If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
― Leo Tolstoy, Essays, Letters and Miscellanies
…as we proceed to higher and higher levels of expertise, and as the stakes get higher and higher, the agonies of excellence reappear in new and frightening ways. A tiny minority gets through to the top, to memorable excellence or profound understanding. The rest of us stop at stages along the way, perhaps for a temporary rest, perhaps for a period of reassessment. But once we stop, we are unlikely to start up again. Security is suddenly far sweeter than enterprise. The sufferings of the ascent, so long endured by insuppressible aspiration, suddenly seem pointless.
―Robert Grudin, The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation
What is the matter with these people, these people who won’t stop fighting, won’t stop hurting each other long enough to see that a body is a thing of beauty, is a miracle of rivers and oceans and islands and continents contained within itself? That the brain is divided into two hemispheres, each symmetrical, each perfect, each with its own system of waterways. These people of war should be shown an x-ray of an intraparenchymal hemorrhage, of a hemorrhage in an eighteen-year-old girl’s brain, a girl named Ivy. Take a look at that, people of war. See, you should not hurt each other, and this is why. Without you ever even trying, this is what can happen to your body, your beautiful body, and your brain, your beautiful symmetrical brain, and your heart, and your soul.
―Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow to the Sea
“…what I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had
wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re
going off to do it ‘What are you going to do, Christopher
Robin?’ and you say ‘Oh, nothing,’ and then you go and do it.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.
“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.
“It means just going along, listening to all the things
you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.
The whole point of crying is to quit before you coined it up. The whole point of grief itself was to cut it out while it was still honest, while it still meant something. Because the thing was so easily corrupted.