Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am
large: I contain multitudes.
- Walt Whitman
Listen. This is just a dream. But very clever people can hear dreams. So please just listen. I know you're afraid, but being afraid is all right. Because didn't anybody ever tell you, fear is a superpower? Fear can make you faster, and cleverer and stronger. And one day, you're going to come back to this barn and on that day you are going to be very afraid indeed. But that's OK. Because if you're very wise and very strong, fear doesn't have to make you cruel or cowardly, fear can make you kind. It doesn't matter if there's nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it's OK to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to nothing else listen to this. You're always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion. A constant companion always there. But that's OK, as fear can bring us together. Fear can be bring you home. I'm going to leave you something just so you'll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.
An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.
And that is what we need... that is what we must have. Imagination to grasp the problem that is offered. Imagination to peer around the corner. A dreaming contemplation of what is necessary to be done, and then the vigorous initiative to meet the challenge that the dream may bring.
By not quite accepting, because they do not please us, things that are so, we spend our entire lives making meaningless gestures somewhere next door to reality.
Laughing doesn't make bad things worse any more than crying makes them better. It doesn't mean you don't care, or that you've forgotten. It just means you're human.
Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It is the transition that is troublesome.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.
Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.
I do not know what I want; but I know that I want it.
We were safe there in the middle,
Rule 1: It doesn't matter. Whatever you think matters -- doesn't. Follow this rule, & it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late, or early; if you are here, or if you are there; if you said it, or did not say it; if you were clever, or if you were stupid; if you are having a bad hair day, or a no hair day; if your boss looks at you cockeyed; if your girlfriend or boyfriend looks at you cockeyed; if you are cockeyed; if you don't get that promotion, or prize, or house, or if you do. It doesn't matter.
It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.
I can't say where I'll be in 5 years; 5 years ago, I could never have foreseen where I am now. I don't draft 5-year plans -- I just do the best job I can, and trust that it will lead me to where I'm supposed to be next.
Whatever you do, or
dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius and
power and magic in it.
You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.
Students today can't prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend upon their slates which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write!
There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.
I'm the office Placebo--I don't actually do anything, but people think I'm working.
All's well that ends.
It's not just getting the notes, it's the effort it takes to hit them that makes it exciting.
What really counts is to strip the soul naked. Painting or poetry is made as we make love; a total embrace, prudence thrown to the wind, nothing held back.
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.
You are almost always capable of being the craziest person in the room, even a very large room.
Commit to the next thing that occurs to you.
A fold is an organised crumple
If life bites, bite it back
People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.
But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power?
...To face unafraid, the plans that we made...
Do not dare not to dare.
Passion is the prosody of intelligence.
The basis of optimism is sheer terror
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.
He uses statistics like a drunken man uses lampposts ... for support rather than illumination.
Take your heart to work.
A change imposed is a change opposed.
If you do not change, you can become extinct.
What would you do if you weren't afraid?
I am sincere about life, but I'm not serious about it.
If you thought what I said was meaningless and nonsense, then forget it. No problem.
I always wanted a happy 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.
Everything you can imagine is real.
Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.
Silence is a text easy to misread.
Anger and tenderness: my selves.
Sometimes of late years I find myself thinking the most beautiful sight in the world might be the birds taking over New York after the last man has run away to the hills. I will never live to see it, of course, but I know just how it will sound because I've lived up high and I know the sort of watch birds keep on us. I've listened to sparrows tapping tentatively on the outside of air conditioners when they thought no one was listening, and I know how other birds test the vibrations that come up to them through the television aerials. 'Is he gone?' they ask, and the vibrations come up from below, 'Not yet, not yet.'
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
Failure is practice.
We've always been here and we'll always be here. We are a specific arrangement of particles and this instant is infinite. Did we luck out, or didn't we? The odds against this sentence having ever being typed, much less the odds against you reading it were inconceivable. Smile, because the fact that you're able to is almost impossible to comprehend.
World, I am your slow guest,
No eye may see dispassionately. There is no comprehension at a glance.
If you think you can grasp me, think again:
my story flows in more than one direction,
a delta springing from the river bed
with its five fingers spread.
My commitment is to truth, not to consistency.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends --
It gives a lovely light.
You are almost always capable of being the craziest person in the room,
even a very large room.
Commit to the next thing that occurs to you.
If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect
to employ methods never before attempted.
Now here's a thought to consider. Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week.
For 93 percent of all trips outside the home, for whatever distance or
whatever purpose, Americans now get in a car. On average the total walking
of an American these days -- that's walking of all types: from car to office,
from office to car, around the supermarket and shopping malls -- adds up to
1.4 miles a week, barely 350 yards a day. That's ridiculous.
In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and
at what period so ever of life is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual
Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the
cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before
you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire,
up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not
just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. . . . There
is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny
could rediscover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed
by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back,
stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a
macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not
go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment. It will require no
great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is
surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of
which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their
relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.
