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
Reading history is good for all of us. If you know history, you know that there is no such thing as a self-made man or self-made woman. We are shaped by people we have never met. Yes, reading history will make you a better citizen and more appreciative of the law, and of freedom, and of how the economy works or doesn’t work, but it is also an immense pleasure the way art is, or music is, or poetry is. And it’s never stale.
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We are told that in translation there is no such thing as equivalence. Many times the translator reaches a fork in the translating road where they must make a choice in the interpretation of a word. And each time they make one of these choices, they are taken further from the truth. But what we aren’t told is that this isn’t a shortcoming of translation; it’s a shortcoming of language itself. As soon as we try to put reality into words, we limit it. Words are not reality, they are the cause of reality, and thus reality is always more. Writers aren’t alchemists who transmute words into the aurous essence of the human experience. No, they are glassmakers. They create a work of art that enables us to see inside to help us understand. And if they are really good, we can see our own reflections staring back at us.
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I’m afraid of time… I mean, I’m afraid of not having enough time. Not enough time to understand people, how they really are, or to be understood myself. I’m afraid of the quick judgements or mistakes everybody makes. You can’t fix them without time. I’m afraid of seeing snapshots, not movies.
―Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
On either side of a potentially violent conflict, an opportunity exists to exercise compassion and diminish fear based on recognition of each other’s humanity. Without such recognition, fear fueled by uninformed assumptions, cultural prejudice, desperation to meet basic human needs, or the panicked uncertainty of the moment explodes into violence.
―Aberjhani, Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
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Why did I pray? A strange question. Why did I live? Why did I breathe?
“I don’t know why,” I said, even more disturbed and ill at ease. “I don’t know why.”
After that day I saw him often. He explained to me with great insistence that every question possessed a power that did not lie in the answer. “Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks Him,” he was fond of repeating. “That is the true dialogue. Man questions God and God answers. But we don’t understand His answers. We can’t understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself!”
“And why do you pray, Moshe?” I asked him. “I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.”
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The only way I have ever understood, broken free, emerged, healed, forgiven, flourished, and grown powerful is by asking the hardest questions and then living into the answers through opening up to my own terror and transmuting it into creativity. I have gotten nowhere by retreating into hand-me-down sureties or resisting the tensions that truth ignited.
―Sue Monk Kidd,
If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant.
Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation.
It will do both of you good.
Public Domain Image of the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu