You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.
Tame him? You can't tame a Tower rat--they're flea-bitten and vicious.""So are most men!" The girl smiled and stretched her cramped limbs. "Shall I tame one of them instead? They too make diverting pets, you know."Markham laughed nervously. "Wouldn't you rather have a dog, madam?""Ah no--too loyal! They present no challenge." Behind the girl's steady eyes a shadow stirred. "My mother had a dog once. She used to make it jump through a burning hoop to prove its devotion to her, until she found my father did it better. He jumped through that hoop for over six years. When he finally got tired of performing for her amusement he killed her. And that's what makes men such interesting pets, Markham--you never know when they're going to turn and bite.
What do you know about somebody not being good enough for somebody else? And since when did you care whether Corinthians stood up or fell down? You've been laughing at us all your life. Corinthians. Mama. Me. Using us, ordering us, and judging us: how we cook your food; how we keep your house. But now, all of a sudden, you have Corinthians' welfare at heart and break her up from a man you don't approve of. Who are you to approve or disapprove anybody or anything? I was breathing air in the world thirteen years before your lungs were even formed. Corinthians, twelve. . . . but now you know what's best for the very woman who wiped the dribble from your chin because you were too young to know how to spit. Our girlhood was spent like a found nickel on you. When you slept, we were quiet; when you were hungry, we cooked; when you wanted to play, we entertained you; and when you got grown enough to know the difference between a woman and a two-toned Ford, everything in this house stopped for you. You have yet to . . . move a fleck of your dirt from one place to another. And to this day, you have never asked one of us if we were tired, or sad, or wanted a cup of coffee. . . . Where do you get the RIGHT to decide our lives? . . . I'll tell you where. From that hog's gut that hangs down between your legs. . . . I didn't go to college because of him. Because I was afraid of what he might do to Mama. You think because you hit him once that we all believe you were protecting her. Taking her side. It's a lie. You were taking over, letting us know you had the right to tell her and all of us what to do. . . . I don't make roses anymore, and you have pissed your last in this house.
I had a magical day during one Sunday when I walked out in nature. On the outside this day only consisted of taking a walk out in the beautiful sunny weather and cleaning my apartment, but on the inside everything suddenly changed. When I walked out in nature in the sunny weather, a silent explosion suddenly happened within me and my whole perception of reality changed. In a single moment, everything had changed, although nothing on the outside had really changed. Everything on the outside was exactly as before, but my way of seeing had changed. The difference was that before I did not see and now I could see. My eyes were open. Suddenly I was one with everything, one with the stones, one with the trees and one with the people that I meet on my walk. My heart danced with joy together with a feeling of: ”I am God”. Not that I am the creator of everything, but that I am part of the Whole, part of the divine. It felt like coming home, that Existence is my home. I also saw that even if the people that I meet did not understand that they are a part of the Whole, they still are a part of the Whole. I felt the waves of Existence in my own heart and being and I felt like a small wave in a great ocean. It gave a taste of the eternal, a taste of the limitless and boundless source of creativity. In just a few moments, I learnt more than during 20 years in university. Wisdom is basically the understanding that we all are part of the Whole. We are all small rivers moving towards the ocean. I laughed at the fact that enlightenment is really our innate birthright, and that small children already live in this mystical unity with the Whole.
For moderns - for us - there is something illicit, it seems, about wasted time, the empty hours of contemplation when a thought unfurls, figures of speech budding and blossoming, articulation drifting like spent petals onto the dark table we all once gathered around to talk and talk, letting time get the better of us. _Just taking our time_, as we say. That is, letting time take us."Can you say," I once inquired of a sixty-year old cloistered nun who had lived (vibrantly, it seemed) from teh age of nineteen in her monastery cell, "what the core of contemplative life is?""Leisure," she said, without hesitation, her china blue eyes cheerfully steady on me. I suppose I expected her to say, "Prayer." Or maybe "The search for God." Or "Inner peace." Inner peace would have been good. One of the big-ticket items of spirituality.She saw I didn't see."It takes time to do this," she said finally.Her "this" being the kind of work that requires abdication from time's industrial purpose (doing things, getting things). By choosing leisure she had bid farewell to the fevered enterprise of getting-and-spending whereby, as the poet said, we lay waste our powers.
If only you would realize some day, how much have you hurt me,If only your heart ever, craves for me or my presence…If only you feel that love again someday for me,If only you are affected someday by my absence…Only you can end all my suffering and this unbearable pain,If only you would know what you could never procure…If only you go through the memories of past once again,Since the day you left my heart has bled, no one has its cure…If only you would bring that love, those showers and that rain…If only you would come back and see what damage you create,I’ve been waiting for your return since forever more…If only you would see the woman that you have made,You said we cannot sail through, how were you so sure?If only you can feel the old things that can never fade,You may have moved on, but a piece of my heart is still with you…I know how I’ve come so far alone; I know how I’m able to wade,People say that I’m insane and you won’t ever come back again…Maybe you would have never made your separate way,Maybe you would have stayed with me and proved everyone wrong…If only you would know the pain of dying every day,If only you would feel the burden of smiling and being strong…
The Loneliness of the Military HistorianConfess: it's my professionthat alarms you.This is why few people ask me to dinner,though Lord knows I don't go out of my way to be scary.I wear dresses of sensible cutand unalarming shades of beige,I smell of lavender and go to the hairdresser's:no prophetess mane of mine,complete with snakes, will frighten the youngsters.If I roll my eyes and mutter,if I clutch at my heart and scream in horrorlike a third-rate actress chewing up a mad scene,I do it in private and nobody seesbut the bathroom mirror.In general I might agree with you:women should not contemplate war,should not weigh tactics impartially,or evade the word enemy,or view both sides and denounce nothing.Women should march for peace,or hand out white feathers to arouse bravery,spit themselves on bayonetsto protect their babies,whose skulls will be split anyway,or,having been raped repeatedly,hang themselves with their own hair.There are the functions that inspire general comfort.That, and the knitting of socks for the troopsand a sort of moral cheerleading.Also: mourning the dead.Sons,lovers and so forth.All the killed children.Instead of this, I tellwhat I hope will pass as truth.A blunt thing, not lovely.The truth is seldom welcome,especially at dinner,though I am good at what I do.My trade is courage and atrocities.I look at them and do not condemn.I write things down the way they happened,as near as can be remembered.I don't ask why, because it is mostly the same.Wars happen because the ones who start themthink they can win.In my dreams there is glamour.The Vikings leave their fieldseach year for a few months of killing and plunder,much as the boys go hunting.In real life they were farmers.The come back loaded with splendour.The Arabs ride against Crusaderswith scimitars that could seversilk in the air.A swift cut to the horse's neckand a hunk of armour crashes downlike a tower. Fire against metal.A poet might say: romance against banality.When awake, I know better.Despite the propaganda, there are no monsters,or none that could be finally buried.Finish one off, and circumstancesand the radio create another.Believe me: whole armies have prayed ferventlyto God all night and meant it,and been slaughtered anyway.Brutality wins frequently,and large outcomes have turned on the inventionof a mechanical device, viz. radar.True, valour sometimes counts for something,as at Thermopylae. Sometimes being right -though ultimate virtue, by agreed tradition,is decided by the winner.Sometimes men throw themselves on grenadesand burst like paper bags of gutsto save their comrades.I can admire that.But rats and cholera have won many wars.Those, and potatoes,or the absence of them.It's no use pinning all those medalsacross the chests of the dead.Impressive, but I know too much.Grand exploits merely depress me.In the interests of researchI have walked on many battlefieldsthat once were liquid with pulpedmen's bodies and spangled with explodedshells and splayed bone.All of them have been green againby the time I got there.Each has inspired a few good quotes in its day.Sad marble angels brood like hensover the grassy nests where nothing hatches.(The angels could just as well be described as vulgaror pitiless, depending on camera angle.)The word glory figures a lot on gateways.Of course I pick a flower or twofrom each, and press it in the hotel Biblefor a souvenir.I'm just as human as you. But it's no use asking me for a final statement.As I say, I deal in tactics.Also statistics:for every year of peace there have been four hundredyears of war.
