Morgan Meis on the core dilemmas explored in folklore:
The feeling we get from hearing or telling the story of Poor Heinrich is that there is something tremendously important and tremendously difficult at stake in surrendering ourselves to another human being. This surrender has the capacity both to destroy us and to redeem us. We hate to be compelled to surrender any aspect of ourselves to other people.
And yet, we suffer terribly when we refuse to open up the boundaries of our selves to the impact of other selves. In acts of surrender we often are brought to the realization that we neither control nor fully understand the boundaries of the self anyway. This realization is both terrifying and liberating. It cannot be faced. It must be faced.
“ The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.
But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living.
“ Every transition begins with an ending. We have to let go of the old before we can pick up the new — not just outwardly, but inwardly, where we keep our connections to the people and places that act as definitions of who we are.
The colours stay within the mind, the light
Will not so easily permit itself
To be put out. In thoughts once more at home
A foreign fire will gleam, tints taken from
A sail, a wake of water widening out
Or subtle colours that make crumbling buildings
Renew themselves. These we have with us still.
And home again we learn how much we build
Abroad, put roots down in impermanence
Yet waver not from what time drags away
But are drawn too—like colours fading fast,
Like slow canals escaping to the sea.
Rest in this power to adapt, remember
The mind still turns like the huge globe and shows
Now Italy, now England and we are
The axis on which all our journeys move.
—Elizabeth Jennings, “XI. Journey from a Landscape,” from Sequence in Venice
Photography Credit Viktor Gårdsäter, from “Balloon Man’s Last Walk,” via Booooooom
“ The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.
“ So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self — struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence — you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.
“ Literally, psychologist means ‘one who studies the soul’, we think of it as a scary word in our harsh-sounding, Germanic language, but it actually means something really beautiful. I also like that it is ambiguous as to whether it’s me studying my own soul, or yours, or you studying my soul, or me asking you to study your own. It’s like a big impossible object that goes around and around.
“The theme of art is the theme of life itself. This artificial distinction between artists and human beings is precisely what we are all suffering from. An artist is only someone unrolling and digging out and excavating the areas normally accessible to normal people everywhere, and exhibiting them as a sort of scarecrow to show people what can be done with themselves.”
“ When we look at the image of our own future provided by the old, we do not believe it: an absurd inner voice whispers, that that will never happen to us — when that happens, it will no longer be ourselves that it happens to.
“Roughly, for me, the principal fact of life is the free mind. For good and evil, man is a free creative spirit. This produces the very queer world we live in, a world in continuous creation and therefore continuous change and insecurity. A perpetually new and lively world, but a dangerous one, full of tragedy and injustice. A world in everlasting conflict between the new idea and the old allegiances, new arts and new inventions against the old establishment.”
"Suleika Jaouad was a senior at Princeton when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know her — she was two years older, and intimidatingly beautiful. After graduation, she moved abroad. Then she was diagnosed with leukemia. Since the end of last year, Suleika has been writing a column for The New York Times’s “Well” blog. With frank insights and tremendous eloquence, Suleika tackles a series of tough topics, from managing pain during chemotherapy, to navigating relationships made complicated by cancer (for example, her brother becoming her bone-marrow donor). Her articles, as well the series of video clips which accompany them, offer an affecting glimpse of what it means to be a young person wrestling with cancer.” —Alyssa Loh
Madeline Levine is a clinician based in Marin County who recently posted an op-ed at The New York Times on how to raise successful children:
While doing things for your child unnecessarily or prematurely can reduce motivation and increase dependency, it is the inability to maintain parental boundaries that most damages child development. When we do things for our children out of our own needs rather than theirs, it forces them to circumvent the most critical task of childhood: to develop a robust sense of self.
A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy.Read the rest here.
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