May. 7th, 2013 09:14 pm
sqwook: (flame)
The great masters' entire teaching can be found on the tips of the ten-thousand grasses.  -Lingzhao

Watching the moon
at midnight,
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely,
no part left out.
-Izumi Shikibu, tr. Jane Hirshfield & Mariko Aratani

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
-Izumi Shikibu, tr. Jane Hirshfield & Mariko Aratani

On the Spirit of the Heart as Moon-Disk
   Merely to know
The Flawless Moon dwells pure
  In the human heart
Is to find the Darkness of the night
Vanished under clearing skies.
-Kojiju, tr. Edwin A. Cranston

The madness of love
Is a blessed fate;
And if we understood this
We would seek no other:
It brings into unity
What was divided,
And this is the truth:
Bitterness it makes sweet,
It makes the stranger a neighbor,
And what was lowly it raises on high.
- Hadewijch of Antwerp, tr. Oliver Davies

In a boundless unknowing
I have lost my very self.
- Hadewijch II, as quoted by Jan van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381), tr. Sheila Hughes

You who want
seek the Oneness

There you
will find
the clear mirror
already waiting
- Hadewijch II, tr. Jane Hirshfield

On this summer night
All the household lies asleep,
And in the doorway,
For once open after dark,
Stands the moon, brilliant, cloudless.
- Jusammi Chikako, tr. Edwin A. Cranston

The soul, like the moon,
is new, and always new again.
And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.
Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.
My teacher told me one thing,
Live in the soul.
When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.
- Lal Ded, tr. Coleman Barks

Teach my heart to be like the clear water which flows night and day.
- Chiyo-Ni, as quoted by (D.T. Suzuki?)

The great sea
frees me, moves me,
as a strong river carries a weed.
Earth and her strong winds
move me, take me away,
and my soul is swept up in joy.
- Uvavnuk, quoted by Knud Rasmussen tr. W. Worster

Beauty before me,
Beauty behind me,
Beauty below me,
Beauty above me,
Beauty all around me.
I walk in beauty.
- Navajo prayer (about hozho)

A land not mine, still
forever memorable,
the waters of its ocean
chill and fresh.
Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk,
and the air drunk, like wine,
late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pinetrees.
Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.
- Anna Akhmatova, tr. Jane Kenyon

Forest Lake
I was alone on a sunny shore
by the forest's pale blue lake,
in the sky floated a single cloud
and on the water a single isle.
The ripe sweetness of summer dripped
in beads from every tree
and straight into my opened heart
a tiny drop ran down.
- Edith Sodergran, tr Stina Katchadourian

(from "Women in Praise of the Sacred", ed. Jane Hirshfield.)
sqwook: (flame)
   "I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always ... You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.
     Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake... Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.
     Quickly you make rash decision. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression has triumphed over you.
     The matter is difficult to put into words... it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you."

"Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reknotted... The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving."

from 'Life of Pi', by Yann Martel. 
sqwook: (flame)
My mother in law loaned me a book years ago set in Hawaii, and she's there visiting it now, which reminded me of this book in my bookstack. What must it be like when the coffee-tree orchards are in bloom? It sounds so beautiful. Quotes collected from 'Shark Dialogues' by Kiana Davenport, a story of generations of women in Hawaii.

     "Here, it was possible to get very close to the actuality of things. The sea was the sea, lava was lava."

     "She tried to show them how women could do anything, and do it competently."

     "All the lives we might have lived. A tapestry, a never-ending thread."

     "Imua. Go forward. Press on."
sqwook: (Default)

Terry Pratchett quotes:)

In 'Maskerade':

"(Granny Weatherwax) practiced headology - practiced, in fact, until she was very good at it. And though there may be some superficial similarities between a psychiatrist and a headologist, there is a huge practical difference. A psychiatrist, dealing with a man who fears he is being followed by a large and terrible monster, will endeavor to convince him that monsters don't exist. Granny Weatherwax would simply give him a chair to stand on and a very heavy stick."

In "The Amazing Maurice..."

I am the thing that undermines and despoils! I am the sum of all that you deny! I am your true self! Will you OBEY ME?
(...) You are no answer... You offer (us) nothing except more pain. You just have a power that lets you enter people's minds when they are tired or stupid or upset. And you are in mine now. And still I stand here... Even though my body is shaking, I can keep a place free from you. I can control the shadows inside, which is where all darkness is.

In Carpe Jugulum:

Because that was the point, wasn't it? You had to choose. You might be right, you might be wrong, but you had to choose, knowing that the rightness or wrongness might never be clear or even that you were deciding between two sorts of wrong, that there was no right anywhere.

She'd faced down others far more powerful than she was, if only she'd allowed them to believe it.

She'd never, ever asked for anything in return. And the trouble with not asking for anything in return was that sometimes you didn't get it.

She'd always tried to face toward the light. She'd always tried to face toward the light. But the harder you stared into the brightness the harsher it burned into you until, at last, the temptation picked you up and bid you turn around to see how long, rich, strong and dark, streaming away behind you, your shadow had become---

"Hah! But it was different then. There was flowers on the moor and the bridge was just stepping stones. That's 'cos I was in love."
"You mean it really does change because of the way you feel?" said Agnes.
"You spotted it. It's amazing how high and rocky the bridge can be if you're in a bad mood, I know that."
"I wonder how how it was for Granny, then?"
"Probably clouds could go underneath, girl."

