I've never thought it strange to do highly contrasting things. I always thought it was all part and parcel of theatrical expression. At school, I loved doing revues, I was in a rock 'n' roll group and I staged a couple of musical events, then, when I left, I formed a little company to do Hamlet.
I didn't really do very good at the beginning adjusting, and then the second time I got called up I adjusted a little better. Still it's a tough situation for me because I've never been in that situation because I've been used to playing every day in the Minor Leagues. My goal is to eventually get an everyday spot here.
I should have asked why any room in the house was better than home to me when she entered it, and barren as a desert when she went out again—why I always noticed and remembered the little changes in her dress that I had noticed and remembered in no other woman’s before—why I saw her, heard her, and touched her (when we shook hands at night and morning) as I had never seen, heard, and touched any other woman in my life?
I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.
I have always hesitated to give advice, for how can one advise another how to act unless one knows that other as well as one knows himself? Heaven knows. I know little enough of myself: I know nothing of others. We can only guess at the thoughts and emotions of our neighbours. Each one of us is a prisoner in a solitary tower and he communicates with the other prisoners, who form mankind, by conventional signs that have not quite the same meaning for them as for himself.
I had no illusions about you,' he said. 'I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It's comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn't ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you'd only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn't care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they're in love with someone and the love isn't returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn't like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn't see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn't afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor.
I don't like feeling sorry for myself. That's not who I am. And most of the time I don't feel that way. Instead, I am grateful for having at least found you. We could have flashed by one another like two pieces of cosmic dust.God or the universe or whatever one chooses to label the great systems of balance and order does not recognize Earth-time. To the universe, four days is no different than four billion light years. I try to keep that in mind.But, I am, after all, a man. And all the philosophic rationalizations I can conjure up do not keep me from wanting you, every day, every moment, the merciless wail of time, of time I can never spend with you, deep within my head.I love you, profoundly and completely. And I always will.The last cowboy,Robert
As a songwriter, I'm gathering clues and possibilities all the time, whether I see a piano that day or not. I've tried to explain to people how I collect these dispatches, because I think anybody can do what I'm talking about. Once I do plug in, I might get only one line and two bar phrases of the melody. I always have elements of songs around that may never ever get recorded. As far back as Little Earthquakes, I began to realize that I needed to have a library of notes, phrases, words, things that might prove useful at any given time. Within a few months' time I'll gather hundreds of those fragments. Half won't be used. And then the craft comes in, the part that is about painting a world. You want listeners to smell the lavender, to feel the point of those knitting needles in a handbag of the granny who happens to harbor a loyalty to Madame Defarge. You want the listener to know the wood's burning in the stove when they walk into the song with me. Music is about all of your senses, not just hearing.
If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line - starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King's Highway past the appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circling or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led - make of that what you will.
From my college courses and my reading I knew the various names that came at the end of a line of questions or were placed as periods to bafflement: the First Cause, the First Mover, the Life Force, the Universal Mind, the First Principle, the Unmoved Mover, even Providence. I too had used those names in arguing with others, and with myself, trying to explain the world to myself. And now I saw that those names explained nothing. They were of no more use than Evolution or Natural Selection or Nature or The Big Bang of these later days. All such names do is catch us within the length and breadth of our own thoughts and our own bewilderment. Though I knew the temptation of simple reason, to know nothing that can't be proved, still I supposed that those were not the right names.I imagined that the right name might be Father, and I imagined all that that name would imply: the love, the compassion, the taking offense, the disappointment, the anger, the bearing of wounds, the weeping of tears, the forgiveness, the suffering unto death. If love could force my own thoughts over the edge of the world and out of time, then could I not see how even divine omnipotence might by the force of its own love be swayed down into the world? Could I not see how it might, because it could know its creatures only by compassion, put on mortal flesh, become a man, and walk among us, assume our nature and our fate, suffer our faults and our death?Yes. I could imagine a Father who is yet like a mother hen spreading her wings before the storm or in the dusk before the dark night for the little ones of Port William to come in under, some of whom do, and some do not. I could imagine Port William riding its humble wave through time under the sky, its little flames of wakefulness lighting and going out, its lives passing through birth, pleasure, sufferning, and death. I could imagine God looking down upon it, its lives living by His spirit, breathing by His breath, knowing by His light, but each life living also (inescapably) by its own will--His own body given to be broken.
Everyone always knows what they're doing," he says abruptly, still not looking up from his hands, the little plastic pot and the old tattoo and the new white dressing on his left wrist. "You know what you're doing, you got your work and your friends and everything and miserable headfucky little teenage girly boys think you're amazing and, I don't know, you might've saved my life, who knows? I might be dead if it weren't for you and Olly but people can't keep looking after me all the time cos that ain't healthy neither, that's just as bad as people not giving a fuck at all. And, like... I'm trying to sort my head out and be a proper grown-up and get my degree and go to work and look after them kids and make sure my dad ain't kicking my sister round the house like a football but it's just so hard all the time, and I know I ain't got no right to complain cos that's just life, ain't it? Everyone's the same, least I ain't got money worries or nothing. I just don't know what I'm doing, everything's too hard. I can try and try forever but I can't be good enough for no one so what the fuck's the point?