Jane Kenyon: Be a good steward of your gifts

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk.

― Jane Kenyon

12 authors write about the libraries they love

Neil Gaiman and 11 other authors write about the libraries they love:

Still, if there is a heaven, one of the many mansions it must contain is a red brick Victorian building, all wood and shelves, waiting for me. And the shelves will be filled with books by beloved authors, as good as or better than the ones I knew. I will read my way through the adult library, and then, to attain perfect bliss, I will enter the children’s library, and never need to leave it. Not even to eat my sandwiches in the parking lot.

Niina Pollari on Minor Gains

Niina Pollari on Minor Gains:

Three things about weightlifting drew me in: its relative solitude; the tangible results (mostly pain) that followed; and the slightly transgressive way it felt to be a woman near the free weights. (Though numbers of non-male lifters seem to be on the rise, we’re still far from the majority.)

Maybe I’m just looking for some feelings-based narrative in weightlifting because my gender dictates that I’m an emotional creature who falls in love with everything.

Emotional arcs and storytelling exist in writing about other physical activities—running is the best example. Runners who write seem gifted at linking motion with writing. The process of putting distance behind you with just your own two feet lends itself easily to an essay about strong dedication. The one-two pattern of feet on the ground mimics both the heartbeat and the iambic structure of English speech, which makes running easy enough to relate to craft. (Haruki Murakami wrote an entire book about it.) Running, particularly as a practice for writers, has gathered for itself a nobly meditative reputation. But what if what I love is something other than endurance, than distance? I’m a poet, I tell myself. I don’t deal in distance.

But the satisfaction I get out of the action of lifting weight is a different kind. It’s the same kind of joy that I get out of following a calm, caring routine week after week with the partner who shares my space with me. The transformative power of love is that it builds over time. When it works, love is comprised of the mutual interwoven patterns of its participants.

Pico Iyer on the tyranny of the moment

Pico Iyer on the tyranny of the moment:

As planned obsolescence moves at the speed of light -- in Japan, where I write this, the "Royal Milk Tea"-flavored KitKat I fell in love with last week is already gone from the shelves -- I sometimes think that all we hunger for is liberation from the moment, and anything that will release us from the swarming, cacophonous, surround-sound, 24/7 dictatorship of Right Now. So long as we are human, we will always long for touching that part of ourselves -- or of one another and our world -- that doesn't have a date-stamp on it.
So might books actually have a reason for being after all? A few days ago, I conducted a small experiment in my two-room apartment here in rural Japan. I spent two hours clicking through what are among the most literary and unhurried of the alternatives to books, the online versions of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. I came away with delectable snippets of information about Richard Holbrooke, American schools and the Obama campaign. I could talk now about any of these matters of current interest at a dinner-party with three minutes' worth of wisdom. But I also felt, as I logged off, a little as I did when I worked four blocks from Times Square: wildly stimulated, excitingly up-to-the-moment, alive with ideas -- and with no time or space to hear myself think.

Live the questions now.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke

"Bravery is always more intelligent than fear, since it is built on the foundation of what one knows about oneself: the knowledge of one’s strength and capacity, of one’s passion."

— Nicole Krauss

Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Loneliness, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real

Amanda Palmer on Art, Love, Loneliness, Motherhood, Vulnerability, Trust, and Our Lifelong Quest to Feel Real:

We think that we’re all very connected, we think that we’re all very communicative. But when you actually strip it down, there’s a lot wrong. And the proof is in the pudding — you have a whole society of people who are depressed and insecure and anxious and paranoid and worried … and, fundamentally, feeling very unseen… Maybe we’ve constructed culture in a way that people are not feeling recognized, loved, accepted, happy with their place in society… What have we done to create such unhappiness?