So, I'm gonna throw down and get controversial for a sec: William Shakespeare was the greatest playwright and poet who ever spoke English, and I'd relish a comment-fight-to-the-death in the comments anyone who disagrees (not really, but I encourage the conversation).
To argue the man's merits feels redundant; the work speaks for itself. The Bard's plays are so influential that he's taught us how we understand storytelling and character development in the modern and post-modern world. His words have become so ubiquitous that I'd bet good money everyone reading this knows unique phrases from at least 4 of the 5 speeches below (also lots of movies take their titles from his phrases). I challenge any man considering himself an educated member of our society read these speeches and attempt committing them to memory. You'll find them helpful in more than a few settings.
If you’ve attended elementary school in the last 30 years, you’ve heard of haiku: three-line poems with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, usually about nature, often cutesy. I’m happy to report that despite some grains of truth, you’re wrong. Haiku is a lean, muscular form of thinking, and the discipline of writing haiku is a rich addition to a full life.
For the last couple years, I've had a framed tattered page I tore out from an old book of poetry (pictured below) that I picked up at a garage sale in Minnesota when I was a boy. I've taken it with me wherever I've moved, usually displaying it on my desk, although occasionally on a shelf or bedside table. The poem is titled SEA-FEVER and came from a poetry collection called Salt-Water Poems and Ballads by John Masefield, first published in 1902. The poem expresses the yearning for the grey seas from the perspective of a presumably landlocked rover, and was one of my initial inspirations for rafting the Mississippi River.
For me, it's several inner arm spatter burns, a box grater hole-shaped scar on my right thumb, healed chef's knifes cuts on most of the fingers on my left hand, and, currently, a pretty rocking singe mark just under my belly button. (Don't ask.)
"Like a hot iron pressing into damp linen or the first pours of pancake batter onto a smoking griddle, a soft inner arm hisses when it brushes the lip of a 700-degree oven. A burn is audible first. You hear a tiny "tssssss" of quivering flesh, your own flesh, before your brain registers the coming pain. Instinctually you jump back, hoping to reverse the inevitable; but there is it—a raised mark, shades lighter than skin tone, a white light before an angry, consuming red."
When you do things properly in the kitchen, somehow it's both safer - a sharper knife is less likely to cut you than a dull one - and more dangerous, as a sharper knife cut go lots deeper.