The young hear memory in the voice of their elders and, delighted by these voices from the past or bored by them, too often miss the content behind the content. Memory is not about what went on in the past. It is about what is going on inside of us right this moment. It is never idle. It never lets us alone.
~ Joan Chittister, The Gift of Years
Sometimes you are privileged with a glimpse of the other world, when the light shines up from the west as the sun sets and dazzles something wet. The world is just water and light, a slide show through which your spirit glides.
~ Fanny Howe
Every little trifle, for some reason, does seem incalculably important today, and when you say of a thing that ‘nothing hangs on it,’ it sounds like blasphemy. There’s never any knowing – (how am I to put it?) – which of our actions, which of our idlenesses won’t have things hanging on it for ever.
~ E. M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread
I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.
~ Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
I want to unfold.
I don’t want to be folded anywhere,
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours
Find meaning. Distinguish melancholy from sadness. Go out for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a romantic walk in the park, spring at its most spectacular moment, flowers and smells and outstanding poetical imagery smoothly transferring you into another world. It doesn’t have to be a walk during which you’ll have multiple life epiphanies and discover meanings no other brain ever managed to encounter. Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.
~ Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959
Before change can happen, a clear choice must be made. I believe we all have the freedom to choose the direction of our lives and the values we stand for. We have only to embrace our beliefs at a deep level and our path of change will open. Profound change begins in the heart. From the moment we embrace the clear intention for change, each of us according to our individual natures is inspired to act in a way to bring about a healthy and benign outcome. All life will conspire to bring this about. If enough of us decide to make the change, to surrender ourselves to it, transformation will happen. I have faith in our capacity, as beings of love, to transcend the challenges we face on Earth, should we choose to.
~ Ranchor Prime, The Eight Elements
Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.
To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.
The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
~ David Whyte, Consolations