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  • “The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and
    head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

    “Absence of Quality is the essence of squareness. ”

    “Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny
    of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle.
    I think that what I have to say has more lasting value.”

    “One of the most moral acts is to create a space in which
    life can move forward.”

    Robert M. Pirsig

    I agree with you, Steve. Sometimes it is just "one more story" time, and who can refuse the Muse?

    You have just honored one of my favorite life-changing books of all time - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanance, by Robert Pirsig.

    As it did for you, reading this extraordinary meditation on values quite simply changed the way I see the world. I often share favorite quotes from it to make a point, or simply ask myself to focus on the Quality which a situation may demand.

    It is always hard to tell people "what i do" and often I fake outlandish and surreal answers just to be able to change the subject. But when I want to be serious, and get to the essential thing I "do," I just say "I aspire to create value and Quality." That comes straight from Pirsig's philosophy of Quality. So whether it is starting a company, developing a business relationship, landscaping a virtual reality project, designing high fashion avatar clothes, writing haiku poems, or creating various kinds of art, I always think of Quality.

    Quality is a Prime Directive, from which all else must flow.

    How can I attain the greatest measure of Quality in this situation? How can I demonstrate Quality to others? How can I bring out Quality in them?

    All Pirsig. All about the metaphor of motorcycle maintenance.

    For me, one of the treasures hidden away in the book is Pirsig's discussion of seed crystals. I even named one of my characters in an ongoing sci-fi novel, "Crystal Seed."

    As you may remember, he talks about how, when you have a supersaturated solution, which is still a liquid, when you drop in a seed crystal, the whole composition of the solution instantly becomes a new thing: a solid.

    This was a revelation to me, because it was a perfect metaphor for what I like to do in situations where there is a need for a breakthrough, or shift, or change - where things seem locked into one kind of form. A seed crystal of an idea, dropped into that environment, can serve as a life-changing catalyst and bring total, needed change.

    I have lost count of the times when I have suggested that a friend or colleague buy the book, read it, and look up the page on the seed crystal process.

    It would be accurate to say that Pirsig's remarkable work gave me a solid sense of purpose when I felt lost, and needed some concrete direction in life.

    Thanks to him, I realized that my life, first and foremost, needed to be about living, breathing, and creating Quality, and that if I could put the creation of Quality first in everything I did, I would have a life worth living. I would earn my right to be alive in this most wonderful, possible life.

    A seed crystal moment.

    Everything changed.

    Everything made sense then.

    Thanks, Steve, for giving me a chance to chime in here, and share my own appreciation for Robert Pirsig, and for you, for featuring him.

    Fellow Cowbirders, if you want some hot hot hot summer reading, buy this book!

    (Photograph by Alex in the Grand Canyon, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life, modified in APS)
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