It was a perfect spring day. The air was sweet and gentle and the sky stretched high, an intense blue. Harold was certain that the last time he had peered through the net drapes of Fossebridge Road (his home), the trees and hedges were dark bones and spindles against the skyline; yet now that he was out, and on his feet, it was as if everywhere he looked, the fields, gardens, trees, and hedgerows and exploded with growth. A canopy of sticky young leaves clung to the branches above him. There were startling yellow clouds of forsythia, trails of purple aubrietia; a young willow shook in a fountain of silver. The first of the potato shoots fingered through the soil, and already tiny buds hung from the gooseberry and currant shrubs like the earrings Maureen used to wear. The abundance of new life was enough to make him giddy.
―Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.
If diversity is a source of wonder, its opposite – the ubiquitous condensation to some blandly amorphous and singularly generic modern culture that takes for granted an impoverished environment – is a source of dismay. There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most important challenge of our times.
–-Wade Davis, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
She looked out the window; in her eyes was the light that you see only in children arriving at a new place, or in young people still open to new influences, still curious about the world because they have not yet been scarred by life.
―Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
In loving memory of Lisa Sasabuki, 2000-2016, dear sweet cat and gentle spirit. I’ll never hear the wind in the leaves quite the same way. Ack and chirp over the rainbow bridge to your dear brother Nick. We love you so much.
But is the unicorn a falsehood? It’s the sweetest of animals and a noble symbol. It stands for Christ and for chastity; it can be captured only by setting a virgin in the forest, so that the animal, catching her most chaste odor, will go and lay its head in her lap, offering itself as prey to the hunters’ snares.”
“So it is said, Adso. But many tend to believe that it’s a fable, an invention of the pagans.”
“What a disappointment,” I said. “I would have liked to encounter one, crossing a wood. Otherwise what’s the pleasure of crossing a wood?”
Eventually man, too, found his way back to the sea. Standing on its shores, he must have looked out upon it with wonder and curiosity, compounded with an unconscious recognition of his lineage. He could not physically re-enter the ocean as the seals and whales had done. But over the centuries, with all the skill and ingenuity and reasoning powers of his mind, he has sought to explore and investigate even its most remote parts, so that he might re-enter it mentally and imaginatively.
“Oh, here we are at the bridge. I’m going to shut my eyes tight. I’m always afraid going over bridges. I can’t help imagining that perhaps, just as we get to the middle, they’ll crumple up like a jackknife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for all when I think we’re getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I’d want to see it crumple. What a jolly rumble it makes! I always like the rumble part of it. Isn’t it splendid there are so many things to like in this world?”
Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.