Andrea Balt, Creative Rehab
Andrea Balt, Creative Rehab
A choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic? Frightened by the loss of our familiar mooring places, shall we become paralyzed and cover our inaction with apathy? If we do those things, we will have surrendered our chance to participate in the forming of the future. We will have forfeited the distinctive characteristic of human beings – namely, to influence our evolution through our own awareness. We will have capitulated to the blind juggernaut of history and lost the chance to mold the future into a society more equitable and humane.
Or shall we seize the courage necessary to preserve our sensitivity, awareness, and responsibility in the face of radical change? Shall we consciously participate, on however small the scale, in the forming of the new society? I hope our choice will be the latter…
Rollo May, The Courage to Create
Lead thou me on, O Zeus, and Destiny,
To that goal long ago to me assigned.
I’ll follow and not falter; if my will
Prove weak and craven, still I’ll follow on.
Cleanthes, quoted in Epictetus’ Encheiridion, or Manual, translated by W.A. Oldfather
A fun pic I found on the NanoWrimo website. NanoWrimo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which is November 1-30: “Thirty days of literary abandon!” I did it once with my cousin and we had a great time.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. You cannot help but be in awe when you contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if you try merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.
D. H. Lawrence
Only you can find that passion within that burns with an integrity that will not settle for anything less than the Truth.
I shall not change this position so long as I have not done what I set out to do!
Siddhartha, intent on illumination, sitting under the bodhi tree, or tree of enlightenment.
The World’s Wisdom by Philip Novak
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting. Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Henry David Thoreau
Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.’
Reflections on the Art of Living, A Joseph Campbell Companion, ed. Diane K. Osbon
Years ago when I was in the middle of moving, I had a bunch of boxes stolen out of my car. All the most important things. The sentimental things. Interesting that even though I’d had many lessons over the years on releasing just about everything, I’d noticed in the midst of moving that I was still holding on to things, licking old wounds and new.
I’d just started reading a book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, and was surprised by the metaphysics in it, and by Ken Kesey (author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) and his free and wise spirit, living in the moment, going with the flow—but really doing it, not just yapping about it.
Then my things were stolen, and I was handling it pretty well—until I realized nearly everything most near and dear to my heart was taken, which brought tears and self-deprecation. Wasn’t mad at the perpetrators so much, more at myself for leaving some of the boxes in the car (I’d hurt my back) and not double-checking that I’d gotten the important, sentimental stuff out.
That night, I sat down to read to take my mind off things. I opened to a passage where Kesey had been invited to a Unitarian conference on “Shake the Foundations,” and in the Kesey way, he wasn’t going to just talk about it, he and his cohorts were going to take folks through the experience of it and then out the other side.
“Onstage, Kesey, not talking in any formal way, more like performing, working magic—telling of the kind of symbols we use and the games we’re in, and how you can’t really know what an emotion is until you’ve experienced both sides of it, whereupon he seizes the big American flag up on the stage and steps on it, grinds it into the floor—
—huge gasp from the crowd, many of whom are teenagers—
[Paul] Sawyer is already into the thing, and he sees what Kesey is trying to do—don’t just describe an emotion, but arouse it, make them experience it, by manipulating the symbol of the emotion, and sometimes we have to come into the awareness through the back door. Sawyer hears sobs, wheels around in his seat, sees a group of teenagers behind him, from Salt Lake City, looks into their faces, reads the horror that fills them—The Flag!—then feels the manic energy from the crazed thing that has been packed into these children even at this age like a time warp vibration from the Salem witch hysteria, the primordial cry of Die, Infidel—and yet he can’t leave them with that. So he rises up and faces the crowd and says,
—Now wait a minute. That flag is a symbol we attach our emotions to, but it isn’t the emotion itself and it isn’t the thing we really care about. Sometimes we don’t even realize what we really care about, because we get so distracted by the symbols. I remember when I was at school, we used to sing America the Beautiful and somebody would walk down the aisle carrying the flag. I always wanted to be the one who carried the flag down the aisle but I never was. Now, what was I really feeling? Patriotism? Or was it—
But he doesn’t get to finish. A voice cries: “Do it!”
“Do it!” It’s Mountain Girl, beaming at him from her folds of purple, quite delighted with the turn of events.
Before he knows it, he is leading them all in the singing of America the Beautiful, and O beau-ti-ful for spa-cious skies rings out in the hall—as he holds the flag staunchly in his hands and marches up the aisle and then down the aisle, signifying—what? Ne’mind! But exactly! Don’t explain it! Do it!
And there it was—those things that were taken from my car were symbols that I had attached my emotions to, but they weren’t the emotions and they weren’t what I really cared about. They were symbols of the people I loved, most no longer here. But they weren’t the love, or the gratitude, which no box can hold and no person can take. That helped.
Besides that it’s full of heart, I love that this is what a bunch of guys came up with for a song that has lyrics about being on holiday and having fun on an island in the sun (when they could have gone in so many other dubious directions… 🙂
When people believe in themselves, instead of the “experts”… (I haven’t been able to find who to credit for these.)
“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.”
Response to Debbi Fields‘ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.
“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.”
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962
“You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can’t be done. It’s just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training.”
Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the “unsolvable” problem by inventing Nautilus
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft, 1981
“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'”
Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
Western Union internal memo, 1876.
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
David Sarnoff‘s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith‘s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express.
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895
From notes I took on the film Without Limits (1998), about the runner Steve Prefontaine, screenplay by Robert Towne and Kenny Moore.
Steve Prefontaine: “It’s the hardest thing in the world to believe in something—if you do, it’s a miracle.”
(I’d add: sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to believe in yourself, and your dreams.)
Prefontaine: “There’s always someone trying to talk you out of what you believe in—anyone, everyone, your own mother… all I know is that if you do believe in something, you tend to make people very, very nervous.”
Prefontaine: You & Barbara, do you believe in the same things?
Bowerman (his coach): I have no idea….
Prefontainte: How do you get along so well?
Bowerman: Well, I don’t have to know what she believes in. I believe in her.
Jack Kerouac, Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings
Remember above all things, Kid, that to write is not difficult, not painful, that it comes out of you with ease. that you can whip up a little tale in no time, that when you are sincere about it, that when you want to impress a truth, it is not difficult, not painful, but easy, graceful, full of smooth power, as if you were a writing machine with a store of literature that is boundless, enormous, endless, and rich. For it is true; this is so. Do not forget it in your gloomier moments.
Make your stuff warm, drive it home American-wise, don’t mind critics, don’t mind the stuffy academic theses of scholars, they don’t know what they’re talking about, they’re way off the track, they’re cold; you’re warm, you’re redhot, you can write all day, you know what you know…”
September 29, 2003
How do I live out all of my days, if not in the promise that one day I will be full? And how do I suffer, if not in the hollow of this emptiness that is starving me? I am sinner and saint, but I can say finally, ‘I am hungry, and I have lost everything looking for the morsel that will be my redemption.’ I have not starved lightly; it has been no small feat. And I have not bled lightly; it has been everything I had. But I am still here, and I am no closer, it seems, to my deliverance than I was on the first day I woke up to my hunger.
My pain is certainly a manufactured one, but it is still my pain. And this hunger has been my secret, but it was always known to me. The craving that fills every breath is the thing I call ‘life’. The dying that stares at me every day is the thing I call ‘human’. I am lowly and base and reduced to my simplest desires. I am nothing of what I wish I was. And I am striving only and finally for a meal and a peaceful end.
We are not holy or lovely, and we are not kind. And it is in this speck of matter, this moment of human starving—it was in this that the seed of light was placed and is growing. I am the most unlikely soil. It seems almost impossible that transcendence begins here; it seems almost ridiculous. But I, the lowest speck, the basest fear, and the most overwhelming hunger—I am the beginning, and I will be the end. And all light that invades experience happens not in spite of me but because of me, all hope built on my most unlikely form. And that one who seems to never have enough killing will be the one to liberate this world.
There is no stranger circumstance and none more certain than this: that we are base and we are God. And there is no conflict. If it was in this form that light was entrusted, then it must be so for a reason. And though you may understand nothing of the reason, understand this that you are, believe in this that you are. And understand that light knows best and would not pick a soil in which it could not grow.
I heard a definition many years ago: “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”
I cannot dance, O Lord
Unless you lead me.
If you wish me to leap joyfully,
Let me see You dance and sing
Then I will leap into Love
And from Love into Knowledge
And from Knowledge into the Harvest
That sweetest fruit beyond human sense
There I will stay with You, whirling.
Mechtild of Magdeburg
Make of Your Life a Flame
Blaze the path that burns for you. Light it up with your intention, your willingness, with your intensity. Don’t just flicker here—burn. You are not a light about to go out. You could be here resolutely, absolutely. You could burn every step you take. You tread too gingerly on this planet. Scorch the earth where you walk. Be the fire that lives in you. You try not to offend, not to disrupt, not to upset, but for what? So that you will look behind you one day and see no footsteps? Leave a trace here: the earth can take it. And your fellow humans, they can take it, too. They may be bruised and scratched a bit by your vitality at work, but we all get knocked around a little bit. It is still worth it.
Make of your life a flame. It will destroy things, but only those that are ready to go. Make of your language a torch. Let it light as well as burn. And make of your footfalls a purposeful path, a real and intended way.
Change all the places you walk by changing the way you walk. Change the people you see by the way you look at them, with your tongue and your words. Change the planet; it will only evolve. And I’m not saying you should intend this transformation; you should intend only your own intensity. Whatever happens then is right.
Blaze your path. You are not living enough yet; your vitality is still squelched. Destroy everything in your way. Bless the earth that you scorch. Thank it for the chance to be alive, and leave it knowing it was there for you and you made the most of it.
Why didn’t I see this before? That my creative life is my deepest prayer. That I must pray it from my heart, from my soul. Not from my head or my need for security or approval or to gain some sort of repute. So my thread is spinning new courses. And my thread, like my dreams, never lies, never leads me astray. Still I cannot stop thinking how brave I will have to be to follow it.
Sue Monk Kidd
To avoid criticism, say nothing, be nothing, do nothing, and stand really still, maybe nobody will notice you.
Michael Lutin is an astrologer, perhaps most prominently for Vanity Fair magazine. Smart, funny and very perceptive guy. He wrote the following for some recent transit, during which…
…it takes effort to remain upbeat and positive
…some people get down
they feel trapped by their own commitments
reality interferes with their dreams
relationships seem boring or unfulfilling
could be a million reasons
to feel worried or hopeless
or beset with problems that have no resolution
the balance can easily be tipped to the dark side
if you start feeling that
here you are up against the same old problems
and no matter how cheery you try to be
the old demons are right there
with their nagging, critical voices to tear down your hopes
and destroy your dreams
and hold you back
egos are easily bruised
so these are moments when
you absolutely have to rely on your inner life
to restore your sense of balance
continue functioning at a high level
even a bit lifelessly,
to the highest ability you have
be it personal or professional
it’s just a moment
and when it’s over
all you will be left with
is how you handled the moment
and it is such a moment.
The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy—not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.
I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just gonna ask where they’re going and hook up with ’em later.