Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
They are embossed on every song that was a hit that summer, in every novel I read during and after his stay, on anything from the smell of rosemary on hot days to the frantic rattle of the cicadas in the afternoon—smells and sounds I’d grown up with and known every year of my life until then but that had suddenly turned on me and acquired an inflection forever colored by the events of that summer.
The secret of The Old Farmer’s Almanac: pay attention. Pay attention to the sky, and the winds, and the tides, and the number of acorns on the ground in the fall, and what the animals are doing, and which way the birds are flying. Pay attention.
I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.
One day it occurred to me that everything doesn’t happen for a reason. What it is is that everything happens, and then we assign a reason to it.
To Love Someone Long-Term Is to Attend a Thousand Funerals of the People They Used to Be
Offline we exist by default; online we have to post our way into selfhood.
My pictures are collages. I didn’t invent the collage. […] Many children have done collages at home or in their classrooms. In fact, some children have said to me, “Oh, I can do that.” I consider that the highest compliment.
For Annie, who also knows the days to be gods
We have invented the weekend, but the dark cloud of old taboos still hangs over the holiday, and the combination of the secular with the holy leaves us uneasy. This tension only compounds the guilt that many of us continue to feel about not working, and leads to the nagging feeling that our free time should be used for some purpose higher than having fun. We want leisure, but we are afraid of it, too.
“The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals,” Heschel writes. “Jewish ritual may be characterized as the art of significant forms in time, as architecture of time.”
“Cherish, conserve, consider, create”: you could do worse than to live your life according to the principles propounded by the composer Lou Harrison.
It seems to me that the most pleasing thing you can find yourself saying in a conversation is something you haven’t said before.
I think that all the people who worry so much about the children are really worrying about themselves, about keeping their world together and getting the children to help them do it, getting the children to agree that it is indeed a world. Each new generation of children has to be told: ‘This is a world, this is what one does, one lives like this.’ Maybe our constant fear is that a generation of children will come along and say: ‘This is not a world, this is nothing, there’s no way to live at all.’
There will always be pigeons in books and in museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and to all delights. They know no urge of seasons; they feel no kiss of sun, no lash of wind and weather. They live forever by not living at all.
The most effective learning looks inefficient; it looks like falling behind.
We are always, at all times, the people we were and the people we are going to be.
It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.
Now might be a good time to remind everyone that the easiest way to discriminate is to make stringent rules, then to decide when and for whom to enforce them.
You can’t hold the world in your head. Better to acknowledge the difficulty, though, than succumb to the abstractions.
In the history of Art, unlike the history of Science, though there are periods of flowering and sterility, there is no such thing as Progress, only Change.
For me it is enough to have the first and the last word — the middle we can discuss.
What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?
Many things in the world around me seem to me ugly, wasteful, foolish, cruel, destructive, and wicked. How much of this should I talk to children about? I tend to feel, not much. I prefer to let, or help, children explore as much of the world as they can, and then make up their own minds about it. If they ask me what I think about something, I will tell them. But if I have to criticize the world in their hearing, I prefer to do it in specifics, rather than give the idea that I think the world, in general, is a bad place. I don’t think it is, and for all the bad that is in it, I would much rather be in it than out of it. I am in no hurry to leave.
Learn all you can on your own before you spend any money on a school.