"Are vampires ever grateful?"
"We can learn."
"You're just saying that in exchange for not actually being evil you'll simply be bad, is that it?"

An image appeared on the sand in front of them. She saw herself, kneeling in front of the anvil. She admired the dramatic effect. She'd always had a streak of theatrics, although she'd never admit it, and she appreciated in a disembodied way the strength with which she had thrust her pain into the iron. Someone had slightly spoiled the effect by putting a kettle on one end.

"No. I know you. I've always known you. The Count just let you out to torment me, but I've always known you were there. I've fought you every day of my life and you'll get no victory now."
She opened her eyes and stared into the blackness.
"I knows who you are now, Esmerelda Weatherwax," she said. "You don't scare me no more."

"That's not enough!" said Piotr, stepping forward. "Not after all he-"
"Then when he comes back you deal with him yourself!" snapped Granny loudly. "Teach your children! Don't trust the cannibal just 'cos he's usin' a knife and fork! And remember that vampires don't go where they're not invited!"

"The world is ... different." Oats's gaze went out across the haze, and the forests, and the purple mountains. "Everywhere I look I see something holy."
For the first time since he'd met her, he saw Granny Weatherwax smile properly. (...) "That's a start, then," she said.

From "The Wee Free Men":

That was how it worked. No magic at all. But that time it had been magic. And it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.

Don't wish, Miss Tick had said. Do things.

From Wintersmith

"This I choose to do," she croaked, her breath leaving little clouds in the air. She cleared her throat and started again. "This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do."
It wasn't a spell, except in her own head, but if you couldn't make spells work in your own head, you couldn't make them work at all.

It's these little things you remember whe the ottom falls out of the world, and you're falling--
That wasn't just unfair; that was... cruel.
Remember the hat you wear! Remember the job that is in front of you! Balance! Balance is the thing. Hold balance in the center, hold the balance...

Yes! She smiled desperately. It was true. If you had the perfect center, if you got your mind right, you could balance. In the middle of the seesaw is a place that never moves...

Tiffany sat on a stump and cried a bit, because it needed to be done. Then she went and milked the goats, because someone had to do that, too

No thing had any power that you didn't put there.

"You know, I don't think he wanted to hurt me. He was just upset," said Tiffany.

Where this takes me, there I choose to go, she told herself, letting the warmth pour into her. I choose. This I choose to do.

'Strength enough to build a home, Tim enough to hold a child, Love enough to break a heart.'
Balance... and it came quickly, out of nowhere, lifting her up inside.
The center of the seesaw does not move. It feels neither upness nor downness. It is balanced.

Good-bye to the glittering crown, Tiffany thought with a touch of regret. Good-bye to the dress made of dancing light, and good-bye to the ice roses and the snowflakes. Such a shame. Such a shame.

Green grass and blue skies will do.

Winter is over. I know. I've seen it through. Where it took me, there I chose to go. I chose when I danced with the Wintersmith.

From 'A Hat Full of Sky':

There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do.

Knowing things is magical, if other people don't know them.

It's up to you.

The hands know how, the mind will remember and grow stronger, Tiffany!

"What does your name mean in the Old Speech of the Nac Mac Feegle, Tiffany? Think..."
It rose from the depths of her mind, trailing the fog behind it. It came up through the clamoring voices and lifted her beyond the reach of ghostly hands. Ahead, the clouds parted.
"My name is Land Under Wave," said Tiffany, and slumped forward.
"No, no, none of that, we can't have that," said the figure holding her. "You've slept enough. Good, you know who you are! Now you must be up and doing! You must be Tiffany as hard as you may, and the other voices will leave you alone, depend on it."

Learning how not to do things is as hard as learning how to do them. Harder, maybe.

"You're sad, and behind that you're watching yourself being sad and thinking, Oh, poor me, and behind that you're angry with me for not going 'There, there, poor dear.' Let me talk to those Third Thoughts then, because I want to hear from the girl who went to fight a fair queen armed with nothin' but a fryin' pan, not some child feelin' sorry for herself and wallowing in misery!"

I need it to help me now. No. I need me to help me.

Calm down. Slow down.

Sometimes the moon is light and sometimes it's in shadow, but you should always remember it's the same moon.

"It's a skill. Rain don't fall on a witch if she doesn't want it to, although personally I prefer to get wet and be thankful."
"Thankful for what?" said Tiffany.
"That I'll get dry later."

"You've come here to learn what's true and what's not, but there's little I can teach you that you don't already know. You just don't know you know it, and you'll spend the rest of your life learning what's already in your bones. And that's the truth."

From 'I Shall Wear Midnight':

Everyone wants magic to exist, Tiffany thought to herself, and what can I say? No, it doesn't? Or: Yes, it does, but it's not what you think? Everyone wants to believe that we can change the world by snapping our fingers.

Poison goes where poison's welcome.

"And anyway, I had the staff, and no one could take that away from me. That's what I learned at university: to be me, just what I am, and not worry about it. That knowledge is an invisible magical staff, all by itself."

"I'm very sorry if I have dredged up any scary recollection."
Eskarina smiled. "Oh, the scary ones are never a problem. It's the good ones that can be difficult to deal with."

"Don't be afraid--you will be all right! You just have to help yourself."

"Can you take away this grief?"
"I'm sorry," she replied quietly. "Everyone asks me. And I would not do so even if I knew how. It belongs to you. Only time and tears take away grief; that is what they are for."

