The city was lovely. There could be no place in the world to which he belonged so completely. That was why he’d always dreamed of leaving, and why he’d always been so afraid to go.
When I consider that the nobler animals have been exterminated here — the cougar, panther, lynx, wolverine, wolf, bear, moose, deer, the beaver, the turkey, etc., etc. — I cannot but feel as if I lived in a tamed, and, as it were, emasculated country. . . . To my chagrin I hear that it is but an imperfect copy that I possess and have read, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, and mutilated it in many places. I should not like to think that some demigod had come before me and picked out some of the best of the stars. I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.
The challenge of running The Sun continues to occupy me. Sometimes it occupies me like a conquering army, sometimes like the Holy Ghost. Either way I’m grateful for the chance to do this work month after month, year after year — a man happy to have found his cross to bear. Yes, even living your dream can feel like a burden now and then. But, my oh my, to live your dream! And not just when you’re sleeping, but every morning when you open your eyes. Then you sit in the dark and write a few words. Then the sun comes up.
Sy Safransky’s Notebook, May 2006November 2023
The practices we now call conservation are, to a large extent, local alleviations of biotic pain. They are necessary, but they must not be confused with cures. The art of land doctoring is being practiced with vigor, but the science of land health is yet to be born.
It’s hard for me to believe that I will die. Because I’m bubbling in a frigid freshness. My life is going to be very long because each instant is. The impression is that I’m still to be born.
One imagines the birth of happiness to be accompanied by some great spectacular upheaval. One can imagine it flowering in the most luxurious setting. Yet happiness is born of a trifle, feeds on nothing.
I turn off the radio, listen to the quiet. Which has its own, rich sound. Which I knew, but had forgotten. And it is good to remember.
I dream of songs. I dream they fall down through the centuries, from my distant ancestors, and come to me. I dream of lullabies and sea shanties and keening cries and rhythms and stories and backbeats.
I’m still learning how dogged people can be in denial, even when their freedom or their lives are at stake.
Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of the demons.
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