Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.
We live inside each other's thoughts and works.
Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone.
We make ourselves large or small, here or there, in our empathies.
You can rescue someone from danger, but not from change and death; the soldier who survives the battle becomes someone else, something else, somewhere else. His war subsides; his memory fades; his nation ceases to exist; all but the elemental structures decay away; the very atoms that were once warring sides are now soil, trees, lovers, birds; all the medals are playthings for strangers; the cannons have been melted down and turned back into church bells that will become cannons again for another war.
We talk about politicians being in public life, but they seldom appear in the public space where everyone is free to appear as a citizen.
You don't have the memory of your future; the future is indeed dark, which is the best thing it could be; and that, in the end, we always act in the dark. The effects of your actions may unfold in ways you cannot foresee or even imagine.
We tend to think of politics as a tiny fenced-off arena of unpleasantness, which most Americans avoid?except for the horse race of a primary season or fun moral questions often centered in irrelevant individual crimes and acts. But politics is pervasive. Everything is political and the choice to be ?apolitical? is usually just an endorsement of the status quo and the unexamined life.
You get lost out of a desire to be lost. But in the place called lost strange things are found.
We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.
You write your books. You scatter your seeds. Rats might eat them, or they might rot. In California, some seeds lie dormant for decades because they only germinate after fire, and sometimes the burned landscape blooms most lavishly.
We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.
We?re also getting over the widespread sense that feminism was this historical phenomenon in the ?70s and ?80s and we won and everything?s beautiful and we can all shut the fuck up. Or it lost and we should all still shut the fuck up. There are so many theories about it that involve us all shutting up. But one of the things that?s interesting is how change on this front moves forward in what the the geologist Clarence King would have called punctuated equilibrium, in sudden jolts after long pauses. We have these periodic adjustments where we move forward again.
Walking? is how the body measures itself against the earth.
What distinguishes a technological world is that the terms of nature are obscured; one need not live quite in the present or the local.
Walking is a pastime rather than an avocation.
What?s love got to do with it, asked Tina Turner, whose ex-husband Ike once said, ?Yeah I hit her, but I didn't hit her more than the average guy beats his wife.? A woman is beaten every nine seconds in this country. Just to be clear: not nine minutes, but nine seconds. It?s the number-one cause of injury to American women; of the two million injured annually, more than half a million of those injuries require medical attention while about 145,000 require overnight hospitalizations, according to the Center for Disease Control, and you don?t want to know about the dentistry needed afterwards. Spouses are also the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S.
Walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world.
What?s your story? It?s all in the telling. Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice. To love someone is to put yourself in their place, we say, which is to put yourself in their story, or figure out how to tell yourself their story.
We are entering an era of heightened disaster, thanks to climate change. Being prepared for disaster will mean being prepared to sift truth from rumour, and being prepared to adjust our worldview.
When my friends began to have babies and I came to comprehend the heroic labor it takes to keep one alive, the constant exhausting tending of a being who can do nothing and demands everything, I realized that my mother had done all of these things for me before I remembered. I was fed; I was washed; I was clothed; I was taught to speak and given a thousand other things, over and over again, hourly, daily, for years. She gave me everything before she gave me nothing.
We can act to deal with the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami, but the disaster was only faintly political in the economics and indifference... the relief will be very political, in who gives how much (Bush offering 15 million, then 35 million under pressure, the cost of his inauguration and then 350 million under strong international pressure)... but the event itself transcends politics, the realm of things we cause and can work to prevent. We cannot wish that human beings were not subject to the forces of nature, including the mortality... we cannot wish for the seas to dry up, that the waves grow still, that the tectonic plates ceased to exist, that nature ceases to be beyond our abilities to predict and control... But the terms of that nature include such catastrophe and suffering, which leaves us with sorrow as not a problem to be solved but a fact. And it leaves us with compassion as the work we will never finish
When someone doesn't show up, the people who wait sometimes tell stories about what might have happened and come to half believe the desertion, the abduction, the accident. Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown. Perhaps fantasy is what you fill up maps with rather than saying that they too contain the unknown.
We have a real role in how our own collective lives, our nation, and our world and society turn out. Seizing those opportunities is important, and disasters are sometimes one of those opportunities.
When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind and walking travels both terrains.