Lightly Child, Lightly

At Seventy-third Street I turn off Lexington and head for the Whitney, wanting a last look at a visiting collection. As I approach the museum some German Expressionist drawings in a gallery window catch my eye. I walk through the door, turn to the wall nearest me, and come face to face with two large Nolde watercolors, the famous flowers. I’ve looked often at Nolde’s flowers, but now it’s as though I am seeing them for the first time: that hot lush diffusion of his outlined, I suddenly realize, in intent. I see the burning quality of Nolde’s intention, the serious patience with which the flowers absorb him, the clear, stubborn concentration of the artist on his subject. I see it. And I think, It’s the concentration that gives the work its power. The space inside me enlarges. That rectangle of light and air inside, where thought clarifies and language grows and response is made intelligent, that famous space surrounded by loneliness, anxiety, self-pity, it opens wide as I look at Nolde’s flowers…

That space. It begins in the middle of my forehead and ends in the middle of my groin. It is, variously, as wide as my body, as narrow as a slit in a fortress wall. On days when thought flows freely or better yet clarifies with effort, it expands gloriously. On days when anxiety and self-pity crowd in, it shrinks, how fast it shrinks! When the space is wide and I occupy it fully, I taste the air, feel the light. I breathe evenly and slowly. I am peaceful and excited, beyond influence or threat. Nothing can touch me. I’m safe. I’m free. I’m thinking.

Vivian GornickFierce Attachments: A Memoir 


  • Vivian Gornick’s book was named #1 in The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by the The New York Times (June 26, 2019. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Fine Art: “Stillleben  – Emil Nolde, Expressionism. Watercolour, Gouache
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”


  1. never in a flash –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. True…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christie says:

    Same red headed freckled face women! (you know I love red heads) from your June 25th offering” Look at you: You are no accident”. featuring A. K. Benjamin // the photo – looks like an abstract American Flag with the stripes adjacent to her face while the polka dot points of light, lit up upon her face represent the stars while the freckles upon her face represent the individual diversity of all of us…she represents a melting pot of genes…Look at US, celebrating…243 years of Independence in America… Enjoy your 4th of July…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliantly said.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Her memoir arrives today – can’t wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have I missed something here? 4th of July? Uploaded today, July 11th… comments from 4th to 11th?!

    Anyway, this BEAUTY jumped at me with those joyful colours (E, not A), the words are absolutely spot on, the effect is one of wide open eyes seeing something extras-ordinary. I wish I could read all those 25 most best(est!) books – right after I’m through with the approx 450 still unread books I own already – and IF I still can see something afterwards, I’ll dive into them for sure. Meanwhile (oh, how I love that word – and Stephen Colbert brings it out often to my great joy), I shall take my deep breaths of beauty and visual/visceral/inward & outward delights in your posts.


  7. like Kiki, I’m confused. I see my comment to your post from the 4th of July, but found this beautiful work of art on your post today. my previous comment does not make sense with this, so I will offer this in response to today’s post. – fill the space whenever possible..

    Liked by 1 person

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