There were times, especially when I was traveling for 'Eat, Pray, Love,' when, I swear to God, I would feel this weight of my female ancestors, all those Swedish farmwives from beyond the grave who were like, 'Go! Go to Naples! Eat more pizza! Go to India, ride an elephant! Do it! Swim in the Indian Ocean. Read those books. Learn a language.'
Listen - of course money changes everything, but so does sunlight, and so does food: These are powerful but neutral energy sources, neither inherently good nor evil but shaped only by the way we use them.
I have no business being a journalist. I'm the least, I'm the least - I'm the most trusting, I absolutely make a habit of believing anything that anybody tells me about themselves. I've never had any reason in the world to think that anyone has wanted to harm me, or lie to me. I believe whatever is being sold, most of the time.
As somebody who, in my second marriage, insisted on a prenuptial agreement, I can also testify that sometimes it is an act of love to chart the exit strategy before you enter the union, in order to make sure that not only you, but your partner as well, knows that there will be no World War III should hearts and minds, for any sad reason, change.
It's not an accident that both my sister and I are writers. Our parents created an accidental Petri dish. My family has great storytellers, and I grew up in a very funny, conversational house and didn't have television. This small family farm was a bubble world that didn't have much to do with reality.
I think sometimes we look at other people's marriages and we think they must always be so happy together. I don't know anybody who's married for a long time who hasn't somehow made room in their love story for the hate and resentment that they sometimes feel toward each other.
Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you - the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love - may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave.
Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results - the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.
I've always considered myself lucky that I do not have many passions. There's only one pursuit that I have ever truly loved, and that pursuit is writing. This means, conveniently enough, that I never had to search for my destiny; I only had to obey it.
Men go into marriage with virtually no expectations whatsoever. Ten years later, the men are delightfully surprised to find out that it's actually kind of nice, and the women have sort of had to take a nose dive from what they thought it was going to be.
Most important, though, I had to wait until I found the perfect traveling/eating/drinking/napping companion. And I did finally find him, two years ago - my Brazilian-born, French-speaking, wine-worshipping, tripe-consuming, uncomplaining traveler of a sweetheart.
My career started young and I was really ambitious, and then I had success and I hung out with people who were much older. I think I might have been temporally misplaced, so I thought I was 40. It was a premature midlife crisis.
What I think is amazing is not that 85% of people who get married under the age of 25 get divorced, it's that 15% of them stay together. How did they manage to pull that off? You almost can't wait too long. It's the single simplest measure to predict divorce.
Which is - you know, like check it out, I'm pretty young, I'm only about 40 years old. I still have maybe another four decades of work left in me. And it's exceedingly likely that anything I write from this point forward is going to be judged by the world as the work that came after the freakish success of my last book, right?
When somebody has an enormous success in this culture, people start asking two questions, which are 'What are you doing now?' and 'How are you going to beat that?' And I have to say, I love the assumption that your intention is to beat yourself constantly - that you're in battle against yourself.
Despite having written five books, I worry that I have not written the right kinds of books, or that perhaps I have dedicated too much of my life to writing, and have therefore neglected other aspects of my being.
When I lost my friends, it was because I had used the power of giving on them recklessly. I swept into their lives with my big fat checkbook, and I erased years of obstacles for them overnight - but sometimes, in the process, I also accidentally erased years of dignity.
I feel like there are women who are genuinely born to be mothers, and women who are born to be aunties, and women who really probably not should be allowed near children. The tragedy that happens is when any one of those women ends up in the wrong category.
I think it's wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that's how it should be. But I don't necessarily know that it's the wisest thing in the world to expect that it ends there, or that it should, 30 years down the road, still look as it did on the night of your first kiss.
I think it's unfortunate that there exists only one path in America to complete social legitimacy, and that is marriage. I think, for instance, that it would be far easier for Americans to elect a black president or a female president than an unmarried president.
That is who Barack Obama is - a person of admirable character - and that is who he has remained for me over these last four years. I have not agreed with his every decision, but never once have I seen him break his cool, lose his composure, or abandon his insightful perspective - even during the most serious and/or absurd national disasters.
I should just put it bluntly, because we're all sort of friends here now - it's exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me. Oh, so Jesus, what a thought! You know that's the kind of thought that could lead a person to start drinking gin at nine o'clock in the morning, and I don't want to go there.
I push every day against forces that say you have to go faster, be more effective, be more productive, you have to constantly outdo yourself, you have to constantly outdo your neighbor - all of the stuff that creates an incredibly productive society, but also a very neurotic one.
But when it comes to writing the thing that I've sort of been thinking about lately, is why? You know, is it rational? Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do.
You know, I think that allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is like, the vessel you know, like the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche. It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun.
I love my friends and family, but I also love it when they can't find me and I can spend all day reading or walking all alone, in silence, eight thousand miles away from everyone. All alone and unreachable in a foreign country is one my most favorite possible things to be.
I don't hate humanity and I'm not interested in people who do. Although, it's funny, actually, some of my favorite writers really do. Like Martin Amis. My dirty secret. 'London Fields' is one of my favorite books ever. And it's indefensible! But he's so funny... I forgive him everything.
I used to say, 'Man, I think I'd be a really good dad. I'll be a great provider. I'm funny; I'll go on trips with them - I'll do all sorts of stuff.' But the momming? I'm not made for that. I have a really good mom; I know what she put into it.
These days I settle for feeling only 85 percent sure about most things, most of the time. I believe this is keeping me sane, and I also believe that it's keeping me human. In fact, I'm 85 percent sure of it.
My writing practice taught me the important thing is steadfastness. It's not necessarily discipline. Discipline can become a prison. When your spiritual practices become another thing for you to be anxious about, they've lost their usefulness.
I was a bartender for a long time, so I know how to make drinks, but I'm more likely to offer them than to have them. I think this is one of the reasons why I get to live longer than my great-grandmother did, and why I get to produce more writing than she did, and why my marriage isn't in dire straits.
We set up one rule in our house, which is, 'Guests of guests cannot bring guests.' That rule was required because that happened one weekend, and we finally said, 'Okay, you know what? That's a little too much.'
I consider a good dinner party at our house to be where people drink and eat more than they're meant to. My husband is a really fantastic cook. His mother is Italian and if you walk into our house, we assume you're starving.
When I look at my life and the lives of my female friends these days - with our dizzying number of opportunities and talents - I sometimes feel as though we are all mice in a giant experimental maze, scurrying around frantically, trying to find our way through.
But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome - people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons.
But it is my understanding that the health of the planet is affected by the health of every individual on it. As long as even two souls are locked in conflict, the whole of the world is contaminated by it.
All too often, those of us who choose to remain childless are accused of being somehow unwomanly or unnatural or selfish, but history teaches us that there have always been women who went through life without having babies.
I also get that we women in particular must work very hard to keep our fantasies as clearly and cleanly delineated from our realities as possible, and that sometimes it can take years of effort to reach such a point of sober discernment.
Your treasure - your perfection - is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart. The kundalini shakti - the supreme energy of the divine - will take you there.
We invented marriage. Couples invented marriage. We also invented divorce,mind you. And we invented infidelity,too, as well as romantic misery. In fact we invented the whole sloppy mess of love and intimacy and aversion and euphoria and failure. But most importantly of all, most subversively of all, most stubbornly of all, we invented privacy.
The Silly Putty-like malleability of the institution [marriage], in fact, is the only reason we still have the thing at all. Very few peoplewould accept marriage on it's thirteenth-century terms. Marriage survives, in other words, precisely because it evolves. (Though I suppose this would not be a very persuasive argument to those who probably also don't believe in evolution).
In every possible instance Saint Paul begged Christians to restrain themselves to contain their carnal yearnings to live solitary and sexless lives on earth as it is in heaven. But if they cannot contain Paul finally conceded then let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn. Which is perhaps the most begrudging endorsement of matrimony in human history.
Here was something I already knew to be true about myself: Just as there are some wives who will occasionally need a break from their husbands in order to visit a spa for the weekend with their girlfriends, I will always be the sort of wife who occasionally needs a break from her husband in order to visit Cambodia. Just for a few days!
First spouses, I have learned, don't ever really go away--even if you aren't speaking to them anymore. They are phantoms who dwell in the corners of our new love stories, never entirely vanishing from sight, materializing in our minds whenever they please, offering up unwelcome comments or bits of painfully accurate criticism.
But, ancient Greece and ancient Rome - people did not happen to believe that creativity came from human beings back then, OK? People believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons."
I'd learned enough from life's experiences to understand that destiny's interventions can sometimes be read as invitation for us to address and even surmount our biggest fears. It doesn't take a great genius to recognize that when you are pushed by circumstance to do the one thing you have always most specifically loathed and feared, this can be, at the very least, an interesting growth opportunity.
To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful "magic skills" that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition
I feel like all this stuff that we make: books and art and music, all of it. There's this energy that circles the world that wants to be made manifest, and it is just looking for someone to come through. And it's dying for you to make it. And if you don't do it, it will go find somebody else.
I was the baby of the family, but I was never babied, and that allowed me to take whatever artistic temperament I had and apply learned discipline. I was taught how to work. I think that's everything. Creativity and imagination alone are not going to get you there.
Maybe [artistry] doesn't have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you're finished ... it starts to change everything.
When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.
Indeed, when I came to Italy, I expected to encounter a certain amount of resentment, but have received instead empathy from most Italians. In any reference to George Bush, people only nod to Berlusconi, saying","We understand how it is - we have one, too.
I'm trying to dismantle a stereotype that in order to live any kind of creative life, you have to be in torment and suffering. We're addicted to this idea because it makes for good bio pics...but I actually think it's better to live a life where you're constantly exploring your curiosity and creativity.
Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it's not something where-if you missed it by age 19-you're finished. It's never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world-at any age. At least try.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master...
What I object to is the hyper-fetishized wedding day, the prioritizing of wedding over marriage. I have a real problem with couples spending far more time discussing the seating arrangement or the color of the bridesmaid's gowns than hashing out, for instance, their feelings about how they intend to handle questions of housework, child-rearing, finances and fidelity for the next four or five decades.
Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure).
When Catherine told me about this (tragedy nearby), I could only say, shocked, "Dear God, that family needs grace." She replied firmly, "That family needs casseroles," and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this _is_ grace.
He looks at you like you're someone he's never met before, much less someone he once loved with high passion. The irony is, you can hardly blame him. I mean, check yourself out. You're a pathetic mess, unrecognizable even to your own eyes.
Oh, I just want what we all want: a comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions and a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever.
And when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt - this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty to find something beautiful within life no matter how slight.
In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place.
I have good idea, for if you meet some person from different religion and he want to make argument about God. My idea is, you listen to everything this man say about God. Never argue about God with him. Best thing to say is, 'I agree with you.' Then you go home, pray what you want. This is my idea for people to have peace about religion.
Moss is inconceivably strong. Moss eats stone; scarcely anything, in return, eats moss. Moss dines upon boulders, slowly but devastatingly, in a meal that lasts for centuries. Given enough time, a colony of moss can turn a cliff into gravel, and turn that gravel into topsoil.
How much do you love me?' and "Who's in charge?" ....these two questions of LOVE and CONTROL undo us ALL, trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering. People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or most appropriate -- and all reach You, just as rivers enter the ocean.
There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. 'How much do you love me?' And, 'Who's in charge?' Everything else is somehow manageable. But these two questions of love and control undo us all, trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering.
God isn't interested in watching you enact some performance of personality in order to comply with some crackpot notion you have about how a spiritual person looks or behaves. We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, dramatic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality.
We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, drastic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality. To know God, you only need to renounce one thing - your sense of division from God
Maybe this is just some stupid romantic South American idea, but I need you to understand-darling, for you, I am even willing to suffer. Whatever pain happens to us in the future, I accept it already, just for the pleasure of being with you now. Let's enjoy this time. It's marvelous. Felipe-Eat, Pray, Love
If we never leave our house except to drive to work, do we need to be even remotely aware of this powerful, humbling, extraordinary and eternal life force that surges and ebbs around us all the time? Apparently not. Because we have stopped paying attention.
There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. There are certain lottery tickets I can buy, thereby increasing my odds of finding contentment. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with.
You have to get hurt. That's how you learn. The strongest people out there, the ones who laugh the hardest with a genuine smile, those are the people who have fought the toughest battles. Because they've decided that they're not going to let anything hold them down, they're showing the world who's boss. One must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.
The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.
A creative life is an amplified life. It's a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner-continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you-is a fine art, in and of itself.
Then again, you cannot stop the flood of desire as it moves through the world, inappropriate though it may sometimes be. It is the prerogative of all humans to make ludicrous choices, to fall in love with the most unlikely of partners, and to set themselves up for the most predicatable of calamities.
According to the mystics, this search for divine bliss is the entire purpose of a human life. this is why we all chose to be born, and this is why all the suffering and pain of life on earth is worthwhile--just for the chance to experience this infinite love. And once you have found this divinity within, can you hold it? Because if you can...bliss.
In Venice in the Middle Ages there was once a profession for a man called a codega--a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.
It seems obvious that there comes period in your life when you have to learn to say no to things you don't want to do. But the biggest trickiest lesson in holding on the stalwart committment to your creativity is learning how to say no to the things you do want to do.
I'm so excited about school. I'm such a shameless student. I laid my clothes out last night, just like I did before my first day of first grade, with my patent leather shoes and my new lunch box. I hope the teacher will like me :)
But at some point you have to make peace with what you were given and if God wanted me to be a shy girl with think, dark hair, He would have made me that way, but He didn't. Useful, then, might be to accept how I was made and embody myself fully therein.
I think the thing that I lost in myself when I stopped writing fiction and the thing that I rediscovered and started mining again is, for lack of a better word, magic. It's the way you can brush up against the inexplicable and the mystical.
I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the monkey mind. The thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. My mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
There's this great kind of spooky dance that happens that I can't access any other way. I think most of us are given kind of one pathway to that dance, and that's why I'm a writer. It's the only way I can get there. I can't do it through art, I can't do it through singing, I can't do it through mothering, I can't do it through invention.
Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope
Take care of the problems now, or else you'll just have to suffer again later when you scew everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering - that's hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understand - there's where you'll find heaven.
