“The highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato and Milton is that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men, but what they thought.”
Here’s above contrent stuff.
“The artist’s problem is to avoid changing the rules so radically that no bridge remains over which the public can follow him.”
Every Morning I am Pulled Apart Every morning I need an hour or so to remind myself that the significance and notoriety I seek won’t make me feel what I think they will, won’t give me what I feel I need.
I am already as significant as I can be. There’s other columns in the spreadsheet — notoriety, influence — they have no real weight to me if I survive past my 60s.
I am already as significant, as important, as meaningful as I can be. Every morning that feels lame. Every morning I have to breathe through it, sink into it. Every morning I remind myself, ask myself to live in the way of my already-there-ness, creating from rest instead thrusting outward at more, always more.
I am ripped apart by this every morning. The call for significance, the impulse to matter more, to be more than the average person erupts every morning like survival’s older brother, an animal instinct evolved. Even as I write this: will they see it? Will they see me? All flows from the source. Every morning I search it out, reminding, re-membering.
And every day I forget: I clutch and reach. Leaning, top heavy, I end the day off balance. I bring myself to my son, my wife, this way. I bring myself to movies and shows and books this way and I thrill: here is the thing I want, to make THIS. I lean into them. Do they support me or just my lean? Is this codependence?
Everyday I remind myself: I am enough. And everyday I forget. I am everyday pulled apart and reformed from the scraps. I hear Allan Watts tell me I am not a put together thing, I am the pulling, I am togetherness, I am all of this. I see it for true, yet there’s some dark magnet inside that won’t let me transform, a black hole in the deep, pull-push of… of what? Creativity? Life-death? Insecurity? Life-death seems best but too on the nose. What’s really here is: WILL THIS MAKE ME FEEL IT!? I am an inconsolable child, my parents love me and whisper over me but I rage on incapable.
There is deep debt within me; there is also enormous wealth. This year, my 33rd, is the first I’m able to say: everything is OK.
“There’s a wonderful moment that comes when you realize, ‘I’m not striving for anything. What I’m doing now is not a means to achieving something later.’ Youth has always to think that way. Every decision a young person makes is a commitment to a life course, and if you make a bad decision, that angle, by the time you get [older] you’re far off course. But after a certain age there’s no future, and suddenly the present becomes rich, it becomes that thing in itself which you are now experiencing.” ~ Joseph Campbell
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This post was originally published at Medium.
“I finished off the trail crew season and went on a long mountain meditation walk for ten days across some wilderness. During that process—thinking about things and my life—I just dropped poetry. I don’t want to sound precious, but in some sense I did drop it. Then I started writing poems that were better. From that time forward I always looked on the poems I wrote as gifts that were not essential to my life; if I never wrote another one, it wouldn’t be a great tragedy. Ever since, every poem I’ve written has been like a surprise…
You get a good poem and you don’t know where it came from. ‘Did I say that?’ And so all you feel is: you feel humility and you feel gratitude. And you’d feel a little uncomfortable, I think, if you capitalized too much on that without admitting at some point that you got it from the Muse, or whoever, wherever, or however.”
“An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that “begging bowl” to which the gift is drawn.”
“There is only one real deprivation, I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one’s gift to those one loves most … The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up.”
“The work wants to be made and it wants to be made by you.”
This was an excellent interview. Never read her books, just became an instant fan. Below are some more quotes from this interview (I couldn’t stop collecting them).
On not enough time
One of the most important things I was ever given as a piece of advice was from a woman I was complaining to in my 20s about how I didn’t have enough time to pursue my writing because of all the other obligations I had in my life. The eternal complaint; you’re never going to meet another creative person who doesn’t have that essential, fundamental complaint. They’re dreaming of some slow, grass growing place where they can gently allow these things to ferment. Everyone fantasizes about that, it never comes. I was just sort of griping to her, and she said: what are you willing to give up to have what you really want? And it was such a searingly important question to me at that time. And she also said, “what’s your favorite tv show?” I said the Sopranos, and she said “not anymore! You’re done watching evening television. What are you willing to give up in order to have what you say you want?” Of course you have to know what you want.
On how the work feels about you
I love it when people let themselves love something that they made because it loves you, it wanted to work with you, it came to you because it wanted to be made manifest and it tapped on your shoulder and said “do you want to be a collaborator with me?” because it liked you. … Most of us like to be liked and so does inspiration and creativity. All this stuff likes to be appreciated. Just say “I welcome you, I love you, I want to work with you.”
On the voice of self doubt
I have an answer in the chamber when the dark evil demon in my head says, “who the hell do you think you are trying to do this!?” I realized long ago that that evil psychotic demon in your head who says that you’re worthless, that’s the only question he ever asks: who the hell do you think you are? But if you take the tone of voice away from him, maybe he’s just curious. Maybe because you’re insecure you’re hearing it as an assault, but he’s really, like, “hey, who are you? Who do you think you are?” And so, I just answer him now, really sincerely. “Hey, thanks for asking! I’ll tell you who I am: I am a child of God just like everyone else and I am a constituent of creation and therefore I have every right in the world to participate in its unfolding.”
On marriage partner expectations
Here’s what you’re putting on (your spouse): they have to be incredibly sexually exciting to me forever. They have to be my best friend. They have to be my soulmate. They have to be my intellectual match. They have to be the perfect parent for the kind of parenting I want to do. They have to fit in to my family and my community and all my friends and be interested in the same stuff that I’m interested in. When you start to quantify what people are expecting out of this it’s kind of overwhelming and maybe a little bit unrealistic.
On the big fear mistake
Here’s the mistake we make with fear: we hate it, we fear it, we resent it and we want it gone. And the biggest mistake we make with it is that we don’t start by showing it our enormous gratitude. Because before everything else, before we bitch about how it holds us back and stopping us, start with ‘you’re here because your fear has saved your life.’ You literally owe your life to this thing. You’re here because your ancestors survived because they were terrified enough to save their own life. You’re here because you didn’t get into the car with that guy, because you got out of the ocean when the waves were too big. And all you want to do is be mad at it, the most loyal protector of your bodily life. So, before you start hating on it, just take a moment and say to it, ‘thank you so much for all the times that you stood in front of that car for me, took a bullet for me, stopped me from doing that stupid thing. I owe you literally everything.’ Start with that. When your fear rises up, start there, say thank you. And then explain what you’re doing and why you don’t need its services right now. ‘Thanks so much, I know you’re concerned for me, but you can wait offstage and I’ll come join you when I’m done.’ That’s what I’ve learned about fear: respect it, admire it, thank it and then just ask it to stand down, no ones going to get hurt, I’m just writing a poem.
“[describes a comedian bombing] If failure of this scale can cause this much joy in anyone then this is the healthiest thing I could do with the rest of my life and I will do nothing else. And I’ve never looked back from that moment.”