He slouches,' DeeDee contributes.'True--he needs to work on his posture,' Thelma says.'You guys,' I say.'I'm serious,' Thelma says. 'What if you get married? Don't you want to go to fancy dinners with him and be proud?''You guys. We are not getting married!''I love his eyes,' Jolene says. 'If your kids get his blue eyes and your dark hair--wouldn't that be fabulous?''The thing is,' Thelma says, 'and yes, I know, this is the tricky part--but I'm thinking Bliss has to actually talk to him. Am I right? Before they have their brood of brown-haired, blue-eyed children?'I swat her. "I'm not having Mitchell's children!''I'm sorry--what?' Thelma says.Jolene is shaking her head and pressing back laughter. Her expressing says, Shhh, you crazy girl!But I don't care. If they're going to embarrass me, then I'll embarrass them right back. 'I said'--I raise my voice--'I am not having Mitchell Truman's children!'Jolene turns beet red, and she and DeeDee dissolve into mad giggles.'Um, Bliss?' Thelma says. Her gaze travels upward to someone behind me. The way she sucks on her lip makes me nervous.'Okaaay, I think maybe I won't turn around,' I announce.A person of the male persuasion clears his throat.'Definitely not turning around,' I say. My cheeks are burning. It's freaky and alarming how much heat is radiating from one little me.'If you change your mind, we might be able to work something out,' the person of the male persuasion says.'About the children?' DeeDee asks. 'Or the turning around?''DeeDee!' Jolene says.'Both,' says the male-persuasion person.I shrink in my chair, but I raise my hand over my head and wave.'Um, hi,' I say to the person behind me whom I'm still not looking at. 'I'm Bliss.'Warm fingers clasp my own.'Pleased to meet you,' says the male-persuasion person. 'I'm Mitchell.''Hi, Mitchell.' I try to pull my hand from his grasp, but he won't let go. 'Um, bye now!'I tug harder. No luck. Thelma, DeeDee, and Jolene are close to peeing their pants.Fine. I twist around and give Mitchell the quickest of glances. His expressions is amused, and I grow even hotter.He squeezes my hand, then lets go. 'Just keep me in the loop if you do decide to bear my children. I'm happy to help out.' With that, he stride jauntily to the food line.Once he's gone, we lost it. Peals of laughter resound from our table, and the others in the cafeteria look at us funny. We laugh harder.'Did you see!' Thelma gasps. 'Did you see how proud he was?''You improve his posture!' Jolene says.'I'm so glad, since that was my deepest desire,' I say. 'Oh my God, I'm going to have to quit school and become a nun.''I can't believe you waved at him,' DeeDee says.'Your hand was like a little periscope,' Jolene says. 'Or, no--like a white surrender flag.''It was a surrender flag. I was surrendering myself to abject humiliation.''Oh, please,' Thelma says, pulling me into a sideways hug. 'Think of it this way: Now you've officially talked to him.