Traveling is the great true love of my life... I am loyal and constant in my love of travel. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby - I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me.
Here in America, marriage still has a mystical, intangible power: It is a passport to adulthood and respectability and to a certain extent citizenship. Any relationship less than "married" is considered temporary and not worthy of honor.
There's no reason to keep a piece of furniture in your house that is so sacred and rare that you can't put your feet up on it and a dog can't jump up on it. Likewise, a book that sits on a shelf like a piece of porcelain, only to be admired, never to be read again, is a dead book.
We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy's fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure--your perfection--is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.
What profound reward you must glean from studying the world so closely....Too many people turn away from small wonders, I find. There is so much more potency to be found in detail than generalities, but most souls cannot train themselves to sit still for it.
Learning how to discipline your speech is a way of preventing your energies from spilling out of you through the rupture of your mouth, exhausting you and filling the world with words, words, words instead of serenity, peace and bliss.
Il bel far niente means 'the beauty of doing nothing'... [it] has always been a cherished Italian ideal. The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work, the final accomplishment for which you are most highly congratulated. The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement. You don't necessarily need to be rich in order to experience this, either.
The resting place of the mind is the heart. The only thing the mind hears all day is clanging bells and noise and argument, and all it wants is quietude. The only place the mind will ever find peace is inside the silence of the heart. That's where you need to go.
At that moment of realization (that union with God is always present), that's when God let me go, let me slide through His fingers with this last compassionate, unspoken message:You may return here once you have fully come to understand that you are always here.
But I was always coming here. I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.
So this was the Ashram's final joke on me? Once I had learned to accept my loud, chatty, social nature and fully embrace my inner Key Hostess - only then could I become The Quiet Girl in the Back of the Temple, after all?
The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.
Ketut, why is life all crazy like this?" I asked my medicine man the next day...So what can we do about the craziness of the world?"Nothing." Ketut laughed, but with a dose of kindness. "This is nature of world. This is destiny. Worry about your craziness only-make you in peace.
With each reunion (we) had to learn each other all over again. There was always that nervous moment at the airport when I would stand there waiting for him to arrive, wondering, Will I still know him? Will he still know me?
How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer - you can finish the business yourself, from withing yourself. It's not only possible, it's essential.
The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us,...The madness of this planet is largely a result of the human being's difficulty in coming to viruous balance with himself.
I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who's in charge?
I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world, for this world has always seemed large and beautiful enough for me. I have wondered why it is not large and beautiful enough for others.
I asked, "You mean, you might as well spend your life going upward, through the happy places, since heaven and hell - the destinations - are the same thing anyway?""Same - same," he said. "Same in end, so better to be happy on journey."I said, "So, if heaven is love, then hell is...""Love, too," he said.
All I could say was, "I don't know what to do." I remember her taking me by the shoulders and looking me in the eye with a calm smile and saying simply, "Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth.
Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years--I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.
People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you're fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.
I had always been taught that the pursuit of happiness was my natural (even national) birthright. It is the emotional trademark of my culture to seek happiness. Not just any kind of happiness, either, but profound happiness, even soaring happiness. And what could possibly bring a person more soaring happiness than romantic love.
I know I'm not a self-indulgent idiot; I also know I'm not the second coming of Deepak Chopra. If I had believed either of those, or both, as some people do when they get famous, that's when the mental illness arrives.
In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.
In every possible instance Saint Paul begged Christians to restrain themselves to contain their carnal yearnings to live solitary and sexless lives on earth as it is in heaven. "But if they cannot contain " Paul finally conceded then "let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn." Which is perhaps the most begrudging endorsement of matrimony in human history.
In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.
The trick at every turn was to endure the test of living for as long as possible. The odds of survival were punishingly slim, for the world was naught by a school of calamity and an endless burning furnace of tribulation. But those who survived the world shaped it--even as the world, simultaneously, shaped them.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses--one foot is on the horse called "fate," the other on the horse called "free will." And the question you have to ask every day is--which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it's not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?
We were taught to be dependable, responsible, the top of our classes at school, the most organized and efficient babysitters in town, the very miniature models of our hardworking farmer/nurse mother, a pair of junior Swiss Army knives, born to multitask.
Time -- when pursued like a bandit -- will behave like one; always remaining one country or one room ahead of you, changing its name and hair color to elude you, slipping ou the back door of the motel just as you're banging through the lobby with your newest search warrant, leaving only a burning cigarette in the ashtray to taunt you.
The culture of Rome just doesn't match the culture of Yoga, not as far as I can see. In fact, I've decided that Rome and Yoga don't have anything in common at all. Except for the way they both kind of remind you of the word toga.
I felt like I was some kind of primitive spring-loaded machine, placed under far more tension than it had ever been built to sustain, about to blast apart at great danger to anyone standing nearby. I imagined my body parts flying off my torso in order to escape the volcanic core of unhappiness that had become: me.
As I got older, I discovered that nothing within me cried out for a baby. My womb did not seem to have come equipped with that famously ticking clock. Unlike so many of my friends, I did not ache with longing whenever I saw an infant. (Though I did ache with longing, it is true, whenever I saw a good used-book shop)
The six elements of her Fail Proof Broken-Heart Curing Treatment: "Vitamin E, get much sleep, drink much water, travel to a place far away from the person you loved, meditate and teach your heart that this is destiny.
But I don't know how much more socializing I can do, Felipe. I only have the one dress. People will start to notice that I'm wearing the same thing all the time." "You're young and beautiful, darling. You only need the one dress
I am far more of a loner than people would imagine. But I am the most gregarious and socially interactive loner you ever met. The thing is, I am fascinated by people's stories and I'm very talkative and can't ever say no to anything or anyone, so I tend to over-socialize, to give away too much of my time to the many people I adore.
Here's the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
Part of the elasticity that you need, in order to continue to try to create, is the foregone conclusion that not all of it is going to be fabulously successful. But it's all going to be part of a long lifetime body of experimentation.
My husband is not American. He was born in Brazil, where he grew up under a filthy, corrupt dictatorship. In his twenties, he moved to Europe, where he lived for a while under various socialist democracies. He spent a few years on a kibbutz in Israel, living out a utopian experiment in communal existence.
Now, if you are like me - if you are like practically anybody in America - then you probably hold some negative opinions about the French, based upon movies, rumors, recent headlines, unfortunate run-ins with Parisian waiters, or... you know... all that unpleasantness surrounding the Vichy regime.
Nothing in the last few years has dazzled me more than Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall,' which blew the top of my head straight off. I've read it three times, and I'm still trying to figure out how she put that magnificent thing together.
If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.
There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
I think of modern marriage as a car strangely fashioned out of an old abandoned horse carriage, built upon the framework of a mule cart. All the original engineering is still there, underneath it all.
I'm here. I love you. I don't care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you. There's nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
I will tell you why we have these extraordinary minds and souls, Miss Whittaker," he continued, as though he had not heard her. "We have them because there is a supreme intelligence in the universe, which wishes for communion with us. This supreme intelligence longs to be known. It calls out to us. It draws us close to its mystery, and grants us these remarkable minds, in order that we try to reach for it. It wants us to find it. It wants union with us, more than anything.
