates; you can learn about the centering prayer with the famous monk Basil Pennington; you can have your own seat on the mount to hear Jesus give His famous sermon; you can struggle with Odysseus to get back home to Ithaca. Through books, there are countless things you can learn and places to which you can travel without ever needing to leave your home.
If you are observant, you noticed that I spoke of mythical or fictional people amidst historical figures. Such heroes are no less important than those in real-life. Many people, especially learned adults, make the mistake of eschewing fiction. They assume that fiction does not teach. Au, contraire! We can learn much from fiction — even from fantasy which some parents dissuade their children from reading — about ourselves, about human nature and what motivates people, about the world around us. Fiction provides a non-threatening environment in which to explore ideas and topics that you might not feel ready to talk about openly. A book can serve as a friend with a listening, gentle heart. And when we turn to the pages of a good novel seeking escape, that’s okay. Our souls need that kind of nourishment, too.
If we are truly wise, we’ll be careful to find something of value from various sources and cultures. Indeed, Merlin’s mother Branwen (aka Elen) recognizes the value in culling from multiple sources, and shares these various stories with young Emrys (Merlin): “she…enjoyed telling tales of the Druid healers, or the miracle worker from Galilee. But her stories about the Greek gods and goddesses brought a special light into her sapphire eyes.”
Before I wrap up, let me again talk about books as depositories of knowledge that transcend time. As much as we like to dream of time-travel, there is no need for that invention when turning the pages of a book can take you back 2,000 years. And where can you find lots of books, filled with stories and knowledge, practically begging for a chance to share their secrets? A public library!
I am confident that our friend Merlin would agree with me when I say that public libraries are magical places. Where else can you find a wealth of information at your fingertips, free for the borrowing? With no price-tag or restriction, people of any race, religion, background, or economic status can have equal access to knowledge in order to better themselves. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is!