I have done nothing wrong, she thought again. It might be useful to keep that firmly in mind. But I have been stupid, too, and I shall have to remember that as well.

And where they had gone wrong was in believing, somewhere in their minds, that because two things were different, they must therefore be alike. Slowing finding out this wasn't true hadn't been nice for either of them.

If you think you're not good enough, then you are already no kind of witch.

Tiffany thought, Is this the right song for a funeral? And then she thought, Of course it is! It's a wonderful tune and it tells us that one day all of us will die but--and this is the important thing--we are not dead yet.

In "Monstrous Regiment":

"All we were given was a chance, thought Polly. No miracle, no rescue, no magic. Just a chance."

In "Thud":

People who probably weren't bad could kill you.

He peered into what was now no longer blackness but merely gloom, and gloom was like daylight after the darkness that had gone before.

From "Mort":

It would have worried Mort if he'd let it. Someone was expecting him. He'd learned in recent days, though, that rather than drown in uncertainty it was best to surf right over the top of it.

"I reckoned that if enough people believed in her, they could change reality." (...) "Let's suppose you went out of here and prowled around the palace. One of the guards would probably see you and he'd think you were a thief and he'd fire his crossbow. I mean, in his reality you'd be a thief. It wouldn't actually be true but you'd be just as dead as if it was."

From Sourcery:
"It's vital to remember who you really are. It's very important. It isn't a good idea to rely on other people or things to do it for you, you see. They always get it wrong."
sqwook: (flame)
(The letter-numbers are those of the "Complete Letters" edition)

Twilight is falling, and the view of the yard from my window is simply wonderful, with that little avenue of poplars-- their slender forms and thin branches stand out so delicately against the gray evening sky; and then the old arsenal building in the water--quiet as "the waters of the old pool" mentioned in the Book of Isaiah-- down by the waterside the walls of that arsenal are quite green and weather-beaten. Farther down is the little garden and the fence around it with the rosebushes, and everywhere in the yard the black figures of the workmen, and also the little dog
l. 115, 4 December 1877

When one has many things to think of and to do, one sometimes gets the feeling, Where am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? and one's brain reels. But then a well-known voice such as yours, or rather a well-known handwriting, makes one feel firm ground under one's feet again.
l. 116, 9 December 1877

If only we try to live sincerely,it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and shall also probably commit great errors and do wrong things; but it certainly is true that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and overprudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies true strength; whosoever loves much, performs and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.
l. 121, 3 April 1878

There are some places here -- thank God one finds them everywhere-- where one feels more at home than anywhere else, where one gets a strangely old feeling tinged with bitter melancholy almost like homesickness; yet it stimulates us, encourages adn cheers the spirit, and gives us -- we do not know how or why -- new strength and ardor for our work
l. 126, 15 November 1878

As molting time--when they change their feathers-- is for birds, so adversity or misfortune is teh difficult tim for us human beings. One can stay in it--in that time of molting--one can also emerge renewed; but anyhow it must not be done in public and it is not at all amusing, therefore the only thing to do is to hide oneself. Well, so be it. 
Must I consider myself a dangerous man, incapable of anything? I don't think so. But the problem is to try every means to put those selfsame passions to good use.
If there has been any change at all, it is that I think and believe and love more seriously now what I already thought and believed and loved then.
l. 133, July 1880
(this entire letter is absolutely worth reading)

Let the storm rise, the night descend -- which is worse, danger or the fear of danger? Personally, I prefer reality, the danger itself.
l. 193, (spring 1882)

I also believe that it may happen that one succeeds after all, and one must not begin to despair, even though one is defeated occasionally, and even though one sometimes feels a kind of exhaustion; it is necessary to take heart again and new courage, even though things go differently than one at first expected
l. 237 (fall 1882)

(T)he result must be an action, not an abstract idea
l. 237 (fall 1882)

--all nature seems to speak --
l. 248 (fall 1882)

As for me, I cannot understand why everybody does not see it and feel it; nature or God does it for everyone who has eyes and ears and a heart to understand
l. 248 (fall 1882)

You will say that everybody has seen landscapes and figures from childhood on. The question is, Has everybody also been thoughtful as a child, has everybody who has seen them really loved he heath, fields, meadows, woods, and the snow and the rain and the storm
l. 251 (late 1882)

(quoting Theo) "Earnestness is better than irony, no matter how sharp and witty it is."
l. 251 (late 1882)

I want something more concise, more simple, more serious; I want more soul and more love and more heart.
l. 252 (late 1882)
(the context is in contrast to materialism and some of the art that was seeing commercial success)

Many people care more about the outer than the inner life of a family, thinking they act well in doing so. Society is full of them: people striving to make a show instead of leading a true existence. I repeat, These people are not bad, but they are foolish.
l. 281 (spring 1883)

These very spots where nothing is left of what one calls civilization, where all that is definitly left behind, these very spots are those one needs to get calmed down.
l. 307 (mid-year 1883)

Let me tell you, brother, that I myself experienced so deeply, so very deeply what you say there. That I have been through a period of nervous, arid over-straining -- there were days when I could not see anything in the most beautiful landscape just because I did not feel myself part of it. It is the street and the office and the care and the nerves that make it so. 
Do not be angry with me when I say that at this moment your soul is sick - it is true, you know; it is not right for you not to feel yourself part of nature, and I think the most important thing is to restore that.
l. 332 (fall 1883)