Imagine that you were on the threshold of this fairytale, sometime billions of years ago when everything was created. And you were able to choose whether you wanted to be born to a life on this planet at some point. You wouldn’t know when you were going to be born, nor how long you’d live for, but at any event it wouldn’t be more than a few years. All you’d know was that, if you chose to come into the world at some point, you’d also have to leave it again one day and go away from everything. This might cause you a good deal of grief, as lots of people think that life in the great fairytale is so wonderful that the mere thought of it ending can bring tears to their eyes. Things can be so nice here that it’s terribly painful to think that at some point the days will run out. What would you have chosen, if there had been some higher power that had gave you the choice? Perhaps we can imagine some sort of cosmic fairy in this great, strange fairytale. What you have chosen to live a life on earth at some point, whether short or long, in a hundred thousand or a hundred million years? Or would you have refused to join in the game because you didn’t like the rules? (...) I asked myself the same question maybe times during the past few weeks. Would I have elected to live a life on earth in the firm knowledge that I’d suddenly be torn away from it, and perhaps in the middle of intoxicating happiness? (...) Well, I wasn’t sure what I would have chosen. (...) If I’d chosen never to the foot inside the great fairytale, I’d never have known what I’ve lost. Do you see what I’m getting at? Sometimes it’s worse for us human beings to lose something dear to us than never to have had it at all.
If you don't have a well-thought out dream, you can start by figuring out where you want to go. If you cannot see yourself fairly or accurately represented in the community you live (from restaurants to department stores to clothing choices to conversations at the dinner table) and nothing there makes you feel awake or alive, I suggest you start doing some research on some other communities.
My old friend, what are you looking for?After years abroad you’ve come backwith images you’ve nourishedunder foreign skiesfar from you own country.’‘I’m looking for my old garden;the trees come to my waistand the hills resemble terracesyet as a childI used to play on the grassunder great shadowsand I would run for hoursbreathless over the slopes.’‘My old friend, rest,you’ll get used to it little by little;together we will climbthe paths you once knew,we will sit togetherunder the plane trees’ dome.They’ll come back to you little by little,your garden and your slopes.’‘I’m looking for my old house,the tall windowsdarkened by ivy;I’m looking for the ancient columnknown to sailors.How can I get into this coop?The roof comes to my shouldersand however far I lookI see men on their kneesas though saying their prayers.’‘My old friend, don’t you hear me?You’ll get used to it little by little.Your house is the one you seeand soon friends and relativeswill come knocking at the doorto welcome you back tenderly.’‘Why is your voice so distant?Raise your head a littleso that I understand you.As you speak you growgradually smalleras though you’re sinking into the ground.’‘My old friend, stop a moment and think:you’ll get used to it little by little.Your nostalgia has createda non-existent country, with lawsalien to earth and man.’‘Now I can’t hear a sound.My last friend has sunk.Strange how from time to timethey level everything down.Here a thousand scythe-bearing chariots go pastand mow everything down
Dear Max - You looked so beautiful today. I'm going to remember what you looked like forever.... And I hope you remember me the same way - clean, ha-ha. I'm glad our last time together was happy.But I'm leaving tonight, leaving the flock, and this time it's for good. I don't know if I'll ever see any of you again. The thing is, Max, that everyone is a little bit right. Added up all together, it makes this one big right.Dylan's a little bit right about how my being here might be putting the rest of you in danger. The threat might have been just about Dr. Hans, but we don't know that for sure. Angel is a little bit right about how splitting up the flock will help all of us survive. And the rest of the flock is a little bit right about how when you and I are together, we're focused on each other - we can't help it.The thing is, Maximum, I love you. I can't help but be focused on you when we're together. If you're in the room, I want to be next to you. If you're gone, I think about you. You're the one who I want to talk to. In a fight, I want you at my back. When we're together, the sun is shining. When we're apart, everything is in shades of gray.I hope you'll forgive me someday for turning our worlds into shades of gray - at least for a while....You're not at your best when you're focused on me. I mean, you're at your best Maxness, but not your best leaderness. I mostly need Maxness. The flock mostly needs leaderness. And Angel, if you're listening to this, it ain't you, sweetie. Not yet....At least for a couple more years, the flock needs a leader to survive, no