I am troubled by my shapeless fears. My God, these anxieties! Who can live in the modern world without catching his share of them?
There is much pain that is quite noiseless; and vibrations that make human agonies are often a mere whisper in the roar of hurrying existence.
There are many ways we have of standing outside ourselves in ignorance. Those who have learned as children to become strangers to themselves do not find this a difficult task. Habit has made it natural not to feel. To ignore the consequences of what one does in the world becomes ordinary.
Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts.
As a boy, Picasso struggled with reading, writing, and arithmetic. Einstein was slow to talk and would apply picture thinking to complex problems in the field of physics. The dividing line between psychiatric disorders and great gifts is often a very narrow one and strongly depends on how someone is viewed by their surroundings.
“Toni hears voices,” said Trapp. “But who is this Dr. Ellsworth to tell her she’s a schizophrenic? Maybe she just perceives better than the rest of us. Maybe the voices she hears are uncommunicated ideas, floating free.”
In psychoanalysis as in art, God resided in the details, the discovery of which required enormous patience, unyielding seriousness, and the skill of an acrobat — walking a tightrope over memory and speculation, instinct and theory, feeling and denial.
Standing on the edge with my patients — abiding with them — means that I must harbor a true awareness that I, too, could lose my child through the play of circumstance over which I have no control. I could lose my home, my financial security, my safety. I could lose my mind. Any of us could.
Contrary to most professional opinion, [a] gnawing dissatisfaction with life is not a sign of “mental illness,” nor an indication of poor social adjustment, nor a character disorder. . . . A person who is beginning to sense the suffering of life is, at the same time, beginning to awaken to deeper realities, truer realities. For suffering smashes to pieces the complacency of our normal fictions about reality and forces us to become alive in a special sense — to see carefully, to feel deeply, to touch ourselves and our worlds in ways we have heretofore avoided.
Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can . . . across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.
If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion.
There is an important idea in Nietzsche of “amor fati,” the “love of your fate,” which is in fact your life. As he says, if you say no to a single factor in your life, you have unraveled the whole thing. Furthermore, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.
I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. / Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Joy is the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.
When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart?