“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
I’m scared. I have a squirmy flip-flopping feeling in my stomach, right in the corner, and it is labeled: “2014; Anxiety; Fear.” Last year at this time, I felt “insatiable hope,” this year though, “uncertain fear.” 2014 is not off to a good start.
Animals can smell fear, so they say. They also say some animals can smell death. I can too. I know it waits for us all, just around the corner. We may not see it, but we can smell it.
“There is only one god and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: “Not today.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones (video)
“Not today.” I try to embrace it, to live it. And yet, I know I’m a hypocrite.
Because I also know that one day it will be — it will be today – one day. Living and breathing the motto “Not today” is procrastination and denial at its finest.
One morning I’ll wake and I’ll say, “Not today.” And Life / Death (they are the same, do not be fooled) will tap my shoulder, and Death will laugh in my face and Life will cry for me.
Today is all we have.
Now is the eternal.
Today is all we have.
And meanwhile life goes on all around us, so does death, seemingly oblivious to our strife. Or maybe because of our strife.
We know this, innately, but something still has to push that ‘activate’ button. And once activated, you remember the knowledge of ‘before’ and live with the knowledge of ‘after.’
Optimist: You go on believing not today.
Pragmatist: You understand today is all we have.
Something can be more than one thing at the same time, though, even opposites. You can’t fully know one thing without knowing its opposite.
Life and death. Laughing and crying. Not today and only today. Programmed and clueless. Optimistic and pragmatic.
Scared and brave.
These times when I’m scared, I will breathe, I will re-focus. I will look around and take in the tangible. The life going on around me: the wind rustling the Live Oaks; the books stacked on the coffee table; the disheveled, crushed red velvet throw piled up in the chair beside me; the photo of my mother on the book shelf; the dog snoring in my lap; the lines on my hand that pets the snoring dog. And I will say, “Today is the only day. Now is the only eternal.” And I will look at Death and believe my lie when I say bravely, “Not today.”
And then I will write. I will let the words fall out as they may. I won’t corral them, I won’t pre-wash them or dictate them. They will be scattered, free, disheveled like a crushed velvet blanket. They will be layered with weight and meaning. They will be anything but empty.
Today, I will say what I want to say.
And what I want most to say is, “Not today, Death, not today.”
And I don’t know if that is a statement or a plea. But I have a feeling it is both. At the same time.
The Wild Goose South Flies, Zhang Xuanzheng. (Via)
Mary Oliver Will Save My Life This Year
Walking to the dumpster
arms overflowing with trash,
the remains of our days and
discarded table scraps of life
downsized into three over-stuffed bags,
because I don’t want to carry four under-stuffed bags
to their ends.
The thirty yards from the garage to the dumpster
feels like thirty years
as the weight and sorrow and grief
tighten in my chest,
and my throat squeaks that little sound
that sounds like a cry,
but is not a cry,
but it could go either way.
And I think out of the blue –
the sky is light blue and cloudless,
the wind too strong for clouds
as it blows hair across my face instead –
Tell me your sorrows,
I will tell you of mine.
Meanwhile the wild geese fly above
announcing your place in the world of things.
Tell me your sorrow,
I will tell you of mine.
She’s just a dog, I sob,
as I heave the coffee grounds and cat food cans and newspapers
into the trash bin.
thinking not of where life goes to die,
but of wild geese and domestic dogs.
She’s just a dog …
You only have to let the soft underbelly of your being
love what it loves
She’s just a dog.
And I love her with my life,
Retracing those thirty yards –
If I walk backward, will I go back in time? –
already thinking of the laundry that needs folding,
after I replace the three trash bags.
Spot’s cancer is back. Like a hawk, I hunted daily for swollen lymph nodes — mercifully? noticed the day after Christmas, but at least not before. Too many questions, too few answers right now; This will be a big week. If you pray, please say one for Spot. If you don’t, please think a good dog thought–maybe of bacon–for her. She and I will both be brave. She and I will both say, “Not today, Death, not today.” And we will mean it. Our words will not be empty.
