Escape The Ordinary Quotes

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I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.
Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1))
Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.
Anaïs Nin (Incest: From "A Journal of Love": The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1932-1934)
I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.
Anaïs Nin
To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence.
Friedrich Nietzsche
I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.
Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1))
I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.
Anaïs Nin
I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run…to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I like that.
Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner)
If you truly want to escape the ordinary, you'll simply need to keep evolving. Whether what you seek is above or below.
Ryohgo Narita (DRRR!! Durarara!! 4 (Durarara!! Manga, #4))
In reaction against the age-old slogan, "woman is the weaker vessel," or the still more offensive, "woman is a divine creature," we have, I think, allowed ourselves to drift into asserting that "a woman is as good as a man," without always pausing to think what exactly we mean by that. What, I feel, we ought to mean is something so obvious that it is apt to escape attention altogether, viz: (...) that a woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual. What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.
Dorothy L. Sayers (Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society)
After a long moment, he said, "Aleksander." A little laugh escaped me. He arched a brow, a smile tugging at his lips. "What?" "It's just so... common." Such an ordinary name, held by kings and peasants alike. His smile deepened and he cocked his head to the side. It almost hurt to see him this way. "Will you say it?" he asked. "Aleksander," I whispered.
Leigh Bardugo (Ruin and Rising (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #3))
Do the children who prefer books set in the real, ordinary, workaday world ever read as obsessively as those who would much rather be transported into other worlds entirely?
Laura Miller (The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia)
Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.
Milton Friedman
Imagination can't create anything new, can it? It only recycles bits and pieces from the world and reassembles them into visions... So when we thing we've escaped the unbearable ordinariness and, well, untruthfulness of our lives, it's really only the same old ordinariness and falseness rearranged into the appearance of novelty and truth. Nothing unknown is knowable. Don't you think it's depressing?
Tony Kushner (Millennium Approaches (Angels in America #1))
I’m a very ordinary girl, Moses. I know that I am. And I always will be. I can’t paint. I don’t know who Vermeer is, or Manet for that matter. But if you think ordinary can be beautiful, that gives me hope. And maybe sometime you’ll think about me when you need an escape from the hurt in your head.
Amy Harmon (The Law of Moses (The Law of Moses, #1))
Most of the time romance isn't even about love, anyway. It's about escape. Fantasy. Salvation from the mundane. Save me from boredom, from exhaustion, from my undersexed body, from microwave dinners and reality TV, from going to bed alone with a vibrator or a cat. Save me from my desperately ordinary life.
Leah Raeder (Black Iris)
North Korean defectors often find it hard to settle down. It is not easy for somebody who’s escaped a totalitarian country to live in the free world. Defectors have to rediscover who they are in a world that offers endless possibilities. Choosing where to live, what to do, even which clothes to put on in the morning is tough enough for those of us accustomed to making choices; it can be utterly paralyzing for people who’ve had decisions made for them by the state their entire lives.
Barbara Demick (Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea)
I keep my kindness in my eyes Gently folded around my iris Like a velvety, brown blanket That warms my vision I keep my shyness in my hair Tucked away into a ponytail Looking for a chance to escape On a few loose strands in the air I keep my anger on my lips Just waiting to unleash into the world But trust me; it’s never in my heart It evaporates into words I keep my dignity upon my chin Like a torch held up high For those who have betrayed me Radiating a silent, strong message I keep my gratitude in my smile A glistening waterfall in the sun Gently splashing at that person Who made me happy for some reason I keep my sensitivity in my hands Reaching out for your wet cheek Holding you, with all the love The love I want to share, and feel I keep my passion in my writing My words breathing like fire Screeching against an endless road As I continue to be inspired I keep my simplicity in my soul Spread over me like a clear sky Reflecting all that I am And all that’s ever passed me by And I hope you will look Beyond my ordinary face My simple, tied hair My ordinary tastes And I hope you will see me From everyone...apart As I keep my beauty in my heart.
Sanober Khan
Youth is marked by a breathtaking novelty that diminishes with each year of age - until life becomes a delusive struggle to break routines, escape the ordinary, and rediscover the joy of discovery.
Zack Love (City Solipsism)
He'd been right about the world, but he was wrong about himself. The word was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring - a moving oasis. He wasn't desolate, and he wasn't empty. He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it, that's what being a magician was. They weren't ordinary feelings - they weren't the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things. There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world.
