Split Tree receives many emails from wits and half-wits; here is a sampling of our collection.  And here too are samples of poetry, opinion, thoughts, and so forth that we like for many reasons, even if we disagree with some of them.

Things to Ponder              Home Page

Dance Like Nobody's Looking   -- from The Chattanoogan web newpaper
posted September 29, 2004

I want to tell about something I saw at the Hamilton County Fair Sunday afternoon. Have you ever received one of those "feel-good" emails that always end with "dance like no one is looking"? I guess I've received so many of them that I never really pay much attention to them anymore, but Sunday afternoon "dance like no one is looking" came to my mind during a bluegrass show at the County Fair.

We were sitting on some hay bales behind the audience, resting and letting the grandkids play and eat ice cream, when I noticed a little lady sitting in the middle of the audience. I'd seen her earlier that day, eating a tail-gate picnic with her family, and she looked to be in her late seventies, a tiny little red-haired woman dressed in a pink and white floral skirt, a pink long-sleeved blouse, thick white stockings and flat dress shoes.

Her family wasn't with her at the show, and, like I said, she was sitting smack-dab in the middle of the audience. The band was pickin' and I was really enjoying the music and tapping my feet and clapping my hands and laughing with my grandkids when I looked up and saw the little lady standing up and just a'dancin' her heart out. Nobody else was dancing. Nobody else was clapping their hands to the music. Nobody was even smiling all that much. But, she kept dancing until the song was over and I thought how wonderful it is to feel so free and not give a flip about what other people think and if you hear happy music and it moves your soul just get up and dance like no one is looking. I laughed and laughed...not AT her...but because she made me so happy with her exhilaration and inability to keep it bottled up inside of herself.

I hope when I'm a little old lady in my late seventies I'm still able to move like she did and have the same feeling of freedom and joy.

Sheila Nelson

Photos by Bob Bennett from Rhapsody Summerfest

While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole.   That is why I dance. -- - Hans Bos
(from Billy Grant, Rome, GA contra dancer)


I praise the dance, for it frees people from the heaviness of matter and binds the isolated to community.
I praise the dance, which demands everything: health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people, who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.
Dancing demands a whole person, one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life, who is not obsessed by lust for people and things and the demon of isolation in his own ego.
Dancing demands a freed person, one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers.
I praise the dance.
O man, learn to dance, or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you.
----------Saint Augustine (A.D. 354 ... 430)
--From Billy Grant, Rome, GA contra dance group  (next dance Sept 25 at Berry College -- "Billy Grant" <bgrant [at] mindspring.com>

"The true voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands
 but in seeing with new eyes". -- Marcel Proust (from Rudy Rodriguez, Asheville)

Thoughts on Being Thankful -- 2003

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
                           Author unknown.
More Things for Which to be Thankful

Trains, cars, airplanes, horses and buggies that allow
us to travel great distances to share Thanksgiving
with our loved ones.

The spouse who complains when dinner is not on time,
because s/he is home with me, not with someone else.

The teenager who is complaining about doing dishes,
because that means she is at home & not on the

The mess to clean after a party because it means I
have been surrounded by friends.

The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.

The clothes that fit a little too snug because it
means I have enough to eat.

My shadow who watches me work because it means I am
out in the sunshine.

A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning
and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a

All the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.

The space I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.

My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.

The lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.

The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I
have clothes to wear.

Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means I have been productive.

The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I'm alive.

Getting too much email bogs me down but at least I
know I have friends who are thinking of me.

Author Unknown

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Article:  Women's beauty is like food, drugs to male brain  

With the long threat and the sad new reality of world terrorism in mind, we offer you a quote on dancing from Mark Helprin's 1977 novel, "Refiner's Fire" (in the American ship captain's words as he nears Palestine in 1947 with a rejuvenated shipload of Europe's broken, beaten Jews):  "They had taken to movement unlike anything he had ever seen, and he thought that should this venture [return to the Jewish homeland] prove successful, the new state would be filled with dancers and musicians, but especially dancers, for dancing like nothing else says: I AM STILL ALIVE.  Although that simple statement will appear vacuous to those for whom living has always been a right, for those who have been challenged on this score, it is the most beautiful and momentous thing to be said or heard in the world."  (Page 20).

