"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
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
"But what is the past? Could it be, the firmness of the past is just illusion? Could the past be a kaleidoscope, a pattern of images that shift with each disturbance of a sudden breeze, a laugh, a thought? And if the shift is everywhere, how would we know?"
- Alan Lightman
"While it's true you're haunted by your past, it's truer that you've traveled spectacularly far away from it. You swam across a wide and wild sea and you made it all the way to the other side. That it feels different here on this shore than you thought it would does not negate the enormity of the distance you traversed and the strength it took you to do it."
- Cheryl Strayed
You must take up the world's whole weight
and make it easier to bear.
Toss it like a knapsack
on your shoulders and set out.
The best time is evening, in spring, when
trees breathe calmly and the night promises
to be fine, elm twigs crackle in the garden.
The whole weight? Blood and ugliness? Can't be done.
A trace of bitterness will linger on your lips,
and the contagious despair of the old woman
you spotted in the tram.
Why lie? After all rapture
exists only in imagination and leaves quickly.
Improvisation – always just improvisation,
great or small, that's all we know,
in music, as a jazz trumpet weeps happily
or when you stare at the blank page
or try to outwit
sorrow by opening a favorite book of poems;
just then the phone usually rings,
someone asking, would you like to try
the latest model? No thank you.
I prefer the proven brands.
Grayness and monotony remain; grief
the finest elegy can't heal.
But perhaps there are things hidden from us,
in which sorrow and enthusiasm mix
non-stop, on a daily basis, like the dawn's birth
above the seashore, no, wait,
like the laughter of those little altar boys
in white vestments, on the corner of St. John and Mark,
- Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh
To speak of the smell and feel
of books, the erotics of the text,
has begun to sound perverse
One by one, the old places of worship
churches, bookstores, Nature herself
become quaint and are vacated
In their stead a gleaming, ambitious screen
part shuttered window, part distorting mirror
full of wandering, restless spirits
Like so many ghosts in limbo -
free of the tyranny of bodies,
yet aching for their phantom limbs.
- Yahia Lababidi
"In this poor body, composed of one hundred bones and nine openings, is something called spirit, a flimsy curtain swept this way and that by the slightest breeze. It is spirit, such as it is, which led me to poetry, at first little more than a pastime, then the full business of my life. There have been times when my spirit, so dejected, almost gave up the quest, other times when it was proud, triumphant. So it has been from the very start, never finding peace with itself, always doubting the worth of what it makes."
Song for the Deer and Myself to Return On
This morning when I looked out the roof window
before dawn and a few stars were still caught
in the fragile weft of ebony night
I was overwhelmed. I sang the song Louis taught me:
a song to call the deer in Creek, when hunting,
and I am certainly hunting something as magic as deer
in this city far from the hammock of my mother's belly.
It works, of course, and deer came into this room
and wondered at finding themselves
in a house near downtown Denver.
Now the deer and I are trying to figure out a song
to get them back, to get all of us back,
because if it works I'm going with them.
And it's too early to call Louis
and nearly too late to go home.
- Joy Harjo
In Mad Love & War
"Some religions call life a dream, or a dreaming, but what if it is a memory? What if this new world isn't new at all but a memory of a new world? What if we really do keep making the same mistakes again and again, never remembering the lessons to learn but never forgetting either that it had been different, that there was a pristine place? Perhaps the universe is a memory of our mistakes."
- Jeanette Winterson
The Stone Gods
"We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be."
- Anne Lamott