"I don't mean it's easy or assured, there are the stubborn stumps of shame, grief that remains unsolvable after all the years, a bag of stones that goes with one wherever one goes and however the hour may call for dancing and for light feet. But there is, also, the summoning world, the admirable energies of the world, better than anger, better than bitterness and, because more interesting, more alleviating. And there is the thing that one does, the needle one plies, the work, and within that work a chance to take thoughts that are hot and formless and to place them slowly and with meticulous effort into some shapely heat-retaining form, even as the gods, or nature, or the soundless wheels of time have made forms all across the soft, curved universe - that is to say, having chosen to claim my life, I have made for myself, out of work and love, a handsome life."
- Mary Oliver
To lead the uncommon life is not so bad.
There is an edge we come to count on
when all the normal signs don't speak,
a startled vigilance that keeps us waking
to watch the moon, the peculiar stars;
the usual, underfoot, no more a solid comfort
than a rock that might move as a turtle moves,
so slowly only the nervous feel the sudden bump
of the familiar giving way to unrequested astonishment.
And for a small time, the sheer cliff of everything
we never knew can rise in front of us
like the warm dark, where starlight
has its constant conception, where the idea of turtle
blinked and was: a wry joke, an intricate affection.
- Marie Howe
The Good Thief
"A mystical experience would be wasted on me. Ordinary things have always seemed numinous to me. One Calvinist notion deeply implanted in me is that there are two sides to your encounter with the world. You don't simply perceive something that is statically present, but in fact there is a visionary quality to all experience. It means something because it is addressed to you. This is the individualism that you find in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. You can draw from perception the same way a mystic would draw from a vision.
It's not an acquired skill. It's a skill that we're born with that we lose. We learn not to do it."
- Marilyn Robinson
The Art of Fiction No. 198
interviewed by Sarah Fay
the paris review
"It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinking you got there without taking anything with you. Your notions about startin' over. Or anybody's. You don't start over. That's what it's all about. Every step you take is forever. You can't make it go away. None of it. You understand what I'm saying?"
- Cormac McCarthy
"There is an immense, painful longing for a broader, more flexible, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are, who we are, and what this life is for."
- Saul Bellow
"Within each of our forms lies the existential mystery of being. Apart from one's physical appearance, personality, gender, history, occupation, hopes and dreams, comings and goings, there lies an eerie silence, an abyss of stillness charged with an etheric presence. For all of our anxious business and obsession with triviality, we cannot completely deny this phantasmal essence at our core. And yet we do everything we can to avoid its stillness, its silence, its utter emptiness and radiant intimacy.
Being is that which disturbs our insistence on remaining in the life-numbing realm of our secret desperation. It is the itch that cannot be scratched, the whisper that will not be denied. To be, to truly be, is not a given."
The Way of Liberation
"I would argue that if consciousness exists, it can't be obliterated; thus we borrow from consciousness in order to become (to get an identity), and we return what we borrow as egos to the greater conscious field when we die, so that's what happens to "us." The real question then is the fate not of our consciousness but of our personal identity.
You know, science's definition of us is that a light goes on, a light goes off, and it wasn't even a light, but that's like not existing at all. And we do exist - in the sense that we are not just interdependent with everything else in the universe; we are everything else in the universe, and ourselves too. That's why we exist at all, why we have a personal identity. Likewise we are not just everything else in the universe; we are one probabilistic form even of ourselves. At each moment, all of our other selves, making different choices and experiencing themselves differently exist elsewhere as well as in deep latency in us, and in states just as physical as ours. They bail us out of this mess, but we bail them out of their messes. We support one another eternally. The light we share never goes on, never goes off, and that's the Soul."
- Richard Grossinger
Dark Pool of Light
"As we awaken from sleep, our consciousness undergoes a radical transformation composed of dramatic adjustments in neural processes. Some neural circuits go quiet while others come online. The entire orchestration of the symphony of mind unfolds like changes in a music score, and while there is no single, master conductor, the decentralized process does have hot spots of top-down modulation linked by connections built over evolutionary time. These "command centers," for lack of a more accurate but succinct term, do one thing really well: They create our sense of self, our sense of being a protagonist in a continuously unfolding nonlinear narrative through which we can travel again and again in our memories and plan possible and even impossible futures."
- Antonio Damasio
Self Comes to Mind