Here’s how I learned to improvise: I played some music in the studio and I started to move. It sounds obvious, but I wonder how many people, whatever their medium, appreciate the gift of improvisation. It’s your one opportunity in life to be completely free, with no responsibilities and no consequences. You don’t have to be good or even interesting. It’s you alone, with no one watching or judging. If anything comes of it, you decide whether the world gets to see it. In essence, you are giving yourself permission to daydream during working hours.
In the past, humans hesitated when they took lives, even non-human lives. But society had changed, and they no longer felt that way. As humans grew stronger, I think that we became quite arrogant, losing the sorrow of ‘we have no other choice.’ I think that in the essence of human civilization, we have the desire to become rich without limit, by taking the lives of other creatures.
― Hayao Miyazaki
She follows her nose and stands once more before the doors of a quintessential dilemma. Male or Female. Here is her paradox. A staccato voice seems to challenge her, berate her. Hombre or Mujer. Mann or Frau. Homme or Femme. Gentleman or Lady. Come on, decide. She knows them all. She is them all. Not fluid or all-encompassing, gathering the harvest of the reaping fields, but fractured and split and bleeding. Her inner core weeping out of itself. There is nothing for hermaphrodites. It’s too confusing. The words rattle around in her earbones, androgynous and humming. How can she choose? She cannot choose. To choose is to sunder.
― Mark O’Flynn, The Last Days of Ava Langdon
I see now that the path I choose through the maze makes me what I am. I am not only a thing, but also a way of being—one of many ways—and knowing the paths I have followed and the ones left to take will help me understand what I am becoming. ― Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
I choose not to look upon the fact that I am healthy, have food in my refrigerator and have clean water to drink as givens. They are not givens for so many people in our world. The fact that I am safe and (relatively) sane are not givens. That I was born into a family who loves me and into a country not ravaged by war are not givens. It is impossible to name all of the circumstances in my life I’ve taken for granted. All of the basic needs I’ve had met, all of the friendships and job opportunities and financial blessings and the list, truly, is endless. The fact that I am breathing is a miracle, one I too rarely stop to appreciate.
I’m stopping, right now, to be grateful for everything I am and everything I’ve been given. I’m stopping, right now, to be grateful for every pleasure and every pain that has contributed to the me who sits here and writes these words.
Every human relationship begins with a coincidence. Even the most fundamental relationship – that of parent and child – begins entirely with a coincidence. The child is produced by whatever serendipity brought its parents together, and the fact that the child was born to its particular parents instead of to another couple is pure happenstance. Thus, children have no choice over the relationship that is most important to their existence.
By contrast, friends and lovers choose each other, but even these choices are reactions to whatever random coincidence made the resulting relationship possible.
―Zack Love, Sex in the Title: A Comedy about Dating, Sex, and Romance in NYC
I have lived in the shadow of loss—the kind of loss that can paralyze you forever.
I have grieved like a professional mourner—in every waking moment, draining every ounce of my life force.
I died—without leaving my body.
But I came back, and now it’s your turn.
I have learned to remember my past—without living in it.
I am strong, electric, and alive, because I chose to dance, to laugh, to love, and to
I have learned that you can’t re-create the life you once had—you have to
reinvent a life for yourself.
We scarcely know how much of our pleasure and interest in life comes to us through our eyes until we have to do without them; and part of that pleasure is that the eyes can choose where to look. But the ears can’t choose where to listen.
―Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts
As we grow we seem to go further and further away from that child which rests within. But there was no choice and so we wander beyond innocence, beyond the touch of insanity and groom ourselves into the tastes of the society, fit in to their needs and instead of becoming a part of them we become like them.
Image: A child dressed in uniform, 1915, Australian War Memorial Collection