"You must be ready to accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them."
- Walter Evans-Wentz
The Tibetan Book of The Dead
"A person's life consists of a collection of events, the last of which could also change the meaning of the whole, not because it counts more than the previous ones but because once they are included in a life, events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but, rather, corresponds to an inner architecture."
- Italo Calvino
"Our search for meaning isn't limited to thoughts that were created to be meaningful and packaged in verse or easily extractable chunks. We can find meaning in everything - and everything is fair game. Your brain is, in fact, the ultimate commonplace collection, and everything you've ever read is in there somewhere, ready to come back into your consciousness when you want or need it."
- Will Schwalbe
We're doing a phone survey, asking
average people like yourself, attractive, cynical, smart, etc.,
people who cook with garlic, who, if married,
it's not the first time. People who have had
two or more jobs in the last three years.
We want to know what your preferred response is
when you hear,
if in fact you do hear,
the voices. Shall I clarify?
Voices that converse
on the great unhappiness and failure
that is yours. How often
would you swear you're not drunk, no,
but the trees are swaying. We're calling to ask
if you ever get confused and mistake
the swaying of trees for the lapping of water,
until you can't get your bearing. Is that when
the voices advise you, smooth
as a nail going in? Are there certain words that,
can I say, sneak in from behind, know all
the back entrances? Would you agree
the secret of their strength
is that they will not let you give in
to your hunger? How often
all you've said and all you've done, torn
like meat from a bone. Is that when you go out, walk
past lighted windows? Go to a movie? Have a coke?
Or do you hang around, drift off
till the voices wake you with a jolt or slap: "Payback time."
Like a street person in front of a diner, begging for change,
who will not let you go in and get your lousy cup of coffee
though the sign on the diner flashes: OPEN ALL NIGHT.
Are the voices familiar with, say,
streets you walked as a kid,
torn signs, dead trees?
We're asking if the voices, now or in the past,
have ever told you that you have to go back
to the path by the precipice. Because that is your path.
Would you mind answering? Or am I interrupting something?
Shall I call back later? What time would be best?
- Carole Glasser Langille
Late In A Slow Time
"Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act, you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think, because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for, oracles speak. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mum Is The Word
The League of Quiet Persons meets
monthly. Its quarters are a cavernous
warehouse away from traffic. Its
business is not to discuss business.
Minutes are read silently and tacitly approved.
Members listen to rain argue with corrugated
iron, a furnace with itself. Glances
are learnéd. It is not so much refuge
from noise the members seek in such company
as implicit permission not to speak,
not to answer or to answer for,
not to pose, chat, persuade, or expound.
Podium and gavel have been banned,
indeed are viewed as weaponry.
A microphone? The horror.
Several Quiet Persons interviewed
had no comment. A recorded voice
at the main office murmured only, "You
have reached the League of Quiet
Persons. After the tone, listen."
- Hans Ostrom
"I've often thought of the forest as a living cathedral, but this might diminish what it truly is. If I have understood Koyukon teachings, the forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God; nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with his entire body, breathe sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, touch the living branch and feel the sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness."
- Richard Nelson
The Island Within
"Nobody speaks to me. People fall in love with me, and annoy me and distress me and flatter me and excite me and - and all that sort of thing. But no one speaks to me. I sometimes think that no one can."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
violent waves of emotion
Elegy for Those Not Yet Departed
This much I'm sure. It is hard to believe
in another morning's gift now that the evening
lawn has learned to grieve. Tonight moonlight
keeps sending its condolences, as if forgotten
whites on the line at the far end of the yard
can no longer bear a body's absence, and
that faint slant of lost light from a kitchen
window is not enough to bring anyone back.
Yet no one has left to forget that familiar way
home, those simple names of neighborhood streets:
Elm, Oak & Maple. Outside this window empty trees
keep rehearsing a sadness I wish I could ease.
Restless curtains ghost about as if they have some
other place to go. The once sure shadows have
now grown weary of their own quiet visits. Still
this room tries to hold onto everything it can.
Dresser mirror shines. Full moon shifts
to leave itself upon the polished floor - spent soul
too tired to find its body. But this is not a scene
where the sheet is slowly drawn over the head, or
the doctor helplessly closes his black leather bag.
The lawn has no reason for its plain, dark suit,
this solemn night - its one pale chrysanthemum.
Soon daylight will slip between the limbs,
begin to soften the lonesome, walled sorrow
of shadows. Even the last geese
that shall rise across this endless, gray longing
will not make much of what they leave behind -
no winter song for lifeless trees
nor grief given nights in the glove-quiet
that a pallbearer wears, finding
what it's like to touch & not feel.
- Gregory Sellers
"The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard it's primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in our dreams, when our mind is off the leash, running wild. 'Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness: both of these terms meet, one step even further on, as one,' wrote Gary Snyder. 'It is in vain to dream of a wildness distinct from ourselves. There is none such,' wrote Thoreau. 'It is the bog in our brains and bowls, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires the dream.'
And as dreams are essential to the psyche, wildness is to life.
We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud. More. We are animal not only in body but in spirit. Our minds are the minds of wild animals. Artists, who remember their wildness better than most, are animal artists, lifting their heads to sniff a quick wild scent in the air, and they know it unmistakably, they know the tug of wildness to be followed through your life is buckled by that strange and absolute obedience. ('You must have chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,' wrote Nietzsche.) Children know it as magic and timeless play. Shamans of all sorts and inveterate misbehavers know it; those who cannot trammel themselves into a sensible job and life in the suburbs know it.
What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshameable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents. Don't waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary."
- Jay Griffiths
Wild: An Elemental Journey
What the Wind Says
The wind says, "I am the voice beside you,
a leaf against the curb, a name you whisper
for the way it haunts you. You can hear
whatever the mind wants. I am still
holding a breath, the ghost beneath a sheet,
some lost moment a hinge finds. Open
the gate and walk away: you wish to turn
the porch light off and never look back
to the row of identical houses, your years
mortgaged with the familiar acts
of habits. Try to forget each hour spent
lying awake trying to forget, for regret
remembers regret, which is why
I never sweep the same place twice.
Often this voice is mistaken
for someone else. I remind others
of who they are, or wish to be. I know desires
better than any wildfire knows me.
So what do you wait for? A whim, a promise,
some dream? Think how dust settles
upon the shelf, how a tornado always loses
its funnel, how tomorrow becomes another day.
Think how capricious I am, for what
I bring to you, for what I take away."
- Greg Sellers
"In a world where we are left to renegotiate our traumas again and again, we have to find empathetic, patient witnesses. My grandmother used to say : Some people in your life need to be mirrors and show you who you are from time to time. Some people in your life need to be blankets and embrace everything you are from time to time. Keep your mirrors clean and bright. Keep your blankets soft and close."
- Scherezade Siobhan
In October the red leaves going brown heap and
over hayfield and dirt road, over garden and circular
and rise in a curl of wind dishevelled as
at recess, school just starting and summer done,
white quiet beginning in ice on the windshield, in
that only blue asters survive, and in the long houses
more tighten themselves for darkness and
- Donald Hall