ANNOUNCEMENT: This is the final Words for the Weekend post here at Running On Sober. Words is moving to a new and totally dedicated home: wordsfortheweekend.com. Be sure to bookmark and/or follow the new site if you enjoy this series. Thank you for fifty totally awesome volumes, I am excited about the next fifty — I hope you will join us! (Running On Sober will remain active, but will be going back to a sober-centric focus.)
Somehow, opening and closing with Tom Waits, just feels right. In fact, each work included “just feels right” for our topic of farewell. I hope you enjoy this, our 50th (and this site’s final) volume of Words for the Weekend for the weekend of 10/12/13. After saying “goodbye” here, please come say “hello” at our new home, wordsfortheweekend.com. As always, have a beautiful weekend. ~ Christy
“I can see by your eyes, it’s time now to go
So I’ll leave you to cry in the rain,
Though I held in my hand, the key to all joy
Honey my heart was not born to be tamed.
So goodbye, so long, the road calls me dear
And your tears cannot bind me anymore,
And farewell to the girl with the sun in her eyes
Can I kiss you, and then I’ll be gone.”
“I’m not looking for another as I wander in my time,
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it’s just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.”
“As I went over to say goodbye I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. … He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey to the ocean of meanings. Leave and don’t look away from the sun as you go, in whose light you’re sometimes crescent, sometimes full. … Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” ~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
“Stories never really end … even if the books like to pretend they do. Stories always go on. They don’t end on the last page, any more than they begin on the first page.” ~ Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~ Gilda Radner
“Somewhere the flower of farewell is blooming.
Endlessly it yields its pollen, which we breathe.
Even in the breeze of this beginning hour we breathe farewell.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Uncollected Poems
“Gravel” (a piece from poem “The Leaf and The Cloud”) – by Mary Oliver
When death carts me off to the bottomlands, when I begin the long work of rising—
Death, whoever and whatever you are, tallest king of
tall kings, grant me these wishes: unstring my bones;
let me be not one thing but all things, and wondrously
scattered; shake me free from my name. Let the wind, and
the wildflowers, and the catbird never know it. Let
time loosen me like the bead of a flower from its wrappings
of leaves. Let me begin the changes, let me—
Can you imagine a world without certainty?
The wind rises the wind falls.
The gravels of the world,
the stones of the world
are in their proper places.
The vast, writhing
worms of the sea
are in their places.
The white gulls
on the wet rocks
are in their places.
Ben sluices through the ferns, hound-smart.
The bracken up to his neck.
He breaks from the wood and gallops over the field.
The sass of his voice rises—
(Death that slow swim,
death that long walk over the dunes,
death that bleached clamshell. . . .)
and the rabbits scatter.
(Oh, heart, I would not dangle you down into
the sorry places,
but there are things there as well
to see, to imagine.)
Even the mosquito’s
flashing and groaning;
even the berries, softening back
into the black bog;
even the wood duck’s
and the first white lilies
on the shaggy pond,
and the big owl, shaking herself
out of the pitchpines,
even the turtle scratching in the dust,
even the black ant, climbing the mile-high hill,
even the little chattering swift
diving down into the black chimney.
Everything is participate.
Everything is a part of the world
we can see, taste, tickle, touch, hold onto,
and then it is dust.
Dust at last.
Dust and gravel.
In the distance, the rabbit-field.
Ben—his face in the grass, his chomping.
His sweet, wild eyes.
Are you afraid?
The ear of corn knows whereof it is plucked.
Are you afraid?
The wind moves this way and that way, something
is pushing it.
Are you afraid?
Somewhere a thousand swans are flying
through the winter’s worst storm.
They are white and shining, their black beaks
open a little, the red tongues flash.
Now, and now, and now, and now their heavy wings
rise and fall as they slide across the sky.
Goodbye to the goldfinches
in their silver baskets.
Goodbye to the pilot whales, and the curl of their spines
in the crisp waves.
Goodbye to the grasshopper.
Goodbye to the pond lilies, the turtle with her
Goodbye to the lion’s mane floating in the harbor
like a spangled veil.
Goodbye to the moon uprising in the east.
Goodbye to the going forth, and coming home.
Goodbye to the going forth, and holding on, and worrying.
Goodbye to the engine of breath.
The knee sings its anguish.
The ears fill with the sound of ringing water.
The muscles of the eyes pull toward sleep.
Goodbye to the swaying trees.
