“It is the profound modesty of the language that offers what so many people for so many centuries have found in this book: a pure apprehension of the mystery of which we are part.” Two and a half millennia ago, the Chinese sage Lao Tzu wrote a poetic and profound short text known as the Tao Te Ching.
“The end of a book’s wisdom appears to us as merely the start of our own, so that at the moment when the book has told us everything it can, it gives rise to the feeling that it has told us nothing.” How is it that tiny black marks on a white page or screen can produce such enormous ripples in the heart, mind, and spirit?
“Time is from before to now; from now to later. Time is when.” “What is time? Things change, and time is how we keep track,” science writer James Gleick wrote in the final pages of his invigorating tour of our temporal imagination.
“Each of us is an atlas of sorts, already knowing how to navigate some portion of the world, containing innumerable versions of place as experience and desire and fear, as route and landmark and memory.” “A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning.
“Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing / when the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.” “It’s such a lucky accident, having been born, that we’re almost obliged to pay attention,” the Pulitzer-winning poet Mark Strand (April 11, 1934–November 29, 2014) observed in contemplating the artist’s task to bear witness to the universe.
“Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe.” Few words have been more corrupted by appropriation and misuse than the modern derivative of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism.
“Sometimes one has simply to endure a period of depression for what it may hold of illumination if one can live through it, attentive to what it exposes or demands.” “A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs,” wrote Lou Andreas-Salomé, the first woman psychoanalyst, in a consolatory letter to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he was wrestling with depression, nearly a century before psychologists came to study the nonlinear relationship between creativity and mental illness.
From the plop of a raindrop to the crunch of buttered toast, a celebration of life through the soundscape of everyday aliveness.
“It is worse than boorish, it is criminal, to inflict an unnecessary injury on the tree that feeds or shadows us.
“The question whether thought has any meaning at all constitutes the same unanswerable riddle as the question for the meaning of life.” Art and science, despite their significant creative sympathies, have undeniably different roles in the human experience.
An imaginative invitation to empathy and self-expansion. “What is essential is invisible to the eye,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince.
“Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness.
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” “In the wholeheartedness of concentration,” the poet Jane Hirshfield wrote in her beautiful inquiry into the effortless effort of creativity, “world and self begin to cohere.
“There is always something more than two opposing truths. The whole truth always includes a third part, which is the reconciliation.” “This is the entire essence of life: Who are you?
Neil Gaiman’s unblinking omelette, Joyce Carol Oates’s thin-sliced defiance of grief, Marina Abramovic’s meteoric antidote to doubt, and other existential edibles.
“I felt the chorus grow more exultant, more ecstatic, upcurving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still.” “Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation,” Oliver Sacks wrote in his contribution to great writers’ reflections on the power of music.
“Obscurity rids the mind of the irk of envy and spite; [it] sets running in the veins the free waters of generosity and magnanimity; and allows giving and taking without thanks offered or praise given.” When Virginia Woolf published Orlando: A Biography (public library) on October 11, 1928, she revolutionized the politics of LGBT love with this groundbreaking novel inspired by and dedicated to her longtime lover and lifelong friend Vita Sackville-West.
“[The artist] must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.” “A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs,” wrote Lou Andreas-Salomé, the first woman psychoanalyst, in a 1914 letter to a depressed Rilke.
“If I could only impress on the soul of every friend of music, and on high personages in particular, how inimitable are Mozart’s works, how profound, how musically intelligent, how extraordinarily sensitive!
One woman’s story of how a bookmobile transported her away from a deadly life and toward her human potential.