The pure in heart will avoid the struggles, detour the tar pits, blind their eyes to the sirens. The problem is that in avoiding the paths that contain the tar, you may never reach any destination; in avoiding temptation, you remain pure, but irrelevant. Life is tar pits and sirens.
The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.
We awake suddenly in the middle of the night, and perceive infinite time exploding beyond us; we stare through the dark room at a universe that has existed for trillions of years before we were conceived. So macabre, so astonishing, so unlikely! In the consequence of all this our life seems a worthless thing, a trick. But who is there to trick?
In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me.
When I was a child . . . I would think it must be marvelous to issue those proclamations of experience — “It was at least ten years ago” or “I hadn’t seen him for twenty years.” But chronological prestige is tenacious: once attained, it can’t be shed; it increases moment by moment, day by day, pressing its honors on you until you are lavishly, overly endowed with them. Until you literally sink under them.
A child is the root of the heart.
First we were nothing. Now we are something. After a little we shall be nothing again. The interval, while we are something, seems immensely important; we agonize over it terribly. Even if some wise person soothes us by setting our toothache in a perspective of light-years, galaxies, spiral nebulae, the toothache continues to hurt as though it has not heard. Toothaches can sometimes be dealt with by dentists, but never by philosophers. Life is very short, a brief instant of light; but every instant of it may contain all eternity.
Dreamtime lasted a long time, a forever within a forever.
His name was not engraved on a brass plate on his door; it was typed on a white card placed in a slot, from which it could easily be removed.
Even without wars, life is dangerous.
For you, the world is weird because if you’re not bored with it you’re at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.
You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.
I’ve learned that next to the atomic bomb, the greatest danger is defeatism, despair, and inadequate awareness of what human beings possess. I feel that any problem that can be defined is capable of being resolved. Out of this has come my conviction that no man knows enough to be a pessimist.
What keeps our faith cheerful is the extreme persistence of gentleness and humor. Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music, and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. Lacking any other purpose in life, it would be good enough to live for their sake.
Those who wish to sing always find a song.