There are two ways to read this quote.
Lincoln might be telling us to “accentuate the positive.” That managing our emotions and deciding to be happy will make us feel happy. In which case, this quote is kind of ironic, given that poor Abe struggled with depression. Seems like there’s a little self-loathing mixed into the words.
Yeah, sure, I get it.
Change is risky. You could go from the frying pan to the fire. From bad to worse.
But still—the devil? If you know you’re dealing with Lucifer himself, isn’t it wise to at least toy with idea of getting the hell out of there?
“Better the devil you know” seems an argument for stasis. It suggests that since there are no guarantees, you might as well just suck it up and stay stuck with the devil.
Isn’t that setting the bar a little low?
I’m not one to quote chapter and verse often (ever), but this tidbit is too wise to ignore.
I am taking it entirely out of context here so if you want to tell me where it fits into Scripture, please feel free.
But aside from all that—yes, yes, yes.
And I’m not talking about that tangled web we weave when we lie to other people. That’s a whole other mess. I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves—the most powerful, potent, and difficult to address lies.
Lies like, “I’m happy.”
Or, “I have a great job that I love.”
Or, “If I had a different relationship, I would be happy.”
Or, “If I do things this way, I can keep everyone happy.”
Or, “I’m OK as long as you’re OK.”
Lies, lies, lies.
Yeah, if only.
This comforting quote suggests that revenge is not necessary because karma is a bitch. That person who did you wrong? He’ll get his eventually because, you know, what goes around comes around. So just sit back and wait because it’s only a matter of time.
I want to buy it, but I don’t.
I’ve seen plenty of people do plenty of crummy things and get off without so much as a psychic bruise. Well, OK, maybe they’re crying on the inside, but on the outside, they’re just going blithely along doing more crummy things.
How are you at taking criticism?
I’ve gotten pretty good at it. If you’re going to put yourself in the public eye, you have to take your lumps.
I usually let rotten tomatoes land where they will. Readers often have unpleasant things to say to those of us with the audacity to put our thoughts in print. I’ve been called names, been accused of unspeakable acts, had my fitness for my job questioned. I hardly even consider that kind of thing criticism. Most of the time, it’s just people flapping their gums. I can imagine their red-faced sputtering and I hope they can imagine my eyes rolling. Those rotten tomatoes miss me by a mile.
(I’ve also noticed that when someone agrees with something I’ve written, it’s because the idea is good and great minds think alike. When someone disagrees, it’s because, obviously, I’m an idiot.)
The devil is in the details.
“So which is it?” a friend asked, peevishness implied in her email.
I’m not going to try and trace the origins of these quotes. The former is usually attributed to architect Mies van der Rohe, but some people claim it was around long before he got around to it. “The devil is in the details” may or may not have been a spinoff from the God quote.
The more I think about these two quotes, the less contradictory they seem. After all God and Lucifer are two sides of a spiritual coin. Good and evil, black and white, dark and light, Yin and Yang (though I make no judgment calls on black, white, dark, light, Yin, or Yang).
If “God” is transcendence, then God is in the details. It’s the details that elevate whatever you do from good to great.
This one annoys me.
It sounds so simple, so skipping through the daisies with dollar signs dancing around you like butterflies. It sounds like magical thinking to me.
Here’s another way to look at it: Do what you love for money and it might become just another job.
Easy for me to say, maybe. I write for a living and love what I do. But lemme tell you, dollar signs are not flittering around me and landing on my shoulders. Every dollar I earn is dragged in kicking and screaming.
Writing is my second career. My first was as a graphic artist. As a child, I loved drawing and making things. I attended the marvelous High School of Art & Design in New York City. (Think Fame for aspiring commercial artists.) My first few jobs, straight out of high school, were in the art department of various publications. I started as a lackey but learned the trade and eventually became a designer. Not great, but competent. But much as I loved publishing, in time, meeting the demands of the job and my bosses sucked a lot of the joy out of art and design for me.