If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we would be happy with more?
Comparing what we're looking for misses the point. It's wanting to know that makes us matter. Otherwise we're going out the way we came in. That's why you can't believe in the afterlife, Valentine. Believe in the after, by all means, but not the life. Believe in God, the soul, the spirit, the infinite, believe in angels if you like, but not in the great celestial get-together for an exchange of views. If the answers are in the back of the book I can wait, but what a drag. Better to struggle on knowing that failure is final.
Rosencrantz: We might as well be dead. Do you think death could possibly be a boat?Guildenstern: No, no, no... Death is...not. Death isn't. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not-be on a boat.Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.Guildenstern: No, no, no--what you've been is not on boats.
Because children grow up, we think a child's purpose is to grow up. But a child's purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn't disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into the each moment. We don't value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life's bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it's been sung? The dance when it's been danced? It's only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature's highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and wilfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we're expected! But there is no such place, that's why it's called utopia. The death of a child has no more meaning than the death of armies, of nations. Was the child happy while he lived? That is a proper question, the only question. If we can't arrange our own happiness, it's a conceit beyond vulgarity to arrange the happiness of those who come after us.
I think the idea that we have anything to begin with is a lie we tell ourselves every day until we believe it. I think the law is there to enforce fictions that would not exist otherwise. Certain laws prevent us from deviating from those fictions, and thrive as a framework for the lifestyle we are all required to live. I believe that the reason possession is nine-tenths of the law is that without those laws there wouldn’t be any possession at all.
We're a society of brats, fighting over the same toys. That, for me, is the closest we come to be inherently evil as a people. It leads to selfishness, inflexibility, and impatience -- among so many other traits that are ugly and harmful. We're combative, competitive, petty, and suffer from one fatal flaw that I can never get my head around. We recognize behavior in others that makes us insane, while turning right around and doing the exact thing to someone else.
I believe we must do things in our lives for the right reasons, because we enjoy doing them, with no expectation of getting something back in return. Otherwise, we are constantly being disappointed." She moved her turquoise bracelet back and forth on her wrist. "So I had two sons, John and Richard, because I wanted to, not because I thought they would rescue me in old age. I got out of all social organizations and clubs in my fifties so I could spend time with my grandchildren, not because they would give something back to Jack and me later on, but because that was what I wanted to do--and I have loved doing it. Believe me, these have been selfish decisions.
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.
What would you think of an engineer who expounded the art of flying without revealing the secrets of the engine and propeller? That's what you do, you engineer of the human soul. Just that. You're a coward. You want the raisins out of my cake but you don't want the thorns of my roses. Haven't you too, little psychiatrist, been cracking silly jokes about me? Haven't you ridiculed me as "the prophet of bigger and better orgasms"? Have you never heard the whimpering of a young wife whose body has been desecrated by an impotent husband? Or the anguished cry of an adolescent bursting with unfulfilled love? Does your security still mean more to you than your patient? How long will you go on valuing your respectability above your medical mission? How long will you refuse to see that your pussyfooting procrastination is costing millions their lives?
Build your house on granite. By granite I mean your nature that you are torturing to death, the love in your child's body, your wife's dream of love, your own dream of life when you were sixteen. Exchange your illusions for a bit of truth. Throw out your politicians and diplomats! Take your destiny into your own hands and build your life on rock. Forget about your neighbor and look inside yourself! Your neighbor, too, will be grateful. Tell you're fellow workers all over the world that you're no longer willing to work for death but only for life. Instead of flocking to executions and shouting hurrah, hurrah, make a law for the protection of human life and its blessings. Such a law will be part of the granite foundation your house rests on. Protect your small children's love against the assaults of lascivious, frustrated men and women. Stop the mouth of the malignant old maid; expose her publicly or send her to a reform school instead of young people who are longing for love. Don;t try to outdo your exploiter in exploitation if you have a chance to become a boss. Throw away your swallowtails and top hat, and stop applying for a license to embrace your woman. Join forces with your kind in all countries; they are like you, for better or worse. Let your child grow up as nature (or 'God') intended. Don't try to improve on nature. Learn to understand it and protect it. Go to the library instead of the prize fight, go to foreign countries rather than to Coney Island. And first and foremost, think straight, trust the quiet inner voice inside you that tells you what to do. You hold your life in your hands, don't entrust it to anyone else, least of all to your chosen leaders. BE YOURSELF! Any number of great men have told you that.
