I believe in everything simultaneously. I don’t have a religion and don’t need one.

…While A Book of Days is dedicated to others, its cover is of Smith in a dashing, black, wide-brimmed hat carrying a Polaroid 250 Land Camera that now looks quaintly retro with her hand irresolutely over her mouth – reverie second nature to her. Its first image is of her hand raised in greeting. “HELLO EVERYBODY”, she exclaims. Hands appear throughout her books, in and out of dreams. Could we focus on her own? Surprised, she considers them: small, shapely, barely lined. Does she ever look at her hands and think: you’ve been with me through everything? She laughs, surprised: “Gosh, yes, I do think that. I look at them and see my whole life. I realise I’ve not changed all that much. I’m just older, older, older…” She feels particularly in touch with her 11-year-old self, “running through fields with my dog and free of social conformities”…

I see her as a literary pilgrim, I tell her, and she looks pleased. But what I most want to know is why she is so dedicated to celebrating other artists? She replies simply: “Because they magnify my life.”..

Does she believe in fate? She replies that, when younger, she saw life as a “huge prayer rug where the threads make a beautiful design but with intentional flaws”. She is still drawn to the “grand design” even if the carpet is a comforting fiction…

She also believes in free will. “I believe in everything simultaneously. I don’t have a religion and don’t need one.” Like most of us, she worries about the world. “Today, I woke at four in the morning out of a sound sleep, thinking of the women of Iran and of my daughter… my mind all over the place. I keep waking through the night. Part of me is always conscious of what is happening in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, a part of Florida destroyed.” I look at her face – tired, I see that now: “All these things radiate from my mind and I can’t… we’re powerless to take care of everything but I try to keep these people in my consciousness just as I keep the dead in my consciousness. My father, my mother – I think of them. I can’t help all the women in Yemen watching their babies die of starvation. I can only radiate love toward them. I have to, as an individual, continue to do my work. I have to find a way to balance our troubled world with my own optimism, joy and obligations. So it is always on my mind and it’s complicated.”…

But her emphasis is always on life: “I just keep doing my work, try to take care of myself. I feel blessed to have the imagination I have but don’t think it makes me more important than anyone. I am who I am, with all my flaws – and I’m grateful.”..

—  Kate Kellaway, from “Patti Smith: ‘I am who I am with all my flaws’ (The Guardian, November 13, 2022)


  1. I’m on an edge, for so many reasons. And though I tested negative for everything under the sun, I still have this persistent cough that wakes me up every 45 minutes, on the clock. And everytime I wake up, there’s The NY Times notification on my phone with more crazy news.

    There’s something about being sick that amplifies all else that is bad. I feel like there are two schools on this. There’s the side that preaches if we cannot do anything about what’s going on in the world, why should we bother reading about it.
    I know I can do nothing. But I feel that knowing what’s going on everywhere, we somehow help carry the weight and the pain.

    I don’t think I’ve ever loved Patti Smith more, “she saw life as a “huge prayer rug where the threads make a beautiful design but with intentional flaws”. She is still drawn to the “grand design” even if the carpet is a comforting fiction…”

    Thank you for sharing, David. As much as I’m a daydreamer, there’s one in all of us, I always crave that which keeps my feet nailed to the ground.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. am totally with both Sawsan and Mimi…. contrary to S. I’m not the greatest fan of Patti Smith. Maybe I should have read (or remembered) more by her.
    Get better soon, Sawsan; I know how you feel but am unable to give you any uplifting advice. Maybe that one I just bought on a postcard so that I will remember for myself: When I’m feeling sick, I don’t go to the doctor but to my favourite bookshop…. (or something like it, it’s a translation).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. she has such a wonderful approach to life and living it fully

    Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading at the full article by Kellaway, what excessively unbearable pain Patti Smith has lived through! She has certainly lived! I’m grateful that a good friend bought tickets for us to see her on the Princeton campus back in the 70’s (I had no idea who she was). (Thinking, Sawsan, you can get through all of this–we’re all sending good caring energy your way!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Touching, especially because she is really all of us in one way or another…

    Liked by 1 person

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