I ask, What will make me more completely human? Zola says, "Moi artiste, je veux vivre tout haut - veux vivre" [I, an artist, want to live out loud - (I) want to live", without mental reservation--naive as a child, no not as a child, as an artist-- with good will, however life presents itself, I shall find something in it, I will try my best on it
l. 336 (fall 1883)

How fundamentally wrong is the man who doesn't feel himself small, who doesn't realize he is but an atom.
l. 336 (fall 1883)

The ride into the village was so beautiful. Enormous mossy roofs of houses, stables, covered sheepfolds, barns. The very broad-fronted houses here are set among oak trees of a superb bronze. Tones in the moss of gold-green, in the ground of reddish or bluish or yellowish dark lilac-greys, tones of inexpressible purity in the green of the little cornfields, tones of black in the wet tree trunks, standing out against the golden rain of swirling, teeming autumn leaves, which hang in loose clumps - as if they had been blown there, loose and with the light filtering through them - from the poplars, the birches, the limes and the apple trees.
The sky smooth and bright, shining, not white but a barely detectable lilac, white vibrant with red, blue and yellow, reflecting everything and felt everywhere above one, hazy and merging with the thin mist below, fusing everything in a gamut of delicate greys.
I could not find a single painter in Zweeloo, however, and people said they never turn up in the winter. Whereas I, on the contrary, hope to be there this winter. Since there were no painters, I decided not to wait for my landlord's return, but to walk back instead and do some drawings on the way. So I began to make a sketch of the little apple orchard where Liebermann did his large painting. And then back along the road we had driven down early in the morning. Right now the whole area round Zweeloo is nothing but young corn, sometimes as far as the eye can see, the greenest of greens I know. With a sky above of a delicate lilac-white producing an effect I think cannot be painted, but which, as I see it, is the keynote one must understand in order to find the key to other effects.
A black stretch of earth, flat, unending, a clear sky of delicate lilac-white. The earth sprouts that young corn as if growing a mould of it. That's what the good, fertile lands of Drenthe really are - and all in a misty atmosphere. Think of Brion's Le dernier jour de la création - well, yesterday it felt as if I understood the meaning of that painting. The poor soil of Drenthe is the same, except that the black earth is even blacker - like soot - not lilac-black like the furrows, and overgrown in a melancholy way with perpetually rotting heather and peat.
I notice it everywhere - chance effects on that infinite background: in the peat moors, the turf huts; in the fertile areas, those most primitive hulks of farmhouses and sheepfolds with low, very low little walls and enormous mossy roofs. Oak trees all round them. When one has walked through that country for hours and hours, one feels that there really is nothing but that infinite earth, that mould of corn or heather, that infinite sky. Horses and men seem no larger than fleas. One is unaware of anything else, however large it may be in itself; one knows only that there is earth and sky.
However, in one's capacity of a little speck watching other little specks - leaving the infinite aside - one discovers that every little speck is a Millet. I passed a little old church, exactly, but exactly like The Church at Gréville in Millet's little painting in the Luxembourg. Here, instead of the small peasant with his spade, though, there was here a shepherd with a flock of sheep walking along the hedge. In the background was a vista, not of the sea, but of a sea of young corn, a sea of furrows instead of waves. The effect produced was the same. Then I saw ploughmen, hard at work, a sand cart, shepherds, road menders, dung carts. In a small roadside inn, I drew a little old woman at her spinning wheel, a small dark silhouette out of a fairy tale - a small dark silhouette against a bright window through which one saw the bright sky and a little path through the delicate green, and a few geese pecking at the grass.
And then when twilight fell-- imagine the silence, the peace of it all!
Imagine then a short avenue of tall poplars with autumn leaves, imagine a wide muddy road, all black mud, with heath stretching to infinity on the right, heath stretching to infinity on the left, a couple of black triangular silhouettes of sod-built huts, the red glow from small fires shining through the small windows, with a few pools of dirty, yellowish water reflecting the sky, in which fallen trees lie rotting into peat. Imagine that sea of mud at dusk with a whitish sky overhead, thus everything black against white. And in that sea of mud a shaggy figure - the shepherd - and a mass of oval shapes, half wool, half mud, jostling one another, pushing one another out of the way - the flock. You see them coming, you stand in their midst, you turn around and follow them. Laboriously and reluctantly they work their way up the muddy road. The farm beckons in the distance, a few mossy roofs and piles of straw and peat among the poplars. The sheepfold is again like the silhouette of a triangle, the entrance dark. The door stands wide open like a dark cave. The light of the sky glimmers once more through the chinks of the boards behind it. The whole caravan, masses of wool and mud, disappears into that cave - the shepherd and a little woman with a lantern shut the doors behind them.
That return of the flock in the twilight was the finale of the symphony I heard yesterday.

