MFC #25562 







On being wrong (and using my writings)

On being wrong (and using my writings)

Author and speaker Katheryn Shultz has a fascinating TED talk which I highly recommend. You can find at this link:

The talk explores with great humor how easy it is to be wrong, and how difficult it is to know it. There is so much to be said about (and for) being wrong, that she wrote the book on it:


Here is an interesting story along those lines. A well known and popular novelist, Anne Lamott wrote a novel on recovery and substance abuse titled Imperfect Birds. The title of the book is a line from the Rumi poem,

‘"Each must enter the nest made by the other imperfect birds"

This is quoted in the book, and if you look it up you will find hundreds of references to this Rumi Poem… except, to the best of my understanding, the line is by poet Robert Bly.  Now if I were Mr. Bly, I would take it as a high compliment to be quoted “as Rumi”. On the other hand, I might want credit for my own words. Either way, it is fascinating to see how a simple error (and I suspect the error was not originally Anne Lamott’s) can be propogated and become a “well known truth”.

Robert Bly’s poem follows:

Listening to the Koln Concert ~ by Robert Bly

" After we had loved each other intently,
we heard notes tumble together,
in late winter, and we heard ice
falling from the ends of twigs.

The notes abandon so much as they move.
They are the food not eaten, the comfort
not taken, the lies not spoken.
The music is my attention to you.

And when the music came again,
late in the day, I saw tears in your eyes.
I saw you turn your face away
So that others would not see.

When men and women come together,
how much they have to abandon. Wrens
make their nests of fancy threads
and string ends, animals

abandon all their money each year.
What is it that men and women leave?
Harder than wren's doing, they have
to abandon their longing for the perfect.

The inner nest not made by instinct
will never be quite round,
and each has to enter the nest
made by the other imperfect bird. "


Our own little misunderstandings can become like this. We make all kinds of (mistaken) assumptions about our own and other’s intentions, motivations, and desires, and act accordingly. We may, or may not find out about these errors, and when we do, we may, or may not find the willingness to admit our errors. Now I do not even know, for sure, who may have written the line, although it looks to be Robert Bly, not Jalaluddin Rumi.

Another of my favorite quotes is

“Remember: Wherever you go, there you are.”

I have seen it attributed to a variety of sources. I first heard it in 1966, at a Monopoly tournament held at Phi Epsilon Pi, late at night during finals. The source was my friend and fraternity brother at Columbia, John Shuster, AKA “Harry the Hat”, a reference to his usual token in the game. Life is sometimes a little too much like monopoly…If you are not paying enough attention, you may forget to collect the rent.

That being said, you may feel free to use my stories and writings. If you publish them, please ask permission, or at the very least, correctly attribute them to me.


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