"What I want is to live of that initial and primordial Something that was what made some things reach the point of aspiring to be human."
- Clarice Lispector
"Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time, means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation - the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks."
- C. S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters
"What I am really saying is that you don't need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all."
- Alan Watts
Still the Mind
How familiar they are,
these inner musics,
these currents of desire.
It is the other part that is difficult.
The coming back.
The not being able to tell.
- Dorothy Walters
from The Sibyl
Marrow of Flame
And when at last grief has dried you out, nearly
weightless, like a little bone, one day,
no reason in particular, the world decides to tug:
twinge under the breastbone, the sudden thought
you might stand up, walk to the door and
keep on going… And in the seconds following,
like the silence following the boom under the river ice, it all
seems possible, the egg-smooth clarity of the new-awakened,
rising, to stand, and walk… But already
at the edges of the crack, sorrow
starts to ooze, the brown stain spreading
and you think: there is no end to it.
But in the breaking, something else is given - not
that glittering jumble, shrieking and churning in the blind
center of the afternoon,
but something else - a scent,
like a door flung open, a sudden downpour
through which you can still see the sun, derelict
in the neighbor's field, the wren's bright eye in the thicket.
As though on that day in August, or even July,
when you were first thinking of autumn, you remembered also
the last day of spring, which had passed
without your noticing. Something that easy, let go
without a thought, untroubled by oblivion,
a bird, a smile.
- Jan Zwicky
"The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."
- Anna Quindlen
Loud and Clear
"This summer, of all I've read and copied out, because I wanted to keep the words close and to feel them come from my own hand, here's this little passage from Proust: "To reach the end of a day, natures that are slightly nervous, as mine was, make use, like motorcars, of different 'speeds.' There are mountainous, uncomfortable days, up which one takes an infinite time to pass, and days downward sloping, through which one can go at full tilt, singing as one goes."
That's me in my motorcar dress, windows open, hair flying.
Sometimes I am grateful he knows. (And that he knew me before I was born! And that the words awaited me all these years!)
Sometimes I feel stripped bare and found out."
- Lia Purpura
So much of what we live goes on inside -
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
Of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal
Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead.
- Dana Gioia
"There is the moment when the silence of the countryside gathers in the ear and breaks into a myriad of sounds: a croaking and squeaking, a swift rustle in the grass, a plop in the water, a pattering on earth and pebbles, and high above all, the call of the cicada. The sounds follow one another, and the ear eventually discerns more and more of them - just as fingers unwinding a ball of wool feel each fiber interwoven with progressively thinner and less palpable threads, The frogs continue croaking in the background without changing the flow of sounds, just as light does not vary from the continuous winking of stars. But at every rise or fall of the wind every sound changes and is renewed. All that remains in the inner recess of the ear is a vague murmur: the sea."
- Italo Calvino
The Baron in the Trees