From Rev.  Norm Stewart, whose sermon on dance is linked on our home page.   Here are a few from my collection in gratitude for your gift of the quote and of Split Tree.

when you pray, move your feet — African proverb

I would only believe in a GOD who understood how to dance.  —  Nietzsche

Without music, life would be a mistake. —  Nietzsche

Consider any day lost on which you have not DANCED at least once.  —  Nietzsche

 It takes a swirling chaos to create a dancing star.   (?? —  Nietzsche)
                --  OR  --
You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. – Nietzsche

 Now I am light;
 Now I fly;
 Now I see myself beneath myself;
 Now a god dances through me!
  - F. Nietzsche


You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it.  That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.
    - Krishnamurti, Think On These Things

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. – Dave Barry

For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love to fiddle,
And the merry love to dance.
 - WB Yeats, The Fiddler of Dooney

If we leave it to the spirit there will be nothing left in the church but Jesus and dancing . . . . — Jerome Murphy

All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing.  — Moliere

 Never trust spiritual leader who cannot dance.     — Mr. Miyagi “The Next Karate Kid”

Except for the point, the stillpoint, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance.  — T.S. Eliot

If you never want to see the face of hell, when you come home from work every night, dance with your kitchen towel and if you're worried about waking up your family, take off your shoes.   — Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav

On with the dance!  let joy be unconfin'd;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet.
                              — Byron

Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you're perfectly free.
— The Essential Rumi trans. by Coleman Barks with John Moyne,  HarperCollins, 1995, p. 281

http://newshealth.omplace.com   From the weekly alternative news servcie:  www.omplace.com

Sacred Circle Dance and Spirituality  by Lynn Frances/OracularTree.com    Dance has been used over the ages as an expression of the  deepest aspects of life, of the dancer's relationship with  the Earth, the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and, perhaps  most importantly, the connection with the Divine. In  tribal societies dance is a natural means of communication:  it expresses joy, sadness, love and hate; it instils power  in the invading tribe; it pleads with the gods to provide  food, rain, sun; it celebrates all the meaningful stages  of life - birth, puberty, initiation, marriage, death.  There is a form of dance that is becoming more and more  popular in this country, which recaptures some of the  spirituality of dance. It is Sacred Circle Dance. The  basis of this is international folk dances from countries  such as Greece, Israel, Romania and Bulgaria.

Dorothy Parker Quips and Quotations--a sample below

"It's a small apartment, I've barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends." 

On learning that Calvin Coolidge was dead she remarked, "How could they tell?"

"Are you Dorothy Parker?" a guest at a party inquired. "Yes, do you mind?"

"You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think."

In a book review: "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force."

In 1925, Harold Ross was struggling to keep The New Yorker magazine alive with a tiny, inexperienced staff and an office with one typewriter. Running into Dorothy, Ross said, "I thought you were coming into the office to write a piece last week. What happened?" Dorothy replied, "Somebody was using the pencil."

"I can't write five words but that I change seven."

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

"I like to have a martini, Two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, After four I'm under my host!"

In the street once Dorothy approached a taxi. "I'm engaged," the cabbie said. "Then be happy," she told him.

Wasn't the Yale prom wonderful? "If all the girls in attendance were laid end to end," she said, "I wouldn't be at all surprised."

"Look at him, a rhinestone in the rough."

"Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart."

"You know, that woman speaks 18 languages, and she can't say "no" in any of them."

"His body has gone to his head."

In a 1933 review of the play "The Lake" starring Katherine Hepburn:  "Miss Hepburn runs the gamut of emotions from A to B"

"Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses."

Another book review: "He is beyond question a writer of power; and his power lies in his ability to make sex so thoroughly, graphically and aggressively unattractive that one is fairly shaken to ponder how little one has been missing."

Both Wordsworth and Thoreau knew that when the light of common day seemed no more than common, it was because of something lacking in them, not because of something lacking in it... and what they asked for was eyes to see a universe they knew was worth seeing... ~Joseph Wood Krutch

From the Asheville Summer Soiree 2000

"...all the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill in dancing."--from a character in a Moliere play


In some way, however small and secret, each of us is a little mad. Everyone is lonely at the bottom and cries to be understood. But we can never entirely understand someone else. Each of us remains part stranger, even to those who love us.

It is the weak who are cruel; gentleness is expected only from the strong. Those who do not know fear are not really brave, for courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined. 

You can understand people better if you look at them -- no matter how old or impressive they may be, as if they are children. For most of us never mature; we simply grow taller.

Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable. The purpose of life is to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we have lived at all!

Author Unknown     --from Catherine Hannah

June 4, 2000

Art Versus Politics

This excerpt has been adapted from "Command Performance: An Actress in the Theater of Politics" by Jane Alexander, an account of her tenure as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1993 to 1997. The book is being published this month by Public Affairs.  

POLITICIANS come and go. Newt Gingrich left Congress; Bill Clinton's term as president is ending. But politics as it is practiced today in the United States is entrenched, and it is deeply in trouble.

It is hard to know what a politician believes any more because he is so beholden to the special interests of those who elected him. An elected official has to pay attention to the money in his campaign chest first and foremost. Corporations spend to the limit, and special interest groups all have their own Political Action Committees ready and eager to give.

If all politicians sound alike these days it is because they cannot dare to be different. If all politicians take a poll rather than take a stand, it is because they need to please as many people as possible and keep the coffers filled. The system is so corrupt it may not ever be fixed.

If an organization has no money to give or insufficient money to give, it is going to be ignored. And that is exactly what happened to the National Endowment for the Arts. No wonder the 104th and 105th Congresses thought it was a shoo-in for elimination! Who was going to stand up for it? Even though the nonprofit arts in America generated more attendance than all professional sporting events combined, and there were more artists in America than there were police and corrections officers, according to Americans for the Arts.

Today, a few arts organizations have begun Political Action Committees to help elect candidates who support government financing of the arts, but the real issue to be addressed is that of campaign finance reform. Until candidates stand on an equal playing field, it will be nearly impossible for politicians to support issues like the arts and humanities. It is a testament to the citizens of America who love the arts in their communities that the endowment is alive today. These citizens are a pure force in an impure world and our society needs more of them.

When we teach a child to sing or play the flute, we teach her how to listen. When we teach her to draw, we teach her to see. When we teach a child to dance, we teach him about his body and about space, and when he acts on the stage, he learns about character and motivation. When we teach a child design, we reveal the geometry of the world. When we teach children about the folk and traditional arts and the great master pieces of the world, we teach them to celebrate their roots and find their own place in history.

No one will remember or revere the F-22 in 100 or even 20 years, but Shakespeare is performed all over the world 400 years after he began to tell his stories.
     © copyright 2000 Jane Alexander



"Dance Like Nobody's Watching..."

This quote is from a song by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh: Come From the Heart.  Kathy Mattea recorded it on her "Willow in the Wind" album. It was also recorded by someone in the 70's - Helen Reddy perhaps? -- Seth Tepfer.
"You've got to sing, like you don't need the money.
 Love, like you'll never get hurt.
Dance, dance, dance like nobody's watching.
It's got to come from the heart if its going to work."

 SIMPLE VS REAL (from Andy Estes)

 A simple friend has never seen you cry.  A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears. 

A simple friend doesn't know your parents' first names  A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.

A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.  A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you  clean. 

A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.  A real friend asks you why you took so long to call. 

 A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.  A real friend seeks to help you with your problems. 

A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.  A real friend could blackmail you with it. 

A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.  A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.

A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.  A real friend knows that it's not a friendship until after you've had a  fight. 

A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.  A real friend expects to always be there for you!

A ball is a circle, no beginning, no end. It keeps us  together, like our Circle of Friends.  But the treasure  inside for you to see is the treasure of friendship you've granted to me. Today I pass the friendship ball to you. Pass it on to someone who is a friend to you....

Never be afraid to try something new.  Remember, amateurs built the ark.  Professionals built the Titanic.

Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels so good.

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be
changed regularly and for the same reason.

An optimist thinks that this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears
that this is true.

There is always death and taxes; however death doesn't get worse every year.

People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that
Benjamin Franklin said it first.

It's easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.

I don't mind going nowhere as long as it's an interesting path.

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

It hurts to be on the cutting edge.

In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.

I always wanted to be a procrastinator; I never got around to it.

I am a nutritional overachiever

I am having an out of money experience.

I plan on living forever. So far, so good.

I am in shape. Round is a shape.

Not afraid of heights - afraid of widths.

Practice safe eating--always use condiments.

A day without sunshine is like night.

I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.

If marriage were outlawed, only outlaws would have in-laws.

I am not a perfectionist. My parents were though.

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but
eventually you find a hair stylist you like.

One of life's mysteries is how a two pound box of candy can make a woman gain five pounds.

It's frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask
you the questions.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right
time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Time may be a great healer, but it's also a lousy beautician.

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.

Age doesn't always bring wisdom, Sometimes age comes alone.

Life not only begins at forty, it begins to show.

You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stopped laughing.

A gentleman is one who knows how to play the accordion . . . and doesn't

(from anonymous email October 1999)


Rocks, Gravel, and Sand 

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. 

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers, he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouth mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen golf ball-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"  Everyone in the class said, "Yes." 

 Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing the gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He then asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"  By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered.  

"Good!" he replied.  He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand into the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"  "No!" the class shouted.  

Once again he said, "Good."  Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it into the jar until it was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"  

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things in it!" 

"No," the speaker replied, "That's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all.  What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Time with your loved ones? Your faith? Your education? Your dreams? A worthy cause? Teaching or mentoring others?  Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. So tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this lesson, ask yourself this question:  What are the 'big rocks' in my life?  Then, put those in your jar first."   (Thanks to Dr. Tanya Augsburg for passing on this story).


"Dream Dancer," by Jill Baker  November 1999

Sid, you asked for contributions. 
I wrote a poem about dancing which I will contribute to you to do with as you would like.  Jill Baker

We're a couple of wizened old swans,
Aren't we, my Dream Dancer?  You and I,
We've stood in our corners and toughed it out, haven't we?
Watching the one we love flirt with other dancers, pretending we don't care.
We went through that a million times on the floor and in our minds,
Each time wondering if we can survive this one and not feel again the
feelings of despair.
You stood there in the door, in your dress shirt,
Watching me with some young man, I saw your heart
Breaking through the metal buttons,
Shining in your suit, with your red tie all the way across the room.
I hated you, floating away with some new young woman with which I can't
I've given it up again and again
I gave up my heart, each time I saw you, you dream dancer, you,
Shining in your red shirt and black hat,
Gazing across the dance floor at me with my hair dyed shining
And some new dress, dying for the chance to win some young man's dance.