matter how capable everyone thinks he or she is. The truth is that they do need a leader, and the truth is that you are the best leader. It's one of the things I love about you.But the more I thought about it, the more sure I got that this is the right thing to do. Maybe not for you, or for me, but for all of us together, our flock.Please don't try to find me. This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, besides wearing that suit today, and seeing you again will only make it harder. You'd ask me to come back, and I would, because I can't say no to you. But all the same problems would still be there, and I'd end up leaving again, and then we'd have to go through this all over again.Please make us only go through this once....I love you. I love your smile, your snarl, your grin, your face when you're sleeping. I love your hair streaming out behind you as we fly, with the sunlight making it shine, if it doesn't have too much mud or blood in it. I love seeing your wings spreading out, white and brown and tan and speckled, and the tiny, downy feathers right at the top of your shoulders. I love your eyes, whether they're cold or calculating or suspicious or laughing or warm, like when you look at me....You're the best warrior I know, the best leader. You're the most comforting mom we've ever had. You're the biggest goofball, the worst driver, and a truly lousy cook. You've kept us safe and provided for us, in good times and bad. You're my best friend, my first and only love, and the most beautiful girl I've ever seen, with wings or without....Tell you what, sweetie: If in twenty years we haven't expired yet, and the world is still more or less in one piece, I'll meet you at the top of that cliff where we first met the hawks and learned to fly with them. You know the one. Twenty years from today, if I'm alive, I'll be there, waiting for you. You can bet on it.Good-bye, my love.FangP.S. Tell everyone I sure will miss them
I looked around for that welcoming light I'd heard about, but I didn't see it. Instead, everything around me seemed to glow and shimmer in the sunlight. I heard beautiful sounds-not the voices of dead loved ones, but the laughter and singing of my children when they were tiny. I saw James, young and shirtless, chasing them through Mama's garden. Off in the distance I saw Barbara Jean and Clarice, and even myself when we were kids, dancing to music pouring out of my old pink and violet portable record player. Here I was with my fingers brushing up against the frame of the picture I'd been painting for the last fifty-five years, and my beautiful, scarred husband, my happy children, and my laughing friends were right there with me.
If you were offered the chance to live your own life again, would you seize the opportunity? The only real philosophical answer is automatically self-contradictory: 'Only if I did not know that I was doing so.' To go through the entire experience once more would be banal and Sisyphean—even if it did build muscle—whereas to wish to be young again and to have the benefit of one's learned and acquired existence is not at all to wish for a repeat performance, or a Groundhog Day. And the mind ought to, but cannot, set some limits to wish-thinking. All right, same me but with more money, an even sturdier penis, slightly different parents, a briefer latency period… the thing is absurd. I seriously would like to know what it was to be a woman, but like blind Tiresias would also want the option of re-metamorphosing if I wished. How terrible it is that we have so many more desires than opportunities.
After dinner or lunch or whatever it was -- with my crazy 12-hour night I was no longer sure what was what -- I said, "Look, baby, I'm sorry, but don't you realize that this job is driving me crazy? Look, let's give it up. Let's just lay around and make love and take walks and talk a little. Let's go to the zoo. Let's look at animals. Let's drive down and look at the ocean. It's only 45 minutes. Let's play games in the arcades. Let's go to the races, the Art Museum, the boxing matches. Let's have friends. Let's laugh. This kind of life like everybody else's kind of life: it's killing us.
When I am at a dinner table, I love to ask everybody, 'How long do you think our species might last?' I've read that the average age of a species, of any species, is about two million years. Is it possible we can have an average life span as a species? And do you picture us two million years more or a million and a half years, or 5,000?
I gave myself to you sooner than I ever did to any man, I swear to you; and do you know why? Because when you saw me spitting blood you took my hand; because you wept; because you are the only human being who has ever pitied me. I am going to say a mad thing to you: I once had a little dog who looked at me with a sad look when I coughed; that is the only creature I ever loved. When he died I cried more than when my mother died. It is true that for twelve years of her life she used to beat me. Well, I loved you all at once, as much as my dog. If men knew what they can have for a tear, they would be better loved and we should be less ruinous to them.