Skilled labor teaches something not to be found in books or in colleges.
When you know somebody that deeply, so many bodies lie in the bed alongside. We need a king-sized bed to contain them. Our bed is full of farmland, two hundred acres including the back pasture. And you know, that is where the best sex always is, despite the scent of cows. The Jungians say that in bed there are always at least four people, invisible man and dark surly woman. But in our bed there is a herd — siblings and offspring, his parents, my parents, and the church, full of incense and Latin. My temple, so old it’s got the history of God engraved in the bedsheets. It isn’t a bed. It’s a text, a Russian novel.
I think nobody owns land until their dead are in it.
We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
The last time I saw him [British sculptor Henry Moore] he talked about his new grandson and showed us drawings in a studio he had just built to extend his workday. . . . I asked him, “Now that you’re eighty, you must know the secret of life. What is the secret of life?” With anyone else the answer would have begun with an ironic laugh, but Henry Moore answered me straight: “The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do!”
Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant, systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.
If you wish to drown, do not torture yourself with shallow water.
As long as we tolerate the division of mankind into power and profit organizations, and nations all continuously at one another’s throats, we must each remind ourselves that though it is beautiful, each day is miserable. And act accordingly.
We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired.
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
Not a runner knows where the light was lighted, not a runner knows where it carries fire to, / Hand kisses hand in the dark, the torch passes, the man / Falls, and the torch passes.
The course of a river is almost always disapproved of by its source.
I think in people’s hearts they understand that the heart is cooking like shishkebab in your breast, and no matter what you do the passions come and go and they sear you, they burn you. If it’s not your lover, it’s your children; if it’s not your children, it’s your job; if it’s not your job, it’s growing old; if it’s not growing old, it’s getting sick. This predicament cannot be resolved. That is the wound that does not heal, and rather than approach it from the point of view of stitching or cauterizing it, there is a kind of wisdom of living with the wound.
She did not talk to people as if they were strange, hard shells she had to crack open to get inside. She talked as if she were already in the shell. In their very shell.
I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.