“When I think I’m teaching, I’m probably not,” he said. “When I don’t think I’m teaching, I probably am.”
It’s hard for me to throw anything away without thinking about how it can become part of some work I’m doing. I just stare at something and say: Why isn’t that art? Why couldn’t that be art?
If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants which thrive chance not to be the ones which he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them. We are apt to covet the things which we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things which grow because they must.
Little children love the dandelions; why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely.
It’s easy to forget that we only ever see facets of other people, never the whole (not even in marriage) — and in those facets what we’re mostly seeing is some aspect of ourselves.
I write nonfiction because I don’t understand life well enough to make things up.
Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere, if you say so.
He said that unconditional acceptance was “loving someone into existence.”
No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.
You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.
And years from now — years after this moment — they’ll be sitting together at the kitchen table on a Sunday morning, laughing at something on the radio. He’ll tell her, out of the blue — for the first time in years — that he loves her.
And she’ll feel tears in her eyes in an instant, in a gorgeous swell of grateful relief in her belly, knots unfasting she’d forgotten were even there. And he’ll tell her that for him, it’s a choice. Her, Thomas, the house, their life together — it’s all a choice. And he’ll take her hand and he’ll say that for him — for Benjamin — there is no “fate”. There is no “meant to be”. There is only ever what we decide. And that for him, that’s not depressing. That actually, the constant possibility of something other than this is the only thing that makes this mean anything.
And he’ll say that even now, outside the front door, the world is pressing possibilities and people and places up against the wood and the glass, but that he doesn’t even care because here, out of everywhere, is where he chooses to be. And she, out of everyone, is who he wants to be here with.
The beginnings of articulating taste are almost always through discovering what you don’t like.
The most ridiculous thing about living is that childhood is its own eternity and then suddenly you’re an adult.
[Ideas] are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.
The younger girl begins to sag under the weight of all the waiting and the lateness, the way small children do.
Follow the rules exactly unless you come up with something better.
“Time goes too quickly” is a belief system. Like all belief systems, the more you believe that it’s true, the more true it becomes.
We measure time by its deaths, yes, and by its births. For time is told also by life. As some depart, others come. The hand opened in farewell remains open in welcome. I, who once had grandparents and parents, now have children and grandchildren. Like the flowing river that is yet always present, time that is always going is always coming. And time that is told by death and birth is held and redeemed by love, which is always present. Time, then, is told by love’s losses, and by the coming of love, and by love continuing in gratitude for what is lost. It is folded and enfolded and unfolded forever and ever, the love by which the dead are alive and the unborn welcomed into the womb. The question for the old and the dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the onliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.
We are encouraged to believe in our dreams, but we are assumed to dream in the same limited palette as everyone else.
Dolly Parton once said that her advice to anyone wanting to be an artist was to “Find out who you are and then be that on purpose.” Or something like that. As I’ve gotten older, those are the people I find myself drawn to work with and stay close to. People who have figured out who they are and are good at being that on purpose.
Stay woke just means pay attention to everything, don’t lean on your own understanding or anyone else’s, observe, evolve, eliminate things that no longer evolve. That’s what it means. Stay conscious, stay awake. It doesn’t mean judge others. It doesn’t mean gang up on somebody who you feel is not woke.
Proof of God? Proof was in the world, and the way you visited the world was on foot…. Your walking was a devotion.
At the same time that “self-made” entered the nation’s lexicon, so did the notion of abject failure. Once reserved to describe a discrete financial episode — “I made a failure,” a merchant would say after losing his shop — “failure” in antebellum America became a matter of identity, describing not an event but a person. As the historian Scott Sandage explains in Born Losers: A History of Failure in America, the phrase “I feel like a failure” comes to us so naturally today “that we forget it is a figure of speech: the language of business applied to the soul.”
When you die, you are grieved by all the atoms of which you were composed.
“Perhaps we could warm you up with a simpler situation,” he considers. “How would you like to be in a closed room, one-on-one with your lover?” And then you are here. You are simultaneously engaged in her conversation and thinking about something else; she both gives herself to you and does not give herself to you; you find her objectionable and you deeply love her; she worships you and wonders what she might have missed with someone else. “Thank you,” you tell the angel. “This I’m used to.”