Thursday, December 27, 2018

The strange commerce of love

"As she got older, she was discovering the strange commerce of love: Whatever she gave to others (affection, understanding, kindness) she got to keep for herself too. And whatever she withheld (all of the previous things plus peace of mind and communication), she actually ended up losing instead of keeping.

She wondered if love was the only transaction where such an inversion of the fundamentals was possible."

Philip John, 'Labyrinths'

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Was there magic, and did you stop for it?

"At the end of a day, I tend to ask myself, did you contribute something beautiful to the world? Just a little beauty. And, did you live strongly and quietly today? Was there magic, and did you stop for it? Did you attend?"

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Falling more deeply in love with the world...

On the Winter Solstice

...On this longest night, it’s so clear—
the truest reason to write at all is to fall
more deeply in love with the world,

with its trees and its drizzle
and its stubborn shine and its
relentless hunger and its corners
that will never ever see the growing light.

Fall in love with the octopus that can detach
an arm on purpose and then grow it back again.

Fall in love with the elusive lynx
and the crooked forest and the frazzle ice
tinkling in the San Miguel River.

Fall in love even with this profoundly flawed
species that, despite all its faults,
is still capable of falling more deeply,
more wildly in love.

Rosemerry Trommer

And the darkness is not complete

Indeed. "Though much is taken, much abides."  And there's more to admire in men than to despise. My faith has been tested, but remains. :) Wishing you all a great holiday season and fresh beginnings. Thank you for all your kind words. It's been a tough year but it has carved me deeper to receive even more of the world's kindness. As always, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. 


These are dark times. Rumors of war
rise like smoke in the east. Drought
widens its misery. In the west, glittering towers
collapse in a pillar of ash and dust. Peace,
a small white bird, flies off in the clouds.
And this is the shortest day of the year.

Still, in almost every window,
a single candle burns,
there are tiny white lights
on evergreens and pines,
and the darkness is not complete.

Barbara Crooker

Friday, December 21, 2018

If you wanted to be yourself all the time, get an aquarium full of fish

The Virtue of Discomfort

In the beginning of a relationship, she said, both people were happy to be a little uncomfortable. It was a voluntary suffering. She said the Latin root for the word passion was ‘passio’ which meant ‘to suffer’. It made sense, she said. You were so passionate about someone you were willing to make sacrifices. You watched a high brow film and ate salad afterward not because you liked it so much but because your partner liked it a lot and you wanted to see the world through their eyes and you knew they would do the same for you. So at this stage of your love, passion triumphed over authenticity and you didn’t mind it at all. The discomfort made you feel alive.

Then time passed and the desire to be uncomfortable for the other diminished. It was time for frankness, for complete ‘authenticity’. Society made you believe this was the ‘real’ stage of the relationship. Now it was a win-win, you could ‘settle down’ and build an honest, comfortable life together. But, she said, this is where her heart always sank. She hated comfort. And marriage, to her, was really a way of legitimizing comfort and indifference with the carrot of stability, of security.

So here’s the thing, she said. Once you had a relationship that was not so comfortable but very passionate. And now you had a relationship that was very comfortable but devoid of passion and curiosity. Which was better?

After a pause, she said she would choose passion, even if it meant a little discomfort. In other words, she wanted to suffer for her partner and she wanted her partner to want to suffer for her.

She wanted them both to give up a little of their ‘authenticity’ to change for the other. Otherwise what was the point of love?

If you wanted to be yourself all the time, get an aquarium full of fish, she said. Why be with a human being?

Being your true self all the time, being ‘authentic’ was for her not a virtue in relationships but a kind of selfishness.

Philip John, Labyrinths


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Down Hysterica Passio! The Stirring of the Beast Beneath

I used to write down interesting things I read, in notebooks, pre-internet days. I have 5 of them, I think I started in 1982, while I was at school - shy child whose only interactions were with people in books. I copied down this passage at age 21. I did not know then how true it is!

Later on in life I learned the hard way about the need to be angry at the right time, to use rightful anger to initiate positive action, make things better, ensure self-preservation, safeguard one's self-respect. I was surprised to hear myself tell someone recently - you don't have to show anger or be destroyed by it, you can use it as fuel to do amazing things. I wish I had that wisdom earlier, but better late than never. :)

"We all have something within ourselves to batter down, and we get our power from this fighting. I have never 'produced' a play in verse without showing the actors that the passion of the verse comes from the fact that the speakers are holding down violence, or madness - 'down Hysterica Passio'.

All depends on the completeness of the holding down, on the stirring of the beast underneath. Without this conflict we have no passion, only sentiment and thought."

W.B.Yeats, in a letter to Dorothy Wellesley. From 'Yeats: The Man and the Masks', by Richard Ellmann

Notebook 5, 12 June 1989

Related post, on the importance of discovering one's rage:

Picture: Angry Samurai mask, from here.

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