No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?
At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you, but only if you look for it. You search, you break your heart, your back, your brain, and then—and only then—it is handed to you.
Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.
Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…
Topics: Age, Growth
You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.
It could be that our faithlessness is a cowering cowardice born of our very smallness, a massive failure of imagination. If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn’t believe the world existed.
Topics: Imagination, Faith
I don’t know what it is about fecundity that so appalls. I suppose it is the teeming evidence that birth and growth, which we value, are ubiquitous and blind, that life itself is so astonishingly cheap, that nature is as careless as it is bountiful, and that with extravagance goes a crushing waste that will one day include our own cheap lives.
I wake expectant, hoping to see a new thing.
I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part.
If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.
You can’t test courage cautiously.
A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Cynthia Ozick American Novelist, Essayist
- Alice Walker American Novelist, Activist
- Joyce Carol Oates American Novelist
- Isabel Allende Chilean Novelist
- Joan Didion American Essayist, Novelist, Memoirist
- Anne Lamott American Novelist
- Norman Mailer American Novelist, Journalist
- Joyce Maynard American Novelist
- Carol Shields Canadian Author, Academic
- Andre Norton American Science Fiction Writer