“ 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.
"Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
“ When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.
“ Talent develops in tranquillity, character in the full current of human life.
“ 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.
“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.”
Young I visited
this pool; asked my question,
passed on. In the middle years
visited it again. The question
had sunk down, hardly
a ripple. To be no longer
young, yet not to be old
is a calm without
equal. The water ticks on,
but time stands, fingerless.
Today, thirty years
later, on the margin
of eternity, dissolution,
nothing but the self
looking up at the self
looking down, with each
refusing to become
an object, so with the Dane’s
help, from bottomless fathoms
I dredge up the truth.
- R.S. Thomas, “No Truce with the Furies” (1995)
“ Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
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