Lev Grossman (The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3))
He wondered vaguely whether in the abolished past it had been a normal experience to lie in bed like this, in the cool of a summer evening, a man and a woman with no clothes on, making love when they chose, talking of what they chose, not feeling any compulsion to get up, simply lying there and listening to peaceful sounds outside. Surely there could never have been a time when that seemed ordinary?
George Orwell (1984)
My father used to tell me that stories offer the listener a chance to escape but, more importantly, he said, they provide people with a chance to maximize their minds. Suspend ordinary constraints, allow the imagination to be freed, and we are charged with the capability of heighetned thought. Learn to use your eyes as if they are your ears, he said, and you become connected with the ancient heritage of man, a dream world for the waking mind.
Tahir Shah (In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams)
We all want to have a place where we can dream and escape anything that wraps steel bands around our imagination and creativity.
Bob Goff (Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World)
No one knows what path you should follow except yourself. You are your own wise teacher. You are your own Guru.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
Dissociated trauma memories don't reveal themselves like ordinary memories. Like pieces of a puzzle, they escape the primitive part of our brain where the trauma has been stored without words. These starkly vivid and detailed images are defined by our five senses and emotions, but there is no 'story'. So we are left trying to comprehend the incomprehensible while trying to describe what doesn't make sense. Healing is about collecting as many pieces as possible. It's finding words for what we are seeing and feeling - even when it sounds crazy. It's daring to speak our truth until it makes sense.
Jeanne McElvaney (Spirit Unbroken: Abby's Story)
The reality of the ordinary progress of Christian understanding should not escape our notice: early believers "know no answers"; immature believers "know all the answers"; and mature believers "know the limits of our answers.
Bryan Chapell (Ephesians (Reformed Expository Commentary))
And what is a friend? More than a father, more than a brother: a traveling companion, with him, you can conquer the impossible, even if you must lose it later. Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing. It is a friend that you communicate the awakening of a desire, the birth of a vision or a terror, the anguish of seeing the sun disappear or of finding that order and justice are no more. That's what you can talk about with a friend. Is the soul immortal, and if so why are we afraid to die? If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end? What is death, when you come down to it? The closing of a parenthesis, and nothing more? And what about life? In the mouth of a philosopher, these questions may have a false ring, but asked during adolescence or friendship, they have the power to change being: a look burns and ordinary gestures tend to transcend themselves. What is a friend? Someone who for the first time makes you aware of your loneliness and his, and helps you to escape so you in turn can help him. Thanks to him who you can hold your tongue without shame and talk freely without risk. That's it.
Elie Wiesel (The Gates of the Forest)
So the two went: the boy who had escaped from darkness because he loved light more than he knew and the girl who had become ordinary because she did not realize how wonderful it was to be a princess.
David R. Mains (Tales of the Kingdom)
For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as do the ordinary people, but to fulfill it in its true potential - the imagination.
Lawrence Durrell (Justine (The Alexandria Quartet, #1))
Do not imagine that you will save yourself, however completely you surrender to us. No one who has once gone astray is ever spared. And even if we chose to let you live out the natural term of your life, still you would never escape from us. What happens to you here is for ever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.
George Orwell (1984)
I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss. Yet as we stood loading our boats in the breaking dawn, on a brand new precipice of Before and After, I thought of everything I was about to leave behind―my parents, my town, my once-best-and-only-friend―and I realized that leaving wouldn't be like I had imagined, like casting of a weight. Their memory was something tangible and heavy, and I would carry it with me.
Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Graphic Novels, #1))
Maybe the critics are right. Maybe there's no escaping our great political divide, an endless clash of armies, and any attempts to alter the rules of engagement are futile. Or maybe the trivialization of politics has reached a point of no return, so that most people see it as just one more diversion, a sport, with politicians our paunch-bellied gladiators and those who bother to pay attention just fans on the sidelines: We paint our faces red or blue and cheer our side and boo their side, and if it takes a late hit or cheap shot to beat the other team, so be it, for winning is all that matters. But I don't think so. They are out there, I think to myself, those ordinary citizens who have grown up in the midst of all the political and cultural battles, but who have found a way-in their own lives, at least- to make peace with their neighbors, and themselves. ...I imagine they are waiting for a politics with the maturity to balance idealism and realism, to distinguish between what can and cannot be compromised, to admit the possibility that the other side might sometimes have a point. They don't always understand the arguments between right and left, conservative and liberal, but they recognize the difference between dogma and common sense, responsibility and irresponsibility, between those things that last and those that are fleeting. They are out there, waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.