One thing I've learned in hanging around Tomorrowland is that, if you
wait long enough, the future never gets here. It's something to look
All I know is that I began to feel things again. Whatever I was, I knew
there was only one way back to the world and that was to use the place
to talk. So I saw the great and wonderful Dr. Wick three times a week
and I let her hear every thought in my head.
I've wasted a year of my life. Maybe everybody out there is a liar. And
maybe the whole world is "stupid" and "ignorant". But I'd rather be in
it. I'd rather be fucking in it, then down here with you.
So I address my life, I consider my metaphors, and I begin - by doing
the same thing I did on the trail. I put one foot in front of the
other. And I walk.
The way to do is to be
Existence is beyond the power of words to define. Terms may be used but
are none of them absolute.
Mine is a stiff and woodenish mind unable to vault from groove to
We cannot perceive unless we anticipate, but we must not see only what
Right now you're just browsing through time. Choose the things you'll
be proud of, the things that last...
In an environment with much pressure to avoid all mistakes, one ends up
doing everything wrong.
There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive there
is more risk.
Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not
Confusion is the state of promise, the fertile void where surprise is
possible again. Confusion is in fact the state we are in, and we should
be wise to cultivate it.
One who knows his lot to be the lot of all men is a safe man to guide
them, one who recognizes all men as members of his own body is a sound
man to guard them.
He who feels punctured
The way to use life is to do nothing through acting,
As the soft yield of water cleaves obstinate stone,
Laotzu is one of our chief weapons against tanks, artillery and bombs.
Even though the Ship may go down,
the Journey goes on.
To see a world in a grain of sand
To walk we have to lean forward, lose our balance, and begin to fall. We
let go, constantly, of the previous stability, falling, all the time,
trusting that we will find a succession of new stabilities with each
step. The fullest living is a constant dying of the past, enjoying the
present fully, but holding it lightly; letting go without clinging and
moving freely into new experiences. Our experience of the past and of
those dear to us is not lost at all, but remains richly within us.
The surest test if a man be sane
is if he accepts life whole, as it is,
without needing by measure or touch to understand
the measureless untouchable source
of its images,
the measureless untouchable source
of its substances,
the source which, while it appears dark emptiness,
brims with a quick force
and yet nearest at hand
from oldest time unto this day,
what more need I know of the origin
The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the
world are an alluring mirage. Like the apparent distances
in a picture, things have no reality in themselves but are
like the haze of heat.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS:
One is free from depression when self-esteem is based on the
authenticity of one's own feelings and not on the possession of
Public controversy deals in stereotypes, never in subtleties.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible
As I see it, psychology has enough liberals, at least at policy-making
level and in the universities. What we need are more radicals, people
for whom liberal reform is not only too slow but too short-sighted
about how much change is needed. We need more outraged critics, not
more tamed insiders.
If some of our thoughts, feelings are unacceptable to us, we want to
disown them but only at the cost of disowning valuable parts of
ourselves. Your ability to cope with the world becomes less and less.
What is like to be a dreamed person
when the alarm rings?
An intelligence that is not humane is the most dangerous thing in the world.
The perfect way is without
I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or
deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can
things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.
We have an uncommonly good ability to find a signal even in total noise.
When there is no wind, row.
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
Some things have to be believed to be seen.
All things, to give light, must endure burning.
One moon shows in every pool;
Ring the bells that still can ring.
My little stomach is my world, my head is my eternity, and my hands, two
wonderful suns. My legs are time's pendulums, and my dirty feet are two
splendid starting points for my philosophy. Everything is worth
precisely as much as a belch, the only difference being that a belch is
[When asked if he had but a single gift to bequeath to the next
generation, Ray Bradbury replied:]
...The gift to see that not all Republicans are evil, that not all
Democrats are evil, that not all Communists are evil, that not all
Negroes are evil, that not all anything is evil. The ability to see the
paradox in every person.
The measure of a man's spiritual evolution is his acceptance
of the unacceptable.
When geometric diagrams and digits
There are no ethical truths; there are just clarifications of particular
ethical problems. Take advantage of these clarifications and work out
your own existence. You are mistaken to think that anyone ever had the
answers. There are no answers. Be brave and face up to it.
Loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude.
Ready, fire, aim.
Life is not a flow chart, it is a cobweb.
Reality is "an endless instant"
We are what we pretend to be
We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.
All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.
If a therapist doesn't dive down to meet the Wild Man or Wild
Woman, he or she will try to heal words. The healing energy
stored in waterfalls, trees, clay, horses, dogs, porcupines,
llamas, otters belong to the domain of the Wild People.
Therapists will have understood this when they insist on doing
therapy with a cow in the room.