We're a pair of wise ones, aren't we my old Dream dancer?
Too wise.
We toughed it out till it's too late.
I hear you call each night
When it's too late, about what went before when you, my dream dancer,
Went dancing into the dark with a pink chiffon skirt.
Calling me because you don't know why you love me one night more than you
You didn't know you had it in you my tough old darling,
Standing before me in the morning with your wrinkles showing me,
My wrinkles showing you, we aren't quite so young any more.
When will we learn, my old dream dancer?
We glow like a neon sign
Together, spelling love to the world that sees us loving
All the world tells me you love me
All but you tell me you love me
All but you love me
My dream dancer,
I dance for those who love me,
Dance for you, wait for you, to dance with me
Wait for you to dream for dances with,
Dancing for dreams with,
You, my old
Dream dancer

We don't know why we tough it out
Do we, dance every night, to dream of the strength and beauty
We hold in our arms, the shining eyes of the young, we are young
And hopeful again we dance forever young in the fresh strong arms
Of our dreams you and I
Dance until we forget, until our feet ache
And our bones ache, and our faces are full of creases
And the truth comes back in the bathroom mirror.
We are not young.  We have danced too many dances.

We are alike, you and I,
We'll dance until our love is lost in chiffon skirts
And strong young arms in cotton shirts.

Dance - the dream lover,
The only lover that hasn't proven fickle,
Like all our lovers, like we to all our lovers.

Will we love again -- can we love again each other?
After all those lovers who danced away with our hearts when we were young and
not so tough?
My darling Dream Dancer, standing there alone
In the semi-dark, both king and beggar,
Gazing at me dancing, knowing, across the floor, moving
We love.

--By Jill Baker

A Test for Tolerance?

From: John ONeal <John.ONeal [@] cdgltd.com>    Nov. 9, 2000
Subject: Prayer for our times

Rev. Wright had been invited to serve as the House's guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright's church. Accordingly, Rev. Wright composed a prayer, read it at the opening of the legislature on January 23, and departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.
His Prayer from web site http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/outrage/wright.htm
Heavenly Father, we come before you to ask your forgiveness. We seek your
direction and your guidance. We know your word says, "Woe to those who call
evil good." But that's what we've done.
We've lost our spiritual equilibrium. We have inverted our values. We have
ridiculed the absolute truth of your word in the name of moral pluralism. We
have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We've exploited the poor and called it a lottery. We've neglected the needy
and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it
welfare. In the name of choice, we have killed our unborn. In the name of
right to life, we have killed abortionists.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building
self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have
coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it taxes. We have polluted the
air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We
have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it
Search us, oh, God, and know our hearts today. Try us. Show us any
wickedness within us. Cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and
bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of the State
of Kansas, and that they have been ordained by you to govern this great
Grant them your wisdom to rule. May their decisions direct us to the center
of your will. And, as we continue our prayer and as we come in out of the
fog, give us clear minds to accomplish our goals as we begin this
Legislature. For we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Reportedly, one Democrat (not "a number of legislators") walked out in
protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright's prayer, and another
blasted Wright's "message of intolerance." House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer
(also a Democrat) asserted that the prayer "reflects the extreme, radical
views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing
extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year." Rep.
Jim Long, a Democrat from Kansas City, said that Wright "made everyone mad."
But Rep. Powell, who had invited Wright in the first place, claimed that
House Democrats were only trying to make political points with their
criticism and affirmed that he supported the theme of the prayer.
Rev. Wright said afterwards: "I certainly did not mean to be offensive to
individuals, but I don't apologize for the truth." His staff stopped
counting the telephone calls that came from every state and many foreign
countries after the first 6,500. Wright appeared on dozens of radio shows
and was the subject of numerous TV and print news reports, and his prayer
stirred up controversy all over again when it was read by the chaplain
coordinator in the Nebraska legislature the following month. Wright later
explained, "I thought I might get a call from an angry congressman or two,
but I was talking to God, not them. The whole point was to say that we all
have sins that we need to repent -- all of us . . . The problem, I guess, is
that you're not supposed to get too specific when you're talking about sin."

What to make of all the fuss? Syndicated religion columnist Terry Mattingly probably explained it best when he wrote: "The easy answer is that he read a prayer about sin. The complicated answer is that Wright jumped into America's tense debate about whether some things are always right and some things are always wrong."
Some people get upset when politics intrude into religion; others are irritated when religion intrudes into politics. As in war, the "intruder" is always the guy on the other side.