"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
Attention is a finite resource, and how we choose to spend our attention online is, in some ways, a direct reflection of where human culture has gone in an era where access to information is basically unlimited.
“Most of us are caught in the habit of thinking of escape as a way toward the sacred, that the sacred lies in the distance, that if we can leave the mundane and the banal behind then we will find the sacred. But I think the sacred is more pervasive, more fugitive than just something that is exterior to the conditions we want to leave behind…
I feel invited, I feel lead and inspired to ask if quietude, if rest, if fugitivity isn’t a space of reckoning with the banal, isn’t a space of teasing out the sacred from the mundane, isn’t a space of actually noticing that our imagination of what the sacred looks like actually gets in the way of our transformation … and that we can be enlisted in ways that are surprising and unexpected, to slow down.
And it is not our work to do that, to come up with a final answer for how to do that. It is our work to be ready for when it calls us.”
The biggest thing we distract ourselves with (in the Western world) is no longer pleasure but finding meaning. It’s much easier to get caught up in finding meaning rather than doing, feeling, perceiving.
I’m questioning what that is — meaning. What does it “mean” to have a meaningful life? What does it “mean” to create a meaningful thing? And mostly, why does everything have to “mean” something?
I think our quest for finding meaning has become religious and incessant in its pursuit in a way that no longer contributes to the genuine development of the search. It’s a default mode of being that isn’t necessarily expansive; instead, it is obsessive and relentless and inherently tied to a type of perfection. It’s odd that way, how relinquishing actually renders freedom.
There’s some phrase stirring said by someone at some point — I’ve conflated flowers blooming with sunsets but whatever. The thing is: they just do. They just happen. And if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that “just do your best” tends to cover most if not everything.
We treat desire as a problem to be solved... and focus on how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond.
| Rebecca Solnit
It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and to the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my “real” life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone…