To view your life as blessed does not require you to deny your pain. It simply demands a more complicated vision, one in which a condition or event is not either good or bad, but is, rather, both good and bad, not sequentially, but simultaneously.
This alone is to be feared—the closed mind, the sleeping imagination, the death of the spirit. The death of the body, I think, is a little thing.
The beauty is forever there before us, forever piping to us, and we are forever failing to dance. We could not help but dance if we could see things as they really are. Then we should kiss both hands to Fate and fling our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls into life with a glorious abandonment, an extravagant delighted loyalty, knowing that our wildest enthusiasm cannot more than brush the hem of the real beauty and joy and wonder that are always there.
~Margaret Prescott Montague
pathwriter’s note: What a gift Anne Lamott is. I’m so glad her son and her editor talked her into getting on Facebook, because it means she writes posts like this from time to time—and usually just when I need them, like today.
This is a true story.
I have been doing a bunch of radio interviews to promote the coming paperback edition of Some Assembly Required, and so was in San Francisco recently. There was no street parking to be found, so I parked in an underground garage. I stuck the ticket in my wallet, went and did the interview, came back to the car, and got ready to leave.
But I couldn’t find my ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I looked for it there, again and again, but couldn’t find it, so I rifled through my purse. The ticket wasn’t there, either. I took everything out of the purse, put it on the passenger seat, and pawed through it, like a Samuel Becket character.
Sighing loudly, I looked everywhere it could have fallen—the console between the front seats, the ashtray, the floor, the glovebox. Then I got out, exasperated with myself. I am getting so spaced out.
I don’t want to be put in a home yet! Continue reading
Almost anything you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
~Mohandas K. Gandhi
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, but rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
pathwriter’s note: A dancer/choreographer friend of mine shared this video on Facebook a few days ago. The following text, written by Justin Fox, introduced the video on the Zen Garage website:
Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.
At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
Do not be impatient with your seemingly slow progress. Do not try to run faster than you presently can. If you are studying, reflecting and trying, you are making progress whether you are aware of it or not. A traveler walking the road in the darkness of night is still going forward. Someday, some way, everything will break open, like the natural unfolding of a rosebud.
~Vernon Linwood Howard
It’s difficult to make people see that what you have been taught counts for nothing, and that the only things worth having are the things you find out for yourself. Also, that when so many brands of what Chesterton calls ‘fancy souls’ and theories of life are offered you, there is no sense in not looking pretty carefully to see what you are going in for. [...] It isn’t a case of ‘Here is the Christian religion, the one authoritative and respectable rule of life. Take it or leave it’. It’s ‘Here’s a muddling kind of affair called Life, and here are nineteen or twenty different explanations of it, all supported by people whose opinions are not to be sneezed at. Among them is the Christian religion in which you happen to have been brought up. Your friend so-and-so has been brought up in quite a different way of thinking; is a perfectly splendid person and thoroughly happy. What are you going to do about it?’ — I’m worrying it out quietly, and whatever I get hold of will be valuable, because I’ve got it for myself; but really, you know, the whole question is not as simple as it looks.
~Dorothy L. Sayers, The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist
For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I’ve spent the evening packing up books in preparation for my move to North Carolina. It’s going to take a while, because everywhere I turn, in every room, there are a lot of books. Although I’ve let go of a fair number of books in recent years, and I’ve been trying to patronize my local library recently instead of buying books, I’m a little amazed to realize how many books I still have.
Books are spiritual and mental comfort food for me; I’ve rarely been in a place where I didn’t have a book close at hand. In fact, the only exceptions I can think of are two ten-day meditation retreats I attended in Massachusetts back in the mid-90s. (To ensure that we maintained our inward focus, we weren’t allowed to have reading materials.) Reading has always been a big part of my life, and I usually have a couple of books going at any given time.
When I’m stuck emotionally or wrestling with a problem, I often end up at a bookstore, wandering the aisles and waiting for the right book to jump off the shelf Continue reading
When a cupboard is full to overflowing and the doors are opened up, that which is within comes tumbling out, and nothing can stop it. When floodgates are opened, the water rushes forth with tremendous power and force, carrying all before it. So with the spiritual power within you; once it has been recognised and released, nothing can stop the flow. It pours forth, sweeping aside all negativity and disharmony, bringing with it peace, love, harmony and understanding. It is love that will overcome the world; it is love which will unite humanity. Therefore the sooner you release that tremendous power of love within you and allow it to flow freely, the sooner will you behold world peace and harmony and the oneness of all humanity. When you have love in your heart, you draw the very best out of everyone, for love sees only the best and therefore draws forth the best. Be not afraid; open up, hold nothing back, and let it all flow freely.