The day passed like a dream, I had been so immersed in that heart-rending music all day that I had literally forgotten to eat and drink - I had had a slice of black bread and a cup of coffee in the little inn where I had drawn the spinning wheel. The day was over and from dawn till dusk, or rather from one night till the next, I had lost myself in that symphony.
l. 340 (November 1883)

Whether they understand me or not, whether I am judged rightly or wrongly, leaves me unchanged.
l. 346 (December 1883)

Opinions can as little change certain standard truths as weathervanes can change the direction of the wind. The weathervanes do not make the wind east or north, nor can opinions make truth true.
l. 351

The half-ripe cornfields are at present of a dark golden tone, ruddy or gold bronze. This is raised to maximum of effect by the contrast with the broken cobalt tone of the sky.
Spring is tender, green young corn and pink apple blossoms.
Autumn is the contrast of the yellow leaves with violet tones.
Winter is the snow with black silhouettes.
But now, if summer is the contrast of blues with an element of orange in the golden bronze of the corn, one could paint a picture which expressed the mood the seasons in each of the contrasts of the complementary colors (red and green, blue and orange, yellow and violet, white and black).
l. 372 July 1884

Life is not long for anybody, and the problem is only to make something of it.
l. 397

I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove of it.
l. 401

Enthusiasm sometimes calculates even better than those cool heads which reckon themselves "above such things." And instinct, inspiration, impulse, and conscience are better guides than many people think
l. 408

In the fullness of artistic life there is, and remains, and will always come back at times, that homesick longing for the truly ideal life that can never come true.
l. 489

One night I went for a walk by the sea along teh empty shore. It was not cheerful, but neither was it sad-- it was-- beautiful. The deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a blue deeper than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the Milky Way. Int the blue depth of the stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow, white, pink, more brilliant  more sparklingly gemlike than at home-- even in Paris: opals you might call them, emeralds, lapis lazuli, rubies, sapphires. The sea was very deep ultramarine--the shore a sort of violet and faint russet as I saw it, and on the dunes (they are about seventeen feet high) some bushes Prussian blue.
l. 499 (June 1888)

For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoningis that we cannot et to a star while we are alive, any more than we can take the train when we are dead.
l. 506

Life is short, and shorter still, the number of years you feel bold enough to face everything. 
l. 527

I have a terrible lucidity at moments, these days when natureis so beautiful, I am not conscious of myself any more.
l. 543

I always feel I am a traveler, going somewhere and to some destination. If I tell myself that the somewhere and the destination do not exist, that seems to me very reasonable and likely enough. l. 518

... to feel the stars and the infinite high and clear above you. Then life is almost enchanted after all. Oh! those who don't believe in this sun here are real infidels. l. 520

How can Gauguin pretend that he was afraid of upsetting me by his presence, when he can hardly deny that he knew I kept asking for him continually, and that he was told over and over again that I insisted on seeing him at once. l. 571
(later, fear of poisoning)

The unfortunate thing is that I am rather inclined to be affected by the beliefs of others, and to feel them myself, and I cannot always laugh at whatever foundation of truth there may be in the absurdity. l. 577

These last three months do seem so strange to me. Sometimes moods of indescribable mental anguish, sometimes moments when the veil of time and the fatality of circumstances seemed to be torn apart for an instant. l. 582

...A man who is neither embittered, nor sad, nor perfect, nor happy, nor always irreproachable just. But such a good soul and so wise and so full of feeling and trustful.  l. 583 (about Roulin)

I feel deeply that this has been at work within me for a very long time already, and that other people, seeing symptoms of mental derangement, have naturally had apprehensions better founded than my unfounded certainty that I was thinking normally, which was not the case. So that has much softened many of the judgments which I have too often passed with more or less presumption on people who nevertheless were wishing me well. l. 586

Then memories overwhelmed me like an avalanche..., until I was as homesick as a lost dog. Which does no good, because our way lies forward, and retracing one's steps is forbidden and impossible. I mean, we can think about the past without letting ourselves be drowned in too sad a longing. l. 604

Grief must not gather in our heart like water in a swamp. l. 607

But during the attacks it is terrible-- and then I lose consciousness of everything. l. 610

It seems that what matters is that one should learn to want to go on living, even when suffering. Oh, I feel so cowardly in this respect; even when my health has returned, I am still afraid. So who am I to encourage others, you will say, for actually this is hardly my style. Well, it is only to tell you, my dear friends, that I hope so ardently, and even dare believe, that Mrs. Ginoux's illness will be of very short duration, and that she will rise from her sickbed a much stronger fellow, but she knows only too well how fond we all are of her, and how much we wish to see her in good health. l. 622a 

(The two men are) rustic at heart ...with a certain innate sweetness of far-off fields... l. 625
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"What about a bird, or a cat, or a tree, or a flower, or a rhinoceros?! They are all quite miraculous really. When you really look at one, you can hardly believe it exists; there it is, this perfect thing, just being what it is, complete in itself. Any imaginative child could have dreamed up a rhinoceros, or an elephant, or a giraffe. But they didn't get here as the product of a child's imagination. The universe is spinning these dreams. They come out of the universe, as do we."

"It is always just what it is. That is why dogs and flowers and mountains and the sea are such great teachers. They reflect your own mind. It is your mind that changes... Each is still just what it is."
- Jon Kabat-Zinn

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When I've marked nearly 10% of a book as passages to return to, it's probably a good idea to add the book to the wishlist. 

From 'Comfortable with Uncertainty', by Pema Chodron: 

Read more... )

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Maybe I don't like to rest because since I already have this fear that I'm not good enough, I feel like if I do /less/, then I will never catch up. 

Today felt horrible. Eventually I realized that okay, yes, heartache, but the only person still holding the dagger to my heart is myself.

Calm. Breathe. When the panic and heartache comes, even though it feels like it might become unbearable, just let it come. Pause. Just experience it. Abide it. Relax and feel it and let it be. Without pushing it away. Without judgment or self-blame. And think of the star in the sky, the flowing river.

