You know, I always wanted to be buried in the ground, so that my body would become the nutrition of other living things.
To love is not about merging. It is a noble calling for the individual to ripen, to differentiate, to become a world in oneself in response to another. It is a great, immodest call that singles out a person and summons them beyond all boundaries. Only in this sense may we use the love that has been given us. This is humanity’s task, for which we are still barely ready.
This more human love (endlessly considerate and light and good and clear, consummated by holding close and letting go) will resemble that love that we so arduously prepare — the love that consists of two solitudes that protect, border, and greet each other.
Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
During the most intense part of a major-depressive episode, what I've felt is nothing at all like sadness. Mostly, it's a kind of numbness, and utter lack of desire and will. Underneath that numbness, there's the sense that something awful is happening - there's a very small voice screaming in the back of your mind, but you hear it only faintly. There's an uncomfortable wrongness to everything, like the world is twisted and broken in some terrible but unidentifiable way. You feel numb, but it's an incredibly bad sort of numbness. This is accompanied by a strange lack of volition - if a genie popped out and offered me three wishes at the depth of my depression, my first wish would be for him to go away and not bother me about the other two. Looking back on this experience, I've conjectured that part of depression might be like some kind of mental "fire sprinkler system" - the brain just floods the building completely to keep it from burning down.
Trying to anticipate what’s best for future you will not help you make decisions, taking care of what’s best for present you will. That’s the person whose needs you can answer.
Another way to frame what I also suspect will be a summer of quitting is this: given the chance, people will buy their way out of burnout. This is both a privilege and a salve. After a year of relative comfort, spent largely observing the impacts of the pandemic without being at risk from the worst of it, what a lot of people want isn’t stuff but relief—from work that is deadening and too much all at once. Meanwhile, the corporate response to burnout has been earnest but superficial: offering meeting-free Fridays and subsidized yoga, plus an extra week or two off—while the Q3 roadmap and OKRs crank along—is like trying to put out a house fire with a glass of pinot. What people really need is months of rest and control and autonomy over their work. What we need is a total reset about what work is for, and who gets to decide how it gets done.
My approach to what I do in my job — and it might even be the approach to my life — is that everything I do is the most important thing I do. Whether it’s a play or the next film. It is the most important thing. I know it’s not going to be the most important thing, and it might not be close to being the best, but I have to make it the most important thing. That means I will be ambitious with my job and not with my career. That’s a very big difference, because if I’m ambitious with my career, everything I do now is just stepping-stones leading to something — a goal I might never reach, and so everything will be disappointing. But if I make everything important, then eventually it will become a career. Big or small, we don’t know. But at least everything was important.
Rereading is training, practice for remaking and unmaking—and, yes, razing—the world. Rereading draws your best thoughts close, keeps them at the ready, prepares you to think thoughts with them, prepares you to act with them at hand. Your favorite reads are your armor and your weapons and your shelter all in one. What have you gathered about you? What has taken root in your mind? What thoughts are you thinking with?
The British sociologist Marilyn Strathern … taught me that “it matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with).” ... It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots; what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.