Imagine that the universe is a great spinning engine. You want to stay near the core of the thing - right in the hub of the wheel - not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place, where you can get frayed and crazy. The hub of calmness - that's your heart. That's where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world. Just keep coming back to that center and you'll always find peace.
To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead. That way, you will know God.
I promised Todd [Willingham] that I would attend the execution. ... It was impossible for me to go. I was incapable of that sort of travel. Sitting in a chair that long, driving to Huntsville just wouldn't have happened. ... I'm sure I would have been there. It's something I know. I would not have denied him that, but the accident kept me from being there. At some level, the universe was giving me the excuse for not being there. ... The universe was like, "Oh, you don't have to watch this." ... It would have been a horrible thing, but I'm sure I would have gone.
The Hopi Indians thought that the world's religions each contained one spiritual thread, and that these threads are always seeking each other, wanting to join. When all the threads are finally woven together they will form a rope that will pull us out of this dark cycle of history and into the next realm.
[Saint Anthony] said, in his solitude, he sometimes encountered devils who looked like angels, and other times he found angels who looked like devils. When asked how he could tell the difference, the saint said that you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.
When I read the article [in The New Yorker] by David Grann, I was very struck by people responding to the article, of people thinking I was such a hero and what a wonderful person I was, and I didn't feel that at all. I felt like I had very much, like Todd [Willingham], taken a path of self-preservation.
People will always want intimacy with one chosen person and you cannot have intimacy without privacy, which is why couples draw circles of privacy around themselves. They demand that family, neighbors and the law respect their union, and that is why we have marriage.
There's a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint,'Dear saint-please, please, please...give me the grace to win the lottery.' This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue come to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust,'My son-please, please, please...buy a ticket.
The notion is that human beings are born, (as my Guru has explained many times,) with equivalent potential for both contraction and expansion. The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us, and then it's up to the individual (or the family, or the society) to decide what will be brought forth - the virtues or the malevolence. The madness of this planet is largely a result of human being's difficulty in coming into virtuous balance with himself. Lunacy (both collective and individual) results.
Modern marriage is first and foremost a romantic and private union, but the tax laws and inheritance laws and religious implications that still surround this institution indicate that marriage has evolved without casting away its earlier purposes or assumptions. It's like we just keep building on this thing, piling new advancements on the old model.
God wants us to be in joy, God wants us to be happy. Because of this extraordinary consciousness and this great ability for wonder and marvel, and without denying any of the terrors and horrors of the world, we also have an obligation toward joy and toward miracle and excitement.
I do forget sometimes how much it means for certain menâfor certain peopleâto be able to provide their loved ones with material comforts and protection at all times. I forget how dangerously reduced some men can feel when that basic ability has been stripped from them. I forget how much that matters to men, what it represents.
I'm still aspiring to be a better and better person, but I think that disappointments have made me gentler with other people and their disappointments, the stuff that they have to carry around and endure.
I'm not particularly inventive. If you left me in Ð° room and told me to write a novel, I wouldn't be able to do it. But if you gave me two years in a public library around the corner, I could. It all comes from sort of mixing the true and the invented. I'm not a fabulist. I'm more of a reporter.
We all have love stories that go terribly wrong; we all have horribly broken hearts. And somehow we endure. We're not destroyed by it. We endure and go on to do interesting things and have worthy lives, even though we carry our heartbreaks with us. That's a kind of personal story of mine that I don't think I would tell in memoir but I do think I can tell in fiction.
The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I'm a failure I'm lonely I'm a failure I'm lonely) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
Returning to writing fiction after years away from it. Returning to the rootstock of my whole life as a writer. It's what I had wanted to be for my entire life, since I can remember, since my particular time immemorial. It's how I got my start as a writer.
The Bhagavad Gitaâthat ancient Indian Yogic textâsays that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.
I decide every day that I love Creativity enough to accept that Fear will always come with it. And I talk to Fear all the time, speaking to it with love and respect, saying to it: "I know that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid. And you do your job really well! I will never ask you to leave me alone or to be silent, because you have a right to speak your own voice, and I know that you will never leave me alone or be silent, anyhow. But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you.
I see women who have this struggle between what they know is right, what they know is necessary, what they know is healthy, what they know is good for them, what they know is good for the work that they need to do, what they know is good for their bodies, what they know is good for their families - all too often ending that statement with the upturned question mark: "If it's okay with everyone?" Still asking, still requesting, still filing petitions for somebody to say that it's all right.
Problem is, you can't accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life. You're like a dog at the dump, baby â you're just lickin' at the empty tin can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you're not careful, that can's gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.â "But I love him.â "So love him.â "But I miss him.â "So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.
I have more compassion than if I had led a life where everything worked out exactly as I had planned or if I had never been wounded or if I had never been betrayed or I had never been harmed. I don't think I would be as good a person.
I know what it feels like to be bruised; I know what it feels like to carry things around with you that never totally heal. There's closure and then there's stuff that's kind of like, Well, I guess it's going to be in the minivan forever. And you carry it with you and you continue on your journey with your minivan full of stuff, which I think most of us do.
People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other's personalities. Who wouldn't? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that's not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner's faults honestly and say, 'I can work around that. I can make something out of it.'? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it's always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
In order for marriage to endure it has to change along with us, and it does that very graciously. And in the end I find there is something kind of moving about it: the fact that people continue to insist on choosing somebody to build a life with.
Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistuinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebodyâso utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?
Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebodyâreally want himâit is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.
Your problem is you don't understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.
I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. What is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?
I think when you are an aspiring writer, you must write every day. It's not as though anybody will call you up on the phone and say, "I understand you are a very promising, aspiring writer and I'm going to give you this assignment." You have to create it yourself or it's never going to happen.
Women have always been more critical of marriage than men. The great mysterious irony of it is - at least it's the stereotype - that women want to get married and men are trying to avoid it. Marriage doesn't benefit women as much as men, and it never has. And women, once they are married, become very critical of marriages in a way that men don't.
Offer it up personally,then. Right now. I thought of how many people go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving. I thought of how many people have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along. How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer-you can finish the business yourself, from within yourself. It's not only possible, it's essential.
Women come into marriage with great inflated expectations for what they want this relationship to be, and men don't give it that much thought. Men come into it with reluctance about being capsized or trapped or whatever their fear is. When you check in later, women are disappointed because their expectations have not come to pass, and men are pleasantly surprised.
Why they always look so serious in Yoga? You make serious face like this, you scare away good energy. To meditate, only you must smile. Smile with face, smile with mind, and good energy will come to you and clean away dirty energy. Even smile in your liver. Practice tonight at hotel. Not to hurry, not to try too hard. Too serious, you make you sick. You can calling the good energy with a smile. (From Ketut Liyer, the Balinese healer)
When I tried this morning, after an hour or so of unhappy thinking, to dip back into my meditation, I took a new idea with me: compassion. I asked my heart if it could please infuse my soul with a more generous perspective on my mind's workings. Instead of thinking that I was a failure, could I perhaps accept that I am only a human being--and a normal one, at that?
Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can't even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I'm aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don't have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.
I was just really appalled, and I really kept quiet until I saw the governor [Rick Perry] get on and repeat the same words that the prosecution had used in the penalty phase: that he [Todd Willingham] was a monster. And that got me to get on to the computer and connect with some of the media and say: "I have his letters. He wasn't a monster. He was a caring individual." Let them see another side.
When you're lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you've just wandered off the path, that you'll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it's time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don't even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.
My mom is a master gardener and I grew up on a farm. I came back to it really late in life and discovered that despite how lazy and inattentive I was as a child, I had managed to accidentally learn quite a bit about gardening.
I have a lot of trouble forgiving myself for being so dumb... But yes, of course, the big generous compassionate view that you should take of yourself and of all events is: what a glorious circus train this has been, and what a wonderful messy parade, and all of those steps took me here, where I precisely need to be now, so God bless it.
Todd's mother had several children by different fathers, and Todd [Willingham] had been abandoned in California. ... He's a good-looking man. He was a witty man, you know? Funny, caring. He wasn't arrogant, but he was kind of set in his ways. If he thought something, it was one way. You could show him an alternative, but he was still going to stick by his particular view. But I could see how to women he could be a very charming, good-looking guy, especially when he was younger.
Someone asked me if I would like to write a man on death row, be a pen pal, and I was like, sure. I volunteered. I had been in a place in my life - a relationship had ended; my parents were getting elderly - I was kind of adrift. The name that was given to me, just randomly, was Todd Willingham. And he wrote me a letter, and in this letter, he thanked me for writing him and [said that] if I would like to visit, he would put me on his visitor list. ... I was just really struck by the letter from Todd. It was very polite; it was very kind.
Most of us, even if only for two minutes in our lives, have experienced at some time or another an inexplicable and random sense of complete bliss, unrelated to anything that was happening in the outside world.
When it seemed like I was going to really have to be there at Todd's [Willingham] execution, I don't think I could have done it. I think I began to distance myself. I didn't visit as often; I didn't write as often. This was kind of after my conversation with [fire science expert] Gerald Hurst. And the [car] accident made sure that I didn't have to go up there. But I think he and I both shared that.
There was really only one person who - and I remember to this day - he was a fireman, and he said, "You'll never know what you'll do when you're in a fire." Everyone else was like: "I don't care; I would have saved my children; I could have done it. Even if I was asleep I would have woken up and saved my children." But the fireman said, "You never know what's going to happen unless you're in there."
As for disciplineâit's important, but sort of overrated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you.
The story he [Todd Willingham] told me was this: He woke up to a fire. He ran out of the house and couldn't run back in to save his children, and that was enough to get me interested. ... There's a writer in me that's like, ... this is a great story. ... I have a good friend, who was my neighbor at the time, and I told her about it. ... She had been a reporter, and she was like, "Let's go investigate it."
Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It's because he doesn't care! He's in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery
I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.
Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One, you can see; one, you cannot. One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.
Never go into debt to become a writer. Always find other ways to support yourself so you can do the work you truly love for the right reasons. Never ask your art to support you. If you ask your art to support you it will either end up comprised or you'll be disappointed with it. It's a lot to ask of creativity for it to provide for you financially. Find a scrappy way to get by and then do the work you love for the reasons you love.
Traditionally, I have responded to the transcendent mystics of all religions. I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed- much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts.
This is a nice metaphor, too, about mothers and daughters - that when it came time for me to make my own, I was making a completely different garden than the one that my mom has. They don't look like they came from relatives. Hers is a very productive and pragmatic vegetable garden, and mine is a ridiculous overabundance of useless plants. It doesn't feed anybody, it doesn't serve any purpose.
I'm an enormous product of my century, I'm a product of my upbringing. I was not aware of the fact that I was entering marriage with the highest set of expectations that humans have ever brought to the institution. It was really good to find that out. It doesn't have to be the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the moon and the stars - it can just be the moon. It's enough that it just can be what it is.
You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it's okay with everybody at every turn.
Marriage is an ongoing, centuries-long social experiment that is mostly controlled by the individuals in the relationships who insist on determining what the relationship terms are going to be. And that's why the terms of marriage change with every century and decade. We're shaping it from the inside. Marriage endures because it evolves. Obviously it does. None of us would accept marriage on its 13th century terms, not even the most conservative people.
The world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission.
The little fishing boat anchors right off the shore of Gili Meno. There are no docks here on this island. You have to roll up your pants, jump off the boat and wade in through the surf on your own power. There's absolutely no way to do this without getting soaking wet or even banged up on the coral, but it's worth all the trouble because the beach here is so beautiful, so special
Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.
They say that there are three kinds of people in the world. There are people who never learn one way or another anything; there are people who learn from their own mistakes, eventually and with great pain; and then there are the really wise people who learn from other people's mistakes and spare themselves the suffering.
Every woman deserves a man that can make her heart forget that it was ever broken. Even if these have been broken to pieces to me,this represents a person who gave me a complete,flawless heart. I don't need someone who makes my heart whole. Instead, I need someone who will never let me feel broken. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
The fantasy of the wedding day is that it represents undeniable public and private truth that you have been chosen. For that one day, you are the most valuable creature in the world - a treasure, a princess, a prize.
In the modern industrialized Western world, where I come from, the person whom you choose to marry is perhaps the single most vivid representation of your own personality. Your spouse becomes the most gleaming possible mirror through which your emotional individualism is reflected back to the world. There is no choice more intensely personal after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.
All of women's stories in the 19th century had either one of two endings: you either had the good Jane Austen marriage at the end and you were happy; or you had the terrible Henry James savage downfall because of your own hubris as a woman, or you've made some great error leading you down a path to ruin. One is the story of love that's successful and the other is the story usually of reckless love that goes terribly wrong that destroys the woman.
I have no nostalgia for the patriarchy, please believe me. But what I have come to realize is that, when that patriarchic system was (rightfully) dismantled, it was not necessarily replaced by another form of protection. What I mean is--I never thought to ask a suitor the same challenging questions my father might have asked him, in a different age.
Up until the middle of the nineteenth century, men of science were all believers. Most of the great early English naturalists were also ministers; they were the only ones who had education and leisure for such pursuits. Darwin himself almost became a minister. God's power was always thought to be most easily and obviously revealed in the majestic works of nature.
To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business-not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything is flaking away into... rhetoric and plot.
I worked at the original Coyote Ugly bar when I was a young, unpublished writer. Then later when I became a writer, I wrote an article about it for GQ. Disney read this article about this filthy, disgusting pit in the East Village [of New York City], where we used to set the bar on fire to get customers away from us, and said, "That's a great movie for kids!" They made the fantastic Coyote Ugly movie, now legendary.
[My friend and I] decided, we'll go to Corsicana, and we'll see what the people in Corsicana say. ... We just started meeting people and talking to them, and the more I heard the stories, the more red flags kept popping up. There was this disconnect between this person [Todd Willingham] that I'm reading in the court records, the prosecutor's statements, and this person that I'm learning about.
I think that if you can roast a chicken, you can get whatever you want out of a woman. Maybe it's just me but I would suspect that a man trying to impress a woman would be more likely to bring out the steak - "I killed this for you, now I'm grilling it for you." A man that can cook you a proper meal that is like a weekday meal - which I think cannot be better than in the form of a roast chicken - that's the greatest.
I've always thought of my writing as a spiritual practice. But I think that fiction is the most supernatural kind of writing that you can do because of the ways that the real and the unreal weave together to create something that feels more true than anything.
I want to have a lasting experience with God. Sometimes I feel like I understand the divinity of this world, but then I loose it because I get distracted by my petty desires and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don't want to be a monk, or totally give up worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is how to leave in this world and enjoy its delights, but also elevate myself to God.
When you write a novel, there's a level at which you are much more revealing about who you are because you're less self-conscious about how you're presenting yourself. You are accidentally leaving your DNA all over everything in a novel because it's all coming from you.
Until-as often happened during those first months travel, whenever I would feel such happiness-my guilt alarm went off. I heard my ex-husband's voice speaking disdainfully in my ear: So this is what you gave up everything for? This is why you gutted our entire life together? For a few stalks of asparagus and an Italian newspaper? I replied aloud to him: "First of all," I said, "I'm very sorry, but this isn't your business anymore. And secondly, to answer you question...yes.
That's just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you're flawed and broken and alone instead of whole.
For most of Western civilization there was no real division between the realms of science, divinity, and artistic endeavor - they were just three strands of the same braid, all of them pulling toward the same beautiful desire: to try to understand the workings of this curious and beautiful world. There were many people who would have called themselves all three things at once: men of god, men of science, men of the arts.
Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don't you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching, I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that's just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That's just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceriesâyou have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It's your destiny. Don't laugh.
I won the argument against the knife that night, but barely. I had some other good ideas around that time--about how jumping off a building or blowing my brains out with a gun might stop the suffering. but something about spending a night with a knife in my hand did it. The next morning I called my friend Susan as the sun came up, begged her to help me. I don't think a woman in the whole history of my family had ever done that before, had ever sat in the middle of the road like that and said, in the middle of her life, "I cannot walk another step further--somebody has to help me.
There is a level of grief so deep that it stops resembling grief at all. The pain becomes so severe that the body can no longer feel it. The grief cauterizes itself, scars over, prevents inflated feeling. Such numbness is a kind of mercy.
This person had arrived, he had illuminated her, he had ensorcelled her with notions of miracle and beauty, he had both understood and misunderstood her, he had married her, he had broken her heart, he had looked upon her with those sad and hopeless eyes, he had accepted his banishment, and now he was gone. What a stark and stunning thing was life- that such a cataclysm can enter and depart so quickly, and leave such wreckage behind!
The whole sphere of air that surrounds us, Alma, is alive with invisible attractions â electric, magnetic, fiery and thoughtful. There is a universal sympathy all around usâ¦ When we cease all argument and debate â both internal and external â our true questions can be heard and answeredâ¦That is the gathering of magic.
If I'm being forgiving of myself, I could say I'm somebody who was really hungry for experiences. The same thing that would make me go try to be a trail cook on a ranch was the same thing that would make me want to have sex with a couple cowboys while I was there.
She followed the pleasure where it led. She had no weight, no name, no thoughts, no history. Then came a burst of phosphorescence, as though a firework had discharged behind her eyes, and it was over. She felt quiet and warm. For the first conscious moment of her life, her mind was free from wonder, free from worry, free from work or puzzlement. Then, from the middle of that marvelous furred stillness, a thought took shape, took hold, took over. I shall have to do this again.
To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is not a decision you make. It has very little thing to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not.
Every try to take a toy away from a toddler? They don't like that, do they? They start kicking and screaming. Best way to take a toy away from a toddler is distract the kid, give him something else to play with. Instead of trying to forcefully take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with.
I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy. In my excitement, I routinely take on more that I can physically or emotionally handle, which causes me to break down in quite predictable displays of dramatic exhaustion. You will be the one burdened with the job of mopping me up every time I've overextended myself and then fallen apart. This will be unbelievably tedious. I apologize in advance.
He told me that one of the reasons people are so unhappy is they don't talk to themselves. He said you have to keep a conversation going with yourself throughout your life to see how you're doing, to keep your focus, to remain your own friend. He told me that he talked to himself all the time, and that it helped him to grow stronger and better everyday.
Once Henry had heard a crying noise at sea, and had seen a mermaid floating on the ocean's surface. The mermaid had been injured by a shark. Henry had pulled the mermaid out of the water with a rope, and she had died in his arms..."what language did the mermaid speak?" Alma wanted to know, imagining that it like almost have to be Greek. "English!" Henry said. "By God, plum, why would I rescue a deuced foreign mermaid?
Astonishingly, at some point, a sputtering torch was thrust into her hands. Alma did not see who gave it to her. She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos-the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path. Nobody stopped her. She was a comet. She did not know that she was not flying.
We live in this society where you must constantly be reinventing yourself. The big question is what are you doing next. The only thing they want is composed of these three elements: They want you to do it the exact same way because they want more of it; but they want it to be totally different; and they want it to be better. That's all you have to do. You just have to do something that's exactly the same, totally different, and better.
Moss grows where nothing else can grow. It grows on bricks. It grows on tree bark and roofing slate. It grows in the Arctic Circle and in the balmiest tropics; it also grows on the fur of sloths, on the backs of snails, on decaying human bones. ... It is a resurrection engine. A single clump of mosses can lie dormant and dry for forty years at a stretch, and then vault back again into life with a mere soaking of water.
Everything was a miracle until we solved it. ... the first man who ever saw a flying fish probably thought he was witnessing a miracle - and the first man who ever described a flying fish was doubtless called a liar.
Being a woman did not look enviable to me, even when it looked admirable. It looked like nonstop sacrifice and service. Because it was. Being a woman seemed vulnerable and sad. Even the strong women I knew - and they were all strong - had earned their strength through enduring huge disappointments and tremendous struggles.
The nineteenth century was the last moment in history when a relatively educated layperson could follow what was going on in the world of science and invention to a wide degree. Also, there were no "professionals". This was a time when amateur explorers, naturalists and enthusiasts were are still making major contributions to progress.
When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture: that we are only given one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that reality both humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our universe and grateful for our brief but intrinsic participation with it.
Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, family, invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgies, I don't know - Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.
Your fear is just as boring as mine is. Everyone's got the same one. It is not precious. It is not special. It is not singular to you. It's just the one we all got wired with when we came in. Focus on your unique qualities that deserve to be celebrated and put fear back in its place. Don't listen to it. Onward.
Just having walked into a prison environment, sat there for two hours, the effect that it had on me. ... I couldn't imagine the effect it would have on a person 24 hours a day. So then I became more intrigued, and we began a correspondence, and I began visiting [Todd Willingham].
Nobody wants to do it - not real change, not soul change, not the painful molecular change required to truly become who you need to be. Nobody ever does real transformation for fun. Nobody ever does it on a dare. You do it only when your back is so far against the wall that you have no choice anymore.
Don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then 'Ole!' And if not, do your dance anyhow. And 'Ole!' to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. 'Ole!' to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.
You know, it's the same thing as the question of free will and destiny, the question of creativity - you, the artist, you're not the puppet of the piano, you're not the puppet of the muse, but you're not its master, either. It's a relationship, it's a conversation, and all it wants is to be treated with respect and dignity - and it will return ten thousand times over.
