Thursday, January 18
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"I guess there was always some "me" inside that small and, later, somewhat bigger shell around which "everything" was happening. Inside that shell the entity which one calls "I" never changed and never stopped watching what was going on outside. I am not trying to hint at pearls inside. What I am saying is that the passage of time does not much affect that entity. To get a low grade, to operate a milling machine, to be beaten up at an interrogation, or to lecture on Callimachus in a classroom is essentially the same. This is what makes one feel a bit astonished when one grows up and finds oneself tackling the tasks that are supposed to be handled by grownups. The dissatisfaction of a child with his parents' control over him and the panic of an adult confronting a responsibility are of the same nature."
 - Joseph Brodsky



Wednesday, January 17
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"Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are."
 - Anne Lamott



Tuesday, January 16
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"It is in our collective behavior that we are the most mysterious. We won't be able to construct machines like ourselves until we've understood this, and we're not even close. All we know is the phenomenon: we spend our time sending messages to each other, talking and trying to listen at the same time, exchanging information. This seems to be our most urgent biological function; it is what we do with our lives. By the time we reach the end, each of us has taken in a staggering store, enough to exhaust any computer, much of it incomprehensible, and we generally manage to put out even more than we take in. Information is our source of energy; we are driven by it. It has become a tremendous enterprise, a kind of energy system on its own. All 3 billion of us are being connected by telephones, radios, television sets, airplanes, satellites, harangues on public-address systems, newspapers, magazines, leaflets dropped from great heights, words got in edgewise. We are becoming a grid, a circuitry around the earth. If we keep at it, we will become a computer to end all computers, capable of fusing all the thoughts of the world into a syncytium."
 - Lewis Thomas



Monday, January 15
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A moment that should have lasted forever and forever
Long over -
it came and went before I knew it existed.
I think I know what it means,
But every time I start to explain it, I forget the words.
 - Charles Wright
A Short History of the Shadow



Sunday, January 14
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"Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: "Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares."
Another said: "I bet that is also a parable."
The first said: "You have won."
The second said: "But unfortunately only in parable."
The first said: "No, in reality: in parable you have lost."
 - Franz Kafka
Parables and Paradoxes



Saturday, January 13
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Love, too, a leveler, a dying all its own,
the parts left behind not to be replaced,
a loss ongoing, and every day increased,
like rising in the night, at 3:00 am,
to watch the snow or the dead leaf fall,
the rings around the streetlight in the rain,
and then the rain, the red fist in the heart
opening and closing almost without me.
 - Stanley Plumly
from Variation on a Line from Elizabeth Bishop's Five Flights Up



Friday, January 12
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Last night, the stars on the water were trap doors. The crows
with their charred wings are complaining to a hawk. It's time
to pack up the sunsets the dawns and move on.
 - Richard Jackson



So much of what we dream flickers out before we can
name it. Even the sun has been frozen on the next street.
Every word only reveals a past that never seems real.
Sometimes we just stare at the ground as if it were
a grave we could rent for a while. Sometimes we don't
understand how all that grief fits beside us on the stoop.
There should be some sort of metaphor that lifts us away.
We should see the sky open up or the stars descend.
There are birds migrating, but we don't hear them, cars
on their way to futures made of a throw of the dice.
The pigeons here bring no messages. A few flies
stitch the air. Sometimes a poem knows no way out
unless truth becomes just a homeless character in it.
 - Richard Jackson



Thursday, January 11
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"What you must realize, what you must even come to praise, is the fact that there is no right way that is going to become apparent to you once and for all. The most blinding illumination that strikes and perhaps radically changes your life will be so attenuated and obscured by doubts and dailiness that you may one day come to suspect the truth of that moment at all. The calling that seemed so clear will be lost in echoes of questionings and indecision; the church that seemed to save you will fester with egos, complacencies, banalities; the deepest love of your life will work itself like a thorn in your heart until all you can think of is plucking it out. Wisdom is accepting the truth of this. Courage is persisting with life in spite of it. And faith is finding yourself, in the deepest part of your soul, in the very heart of who you are, moved to praise it."
 - Christian Wiman
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
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  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov