We were still at the age when girls are years older than guy, and the guys grow up by doing their best when the girls need them to.
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We were still at the age when girls are years older than guy, and the guys grow up by doing their best when the girls need them to.

-Tana French

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When I was a child, an angel came to say,A true friend is coming my warrior to sweep you away,It won’t be easy the path because it leads through hell,But if you’re faithful, it will be the greatest story to tell,You will move God’s daughters to a place of hope,Your story will teach everyone there is nothing they can’t cope,You will suffer a lot, but not one tear will you waste,Because for all that you do for me, you will be graced,For I am bringing you someone that wants to travel your trail,Someone you already met when you passed through heaven’s veil,A warrior, a friend that whispers your heart’s song,Someone that will run with you and pull your spirit along,Don’t you see the timing was love's fated throw,Because I put you both there to help one another grow,I am the writer of all great stories your chapters were written by me,You suffered, you cried because I needed you to see,That your faith in my ending goes far beyond two,It was going to change more hearts than both of you knew,So hush my child and wait for my loving hand,The last chapter is not written and still in the sand,It is up to you to finish, before the tide washes it away,All that is in your heart, I’ve put their for you to say,This is not about winning, loss or pain,I made you the way you are because true love stories are insane,I wrote you in heaven as I sat on its sandy shore,You know with all of my heart I loved you both more,There is no better ending two people seeing each other's heart,Together your spirits will never drift apart,Because two kindred spirits is what I made you to be,The waves and beach crashing together because of-- ME.

-Shannon L. Alder

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I began to recall my own experience when I was Mercutio’s age (late teens I decided, a year or two older than Romeo) as a pupil at a public school called Christ’s Hospital. This school is situated in the idyllic countryside of the Sussex Weald, just outside Horsham. I recalled the strange blend of raucousness and intellect amongst the cloisters, the fighting, the sport, and general sense of rebelliousness, of not wishing to seem conventional (this was the sixties); in the sixth form (we were called Grecians) the rarefied atmosphere, the assumption that of course we would go to Oxford or Cambridge; the adoption of an ascetic style, of Zen Buddhism, of baroque opera, the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, and Mahler; of Pound, Eliot and e. e. cummings. We perceived the world completely through art and culture. We were very young, very wise, and possessed of a kind of innocent cynicism. We wore yellow stockings, knee breeches, and an ankle length dark blue coat, with silver buttons. We had read Proust, we had read Evelyn Waugh, we knew what was what. There was a sense, fostered by us and by many teachers, that we were already up there with Lamb, Coleridge, and all the other great men who had been educated there. We certainly thought that we soared ‘above a common bound’. I suppose it is a process of constant mythologizing that is attempted at any public school. Tom Brown’s Schooldays is a good example. Girls were objects of both romantic and purely sexual, fantasy; beautiful, distant, mysterious, unobtainable, and, quite simply, not there. The real vessel for emotional exchange, whether sexually expressed or not, were our own intense friendships with each other. The process of my perceptions of Mercutio intermingling with my emotional memory continued intermittently, up to and including rehearsals. I am now aware that that possibly I re-constructed my memory somewhat, mythologised it even, excising what was irrelevant, emphasising what was useful, to accord with how I was beginning to see the part, and what I wanted to express with it. What I was seeing in Mercutio was his grief and pain at impending separation from Romeo, so I suppose I sensitised myself to that period of my life when male bonding was at its strongest for me.

