- Source: Poppins-me
- Inspiration: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Albert Einstein)
You’ve seen the way in which a woman chooses a dress from her closet, then stands before a mirror, holding it at arm’s length, clutching its shoulders as if it were a son she is sending to war, looking him up and down and then drawing him close and pressing him against her breast. And then she sees herself embracing him, and smiles, the two of them looking so perfect together, full of such hope, facing the future.
~ Ted Kooser, The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book
Photograph: Drowned in Daydreams
My students still don’t know what they will never be. Their hope is so bright I can almost see it. I used to value the truth of whether this student or that one would achieve the desired thing. I don’t value that truth anymore as much as I value their unrest hope. I don’t care that one in two hundred of them will ever become what they feel they must become. I care only that I am able to witness their faith in what’s coming next.
~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
Thursday, February 12, 2015.
It’s 6:12 am.
Overcast, and 17° F. Pre-dawn.
The Groundhog forecasts 6 more weeks, he’s been wrong before.
I-95 South is dry.
The wind kicks up road salt, swirling behind the mud flaps of convoys of truckers barreling into Manhattan.
It’s a race to beat the morning Rush. Smokey & The Bandit. Snowman. Buford T. Justice.
Traffic is light and smooth. VO Manhattan. Neat.
Same Ólafur Arnalds’ playlist.
Same damn biting cold. [Read more…]
The winter will fly swiftly,
then will be the spring —
think of nothing but hope —
heed nothing but anticipation…
– Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Austin Dickinson, November 16, 1851
Remember, the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance.
On thick white snow
you vow fresh footprints
then watch them go
with the wind’s hearty gust.
So fill your glass. Here’s tae us.
made to be broken, made to last.
– Jackie Kay, “Promise”
A little snap at one side of the room
and an answering snap at the other:
Stiff from the cold and idleness,
the old house cracking it knuckles.
Then the great yawn of the furnace.
Even the lampshade is drowsy,
its belly full of a warm yellow light.
Out under the moon, though,
there is at least one wish
against this winter sleep:
A road leads into the new year,
deliberate as a bride
in her sparkling white dress of new snow.
~ Ted Kooser. “December 26. Clear and Cold.” Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison
Who knows, maybe those two rogue leaders, Gandhi and Jesus, were right – a loving response changes the people who would beat the shit out of you, including yourself, of course. Their way, of the heart, makes everything bigger. Decency and goodness are subversively folded into the craziness, like caramel ribbons into ice cream. Otherwise, it’s about me, and my bile ducts, and how unique I am and how I’ve suffered. And that is what hell is like. So whom was I going to echo, Gandhi and Jesus, or Tammy and me?
Look, can you give me a minute to decide?
Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? Hmm. Let me get back to you on this.
~ Anne Lamott. “Pirates.” Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
I just finished Lamott’s new book and loved it. It’s my first foray into her work. Be forewarned, this book has more than its fair share of suffering and grief, but the sun’s rays do peak in. I’m drawn to her rants and her candor on her neuroses (but could have done without the political barbs). I marvel at the authenticity of her self-reflection and the beauty and clarity of her observations of life. The book roars out of the gate for the first half and tends to run out of steam. For Lamott lovers, you should note that this book is a compilation of new and selected (aka previously published) essays.
Find the book on Amazon here: Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace
Photo Credit: TimeOut
I have a friend who traffics in words. She is not a minister, but a psychiatrist in the health clinic at a prestigious women’s college. We were sitting once not long after a student she had known, and counseled, committed suicide in the dormitory there. My friend, the doctor, the healer, held the loss very closely in those first few days, not unprofessionally, but deeply, fully — as you or I would have, had this been someone in our care.
At one point (with tears streaming down her face), she looked up in defiance (this is the only word for it) and spoke explicitly of her vocation, as if out of the ashes of that day she were renewing a vow or making a new covenant (and I think she was). She spoke explicitly of her vocation, and of yours and mine. She said, “You know I cannot save them. I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do — what I am called to do — is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I stand there every day and I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and beckon and urge them in toward beautiful life and love…
There’s something for all of us there, I think. Whatever our vocation, we stand, beckoning and calling, singing and shouting, planted at the gates of Hope. This world and our people are beautiful and broken, and we are called to raise that up — to bear witness to the possibility of living with the dignity, bravery, and gladness that befits a human being. That may be what it is to “live our mission.”
~ Victoria Safford, excerpt from “The Small Work in the Great Work”
From Brainpickings: “In 1973, one man sent a distressed letter to E.B. White, lamenting that he had lost faith in humanity. The beloved author, who was not only a masterful letter-writer but also a professional celebrator of the human condition and an unflinching proponent of the writer’s duty to uplift people, took it upon himself to boost the man’s sunken heart with a short but infinitely beautiful reply, found in Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience.”
Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White