We alter and customize the thing every century, every generation, every day - both in the courts and in our own homes. And marriage accepts our modifications gracefully. Marriage adapts, evolves and (in a manner that I find miraculous and kind of inspiring) somehow keeps chugging along.
I wanted to experience both. I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. I wanted what the Greeks called kalos kai agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful. I'd been missing both during these last hard years, because both pleasure and devotion require a stress-free space in which to flourish and I'd been living in a giant trash compactor of nonstop anxiety. As for how to balance the urge for pleasure against the longing for devotion...well, surely there was a way to learn that trick.
Creativity does not belong exclusively to professional artists and geniuses; it is the birthright of every single human being. Creativity is our common heritage. You don't need to quit your job and move to Paris in order to lay claim to this heritage - all you have to do is clear some space in your life for whimsy, invention, sensory pleasure, and play. Most of all, you have to learn how to follow your curiosity more than your fear.
I think how badly things can go wrong in our judicial system. All it took was one person saying that this was a deliberately set fire, and then a whole chain of information became malevolent.Criminal past - that worked all in their favor to create this "monster" - and they even used the word "monster." It's like, let's ensure that the public thinks he's an evil individual.
What if we just acknowledged that we have a bad relationship, and we stuck it out, anyway? What if we admitted that we make each other nuts, we fight constantly and hardly ever have sex, but we can't live without each other, so we deal with it? And then we could spend our lives togeth- er â in misery, but happy to not be apart.
A lot of [erotica] was really interestingly disguised in the 19th-century as medical journals. So it would be in the voice of a learned doctor talking about somebody's pathologies. And then it would get really detailed. And then it would get really sweaty. And then you're like, "This isn't a doctor! I would like to see a degree, Mister!"
Lay your wishes aside for a spell, and look deep into what you believe about yourself. Make sure your beliefs about your own life are anchored in greatness, in holiness, in worth, in grace, in joy, in excitement -in internal certainties rather than external circumstances. Because that belief? That's where you're heading, no matter what it may look like on the outside.
What a large number of factors constitute a single human being! How very many layers we operate on, and how very many influences we receive from our minds, our bodies, our histories, our families, our cities, our souls and our lunches!
So when modern-day religious conservatives wax nostalgic about how marriage is a sacred tradition that reaches back into history for thousands of uninterrupted years, they are absolutely correct, but in only one respect-only if they happen to be talking about Judaism.
You are still young, so you think only of your own self. You do not notice the tribulations that occur all around you, to other people. Do not protest; it is true. I am not condemning you. I was as selfish as you, when I was your age. It is the custom of the young to be selfish... But someday you will understand that nobody passes through this world without suffering-no matter what you think of them and their supposed good fortune.
Travel is similar to therapy. You can go to the best psychologist in the world for ten years. If you don't feel like actively shifting anything in your life, there is nothing that person can do to change you.
In 1954, Pope Pius XI, of all people, sent some Vatican delegates on a trip to Libya with these written instructions: "Do NOT think that you are going among Infidels. Muslims attain salvation, too. The ways of Providence are infinite.
I tried to reassure him with every line about how the world is hard and unfair sometimes, but that it's all OK because he is so loved. He is surrounded by souls who would do anything to help him. And not only that--he has wisdom and patience of his own, buried deep inside his being, which will only reveal themselves over time and will always carry him through any trial. He is a gift from God to all of us.
Now imagine a life in which every day a person is presented with not two or even three but dozens of choices, and you can begin to grasp why the modern world has become, even with all its advantages, a neurosis-generating machine of the highest order.
I still can't say whether I ever want childrenâ¦.I can only say how I feel now--grateful to be on my own. I also know that I won't go forth and have children just in case I might regret missing it later in life; I don't think this is a strong enough motivation to bring more babies onto the earth.
This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet.
They flank me - depression on my left, loneliness on my right. They don't need to show their badges. I know these guys very well. ... Then they frisk me. They empty my pockets of any joy I had been carrying there. Depression even confiscates my identity; but he always does that.
Both the five-year-olds looked at me with bewilderment and a bit of fearful uncertainty. I had a sudden horrifying image of the woman I might become if I'm not careful: Crazy Aunt Liz. The divorcee in the muumuu with the dyed orange hair who doesn't eat dairy but smokes menthols, who's always just coming back from her astrology cruise or breaking up with her aroma-therapist boyfriend, who reads the Tarot cards of kindergarteners and says things like, "Bring Aunty Liz another wine cooler, baby, and I'll let you wear my mood ring...
Where did you get the idea you aren't allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You're a constituent--you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me--it will at least be taken into consideration.
The search for God is a reversal of the normal, mundane worldly order. In search for God, you revert from what attracts you and swim toward that which is difficult. You abandon your comforting and familiar habits with the hope (the mere hope!) that something greater will be offered you in return for what you have given up.. if we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be.. a prudent insurance policy.
My mother has made choices in her life, as we all must, and she is at peace with them. I can see her peace. She did not cop out on herself. The benefits of her choices are massive-a long, stable marriage to a man she still calls her best friend; a family that has extended now into grandchildren who adore her; a certainty in her own strength. Maybe some things were sacrificed, and my dad made his sacrifices, too-but who amongst us lives without sacrifice?
I thought about the relentless thought-processing, soul-devouring machine that is my brain, and wondered how on earth I was ever going to master it. Then I remembered that line from Jaws and couldn't help smiling: 'We're gonna need a bigger boat.
Well, I always tried to look nice and be feminine even in the worst tragedies and crisis, there's no reason to add to everyone's misery by looking miserable yourself. That's my philosophy. This is why I always wore makeup and jewelry into the jungle-nothing too extravagant, but maybe just a nice gold bracelet and some earrings, a little lipstick, good perfume. Just enough to show that I still had my self-respect.
He endeared himself to me forever the first night we met, when I was getting frustrated with my inability to find the words I wanted in Italian, and he put his hand on my arm and said, "Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.
As far as we know, we are the only species on the planet who have been given the gift-or curse, perhaps-of awareness about our own mortality. Everything here eventually dies; we're just the lucky ones who get to think about this fact every day.
My restlessness makes me a far better day-to-day traveler than he will ever be. I am infinitely curious and almost infinitely patient with mishaps, discomforts, and minor disasters. So I can go anywhere on the planetâthat's not a problem. The problem is that I just can't live anywhere on the planet.
I thought about one of my favorite Sufi poems, which says that God long ago drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. I was never not coming here. This was never not going to happen.
When you have only two minutes to say good-bye to the person you love most in the world, and you don't know when you'll see each other again, you can become logjammed with the effort to say and do and settle everything at once.
I had long ago learned that when you are the giant, alien visitor to a remote and foreign culture it is sort of your job to become an object of ridicule. It's the least you can do, really, as a polite guest.
My love affair with (him) had a wonderful element of romance to it, which I will always cherish. But it was not an infatuation, and here's how I can tell: because I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man's chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homonculus. During our long period of courtship, I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet (him) for who he was.
every healthy marriage is composed of walls and windows. The windows are the aspects of your relationship that are open to the worldâthat is, the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends; the walls are the barriers of trust behind which you guard the most intimatesecrets of your marriage.
So I stood up and did a handstand on my Guru's roof, to celebrate the notion of liberation. I felt the dusty tiles under my hands. I felt my own strength and balance. I felt the easy night breeze on the palms of my bare feet. This kind of thing -- a spontaneous handstand--isn't something a disembodied cool blue soul can do, but a human being can do it. We have hands; we can stand on them if we want to. That's our privilege. That's the joy of a mortal body. And that's why God needs us. Because God loves to feel things through our hands.
Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where all is correct. But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion." Nothing follows a regular course. Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will be more perilous.
It was like time would stop, and the dancer would sort of step through some kind of portal and he wasn't doing anything different than he had ever done, 1,000 nights before, but everything would align. And all of a sudden, he would no longer appear to be merely human. He would be lit from within, and lit from below and all lit up on fire with divinity. And when this happened, back then, people knew it for what it was, you know, they called it by it's name. They would put their hands together and they would start to chant, "Allah, Allah, Allah, God God, God." That's God, you know.
the number 108 is held to be the most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to 9, which is three threes. And 3, of course, is the number representing supreme balance.
Go back to bed', said the omniscient interior voice, because you don't need to know the final answer right now, at three o'clock in the morning on the Thursday in November. 'Go back to bed', because I love you. 'Go back to bed', beacause the only thing you need to do for now is get some rest and take good care of yourself until you do know the answer.
I was full of a hot, powerful sadness and would have loved to burst into the comfort of tears, but tried hard not to, remembering something my Guru once said -- that you should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead.
This was my voice, but perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I'd only ever experienced love and certainty in my life. How can I describe the warmth of affection in that voice, as it gave me the answer that would forever seal my faith in the divine?
Parla come magni,' It means, 'Speak the way you eat,' or in my personal translation: 'Say it like you eat it.' It's a reminder - when you're making a big deal out of explaining something, when you're searching for the right words - to keep your language as simple and direct as Roman rood. Don't make a big production out of it. Just lay it on the table.
To my taste, the men in Rome are ridiculously, hurtfully, stupidly beautiful. More beautiful even than Roman women, to be honest. Italian men are beautiful in the same way as French women, which is to say-- no detail spared in the quest for perfection. They're like show poodles. Sometimes they look so good I want to applaud.
in stillness, I watched myselfget eaten by mosquitoes... the itch was maddening at first but eventually it just melded into a general burning feeling and i rode that heat to a mld euphoria. I allowed the pain to lose its specific associations and become pure sensation... and that eventually lifted me out of myself and into meditation.
It's still two human beings trying to get along, so it's going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
But why must everything have a practical application? I'd been such a diligent soldier for years - working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting, etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty? In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now?
Before you realize this truth, say the Yogis, you will always be in despair, a notion nicely expressed in this exasperated line from the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: 'You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.
I have my own set of survival techniques. I am patient. I know how to pack light. But my one might travel talent is that I can make friends with anybody. I can make friends with the dead. If there isn't anyone else around to talk to, I could probably make friends with a four-foot-tall pile of sheetrock. That is why I'm not afraid to travel to the most remote places in the world, not if there are human beings there to meet. People asked me before I left, "do you have friends [there]?' and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will.
The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught. But what about the benefits of living harmoniously among extremes? What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing?
This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down.
There is a theory that if you yearn sincerely enough for a Guru, you will find one. The universe will shift, destiny's molecules will get themselves organized and your path will soon intersect with the path of the master you need.
But he [Depression] just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favorite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the covers over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He's going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it.
I remember asking myself one night, while I was curled up in the same old corner of my same old couch in tears yet again over the same old repetition of sorrowful thoughts, 'Is there ANYTHING about this scene you can change, Liz?' And all I could think to do was stand up, whle still sobbing, and try to balance on one foot in the middle of the living room. Just to prove that - while I couldn't stop the tears or change my dismal interior dialogue - I was not yet totally out of control: at least I could cry hysterically while balanced on one foot.
The Silly Putty-like malleability of the institution [marriage], in fact, is the only reason we still have the thing at all. Very few people... would accept marriage on it's thirteenth-century terms. Marriage survives, in other words, precisely because it evolves. (Though I suppose this would not be a very persuasive argument to those who probably also don't believe in evolution).
Because I know something that you don't know. I know that this is the worst experience of your life, but I also know that someday you'll move past it and you'll be fine. And helping somebody likej you through the worst experience of her life is incredibly gratifying.
I want to explore the art of pleasure in Italy, the art of devotion in India and, in Indonesia, the art of balancing the two. It was only later, after admitting this dream, that I noticed the happy coincidence that all these countries begin with the letter I. A fairly auspicious sign, it seemed, on a voyage of self-discovery.
Soon you start craving that intense attention with the hungry obsession of any junkie. When the drug is withheld you probably turn sick, crazy and depleted not to mention resentful of the dealer who encourage this addiction in the first place but who now refuses to pony up the good stuff anymore despite that you know that he has it hidden somewhere God dammit because you know that he used to give it to you for free.
There's a part of me which has always wanted to hear a man say, "Let me take care of you forever," and I have never heard it spoken before. Over the last few years, I'd given up looking for that person, learned how to say this heartening sentence to myself, especially in times of fear. But to hear it from someone else now, from someone who is speaking sincerely...
We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character.
The great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness.
The sound universe is also spectacular around here. In the evenings there's a cricket orchestra with frogs providing the bass line. In the dead of night the dogs howl about how misunderstood they are. Before dawn the roosters for miles around announce how freaking cool it is to be roosters.
This was not my moment to be seeking romance and (as day follows night) to further complicate my already knotty life. This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.
What kind of dog is that?" I would always give the same answer: "She's a brown dog." Similarly, when the question is raised, "What kind of God do you believe in?" my answer is easy: "I believe in a magnificent God.
What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they came from and why they arrived, and then - with great forgiveness and fortitude - dismissing them.
He is only happy when he can maintain himself - mentally and spiritually - at the intersection between a vertical line and horizontal one, in a state of perfect balance. For this, he needs to know where he is located every moment, both in his relationship to the divine and to his family here on earth. If he loses that balance, he loses his power.
Why must everything be repeat and repeat, never finish, never resting? You work so hard one day, but the next day you must only work again. You eat, but the next day, you are already hungry. You find love, then love goes away. You are born with nothing, you work hard, then you die with nothing. You are young, then you are old. No matter how hard you work, you cannot stop getting old. - Wayan
Then my mother shocked me. She said, " All those things that you want from your relationship, Liz? I have always wanted those things too." [She] showed me the handful of bullets she'd had to bite over the decades in order to stay happily married (and she was happily married...) to my father. "You have to understand how little I was raised to expect that I desired in life, honey. Remember- I come from a different time and place... and you have to understand how much I love your father.
Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure.Ours is an entertainment seeking-nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one....This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype- the overstressed executive who goes on vacation, but who cannot relax.
But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one's life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favourite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?
I am alone, I am all alone, I am completely alone. Grasping this reality, I let go of my bag, drop to my knees and press my forehead against the floor. There, I offer up to the universe a fervent prayer of thanks. First in English. Then in Italian. And then - just to get the point across - in Sanskrit.