"If you want to win, you need to know just one thing and not to waste your time on anything else: the pleasures of erudition are reserved for losers. The more a person knows, the more things have gone wrong."
- Umberto Eco
"Often times, a person will think they know you by piecing together tiny facts and arranging those pieces into a puzzle that makes sense to them. If we don't know ourselves very well, we'll mistakenly believe them, and drift toward where they tell us to swim, only to drown in our own confusion.
Here's the truth: it's important to take the necessary steps to find out who you are. Because you hold endless depths below the surface of a few facts and pieces and past decisions. You aren't only the ripples others can see. You are made of oceans."
- Victoria Erickson
"Often down here I have entered into a sanctuary . . . of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call "reality": a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist. Reality I call it. And I fancy sometimes this is the most necessary thing to me: that which I seek. But who knows - once one takes a pen and writes? How difficult not to go making "reality" this and that, whereas it is one thing. Now perhaps this is my gift: this perhaps is what distinguishes me from other people: I think it may be rare to have so acute a sense of something like that - but again, who knows? I would like to express it too."
- Virginia Woolf
"Most of the time we go through the day, through our activities, our work, our relationships, our conversations, and very rarely do we ground ourselves in an awareness of our bodies. We are lost in our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, our stories, our plans.
Pay attention to those times when you feel like you are rushing. Rushing does not have to do with speed. You can rush moving slowly, and you can rush moving quickly. We are rushing when we feel we are toppling forward. Our minds run ahead of ourselves; they are out there where we want to get to, instead of being settled back in our bodies. The feeling of rushing is good feedback. Whenever we are not present, right then, in that situation, we should stop and take a few breaths. Settle into the body again. Feel yourself sitting. Feel the step of a walk. Be in your body.
The Buddha made a very powerful statement about this: "Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana." Such awareness is not a superficial practice. Mindfulness of the body keeps us present."
- Joseph Goldstein
"I wanted to ask you about your vision of perfection in an imperfect world, or what side of the earth calls out to you when you touch a physical globe, or maybe about your greatest heartache and how you still go on as your world continues turning, or what you do with a memory once lodged inside your bones that's still breathing, and burning. But you're still a stranger, and I'm overly polite, so I'll ask all about your day when I'd rather know about your life."
- Victoria Erickson
These starry nights alone and connected alive at the edge
the sky, the moon, the many heavenly forms
the sheer vertical act of feeling caught up in it.
To be held tight, wound tighter in the act of seeing
the gemstone brushstrokes in rays and shimmers.
The night sky, the deep sense of space, actual bodies of light
and the toil and worry and animal fear always with us
wondrous and strange companion to all our days.
To wonder and to dream and to look up at it
to go out underneath it all above and sparkling
to step into it as into a large surf in late August.
- Peter Gizzi
the rain doesn't care who it wakes
All the fireflies in the world
are gathered in our yard tonight,
flickering in the shrubs
like an ostentatious display
of Christmas lights out of season.
But the music in the air
is the music of heat, of August -
cicadas scraping out
their thin, harsh treble
like country fiddlers settling in
for a long night. I feel at home
with their relentless tune
minimalist, like the eighties.
Events repeat themselves,
but with a difference that makes all
the difference. As a child,
one summer night in Verona
at my first opera,
I watched a swarm of matches
light up the Roman arena
until we were silent. It was as if
music were a night-blooming flower
that would not open
until we held our breath.
Then the full-blown sound,
the single-minded combat
of passion: voices sharpening
their glittering blades on one another,
electing to live or die.
It was that simple. The story was
of no importance, the motive lost
in the sufficient, breathing dark.
If there was a moon I don't remember.
- Lisel Mueller
Summer sings its long song, and all the notes are green.
But there's a click, somewhere in the middle
of the month, as we reach the turning point, the apex,
a Ferris wheel, cars tipping and tilting over the top,
and we see September up ahead, school and schedules
returning. And there's the first night you step outside
and hear the katydids arguing, six more weeks
to frost, and you know you can make it through to fall.
Dark now at eight, nights finally cooling off for sleep,
no more twisting in damp sheets, hearing mosquitoes'
thirsty whines. Lakes of chicory and Queen Anne's lace
mirror the sky's high cirrus. Evenings grow chilly,
time for old sweaters and sweatpants, lying in the hammock
squinting to read in the quick-coming dusk.
A few fireflies punctuate the night's black text,
and the moonlight is so thick, you could swim in it
until you reach the other side.
- Barbara Crooker
beyond the fields we know