Goodbye to the black triangles of the winter sea.
Goodbye to oranges, the prick of their fragrance.
Goodbye to the fox sparrow,
goodbye to the blue-winged teal.
Goodbye to lettuce, and the pale turnip,
and the gatherings of the rice fields.
Goodbye to the morning light.
Goodbye to the goldfinches
and their wavering songs.
up the hill,
like a thicket of white flowers, forever is coming.
It is the nature of stone
to be satisfied.
It is the nature of water
to want to be somewhere else.
Everywhere we look:
the sweet guttural swill of the water
Everywhere we look:
the stone, basking in the sun,
or offering itself
to the golden lichen.
It is our nature not only to see
that the world is beautiful
but to stand in the dark, under the stars,
or at noon, in the rainfall of light,
wringing our hands,
half-mad, saying over and over:
what does it mean, that the world is beautiful—
what does it mean?
The child asks this,
and the determined, laboring adult asks this—
both the carpenter and the scholar ask this,
and the fisherman and the teacher;
both the rich and the poor ask this
(maybe the poor more than the rich)
and the old and the very old, not yet having figured it out,
standing beside the golden-coated field rock,
or the tumbling water,
or under the stars—
what does it mean?
what does it mean?
The high-piled plum-colored storm-heavy clouds
The fly mumbles against the glass.
This is the world.
The hot little bluebirds in the box are getting ready to fly.
This is the world.
The sweet in the parsnip
waits for our praise.
The dragonfly lives its life
without a single error, it also
waits for our praise.
The pale-green moths are pressing
against the screen, fluttering, they are
dying to get in to press their papery bodies
into the light.
This is the world.
Listen, I don’t think we’re going to rise
in gauze and halos.
Maybe as grass, and slowly.
Maybe as the long-leaved, beautiful grass
I have known, and, you have known—
or the pine tree—
or the dark rocks of the zigzag creek
or the silver rain—
or the hummingbird.
I look up
into the faces of the stars,
into their deep silence.
This the poem of goodbye.
And this is the poem of don’t know.
My hands touch the lilies
my hands touch the blue iris
and I say, not easily but carefully—
the words round in the mouth, crisp on the tongue—
dirt, mud, stars, water—I know you as if you were myself.
“Bukowski Says Goodbye” (video) – by Charles Bukowski
I hope I haven’t bored you too much.
Poetry tends to bore.
I know it bores me.
It makes me miserable
Reading it or listening to it
I guess that’s why I could never quit writing it
Because, I just, well hell, I thought it wasn’t being done right or the way I felt it should.
Ego, I don’t know, hell.
Anyhow the stuff makes me miserable.
I think the true artists must be elsewhere riding bicycles in the hidden hills.
I don’t know.
With a bag of all-American hamburgers.
I don’t know.
Bukowski going, goodnight babies…
This is an advertisement from the edge, from the edge, edge, edge, edge, edge! …
This is, hahahahaha, this is Bukowski saying goodbye all over again.
But this is not really goodbye. This is, simply, time for our series “to walk away and start all over again” over at its new home, Wordsfortheweekend.com. In fact, you are cordially invited to attend the “grand-opening” shindig next weekend, just RSVP by clicking here and hitting the little follow button on the right-hand side. It’s going to be an awesome first-edition, complete with special guests–I’m giddy with excitement!–please join us.
Thank you so much for making this series such a success, I have loved sharing with you here. I am excited about the open road ahead.
Like the beginning of a new book, page upon page beckons and promises opportunity and adventure. Let’s begin, shall we?
This is the latest installment of quotes and words that move me for the weekend of 7/27/13 (Volume 42). I hope you enjoy them too. (This is a continuation of last week’s theme, “Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I Wish” )
“I want you
You’ve had your fun you don’t get well no more
I want you
No one who wants you could want you more
I want you
Every night when I go off to bed and when I wake up
I want you
I want you
I’m going to say it again ’til I instill it
I know I’m going to feel this way until you kill it
I want you
I want you…”
“You say you’ll give me
Eyes in a moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbor in the tempest
You say you want
Diamonds on a ring of gold
Your story to remain untold
Your love not to grow cold
All the promises we break
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you”
“I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved.” ~ Shana Abe
“I want … To do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
~ Pablo Neruda
“In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people’s home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and a party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm!”~ Woody Allen
“Do you want a cookie?