Beyond our innocent shores, it is understood that the past is not always
knowable and never recuperable, that there is sometimes nothing to be
done, and that reality conforms neither to our desires nor to our
schemes, psychic or material. There is chance, and fate, and
tragedy...That is the splendor and misery of being an adult, a condition
from which we should not want to and, more to the point, cannot recover.
Mediocrity requires aloofness to preserve its dignity.
The folly of mistaking a paradox
for a discovery, a metaphor for a
proof, a torrent of verbiage for a
spring of capital truths, and
oneself for an oracle,
is inborn in us.
I take on about 50 times more than anyone can do, and I work at about 2
percent efficiency. So every day I'm fighting a factor of 2,500, and
every day I fall eight years more behind...
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of
great crisis, maintain their neutrality.
Don't trust anyone who isn't angry.
Where change takes place and where the earth is replenished we find
volcanoes. And the lava which flows from volcanoes becomes a rich soil
where luxuriant forests grow.
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I
only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments
that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.
Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human
beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by
side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them
which makes it possible for each to see each other whole against the
It's opener there
A theory that is not tested
fails to develop.
You aren't anyone really, you never were. Oh, you thought you were when
your head was too small for your illusions; but illusions aren't
important now. You don't have to be anything, even yourself, because
yourself was just something you had to make up. And then you thought
you had to carry it around with you. What a relief to lay it down and
walk away and forget it. Just to be part of what's around you is
My work always tried to unite the truth with the beautiful; but when I
had to choose one or the other, I usually chose the beautiful.
A dissertation is like pregnancy...You have to go through with it, and
if you don't, then you stay pregnant all your life.
To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion.
"...Go through the motions, Adam."
"Don’t you see?” he cried. "The American Standard translationn [of the Bible] orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—'Thou mayest'— that gives a choice. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the
order, 'Do thou,' and throw their weight into obedience. And there are
millions more who feel predestination in 'Thou shalt.' Nothing they do
can interfere with what will be. But 'Thou mayest'! Why, that makes a
man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and
his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice.
He can choose his course and fight it through and win. ... 'Thou mayest'
-- that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the
world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man.
For if 'Thou mayest' -- it is also true that "Thou mayest not.' Don't
"You have described only too well," replied the Master, "where the
difficulty lies. Do you know why you cannot wait for the shot and why
you get out of breath before it has come? The right shot at the right
moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You do not
wait for fulfillment, but brace yourself for failure."
A wise person hears one word, but understands two.
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
If you can walk, you can dance
Life is short and the task is great...
You are not expected to complete the task,
But you are also not free to ignore it.
Oh, the comfort
To "see the light" too often has meant
rejecting the treasures found in darkness.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
One must still have chaos in oneself
to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to
realize "The stars are words" and all the innumerable
worlds in the Milky Way are words, and so is this
world too. And I realize that no matter where I am,
whether in a little room full of thought, or in this
endless universe of stars and mountains, it's all in
When I dare to be powerful--to use my strength in the
service of my vision, then it becomes less and less
important whether I am afraid.
Of course I am afraid, because the transformation of
silence into language in action is an act of
self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with
danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic
and my difficulty with it, said, "Tell them about
how you're never really a whole person if you remain
silent, because there's always that one little piece
inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you
keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and
hotter and hotter, and if you don't speak it out,
one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth
from the inside."
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important
thing I've ever encountered to help me make the big
choices in life, because almost everything--all external
expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or
failure--these things just fall away in the face of
death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering
that you are going to die is the best way I know to
avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow
Mental health doesn't mean making the pains go away. I don't believe they
ever go away. I do believe that nearly every person...has the same warped
impulses, the same scarlet id as the wobbliest of borderlines, the most
florid of psychotics. Only the muscles to hold things in check - to channel
and funnel - are stronger. I have not healed so much as learned to sit still
and wait while the pain does its dancing work, trying not to panic or
twist in ways that make the blades tear deeper, finally infecting the
They sell us this lie that love is gonna save us. […] Love isn’t gonna save us. It’s what we have to save. Pain makes us strong enough to do it. All our scars, our anger, our despair, it’s armor. Baby, God loves the sinners best because our fire burns bright, bright, bright. Burn with me.
One of the greatest dividends of darkness
is an increased sensitivity to the light.
Since it is all too clear, it takes time to grasp it.
Anger and tenderness: my selves.
You know that bullshit people say about how when you fall, you gotta get up? I reject that shit man. You know why? The whole thing is a fall. It can't help but be. A perpetual state of grasping in the dark. It's not about getting up, it's about stumbling. Stumbling in the right direction. It's the only way to move forward.
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
You were on your way home when you died... (click here for the rest)
It is marvelous to have the sense that all living and moving is
dropping, or going along with gravity. Afterall - the earth is falling
around the sun, and, in turn, the sun is falling around some other
star. For energy is precisely a taking of the line of least
resistance. Energy is mass. The power of water is in following its own
weight. All comes to him who weights.
© David L. Gilles-Thomas
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