Why is it we love so fully what has washed up on the beaches
of our hearts,
those lost messages, lost friends, the daylight stars
we never get to see? Bad luck never takes a vacation, my friend
once wrote. It lies there among the broken shells and stones
we collect, a story he would say begins with you, with me,
a story that is forever lost among the backwaters of our lives,
our endless fear of ourselves, and our endless need for hope,
a story, perhaps an answer, a word suddenly on wing, the simple
sound of a torn heart, or the unmistakable scent of the morning's fading moon.
- Richard Jackson
"Deep down, I don't believe it takes any special talent for a person to lift himself off the ground and hover in the air. We all have it in us - every man, woman, and child - and with enough hard work and concentration, every human being is capable of the feat. You must learn to stop being yourself. That's where it begins, and everything else follows from that. You must let yourself evaporate. Let your muscles go limp, breathe until you feel your soul pouring out of you, and then shut your eyes. That's how it's done. The emptiness inside your body grows lighter than the air around you. Little by little, you begin to weigh less than nothing. You shut your eyes; you spread your arms; you let yourself evaporate. And then, little by little, you lift yourself off the ground.
- Paul Auster
Empty me of the bitterness and disappointment
of being nothing but myself
Immerse me in the mystery of reality
Fill me with love for the truly afflicted
that hopeless love, if need be
make me one of them again -
Awaken me to the reality of this place
and from the longed-for or remembered place
And more than this, behind each face
induct, oh introduce me in -
to the halting disturbed ungrammatical soundless
words of others' thoughts
not the drivel coming out of our mouths
Blot me out, fill me with nothing but consciousness
of the holiness, the meaning
of these unseeable, all
these unvisitable worlds which surround me:
others' actual thoughts - everything
I can't perceive yet
know it is there.
- Franz Wright
"We are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget."
- G. K. Chesterton
"To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.
We may seek, too, a relaxing of inhibitions that makes it easier to bond with each other, or transports that make our consciousness of time and mortality easier to bear. We seek a holiday from our inner and outer restrictions, a more intense sense of the here and now, the beauty and value of the world we live in."
- Oliver Sacks
"In 1921, a New York rabbi asked Einstein if he believed in God. "I believe in Spinoza's God," he answered, "who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."
- Jim Holt
"But the real difficulties, the real arts of survival, seem to lie in more subtle realms. There, what's called for is a kind of resilience of the psyche, a readiness to deal with what comes next. These captives lay out in a stark and dramatic way what goes on in every life: the transitions whereby you cease to be who you were. Seldom is it as dramatic, but nevertheless, something of this journey between the near and the far goes on in every life. Sometimes an old photograph, an old friend, an old letter will remind you that you are not who you once were, for the person who dwelt among them, valued this, chose that, wrote thus, no longer exists. Without noticing it you have traversed a great distance; the strange has become familiar and the familiar if not strange at least awkward or uncomfortable, an outgrown garment. And some people travel far more than others. There are those who receive as birthright an adequate or at least unquestioned sense of self and those who set out to reinvent themselves, for survival or for satisfaction, and travel far. Some people inherit values and practices as a house they inhabit; some of us have to burn down that house, find our own ground, build from scratch, even as a psychological metamorphosis."
- Rebecca Solnit