Threshold Lists

A community of Mary Washington students committed to becoming professionals.


Tracy Beer

Emily Bowerman

Claire Bradley

Veronica Cagle

Emily Carrion

Alec Charoenthep

Rebecca Danco

Pryan deSilva

Alexandra Diveney

Kevin Doughtery

Cole Duning

Paul Ferris

Kimber Foreman

Emily Galloway

Robert Gambrino

Nathaniel Good

Cegan Hinson

Eugene Hlaing

Dustin Jenkins

Christopher Jesus

Jane Kisselev

Mason Klingerberg

Annalee Kopp

Quinn Lipitz

Zoey Lutterbie

Gabriel Matterson

Shawn Mitchell

Justin Mittereder

Emily Mocanu

Daniel Pulah

Ashley Ramsey

Zachary Schoonover

Andrew Sweeney

Francesca Turzi

Emily Warren

Cameron Wollard

Max Yarrow

Matthew Young

Articles, poems, questions, quotes and more that I’ve shared via my Threshold Crossings newsletter.



In the phrase [“to find myself”] lurks the idea that the self is a pre-existing entity, a self like a Platonic idea existing in a mystic realm beyond time and change. No, rather an object like a nugget of gold in the placer pan, the Easter egg under the bush at an Easter-egg hunt, a four-leaf clover to promise miraculous luck. Here is the essence of passivity, one’s quintessential luck. And the essence of absurdity, too, for the self is never to be found, but must be created, not the happy accident of passivity, but the product of a thousand actions, large and small, conscious or unconscious, performed not “away from it all,” but in the face of “it all,” for better or for worse, in work and leisure rather than in free time.”

Robert Penn Warren

At all costs try to avoid granting yourself the status of the victim. Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo — the opposite of the V-sign and a synonym for surrender. No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one’s intelligence against choosing from it. The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything…

– Joseph Brodsky (Commencement Speech)

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for-the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm? But it’s nicer here…So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? But we have to sleep sometime…Agreed. But nature set a limit on that – as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota. You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too. And what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat….When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.”

– Marcus Aurelius (Stoic and Roman Emperor in his book titled Meditations)

There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.

You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.

– Anna Quindlen (ht James Clear)

Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this… So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.

– Maya Angelou (Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now) (ht James Clear)

According to Epictetus, these are signs that someone is making progress:

1. Criticizing nobody

2. Praising nobody

3. Blaming nobody

4. Accusing nobody

5. Saying nothing about themselves to indicate being someone or knowing something

6. When frustrated or impeded, they blame themselves

7. If complimented, they laugh

8. If criticized, they ignore

9. Relaxed in motivation

10. Banishing harmful desire

11. They watch themselves as though they were an enemy plotting an attack.”

Epictetus (ht Daily Stoic)

…having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another. Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

– Bill Watterson, the cartoonist and creator of Calvin and Hobbes (Some Thoughts on the Real World from One Who Glimpsed it and Fled) (ht James Clear)