There is a rumor of total welcome among the frosts of the winter morning. Beauty has its purposes, which, all our lives and at every season, it is our opportunity, and our joy, to divine. Nothing outside ourselves makes us desire to do so; the questions, and the striving toward answers, come from within. The field I am looking at is perhaps twenty acres altogether, long and broad. The sun has not yet risen but is sending its first showers over the mountains, a kind of rehearsal, a slant light with even a golden cast. I do not exaggerate. The light touches every blade of frozen grass, which then burns as a particular as well as part of the general view. The still-upright weeds have become wands, encased in a temporary shirt of ice and light. Neither does this first light miss the opportunity of the small pond, or the groups of pine trees. And now: enough of silver, behold the pink, even a vague, unsurpassable flush of pale green. It is the performance of this hour only, the dawning of the day, fresh and ever new. This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings, or even midnight. Each has its portion of the spectacular. But dawn— dawn is a gift. Much is revealed about a person by his or her passion, or indifference, to this opening of the door of day. No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it, could be a stranger to me.
~ Mary Oliver, from “Wordsworth’s Mountain” in Upstream: Selected Essays
Photo: emeL (magic grass)
He wants to write a book about “the most important decision of your life,” which he considers choosing to be happy every day. We are programmed to look for what’s wrong to fend off danger, he says, but instead we should decide that life is too short to live in a “suffering state.” He wants people to tell themselves, “I’m going to find a way to find creativity and gratitude or growth or joy in every moment.”
– Alexandra Wolfe, Tony Robbins Faces His Fears
Source: Ruby Wax Quote – Thank you Steve Layman.
When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird
When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.
He wakes to find his wife lying on her stomach,
the children on top of her,
one on her back,
the other on her buttocks.
They are sleeping on her, clinging, head to foot.
Their presence absolves him, slowly he grows content.
This world, its birds in their feathers,
its sunlight … reason, at least for the moment.
It consoles him.
He is warm, potent, filled with impregnable joy.
~ James Salter, Light Years
A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit.
Four days later, Ev starts to talk. His sounds have been buffering at meaning for weeks, but now they emerge as his own handiwork and he sets them gently one beside another in lines. […]
Children are born into language. They understand the nuances of speech at birth and Ev has been listening to our ceaseless chatter for months in the womb. He has been read to and sung to and laughed at. He knows the pattern of our voices and by its cadence he knows too that something is happening. My face signals it, and the sudden sparks of urgent conversation, the gaps that follow.
Ev’s vocabulary as he presents it to us is superlatively normal. He has no words for fear. He says Daddy to mean either of us, kee for monkey and Oh no! at all upsets. Ssss serves for snake, the letter S, and any linear thing like a belt or bit of his railway track. He says click for light and sta for monster, gakator for tractor and soon has a small handy clip of words like digger, apple, spoon, butter, cardi, eye, toast, brush. Seem means machine. He can do two, three and four. And in a way that is entirely normal too, we poke him and spur him on. This is what you do with children, goad them for your own enjoyment. Make a noise like a volcano, we say. Make a noise like a firework. Make a noise like a dinosaur. His eyes are merry. A small, sweet, plosive sound comes from his lips, after each entreaty the same noise, a breath out and a consonant mixed with spit. […]
He is the size of a cat; a thing of gold fur and whitened sunshine. His hands paw and pat the textures of the food as he draws each substance one by one into his mouth: sour, sweet, char, salt, pulp, oil and leaf. […]
He goes at food with intellectual interest and straight joy in taste. It is bonny. If I had known how much pleasure I would get from watching my baby eat I would have thought it an argument for more babies. It is such a treat I can’t take my eyes off him and I mask my keenness in case it makes him suspicious that there is something more at stake. So I eat with him, or look out the window or pretend to read the paper. He spoons up lentils, snuffles through tomato sauce with basil and surges his pasta round in it, he dips bread in spinach soup till soup and bread are one and sucks it. He holds broccoli like a cudgel and stuffs one, then two, three, four trees into his mouth. He eats liver! He eats bananas and garlic and stir-fry! We goggle at him. We win and he wins. We all triumph together.
~ Marion Coutts, The Iceberg: A Memoir
Baby Drawing: Ben Connell
Everything is proof of it—this forced gift of existence—even the tired face of a small-town bus driver in the early morning; it speaks of longing, the endless patience you have when scrutinizing good fortune that has unexpectedly dropped into your lap. And what does life offer in return… the quiet hum inside the bus where you can warm up, a change from the frozen and bleak winter landscape… What does it offer in return? A kiss goodbye from your wife before you head out, and the mildly bitter taste of coffee with cream? The early morning fog and a dead moose on the side of a road? Like an Indian who gets glass beads in exchange for gold, you trade the suffering of existence in return for the smell of baking bread. The feel of a dog’s wet nose against your hand. The look in your children’s eyes. A bird feeder. May it all bring you joy, says this opposing, unwanted, huge opportunity—Life.
~ Inga Ābele, High Tide
[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
The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.
The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.
The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river,
rain soaking the fields,
a hand held out,
and smoke going upward,
Paul Kalanithi, MD, was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with lung cancer in his mid-30s. Here’s an excerpt:
[…] Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed. […]
That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.
~ Paul Kalanithi, Stanford University neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, died on March 9, 2015 at the age of 37
Don’t miss the entire article in the Washington Post: Before I Go: A Stanford neurosurgeon’s parting wisdom about life and time
Thank you Elizabeth.