We do NOT know the past in chronological sequence. It may be convenient to lay it out anesthetized on the table with dates pasted on here and there, but what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun…. there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…. nor look through the eyes of the dead…. nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.
We fly, but we have not ‘conquered’ the air. Nature presides in all her dignity, permitting us the study and the use of such of her forces as we may understand. It is when we presume to intimacy, having been granted only tolerance, that the harsh stick falls across our impudent knuckles and we rub the pain, staring upward, startled by our ignorance.
I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.
―E. L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Image: Rest at Harvest by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1865
Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening.
Reshaping life! People who can say that have never understood a thing about life—they have never felt its breath, its heartbeat—however much they have seen or done. They look on it as a lump of raw material that needs to be processed by them, to be ennobled by their touch. But life is never a material, a substance to be molded. If you want to know, life is the principle of self-renewal, it is constantly renewing and remaking and changing and transfiguring itself, it is infinitely beyond your or my obtuse theories about it.
―Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
I want to write something that means something to someone…that reminds them of what a second, a moment, really is…or that assures them that we are just as lost as they are. I want to write an emotion they are too fragile to let loose, so that my words can do the expression for them, the feeling for them. I want to write beyond the basics and the cliches…I want to write you, I want to write a long walk on a starry night, I want to write an exhale or an inhale…or suffocation.
I want to write as clear as my voice could be heard…that is, if I had anything to say.
Half of me is filled with bursting words and half of me is painfully shy. I crave solitude yet also crave people. I want to pour life and love into everything yet also nurture my self-care and go gently. I want to live within the rush of primal, intuitive decision, yet also wish to sit and contemplate. This is the messiness of life – that we all carry multitudes, so must sit with the shifts. We are complicated creatures, and ultimately, the balance comes from this understanding. Be water. Flowing, flexible and soft. Subtly powerful and open. Wild and serene. Able to accept all changes, yet still led by the pull of steady tides. It is enough.
A man becomes creative, whether he is an artist or a scientist, when he finds a new unity in the variety of nature. He does so by finding a likeness between things which were not thought alike before, and this gives him a sense at the same time of richness and of understanding. The creative mind is a mind that looks for unexpected likenesses.
But resiliency only means that a thing retains its shape. That it doesn’t break, or lose its ability to function. It doesn’t mean a child forgets the time she shared in the backyard with her mother gardening, or the fun they had together watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the Astro. It just means she learns to bear it. The mechanism that allowed Lisa Sample to keep her head above water in the wake of her mother’s departure has not been described or cataloged by scientists. It’s efficient, and flexible, and probably transferable from one person to another should they catch the scent on each other. But the rest of the details about it aren’t observable from the outside. You have to be closer than you really want to get to see how it works.
―John Darnielle, Universal Harvester