-Roger Allam

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On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'" John 7:37-38 (NIV)As soon as we were old enough to understand fairy tales, we were told to start looking for the one.Someday my prince will come.Someday I'll find my love.As we got older, Prince Charming looked a bit different. Our teenage hearts thrilled when the latest vocal sensation sang about finding us and how our love would last forever.Wherever we turned, we were told our soul mate was waiting. And we were led to believe we were "less than" if we didn't find the one who would complete us!Even now, whether we're 15, 45 or 75, the equation hasn't changed: "Guy + Me = Valuable."So, if the movies, books and songs are so right, how come when we find the one, we can still feel like we're missing something? Why are there married people who are lonely with an emptiness that marriage can't fill? Our hearts can get confused if our reality doesn't match fantasy and we wonder:Maybe my one isn't really the one? Or, whether we're married or single, we might wonder, is the one for me still out there?In this place of uncertainty our hearts can grow perplexed. If we find ourselves in this vulnerable place of questioning, and all of a sudden a guy who seems to be the one enters the picture, it can stir up confusion.If we are married, we might wonder if we should walk away from a husband, who we thought was perfect for us, in order to have a new one, who seems more perfect. Singles might wonder if this guy is really a gift from God ... the one we've waited for?In my personal search to have my love gap filled, I have discovered there is The One for each and every one of us.It is Jesus Himself! He's The One our hearts are looking for. He's The One who is the filler of my lonely places and misunderstood parts.No matter what is going on in my roller coaster heart, Jesus' love for me is secure and stable. On the days when the relationship with my husband is everything I'm looking for, Jesus is The One. On the days when the cart of marriage is wobbly and off-kilter, He's still The One.Oh the relief Jesus brings to the rest of my relationships! When I turn to Him to fill the love gap in my heart, it takes the pressure off others! While my needy heart could wear my family out, Jesus is a continual source of unconditional love pouring into me. Not the type of filling that is once and done, but an endless supply ... each and every day.Listen to His promise in John 7:37-38, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."Ahhh ... the refreshing that comes when we discover He is The One we are looking for.What a relief my heart experiences as I stop looking to others to fill me and find Jesus as my constant, day after day, contentment. Take time today to go to Him and ask Him to fill up the empty places and refresh the areas of your heart that are dry. Jesus is The One and only who can fill and complete us.Lord, help me to recognize You are The One my heart is looking for. Each and every day, teach me to look to You to fill the love gap in my heart. Amen

-Lynn Cowell

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We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

-Orwellian

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On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze.A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that?Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind.In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday.Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us.It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral.All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.

-Tana French

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Did you know I always thought you were braver than me? Did you ever guess that that was why I was so afraid? It wasn't that I only loved some of you. But I wondered if you could ever love more than some of me. I knew I'd miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn't happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn't seem broken at all. I know young people look at me and think my youth seems so far away, but it's all around me, and you're all around me. Tiger Lily, do you think magic exists if it can be explained? I can explain why I loved you, I can explain the theory of evolution that tells me why mermaids live in Neverland and nowhere else. But it still feels magic. The lost boys all stood at our wedding. Does it seem odd to you that they could have stood at a wedding that wasn't yours and mine? It does to me. and I'm sorry for it, and for a lot, and I also wouldn't change it. It is so quiet here. Even with all the trains and the streets and the people. It's nothing like the jungle. The boys have grown. Everything has grown. Do you think you will ever grow? I hope not. I like to think that even if I change and fade away, some other people won't. I like to think that one day after I die, at least one small particle of me - of all the particles that will spread everywhere - will float all the way to Neverland, and be part of a flower or something like that, like that poet said, the one that your Tik Tok loved. I like to think that nothing's final, and that everyone gets to be together even when it looks like they don't, that it all works out even when all the evidence seems to say something else, that you and I are always young in the woods, and that I'll see you sometime again, even if it's not with any kind of eyes I know of or understand. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the way things go after all - that all things end happy. Even for you and Tik Tok. and for you and me.Always, Your PeterP.S. Please give my love to Tink. She was always such a funny little bug.