We are split people. For myself, half of me wishes to sit quietly with legs crossed, letting the things that are beyond my control wash over me. But the other half wants to fight a holy war. Jihad! And certainly we could argue this out in the street, but I think, in the end, your past is not my past and your truth is not my truth and your solution---it is not my solution. So I do not know what it is you would like me to say. Truth and firmness is one suggestion, though there are many people you can ask if that answer does not satisfy. Personally, my hope lies in the last days. The prophet Muhammad---peace be upon Him!---tells us that on the Day of Resurrection everyone will be struck unconscious. Deaf and dumb. No chitchat. Tongueless. And what a bloody relief that will be.
Q: Where and when do you do your writing? A: Any small room with no natural light will do. As for when, I have no particular schedules... afternoons are best, but I'm too lethargic for any real regime. When I'm in the flow of something I can do a regular 9 to 5; when I don't know where I'm going with an idea, I'm lucky if I do two hours of productive work. There is nothing more off-putting to a would-be novelist to hear about how so-and-so wakes up at four in the a.m, walks the dog, drinks three liters of black coffee and then writes 3,000 words a day, or that some other asshole only works half an hour every two weeks, does fifty press-ups and stands on his head before and after the "creative moment." I remember reading that kind of stuff in profiles like this and becoming convinced everything I was doing was wrong. What's the American phrase? If it ain't broke...
If desire causes suffering, it may be because we do not desire wisely, or that we are inexpert at obtaining what we desire. Instead of hiding our heads in a prayer cloth and building walls against temptation, why not get better at fulfilling desire? Salvation is for the feeble, that's what I think. I don't want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb. If the gods would tax ecstasy, then I shall pay; however, I shall protest their taxes at each opportunity, and if Woden or Shiva or Buddha or that Christian fellow--what's his name?--cannot respect that, then I'll accept their wrath. At least I will have tasted the banquet that they have spread before me on this rich, round planet, rather than recoiling from it like a toothless bunny. I cannot believe that the most delicious things were placed here merely to test us, to tempt us, to make it the more difficult for us to capture the grand prize: the safety of the void. To fashion of life such a petty game is unworthy of both men and gods.
The word desire suggests that there is something we do not have. If we have everything already, then there can be no desire, for there is nothing left to want. I think that what the Buddha may have been trying to tell us is that we have it all, each of us, all the time; therefore, desire is simply unnecessary.
We modern human beings are looking at life, trying to make some sense of it; observing a 'reality' that often seems to be unfolding in a foreign tongue--only we've all been issued the wrong librettos. For a text, we're given the Bible. Or the Talmud or the Koran. We're given Time magazine, and Reader's Digest, daily papers, and the six o'clock news; we're given schoolbooks, sitcoms, and revisionist histories; we're given psychological counseling, cults, workshops, advertisements, sales pitches, and authoritative pronouncements by pundits, sold-out scientists, political activists, and heads of state. Unfortunately, none of these translations bears more than a faint resemblance to what is transpiring in the true theater of existence, and most of them are dangerously misleading. We're attempting to comprehend the spiraling intricacies of a magnificently complex tragicomedy with librettos that describe the barrom melodramas or kindergarten skits. And when's the last time you heard anybody bitch about it to the management?
So...Now that we got that over with, let's get back to love at first sight, Evan said. Not infatuation at first sight...Love. With a capital L, he clarified.Love? Heeb asked, playfully pretending not to know the concept.Yeah. The real thing. The conviction that if you had this one woman, all other women would become irrelevant. You'd never again be unhappy And you'd give up anything to have her and keep her.You've experienced that?Only once. And I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since.Tell me more.Sometimes I think that I still chase women just to forget about her. Because I know I can never have her. But I can't seem to forget about her, no matter what girl I'm chasing...No one can possibly compare....Who is she?Delilah, Evan said wistfully.Delilah?, asked Heeb, intriguedDelilah Nakova, Evan replied, with a hint of awe and reverence in his voice.