Dear Dust

My uncle, who I was more or less raised by, kept a little flip pad in his top pocket and wrote down sayings that he thought a man should live by. He used to read them to me, licking his thumb before leafing through the pages to find just the right one for any given situation. One of my great regrets in life is that his pad was lost when he died. I came across your last few columns and it occurs to me you might be a man with a few sayings tucked away somewhere. Care to share any? Maybe I’ll start making my own list for when my son is old enough.

Dust Rocks!



Things are only as they appear when you see clearly.

The Lone Ranger made his mask from his dead brother’s vest.

Sometimes self-destruction looks like survival.

Resist temptation and it ceases to be temptation.

You can’t keep a hummingbird in a jar.

There’s a point where the wind and the rain sound the same.

The light changes. The light changes everything.

While you were waiting, something else happened.

Keep something hidden.


The proof of having broken a code is not being able to understand a message-but being able to send one.

To come from behind is to know more precisely what you need to achieve.

If there’s not a weak point you’ve got a problem.

If it were worth doing you’d have done it by now.

Simplicity is complexity you understand.

The Wild Men of Borneo came from Ohio.

Don’t be afraid to abandon all hope.

Intensify all ambiguities.

Take all the time you need. This is an emergency.


Certainty in anything always implies completion-an end of change.

Would you rather break a leg climbing up a steep mountain on the other side of the world-or tripping over a curb outside your house? Think carefully.

Fire moves fastest up a hill.

Humble yourself and make repairs.

It is not necessary to catch a fish each time, to enjoy fishing. But it is necessary that there be the possibility of catching one.

A walking stick makes good kindling.

There is a reason why the gods are pictured with the heads of animals.

An unidentified key is useless.

Options diffuse momentum.


Use fewer tools.


Search through what you’ve discarded.

The man swimming in the shark cage died of a heart attack. Not a mark on him.

The slightest doubt derails the whole enterprise.

The fissures in the granite run north-south. The rabbit runs clockwise around the pond.

Lose your confidence but not your curiosity.

Simply renaming a weed a flower won’t stop it from spreading.

Everything is a reflection.

Nothing can hold back the person who is willing to reevaluate everything.


Wouldn’t you try to paddle the leaking boat as far as you could?

All the clocks tell slightly different times.

When would precision not be desirable?

The secret goal of music is the restoration of silence.

Failure is the least of your worries.

Find the hidden assumption.

Never approach a horse or a helicopter from the rear.

Redefine the boundaries.

Striving for originality has been the undoing of many.


Constantly compromise-until you master the secret of it.

When you know when to stop, you’ve gone too far.

It is the fence you stumble over, not the property line. Yet, after the flood, the property line remains.

Time to change your password.

Try not to lose or depend on the element of surprise.

The difference between surgery and dissection is of vital interest.

Carefully plan all surprises.

In any crime, motive is the most important factor.

Intentionally make the mistake you most fear.

The search for answers is the art of asking ever better questions.


Take a hammer to your seashell collection.

Savor your uncertainty. It won’t last long enough.

You look down at the wake of the ferry, and see your shadow at the rail.

Patience is a virgin.

Be generous with your anxieties.

Because people are not always what they appear to be does not mean that they are never what they appear to be.

The most interesting things can only be seen out of the corner of your eye.

Secrets have a life of their own.

If you’re ready for anything, you’re probably not very well prepared for what’s actually about to happen.

The old woman in the wheelchair has not forgotten how to ride a bicycle.