Oh. This is probably what people mean when they say to be gentle with yourself. Which has always sounded really stupid to me, frankly. And anyway, I feel like I don't deserve gentleness. But, at this moment, I might understand what they mean. "It doesn't help at all to feel guilty about where we find ourselves." Self-blame. Insight is necessary. Self-blame is unhelpful. 

Saturday I think is a day off, which will be good. 

Quotes & such... )

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I hear the evening cornbird calling, 
moonlight floods the fields of tasseled grain; 
wood smoke, drifting veils the distant valleys, 
summer evening’s joy is here for me.

I’m not happy yet no sorrow shakes me; 
but the dark wood’s stillness I would welcome, 
rosy clouds through which the day is falling, 
sleepy breezes from the blue-gray mountains, 
shadows on the water, meadow flowers; 
out of these my heart’s own song I’ll make.

I will sing it, summer hay-sweet maiden, 
sing to you my deep serenity, 
my own faith that sounds a swelling music, 
oak-leaf garland ever fresh and green.

I’ll no longer chase the will-o-wisp, 
happiness is here in my own keeping; 
day by day, life’s circle narrows, closes; 
time stands still now, the weather cocks all sleeping; 
here before me lies a shadowy way, 
leading to a strange, an unknown place.

Eino Leino, 1903 (translation by Aina Swan Cutler)

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In (dreams) you can remember what it was like to be stupidly happy, when happiness wasn’t something you had to search for, when it knew where to find you by itself. You can remember how an object can be a talisman that you needed to hold close, how that new toy /had/ to be kept on the bedside table so that it would be there when you awoke. You can remember how it felt to have your mother’s arms around you when she was hugging you just because she loved you, and you weren’t too old to be embarrassed. You can remember why you used to run just for the sake of it, how it felt to have all the energy in the world, how it was to know that you would do the same things tomorrow, and the same the day after that, that nothing would ever change except for the better and that there was nothing that couldn’t be put right. For a little while you can feel yourself whole, feel all of your years, feel the child and the adult in you suddenly join hands and stand together, gripping each other so tightly that they melt into one. (…)

What do you think the important things in your life are about, the things that make you happy? Like loving someone, loving them so much that you reach out your arms to hold and be held. (…)

You love because you want to need someone the way you did when you were a child, and have them need you too. You eat well because the intensity of taste reminds you of a need satisfied, a pain relieved. The finest paintings are nothing more than the red head of a flower, nodding in the breeze when you were two years old; the most exciting film is just the way everything was, back in the days when you stared goggle-eyed at the whirling chaos all around you.

-- From Only Forward, by Michael Marshall Smith

I just re-read Only Forward, by Michael Marshall Smith. It was one of my favorites. One of my good friends in college chanced to pick it up at the London airport coming back from foreign study, and loaned it to my best friend Adam & to me in turn. We loved it, read it over & over, stayed up all hours talking about it.

Why did I love it so much then? Do I love it still now? How has my reading of it changed?

I think the way the author describes childhood and the world of dreams in this quoted passage can be seen as a way of describing your inner self. I find myself ‘staring goggle-eyed’ in wonder at the world often enough even now. On a good day, I can get as startled by a red flower as by an exquisite painting. And… love. Yes. All of that is really fundamental to the person I consider myself to be.

I loved the story then, because it starts out funny, silly, and witty, and then shatters all your expectations. My first time reading it, I set down the book after reading almost half-way through. The next morning, I picked up the book again, starting with Chapter 11, and I felt like I must have somehow picked up the wrong book. The world of the book had shifted utterly, to the point that I had to go back to the previous chapter and read through to that point again, because the shear was so profound.

That feeling of are-things-what-they-seem is fundamental to fairytales. Fairytales, or maybe any powerful stories, are not all happiness and light. There is often serious darkness and tragedy. Consequences come inevitably if not swiftly, and they are often severe, seemingly irrevocable, and as arbitrary as many of the circumstances of so-called ‘real life’. Sometimes those consequences are also extraordinarily wonderful. The point is, the consequences are not predictable, and getting different results may require a huge amount of hard work by the protagonist and/or others. 

(The musical ‘Into The Woods’ by Stephen Sondheim has the same motif: life as equal parts magic-and-wonder and tragedy-and-hard-work. And that you can (mostly) get through, if you can keep going. I’m a big fan.)

This time as I re-read the book, it made me cry, which surprised me.  I think this time around, I may have been more focused on the interpersonal tragedy of the main characters as opposed to the wonder and mystery of the world. I found myself thinking that it was more difficult, emotionally, than I recalled, and that I might not be so quick to pick it up in the future for that reason.

So, ‘Only Forward’, fairytales, ‘Into The Woods’, and other stories that stop me in my tracks. What themes do they have in common?*

  • The world can be beautiful & magical & wonderful & powerful.
  • And still it can be dangerous, despite/because of all that.
  • Sometimes you, or someone else, will do something that will have a consequence, wonderful or terrible, that you can’t predict. 
  • We all make mistakes. Dealing with consequences is appropriate. So is compassion.
  • You have the strength to go on. You are beautiful, magical, wonderful, and powerful, too. And you are telling this story.

tl;dr: The stakes in life are high, and utterly worth it.

