American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
American Novelist and Non-Fiction Writer
Kindness toward others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all. Do you want this, or do you want to be right? Well, can I get back to you on that?
Listen to your broccoli and it will tell you how to eat it.
Maybe, I thought, after a few months of sobriety, you could successfully smoke marijuana again, or maybe every anniversary you got to have one glass of a perfectly chilled California Chardonnay.
My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I?m grateful for it the way I?m grateful for the ocean.
Nothing can be delicious when you are holding your breath.
One of the worst things about being a parent, for me, is the self-discovery, the being face to face with one's secret insanity and brokenness and rage.
Peg came over with dinner tonight and told me about this dumb schmaltzy poem she heard someone read at an AA meeting. It got me thinking. It was about how while we are on earth, our limitations are such that we can only see the underside of the tapestry that God is weaving. God sees the topside, the whole evolving portrait and its amazing beauty, and uses us as the pieces of thread to weave the picture. We see the glorious colors and shadings, but we also see the knots and the threads hanging down, the think lumpy patches, the tangles. But God and the people in heaven with him see how beautiful the portraits in the tapestry are. The poem says in this flowery way that faith is about the willingness to be used by God wherever and however he most needs you, most needs the piece of thread that is your life. You give him your life to put through his needle, to use as he sees fit.
Q: What does the title Imperfect Birds mean? It's a line from a poem by Rumi. The line is Each must enter the nest made by the other imperfect birds, and it's really about how these kind of scraggly, raggedy nests that are our lives are the sanctuary for other people to step into, and that if you want to see the divine, you really step into the absolute ordinary. When you're at your absolutely most lost and dejected ... where do you go? You go to the nests left by other imperfect birds, you find other people who've gone through it. You find the few people you can talk to about it.
San Quentin?s is the safest beach in the world. We?re not talking about lifeguards here who might yell at someone who?s being rude-we?re talking about armed guards, in watchtowers, two blocks away.
So how on earth can I bring a child into the world, knowing that such sorrow lies ahead, that it is such a large part of what it means to be human? I'm not sure. That's my answer: I'm not sure.
Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic...but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.
The Amen is only as good as the attitude. If you are trying to finish up quickly so you can check your cell phone messages, you are missing the chance to spend quiet moments with the giver of life and the eternal, which means you may reap continued feelings of life racing along without you. So as Samuel Beckett admonished us to fail again, and fail better, we try to pray again, and pray better, for slightly longer and with slightly more honesty, breathing more, deeper, and with more attention.
The redwoods are like organ pipes, playing silent chords.
The world can't give that serenity. The world can't give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts.
There really is only today, although luckily that is also the eternal now.
They taught me to pay attention, but not so much attention to my tiny princess mind.
those years I fell for the great palace lie that grief should be gotten over as quickly and as privately as possible. But what I?ve discovered since is that the lifelong fear of grief keeps us in a barren, isolated place and that only grieving can heal grief; the passage of time will lessen the acuteness, but time alone, without the direct experience of grief, will not heal
Trying to reason with an addict was like trying to blow out a lightbulb.
We do endure, and that out of the wreckage something surprising will rise.
We?re going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.
What?s the difference between you and God? God never thinks he?s you.
When we are stunned to the place beyond words, we?re finally starting to get somewhere. It is so much more comfortable to think that we know what it all means, what to expect and how it all hangs together. When we are stunned to the place beyond words, when an aspect of life takes us away from being able to chip away at something until it?s down to a manageable size and then to file it nicely away, when all we can say in response is Wow, that?s a prayer.
Who knows how much of our stories are true?
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It?s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can?t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.
It is unearned love--the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.