I breathe in the soft, saturated exhalations of cedar trees and salmonberry bushes, fireweed and wood fern, marsh hawks and meadow voles, marten and harbor seal and blacktail deer. I breathe in the same particles of air that made songs in the throats of hermit thrushes and gave voices to humpback whales, the same particles of air that lifted the wings of bald eagles and buzzed in the flight of hummingbirds, the same particles of air that rushed over the sea in storms, whirled in high mountain snows, whistled across the poles, and whispered through lush equatorial gardens . . . air that has passed continually through life on earth. I breathe it in, pass it on, share it in equal measure with billions of other living things, endlessly, infinitely.
~ Richard Nelson, The Island Within
I lie awake,
wishing I had faith of some kind.
I’ve caught glimpses of it now and then,
I can even conjure it up for a second or two,
but it fades.
It’s a stillness,
the polar opposite of worry.
It isn’t hope;
hope has too much energy,
requires constant renewal;
faith (if I had it) would just be there.
~ Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping: Some True Stories From a Life
But now it is four in the morning and she is still awake while her husband breathes regularly and sweetly beside her. When she tires of listening to him breathe, which takes a long time because he sounds like a child and it is beautiful to hear, she comes into the other room and looks out her window uptown and at the lights on the river. Now and then opening a can of tuna fish and thinking this fish in this room on 112th Street was originally swimming in the deep Atlantic and now it is here on the thirteenth floor. What a miracle, although not for the fish. Still. You can appreciate things at four in the morning that would go right past you during the day.
~ Abigail Thomas, She has had insomnia. Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life
[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen. […]
Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.
~ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Silence is now offered as a luxury good. In the business-class lounge at Charles de Gaulle airport, what you hear is the occasional tinkling of a spoon against china. There are no advertisements on the walls, and no TVs. This silence, more than any other feature of the space, is what makes it feel genuinely luxurious. When you step inside and the automatic airtight doors whoosh shut behind you, the difference is nearly tactile, like slipping out of haircloth into satin. Your brow unfurrows itself, your neck muscles relax; after twenty minutes you no longer feel exhausted. The hassle lifts. Outside the lounge is the usual airport cacophony. Because we have allowed our attention to be monetized, if you want yours back you’re going to have to pay for it.
~ Matthew B. Crawford, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction
And then there are the times
when I close my eyes and just sit there,
with the breeze blowing on my face,
and the light inside the air,
all around me and just beyond my eyes,
and the world all red,
a beautiful red inside my eyes,
with the sun shining on me and my eyes.
— Paul Auster, City of Glass