*Interestingly, my favorite non-fiction authors, Kathleen Dean Moore and Annie Dillard, can /also/ be said to write along these themes. Whoa. Whoa. 

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The simple truth of the matter is this: On Sunday I had a glimpse outside of the house of mirrors, on Saturday I couldn’t have seen my way out of a paper bag. And while I was skiing back toward the truck that morning, a wind came up behind us and swirled the snow around our bodies like a blizzard under blue sky. And I was struck by the simple perfection of the snowflakes, and startled by the hopefulness of sun on frozen trees.

— Pam Houston, from her story “A Blizzard Under Blue Sky”
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Notes, Oak Creek Canyon, Summer 2011.

"For occupation, this: The spreading wide my narrow hands to gather Paradise."
                                   -- Emily Dickinson

"It's all invented... What me mean is, "It's all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework of meaning that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us." ...(It) points to a more fundamental notion -- that no matter how objective we try to be, it is still through the structure of the brain that we perceive the world. When you bring to mind 'it's all invented', you remember that it's all a story you tell -- not just some of it, but all of it... We do not mean that you can just make anything up and have it magically appear. We mean that you can shift the framework to one whose underlying assumptions allow for the conditions you desire. Let your thoughts and actions spring from this new framework and see what happens."
                                      -- Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

Don't think that the only part of your deep inner self is the hurt, insecure, scared thoughts. Your soul is beautiful, strong, and confident, and shining like the sun.

Phoenix - every moment anew.

"I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows."
                                   -- Thoreau

Spontaneity & joy in all acts of creation. Energy flows through all things

Spring - Source - Flow - Meander
Star - Light - Shine - Radiance

Spend all day in good company

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. It is the lighting up of the mist by the sun. A man cannot /know/ in any higher sense than this, any more than he can look serenely and with impunity in the face of the sun."
               -- Thoreau

"A cynic is a passionate person who does not want to be disappointed again. The secret is not to speak to a person's cynicism, but to spark her passion."
                -- Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander
Something to think about when I start to fall into cynicism.

To remember:
The way the creek ceaselessly flows.
The way the moist air sinks through the canyon.
The way the sunlight reflected in ripples dapples the overhanging grasses.
The way families have carved out a day together.
The way the shade shifts as the sun moves overhead.
The way the stones under water bend and shimmer.
The way each rock can make a waterfall.
The way the butterfly glides between sun and shade.
The way the conversations of others flow around me in a language I don't speak.
The way the small bird, velvet black and sparkling white, flits through the air.
This is the world we live in.
Jumbled, chaotic, messy.
Changing, in movement, flowing.
Fragile, enduring.
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Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped
to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.

-Neil Gaiman, from Instructions
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‎"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
-Steve Jobs
"You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." #RIPSteveJobs
‎"If you can’t look in the mirror and say you’d be happy with today as your last day alive, then you need to change something."
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Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Thorn

What does one life matter? It matters a great deal.

What will you do today – how will you think, speak, feel, and act – that will show you care about the meaning of your life? A legacy is built in every moment. Do you want to die as a priestess, a parent, a person of presence, or do you want to die as one caught up in tales of right or wrong, of injury or passion, of disappointment or victory? Make a choice. Today. Then live.

Live to the best of your ability right now. Live as bravely as you can, as tenderly as you can, as fiercely and kindly and with as much internal honesty as you can. Tomorrow you will be able to do even more. This is called practice. Practice builds the foundation of our lives and then life becomes the practice.


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SJ Tucker - Rootless

- Listen, read lyrics, download here

We are here so the stories get told. 
Don’t give up, ride out, be bold, 
Build the fire bright and strong, 
Speak your truth and sing your song.

by SJ Tucker, from Rootless

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What if I could see the familiar world as if I had never seen it before, even if I see it every day-- with that wonderment and surprise? Or see it as if I would never see it again? Then imagine the glory. I'm thinking it's a paltry sense of wonder that requires something new every day. I confess: Wonder is easy when you travel to desert islands in search of experiences you have never imagined, in search of something you have never seen before, in search of wonder, the shock of surprise. It's easy, and maybe it's cheap. It's not what the world asks of us.
To be worthy of the astonishing world, a sense of wonder will be a way of life, in every place and time, no matter how familiar: to listen in the dark of every night, to praise the mystery of every returning day, to be astonished again and again, to be grateful with an intensity that cannot be distinguished from joy.

by Kathleen Dean Moore, from Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

P.S. - I have an extra copy of this book. (At one point I thought I had lost mine.) If it seems like it might interest you, I’d be glad to send it to you, and please send me a msg. <3
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It turns out that I had never read the book of The Neverending Story. I had seen the movie, but the book is much different, much longer.

Interesting passages (SPOILER ALERT)

Cairon to Atreyu:
"You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise, just as it is in the eyes of the Childlike Empress. You may only search and inquire, never judge."

Engywook to Atreyu:
Gate 1: The Great Riddle - "Wait and see what the sphinxes decide - without hoping to know why."
Gate 2: The Magic Mirror - "When you stand before it, you see yourself. But not as you would in an ordinary mirror. You don't see your outward appearance; what you see is your real innermost nature. If you want to go through, you have to - in a manner of speaking - go into yourself."
Gate 3: The No-key gate- "If someone succeeds in forgetting all purpose, in wanting nothing at all - to him the gate will open of its own accord."