- A cookie. Like an Oreo. Do you want one?
- How can you not want a cookie?
- I just don’t.
- Okay, fine, let’s say you did want a cookie. Let’s say you were dying for a cookie, and there were cookies in the cupboard. What would you do?
- I’d eat a cookie?
- Exactly. That’s all I’m saying.
- What are you saying?
- That if people want cookies, they should get a cookie. It’s what people do. ~ Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song
“You know the reason The Beatles made it so big? … ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. F*ing brilliant. Perhaps the most f*ing brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche…or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.” ~ David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
“Her face felt like it was scattered in pieces and she could not keep it straight. The feeling was a whole lot worse than being hungry for any dinner, yet it was like that. I want–I want–I want–was all that she could think about–but just what this real want was she did not know.” ~ Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“I wanna be the bottle you’ve been drinkin’ with your eyes
Or the road you run away on
You’ve been runnin’ all your life
The third row pew that you last knew
As a child in church
I wanna be the one you reach for first”
“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.” ~ Lionel Shriver, Checker and the Derailleurs
Introduction to Poetry — by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
“For about a month, I saw two white (piebald) deer almost every time I walked. I only managed one fuzzy picture of one from far away, but I swear they were real. I haven’t seen them in months, though I always look.” ~ ByeByeBeer
The Place I Want To Get Back To –by Mary Oliver
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
and first light
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting
on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years
I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.
If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named Gratitude.
Hi everyone! Figured I’d revisit one of my favorite weekend posts (original HERE) back from early January. (How are you doing on those resolutions, by the way?) I should have some new material for you next weekend. Also, I’ve got a little surprise planned for you on Tuesday, so be sure to stop back by when you get some time. In the mean time, have a wonderful week! ~ Love, Christy
This is the latest installment of quotes and words that move me for the weekend of 01/05/13 (Volume 24). I hope you enjoy them too.
“You wired me awake
And hit me with a hand of broken nails
You tied my lead and pulled my chain
To watch my blood begin to boil
But I’m gonna break
I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run
Yeah I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my
I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run”
“I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test…
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time”
“People always did like to talk, didn’t they? That’s why I call myself a witch now: the Wicked Witch of the West, if you want the full glory of it. As long as people are going to call you a lunatic anyway, why not get the benefit of it? It liberates you from convention.” ~ Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ~ Gloria Steinem
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ~ Jim Morrison
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” ~ Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One’s Own
“Liberation, I guess, is everybody getting what they think they want, without knowing the whole truth. Or in other words, liberation finally amounts to being free from things we don’t like in order to be enslaved by things we approve of. Here’s to the eternal tandem.” ~ Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
“Ohh just like all the seasons never stay the same
All around me I can feel a change (ohh)
I will break these chains that bind me, happiness will find me
Leave the past behind me, today my life begins
A whole new world is waiting it’s mine for the takin’
I know I can make it, today my life begins”
~ Bruno Mars “Today My Life Begins” (video)
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ~ Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay
The Kookaburras by Mary Oliver
In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting
to stride out of a cloud and lift its wings.
The kookaburras, pressed against the edge of their cage,
asked me to open the door.
Years later I remember how I didn’t do it,
how instead I walked away.
They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.
They didn’t want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly
home to their river.
By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.
As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.
Nothing else has changed either.
Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.
The sun shines on the latch of their cage.
I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.
This is the latest installment of quotes and words that move me for the weekend of 5/18/13 (Volume 37). I hope you enjoy them too. Feel free to share your favorite quotes, poems or videos in the comments.
This set on “May Flowers” includes a few special treats: Extra music selections, a video of Mary Oliver reading her poem The Sunflowers, and a selection of tulip garden photographs taken by fellow blogger Mariner2Mother who graciously allowed me to share them with you all (Thank you M2M!) You may view more of her spring tulip photos HERE and HERE.
* Edited to add: UPDATE: Last night, May 20th, the body of Nichole Kristine Cable was found just miles from her home. An arrest has been made.