-Jodi Lynn

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I’m fifteen and I feel like girl my age are under a lot of pressure that boys are not under. I know I am smart, I know I am kind and funny, and I know that everyone around me keeps telling me that I can be whatever I want to be. I know all this but I just don’t feel that way. I always feel like if I don’t look a certain way, if boys don’t think I’m ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ then I’ve failed and it doesn’t even matter if I am a doctor or writer, I’ll still feel like nothing. I hate that I feel like that because it makes me seem shallow, but I know all of my friends feel like that, and even my little sister. I feel like successful women are only considered a success if they are successful AND hot, and I worry constantly that I won’t be. What if my boobs don’t grow, what if I don’t have the perfect body, what if my hips don’t widen and give me a little waist, if none of that happens I feel like what’s the point of doing anything because I’ll just be the ‘fat ugly girl’ regardless of whether I do become a doctor or not.I wish people would think about what pressure they are putting on everyone, not just teenage girls, but even older people – I watch my mum tear herself apart every day because her boobs are sagging and her skin is wrinkling, she feels like she is ugly even though she is amazing, but then I feel like I can’t judge because I do the same to myself. I wish the people who had real power and control the images and messages we get fed all day actually thought about what they did for once.I know the girls on page 3 are probably starving themselves. I know the girls in adverts are airbrushed. I know beauty is on the inside. But I still feel like I’m not good enough.

-Laura Bates

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Only a man can see in the face of a woman the girl she was. It is a secret which can be revealed only to a particular man, and, then, only at his insistence. But men have no secrets, except from women, and never grow up in the way women do. It is very much harder, and it takes much longer, for a man to grow up, and he could never do it at all without women. This is a mystery which can terrify and immobilize a woman, and it is always the key to her deepest distress. She must watch and guide, but he must lead, and he will always appear to be giving far more of his real attention to his comrades than he is giving to her. But that noisy, outward openness of men with each other enables them to deal with the silence and secrecy of women, that silence and secrecy which contains the truth of a man, and releases it. I suppose that the root of the resentment—a resentment which hides a bottomless terror—has to do with the fact that a woman is tremendously controlled by what the man’s imagination makes of her—literally, hour by hour, day by day; so she becomes a woman. But a man exists in his own imagination, and can never be at the mercy of a woman’s.—Anyway, in this fucked up time and place, the whole thing becomes ridiculous when you realize that women are supposed to be more imaginative than men. This is an idea dreamed up by men, and it proves exactly the contrary. The truth is that dealing with the reality of men leaves a woman very little time, or need, for imagination. And you can get very fucked up, here, once you take seriously the notion that a man who is not afraid to trust his imagination (which is all that men have ever trusted) if effeminate. It says a lot about this country, because, of course, if all you want to do is make money, the very last thing you need is imagination. Or women, for that matter: or men.

-James Baldwin

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When I was ten years old, one of my friends brought a Shaleenian kangaroo-cat to school one day. I remember the way it hopped around with quick, nervous leaps, peering at everything with its large, almost circular golden eyes. One of the girls asked if it was a boy cat or a girl cat. Our instructor didn't know; neither did the boy who had brought it; but the teacher made the mistake of asking, 'How can we find out?' Someone piped up, 'We can vote on it!' The rest of the class chimed in with instant agreement and before I could voice my objection that some things can't be voted on, the election was held. It was decided that the Shaleenian kangaroo-cat was a boy, and forthwith, it was named Davy Crockett. Three months later, Davy Crockett had kittens. So much for democracy. It seems to me that if the electoral process can be so wrong about such a simple thing, isn't it possible for it to be very, very wrong on much more complex matters? We have this sacred cow in our society that what the majority of people want is right—but is it? Our populace can't really be informed, not the majority of them—most people vote the way they have been manipulated and by the way they have responded to that manipulation—they are working out their own patterns of wishful thinking on the social environment in which they live. It is most disturbing to me to realize that though a majority may choose a specific course of action or direction for itself, through the workings of a 'representative government,' they may be as mistaken about the correctness of such a choice as my classmates were about the sex of that Shaleenian kangaroo-cat. I'm not so sure than an electoral government is necessarily the best.

-David Gerrold

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