On the Auryn's inscription, seen by Bastian: "Do What You Wish"
Grograman the lion to Bastian: "It means that you must do what you really and truly want. And nothing is more difficult."

Argax the monkey to Bastian: "You can only wish as long as you remember your world. These people here used up all their memories. Without a past you can't have a future. (...) Nothing can change for them, because they themselves can't change anymore."

"He wanted to be loved for being just what he was. (...) He no longer wanted to be the greatest, strongest, or cleverest. He had left all that far behind. He longed to be loved just as he was, good or bad, handsome or ugly, clever or stupid, with all his faults - or possibly because of them."
"... (A) longing of a very different kind made itself felt, a desire that he had never felt before and that was different in every way from all his previous wishes: the longing to be capable of loving."
"He kept seeing the picture before his eyes. It was as though this man wanted to say something to him but could not, because of the block of ice he was imprisoned in. The boy without a name wanted to help him, wanted to make the ice melt."
Father to Bastian: "A day like this happens only once in a lifetime - and some people never have one."
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Do I like traveling more than arriving?  - Anticipation, having a focus, being in the moment and present, movement and change. Via P. – Maybe by changing my environment I can see patterns.

“Now the sun leads in the May, now desire of action wakes, and the wish to roam.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, from May Day

Linden (tilia) – Mystic, poet, dreamer child. Follow your heart. Inner desire and strength. See beyond appearances. For our dreams to manifest, we must pursue them. The beauty of life, death, transformation.

It’s been a long two weeks, of very hard questions.  What happens when people die? What will happen when I die?  At what point did I do enough?  If I’ll never feel like I have had enough time in my life, how will I ever be okay with that?  Am I doing the right things?  Is that a false question?  Is, instead, ‘being’ the more important concern than ‘doing’?  Are these questions even answerable?  If they’re impossible, how do you get past them?  Does it stem from guilt?  If it does, is there something I can figure out to do differently? Is it something I’m willing and able to do?

Realization regarding family: I don’t feel lacking in /all/ relationships in my life, and the ones where I don’t feel that way, it is easy and It flows (at least most of the time), /and/ these are the people with whom I many of the same values. The people where I feel I won’t measure up have different values. SO – Maybe the measuring stick is different.  Maybe my fears that I won’t be enough are not even needed; maybe the things that are troubling me are not on their radar in the same way at all.  Sometimes, I can be willing to not get what would mean the most to me out of some particular interaction, if I’m helping them get what they need.  So if deep conversations are my thing for what makes a strong connection, I could be compassionate to the idea that it’s not the only possibility: for others, it may be time spent together, even if that doesn’t feel ideal to me.

It’s worth me taking the time to ponder:  From /their/ values system, what would be helpful to them? And – you could really just /ask/ them, if you’re not sure. 

(Often it feels very, very difficult to ask, because I feel I should be able to know exactly what to do for everyone, and that not knowing is a failing. But it would be helpful to get over myself on this, because as much as it’s hard for me to ask, it may be harder for the other person to tell me what they need without having been asked.)

The only things I know to do in life are to love intensely, connect and share deeply, be extremely open. But these things, these things that, again, are literally all I know to be important, are not even on my parents’ radar in the same way at all. But if it’s worth me worrying about measuring up, then it’s worth figuring out what they do actually need and value, and then seeing if I can provide that. Like maybe being there for them and sharing a life and caring for them can be evidenced as much in the details of the day-to-day, as in the broad sweeps that feel more real to me.  (Also, omg, speaking of which, no wonder Jim & I never worked, lol.)

In summary: Different people are different. Other people have different values. You can ask them.

If there’s anything I’d change, then no worries and no self-blame, just change it. Beyond that, do what I can; let the rest go.

The values that most define me: Intensity, Openness, Unconditional love and acceptance (when I feel it may be reciprocated), Trust that people’s hearts and intents are good, Vulnerability, Independence and autonomy for myself and others.   “I am my own. But I share.”
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My mind has been spinning lately.

(Yes, all brought about tangentially by the tv show Glee, though more specifically Chris Colfer. Shut up. He’s a ridiculously amazing person, grounded and wise for his age, playful, honest, and determined. Certainly plenty of amazing people in my own life share these qualities, but I can honestly say that there is no other public figure like him.)

What do I do when that happens? (Other than be up in the middle of the night, evidently.) I pull out my old personal journals, because I have been here before, and I know I'll re-find myself in the pages.

And sure enough.  Among tons of notes about life and love were these three gems:

“Beauty provides the possibility of a nature that is both sensuous and rational.” -Schiller
“Those who do not venture out beyond actuality will never capture truth.” -Schiller
“You are the only person I know who could have a picture of Disney’s Pocahontas *and* a chart of the stock market, on the same wall. And understand and appreciate both of them.” - from my dear, dear friend Emily

The thing that makes me who I am is this ability to encompass both the analytical and the ecstatic. And boy, do I get in trouble when I fall too far on one side or the other. My twenties were pretty much all about attempting to jettison the ecstatic, spiritual, emotional side of myself. Every existential quandary I have ever had has only been navigated by picking my way through the forest (often literally) to re-find that part of my character.

What do I want from my life? To leave the world better for me having been here. My work gives me a great platform to connect with people and help them be who they are. I’m not going to shy away from big ideas to make an even bigger impact. How, exactly? That’s where I’m not precisely sure. I’m sitting in openness, and as inspiration hits, I’m paying attention, and ready to work.
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