“ 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.
“ 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.
“ Most people think that shadows follow, precede, or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
“ 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.
“ When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
“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)
“ Change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape.
“ It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.
The Art of Distraction, by Hanif Kureishi:
From this point of view — that of drift and dream; of looking out for interest; of following this or that because it seems alive — Ritalin and other forms of enforcement and psychological policing are the contemporary equivalent of the old practice of tying up children’s hands in bed, so they won’t touch their genitals. The parent stupefies the child for the parent’s good. There is more to this than keeping out the interesting: there is the fantasy and terror that someone here will become pleasure’s victim, disappearing into a spiral of enjoyment from which he or she will not return.
It is true, however, that many people have spent their lives being distracted, keeping away, often unknowingly, from that which they most want, thus brewing in themselves a poison of disappointment, bitterness and despair. But there are still […] forms of distraction that can be far more harmful. We can attack ourselves unknowingly: we might call this corrupted desire, as if we are being inhabited by a demon whose whispers are cruel diminutions of the self, destroying creativity and valuable connections, until enervation and self-hatred make a living death.
It is said that distractions are too easy to come by now that most writers use computers, though it’s just as convenient to flee through the mind’s window into fantasy. In the end, a person requires a method. He must be able to distinguish between creative and destructive distractions by the sort of taste they leave, whether they feel depleting or fulfilling. And this can work only if he is, as much as possible, in good communication with himself — if he is, as it were, on his own side, caring for himself imaginatively, an artist of his own life.
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