You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.
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You are welcome,” at the dinner table; that piety consisted in going to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.

-Søren Kierkegaard

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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.

-Toni Morrison

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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.

-Swami Dhyan

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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.

-Margaret Atwood

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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.

-Lauren Myracle

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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.

-Jostein Gaarder

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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

-Giorgos Seferis

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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

-James Patterson

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