HAVE YOU SEEN NICHOLE? She’s missing and was last seen May 12 in Glenburn, Maine. Please visit MSFowle for more info or to reblog, or simply click on the photo below:
“The flowers you gave me are rotting
And still I refuse to throw them away
Some of the bulbs never opened quite fully
They might so I’m waiting and staying awake…
Things I have loved I’m allowed to keep
I’ll never know if I go to sleep…”
~ “The Flowers” performed by Regina Spektor, available on “Soviet Kitsch” Video HERE (I really love the Russian-esque ending to her song! To get a feel for what a sweetheart Regina is, view this live performance HERE)
Alternate song: “Wildflowers” performed by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on album “Trio,” video link HERE. (For a live set of songs from Trio album, Video HERE)
“I grew up fast and wild and I never felt right
In a garden so different from me
I just never belonged, I just longed to be gone
So the garden, one day, set me free
Hitched a ride with the wind and since he was my friend
I just let him decide where we’d go
When a flower grows wild, it can always survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow”
“The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.”
~ Katherine Mansfield
“These flowers will be rotten in a couple hours. Birds will crap on them. The smoke here will make them stink, and tomorrow a bulldozer will probably run over them, but for right now they are so beautiful.”
~ Chuck Palahniuk, Survivor
“Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be…”
~ William Wordsworth
“I prefer by far the warmth and softness to mere brilliancy and coldness. Some people remind me of sharp dazzling diamonds. Valuable but lifeless and loveless. Others, of the simplest field flowers, with hearts full of dew and with all the tints of celestial beauty reflected in their modest petals.”
~ Anaïs Nin, The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 2: 1920-1923
“Still I can’t get it out of my mind what a discrepancy there is between ideas and living. A permanent dislocation, though we try to cover the two with a bright awning. And it won’t go. Ideas have to be wedded to action; if there is no sex, no vitality in them, there is no action. Ideas cannot exist alone in the vacuum of the mind. Ideas are related to living: liver ideas, kidney ideas, interstitial ideas, etc. If it were only for the sake of an idea Copernicus would have smashed the existent macrocosm and Columbus would have foundered in the Sargasso Sea. The aesthetics of the idea breeds flowerpots and flowerpots you put on the window sill. But if there be no rain or sun of what use putting flowerpots outside the window? ”
~ Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
“All flowers in time bend towards the sun
I know you say that there’s no-one for you
but here is one, here is one… here is one…
one that can never be known
either all drunk with the world at her feet
or sober with no place to go…
it’s ok to be angry
but not to hurt me…”
Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser, “All Flowers in Time Bend Toward the Sun”, video HERE. (While the duet is wistfully passionate, Jeff also did a heart-wrenching solo version of this song. I debated back and forth which one to share, so I share them both. Which one do you prefer? Solo video HERE.)
“I hated roses. I hated them for being so trite, so clichéd, a default, all-purpose flower that said I love you, I’m sorry, and get well soon. Give me peonies and tulips, orchids or gardenia. Those were flowers with character.”
~ Justina Chen, North of Beautiful
“She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her… I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little stratagems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her…”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
“Made up my mind to make a new start
Going to California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there’s a girl out there
With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair…
To find a queen without a king;
They say she plays guitar and cries and sings.
La la la la…
Side a white mare in the footsteps of dawn
Tryin’ to find a woman who’s never, never, never been born.
Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems”
~ Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California”, video HERE, available HERE
“If I had my life to live over, I would start
bare-footed earlier in the spring and stay
that way later in the fall.
I would play hookey more.
I wouldn’t make such good grades except by
I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.
I’d pick more daisies.”
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep. Maybe not.
While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t pursuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t. That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.
From Oliver’s newest collection of poems A Thousand Mornings available via Amazon HERE. (For an interview NPR conducted with Oliver including three new poems, an interview sound recording of the interview with interview transcript, visit HERE.)
The Sunflowers — by Mary Oliver
Come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
Their faces are burnished disks,
their dry spines
creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky
sugars of the sun.
Come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy
but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young -
the important weather,
the wandering crows.
Don’t be afraid
to ask them questions!
Their bright faces,
which follow the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds -
each one a new life!
hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,
is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. Come
and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.
From New and Selected Poems, Available via Amazon HERE
Mary Oliver reads her above poem “The Sunflowers” HERE: