what the living do


Random quote of the day:

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

—Joseph Campbell, quoted in Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“all the things we are
taught, all the loves we chase, all the deaths we
die, all the lives we live,
they are never quite right…”

—Charles Bukowski, “Cut While Shaving”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything: somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.”

—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Being is burning, in the truest sense, and if there is to be any peace it will come about through being, not having.”

—Henry Miller, “The Wisdom of the Heart”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Happiness an illusion we kid ourselves about on a regular basis.

Oh yes, it exists, in bubbles and baubles—like pearls on a string, sometimes many pearls together, sometimes stretched out with mundane filler or truly ugly bits and bobs.

But as a permanent state, no. Happiness is always in flux. It’s not something we can achieve and hold onto if we just cultivate the right attitude of mind. I don’t care how much positive thinking you try to stream through your existence, life will always throw something in your way that trips you up. The power of positive thinking is a good thing, a great thing even, but there are also times when it’s just another form of denial.

Or narcissism: “The world revolves around me and I control all its forces with my Powerful, Positive Mind.” Then it becomes something of a cult, and those are never good.

Happy times are blessings that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but the pendulum always swings the other way. We have to accept that and walk through the shadows.

I try to cultivate an attitude of hopeful acceptance: accepting that the pendulum has swung into a dark place, but hoping that if I go through the dark and allow myself to fully experience it without telling myself I don’t feel it, without beating myself up with toxic “shoulds,” without haranguing myself about my bootstraps and their potential lift, that eventually I will walk through and emerge into light.

There isn’t any easier path. And telling people to cheer up when they’re struggling is another form of toxicity. I will say, in my experience, that the path of walking the shadows can be a peculiarly satisfying path—if you survive it. You walk, you survive, you’re ready to start again. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t a straight path, and hard not to lose your way and head in the wrong direction. But even the wrong direction can be part of the path.

Nothing puritanical here. I’m not talking about clinical depression. Everybody needs help sometimes and there is no shame in asking for it. Only fools—as intransigent as the “always positive thinking” fools—believe they can do it all on their own.

I’m trying to convince myself of that even as I write this.

I have faith in sunshine, though. I catch its faint glint far down the tunnel and believe I am heading in the right direction.

WHAT THE LIVING DO

by Marie Howe

 

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, 
  some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, 
  and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. 
  This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, 
  and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high 
  in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries 
  in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. 
  And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee 
  down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: 
  This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. 
  What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come 
  and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want 
  more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse 
  of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and 
  I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and 
  unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Random quote of the day:

“The heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
through dark and deeper dark
and not to turn.”

—Stanley Kunitz, “The Testing-Tree”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Orville and Wilbur, Katy Perry, or the Avengers. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“To know rapture is to have one’s whole life poisoned. If you will forgive a ridiculous analogy, a tincture of rapture is like a red bandana in the laundry that runs and turns all the white wash pink. We should just as soon stay away from any future ecstatic experiences which spoil everyday living by comparison.

—Philip Lopate, “Against Joie de Vivre,” Against Joie de Vivre: Personal Essays

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

—Zen proverb

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Of all the pitfalls in our paths and the tremendous delays and wanderings off the track I want to say that they are not what they seem to be. I want to say that all that seems like fantastic mistakes are not mistakes, all that seems like error is not error; and it all has to be done. That which seems like a false step is the next step.”

—Agnes Martin, “On the Perfection Underlying Life,” lecture, Institute of Contemporary Art, February 14, 1973

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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