Barack Obama (The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream)
For I'm afraid of loneliness; shiveringly, terribly afraid. I don't mean the ordinary physical loneliness, for here I am, deliberately travelled away from London to get to it, to its spaciousness and healing. I mean that awful loneliness of spirit that is the ultimate tragedy of life. When you've got to that, really reached it, without hope, without escape, you die. You just can't bear it, and you die.
Elizabeth von Arnim (In the Mountains)
Until there was Piper McCloud. The probability of a flier is so rare, so completely out of the ordinary, and it was the very thing that Conrad needed to make an escape plan work. The minute he saw that Piper could fly, he knew hope. He carefully plotted and prepared for every eventuality except one---Piper's refusal to leave without the other's. How can she be so colosally stupid??!! Didn't she understand?
Victoria Forester
The world was fucking awful. It was a wretched, desolate place, a desert of meaninglessness, a heartless wasteland, where horrific things happened all the time for no reason and nothing good lasted for long. He'd been right about the world, but he was wrong about himself. The world was a desert, but he was a magician, and to be a magician was to be a secret spring - a moving oasis. He wasn't desolate, and he wasn't empty. He was full of emotion, full of feelings, bursting with them, and when it came down to it, that's what being a magician was. They weren't ordinary feelings - they weren't the tame, domesticated kind. Magic was wild feelings, the kind that escaped out of you and into the world and changed things. There was a lot of skill to it, and a lot of learning, and a lot of work, but that was where the power began: the power to enchant the world.
Lev Grossman (The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3))
Ironically, I am reliably informed that Michael McIntyre doesn't actually have a "man drawer", and invented the concept in order to ridicule ordinary people, for whom he has nothing but haughty contempt.
Stewart Lee (How I Escaped My Certain Fate)
Back in the summer of 1941, they had stood to lose so much, it seemed, through the shame and ruination of exposure. Sammy could not have known that one day he would come to regard all the things that their loving each other had seemed to put at so much risk – his career in comic books, his relations with his family, his place in the world – as the walls of a prison, an airless, lightless keep from which there was no hope of escape….He recalled his and Tracy’s parting at Penn Station on the morning of Pearl Harbor, in the first-class compartment of the Broadway Limited, their show of ordinary mute male farewell, the handshake, the pat on the shoulder, carefully tailoring and modulating their behavior through there was no one at all watching, so finely attuned to the danger of what they might lose that they could not permit themselves to notice what they had
Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
The Door of No Return - real and metaphoric as some places are, mythic to those of us who are scattered in the Americas today. To have one’s belonging lodged in a metaphor is voluptuous intrigue; to inhabit a trope; to be a kind of fiction. To live in the Black Diaspora I think is to live in a fiction - a creation of empires, and also self-creation. It is to be being living inside and outside herself. It is to apprehend the the sign one makes yet to be unable to escape it except in radiant moments of ordinariness made like art. To be a fiction in search of its most resonant metaphor then is even more intriguing.
Dionne Brand (A Map to the Door of No Return)
People won't see Imagination in something that doesn't relate to their experience because of their own mental limitations. I want people to escape the expected and ordinary, to escape the regular expectations of a story, and truly step into a different world of literature.
Lionel Suggs
That goes for old wounds, too, you know. I really wish we'd had the chance to talk before this," he says, cracking the window so the smoke can escape. "There's a Longfellow quote I have stuck on my bulletin board at the church office- 'There is no grief like the grief that does not speak'- and it's true. I've found that keeping pain inside doesn't give it a chance to heal, but bringing it out into the light, holding it right there in your hands and trusting that you're strong enough to make it through, not hating the pain, not loving it, just seeing it for what it really is can change how you go on from there. Time alone doesn't heal emotional wounds, Sayre, and you don't want to live the rest of your life bottled up with anger and guilt and bitterness. That's how people self-destruct.
Laura Wiess (Ordinary Beauty)
Many traumatized individuals are too hypervigilant to enjoy the ordinary pleasures that life has to offer, while other are too numb to absorb new experiences – or to be alert to signs of real danger. When the smoke detectors of the brain malfunction, people no longer run when they should be trying to escape or fight back when they should be defending themselves.
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score / Trauma and Recovery / Hidden Healing Powers)
A Faint Music by Robert Hass Maybe you need to write a poem about grace. When everything broken is broken, and everything dead is dead, and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt, and the heroine has studied her face and its defects remorselessly, and the pain they thought might, as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves has lost its novelty and not released them, and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly, watching the others go about their days— likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears— that self-love is the one weedy stalk of every human blossoming, and understood, therefore, why they had been, all their lives, in such a fury to defend it, and that no one— except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light, faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears. As in the story a friend told once about the time he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him. Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash. He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge, the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon. And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,” that there was something faintly ridiculous about it. No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass, scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs, and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up on the girder like a child—the sun was going down and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing carefully, and drove home to an empty house. There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed. A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick with rage and grief. He knew more or less where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill. They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,” she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights, a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay. “You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?” “Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now, “I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while— Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall— and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more, and go to sleep. And he, he would play that scene once only, once and a half, and tell himself that he was going to carry it for a very long time and that there was nothing he could do but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark cracking and curling as the cold came up. It’s not the story though, not the friend leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,” which is the part of stories one never quite believes. I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain it must sometimes make a kind of singing. And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps— First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing
Robert Hass (Sun under Wood)
She had spent years locked in a tower, unable to see anything of the world but the scarp of forest beyond her window, but stories had provided her escape. New books, old books, dramas and histories and fantastical adventures, stories of ordinary lives, stories of dragons and demons, murders and mysteries and myths from long ago. A hundred possible worlds, more true to her than her own, more compelling than a life of staring at the same walls and same trees, waiting for the day when the lock would click and she would finally be allowed to be free. A story could not hurt her.
Rhiannon Thomas (A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing, #1))
I knew we had to celebrate, not the breakup of a marriage, but a woman prepared to be brave.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
An Ordinary Day The sun rises my eyes lift up I take a deep breath my heart is awake. I open my mouth life escapes as I ponder the moment of an average ordinary day.
M.I. Ghostwriter
Fleeing is part of the struggle.
Manu Larcenet (Ordinary Victories)
We can all escape from whatever dilemma we’re in by adopting the correct attitude. It’s a tough lesson, but to learn it is to gain the means to transcend ordinary life.
Michael Faust (Nietzsche: The God of Groundhog Day)
There was nothing inherently special about it, but that's what made the whole thing so memorable.
Emma Eggleston (Escape)
Harper: When we think we’ve escaped the unbearable ordinariness and, well, untruthfulness of our lives, it’s really only the same old ordinariness and falseness rearranged into the appearance of novelty and truth. Nothing unknown is knowable. Don’t you think it’s depressing? Prior: The limitations of the imagination? Harper: Yes.
Tony Kushner (Angels in America)
Before I could discover, before I could escape, I had to survive, and this could only mean a clash with the streets, by which I mean not just physical blocks, nor simply the people packed into them, but the array of lethal puzzles and strange perils that seem to rise up from the asphalt itself. The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat-down, a shooting, or a pregnancy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
According to a much-traveled analogy, if we put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately hop out. But put the frog in water that’s at room temperature and heat it slowly, and the creature will stay there until it boils to death. Put him in a lethal environment suddenly, and he will escape. But introduce the danger gradually, and he will never notice. The truth is that the dangers to which we are most vulnerable are generally not the sudden, dramatic, obvious ones. They are the ones that creep up on us, that are so much a part of our environment that we don’t even notice them.
John Ortberg Jr. (The Life You've Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People)
I want you to know my name,” he said. “The name I was given, not the title I took for myself. Will you have it, Alina?” I could feel the weight of Nikolai’s ring in my palm back at the Spinning Wheel. I didn’t have to stand here in the Darkling’s arms. I could vanish from his grip, slide back into consciousness and the safety of a stone room hidden in a mountaintop. But I didn’t want to go. Despite everything, I wanted this whispered confidence. “Yes,” I breathed. After a long moment, he said, “Aleksander.” A little laugh escaped me. He arched a brow, a smile tugging at his lips. “What?” “It’s just so … common.” Such an ordinary name, held by kings and peasants alike. I’d known two Aleksanders at Keramzin alone, three in the First Army. One of them had died on the Fold. His smile deepened and he cocked his head to the side. It almost hurt to see him this way. “Will you say it?” he asked. I hesitated, feeling danger crowd in on me. “Aleksander,” I whispered. His grin faded, and his gray eyes seemed to flicker. “Again,” he said. “Aleksander.
Leigh Bardugo (Ruin and Rising (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #3))
There are countries in which the communal provision of housing, transport, education and health care is so inferior that inhabitants will naturally seek to escape involvement with the masses by barricading themselves behind solid walls. The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where 'ordinary' life fails to answer a median need for dignity or comfort. Then there are communities—far fewer in number and typically imbued with a strong (often Protestant) Christian heritage—whose public realms exude respect in their principles and architecture, and whose citizens are therefore under less compulsion to retreat into a private domain. Indeed, we may find that some of our ambitions for personal glory fade when the public spaces and facilities to which we enjoy access are themselves glorious to behold; in such a context, ordinary citizenship may come to seem an adequate goal. In Switzerland's largest city, for instance, the need to own a car in order to avoid sharing a bus or train with strangers loses some of the urgency it has in Los Angeles or London, thanks to Zurich's superlative train network, which is clean, safe, warm and edifying in its punctuality and technical prowess. There is little reason to travel in an automotive cocoon when, for a fare of only a few francs, an efficient, stately tramway will provide transport from point A to point B at a level of comfort an emperor might have envied. One insight to be drawn from Christianity and applied to communal ethics is that, insofar as we can recover a sense of the preciousness of every human being and, even more important, legislate for spaces and manner that embody such a reverence in their makeup, then the notion of the ordinary will shed its darker associations, and, correspondingly, the desires to triumph and to be insulated will weaken, to the psychological benefit of all.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
I lead a worthless life, he thought, I live in unreality and untruth. If only there could be total change, regeneration, escape. If only I could run and run and get back to the people, back to where real wholesome, ordinary life is being lived. I have given myself a mean role and cannot now stop enacting it. Oh if only I could get out! But even as he thought these familiar thoughts he knew: unreality is my reality, untruth is my truth, I am too old now and I have no other way.
Iris Murdoch (Henry and Cato)
He had not stopped looking into her eyes, and she showed no signs of faltering. He gave a deep sigh and recited: "O sweet treasures, discovered to my sorrow." She did not understand. "It is a verse by the grandfather of my great-great-grandmother," he explained. "He wrote three eclogues, two elegies, five songs, and forty sonnets. Most of them for a Portuguese lady of very ordinary charms who was never his, first because he was married, and then because she married another man and died before he did." "Was he a priest too?" "A soldier," he said. Something stirred in the heart of Sierva María, for she wanted to hear the verse again. He repeated it, and this time he continued, in an intense, well-articulated voice, until he had recited the last of the forty sonnets by the cavalier of amours and arms Don Garcilaso de la Vega, killed in his prime by a stone hurled in battle.When he had finished, Cayetano took Sierva María's hand and placed it over his heart. She felt the internal clamor of his suffering. "I am always in this state," he said. And without giving his panic an opportunity, he unburdened himself of the dark truth that did not permit him to live. He confessed that every moment was filled with thoughts of her, that everything he ate and drank tasted of her, that she was his life, always and everywhere, as only God had the right and power to be, and that the supreme joy of his heart would be to die with her. He continued to speak without looking at her, with the same fluidity and passion as when he recited poetry, until it seemed to him that Sierva María was sleeping. But she was awake, her eyes, like those of a startled deer, fixed on him. She almost did not dare to ask: "And now?" "And now nothing," he said. "It is enough for me that you know." He could not go on. Weeping in silence, he slipped his arm beneath her head to serve as a pillow, and she curled up at his side. And so they remained, not sleeping, not talking, until the roosters began to crow and he had to hurry to arrive in time for five-o'clock Mass. Before he left, Sierva María gave him the beautiful necklace of Oddúa: eighteen inches of mother-of-pearl and coral beads. Panic had been replaced by the yearning in his heart. Delaura knew no peace, he carried out his tasks in a haphazard way, he floated until the joyous hour when he escaped the hospital to see Sierva María. He would reach the cell gasping for breath, soaked by the perpetual rains, and she would wait for him with so much longing that only his smile allowed her to breathe again. One night she took the initiative with the verses she had learned after hearing them so often. 'When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me," she recited. And asked with a certain slyness: "What's the rest of it?" "I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end," he said. She repeated the lines with the same tenderness, and so they continued until the end of the book, omitting verses, corrupting and twisting the sonnets to suit themselves, toying with them with the skill of masters. They fell asleep exhausted. At five the warder brought in breakfast, to the uproarious crowing of the roosters, and they awoke in alarm. Life stopped for them.
Gabriel García Márquez (Of Love and Other Demons)
The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.
T.E. Lawrence
I had wanted to escape my traveling childhood, yet I was traveling and making the discovery that ordinary people are smart, smart people are ordinary, decisions are best made by the people affected by them, and human beings have an almost infinite capacity for adapting to the expectations around us - which is both the good and the bad news
Gloria Steinem (My Life on the Road)
These are among the people I've tried to know twice, the second time in memory and language. Through them, myself. They are what I've become, in ways I don't understand but which I believe will accrue to a rounded truth, a second life for me as well as them. Cracking jokes in the mandatory American manner of people self-concious about death. This is the humor of violent surprise. How do you connect things? Learn their names. It was a strange conversation, full of hedged remarks and obscure undercurrents, perfect in its way. I was not a happy runner. I did it to stay interested in my body, to stay informed, and to set up clear lines of endeavor, a standard to meet, a limit to stay within. I was just enough of a puritan to think there must be some virtue in rigorous things, although I was careful not to overdo it. I never wore the clothes. the shorts, tank top, high socks. Just running shoes and a lightweight shirt and jeans. I ran disguised as an ordinary person. -When are you two going to have children? -We're our own children. In novels lately the only real love, the unconditional love I ever come across is what people feel for animals. Dolphins, bears, wolves, canaries. I would avoid people, stop drinking. There was a beggar with a Panasonic. This is what love comes down to, things that happen and what we say about them. But nothing mattered so much on this second reading as a number of spirited misspellings. I found these mangled words exhilarating. He'd made them new again, made me see how they worked, what they really were. They were ancient things, secret, reshapable.The only safety is in details. Hardship makes the world obscure. How else could men love themselves but in memory, knowing what they know? The world has become self-referring. You know this. This thing has seeped into the texture of the world. The world for thousands of years was our escape, was our refuge. Men hid from themselves in the world. We hid from God or death. The world was where we lived, the self was where we went mad and died. But now the world has made a self of its own.
Don DeLillo (The Names)
45,000 sections of reinforced concrete—three tons each. Nearly 300 watchtowers. Over 250 dog runs. Twenty bunkers. Sixty five miles of anti-vehicle trenches—signal wire, barbed wire, beds of nails. Over 11,000 armed guards. A death strip of sand, well-raked to reveal footprints. 200 ordinary people shot dead following attempts to escape the communist regime. 96 miles of concrete wall. Not your typical holiday destination. JF Kennedy said the Berlin Wall was a better option than a war. In TDTL, the Anglo-German Bishop family from the pebbledashed English suburb of Oaking argue about this—among other—notions while driving to Cold War Berlin, through all the border checks, with a plan to visit both sides of it.
Joanna Campbell (Tying Down the Lion)
Your life is not a personal story.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
He, I was sure, would have all the answers, and these answers he would find in my vagina.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
I had never climbed a mountain, but standing at the bottom, looking at the summit, thinking, “How the fuck am I going to make it?” was pointless.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
I had made the vital realisation that my life was a series of events in which one merely had to keep on putting one foot in front of the other
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
How the heck I was supposed to have a spiritual awakening without a flush toilet?
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
My tears stopped flowing, and a warmth spread through me. In my inner stillness, the answer found me “ you are the same person you have always been but never dared to see.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
I had experienced God first hand. In my polka dot pyjamas.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
There was no turning back. I had created the situation, and having come this far I wanted freedom, I wanted liberation, I wanted deep orgasms and most of all I wanted to meet God.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
In Thailand the customer is always wrong.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
I knew only that my thoughts and external events were inextricably linked.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
What’s an Ashram?” he asked, blankly. Misunderstanding my hesitation, his face lit up in comprehension. Winking slyly, he asked, “Is it a place you go to smoke weed and have lots of sex?
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
When I behold other people, who are of course the children of some family or other, and think of my own children, and of myself...I am astonished at how sensible, well-behaved, practical, courteous, and predictable these other children are. The other children are so easy about the whole business of being who they are, being in the world, and getting along. Whereas with us it is an awful fight, all the way. I am left with the conclusion that we are quite probably crazy, but somehow not in a way that compels commitment. We get over our rampages before society or clinical insanity charges in on us. I can think of very few of us who are not nuts. And that's not at our worst, that's pretty much as we always are. We find fault with everything. The world stinks, and even long after we have reconciled ourselves to that truth, we still regret it, and now and then even rage against it. Running through the various branches of the family I fail to find one branch which might be said to be nice- ordinary, sober, adjusted, willing, courteous, undemanding, charming, practical, predictable, and all of the other things nice people are. Lunacy runs straight down the middle of every branch of my family. We have nobody who is not some kind of nut. What did it? How did it happen? Well, there's no answer, of course.
William Saroyan (Days Of Life And Death And Escape To The Moon)
I did not know that I was deep in the throes of fighting my shadow; my shadow being reflected in all those things around me, distracting me from the true problem, and blinding me to myself.
Grace G. Payge (A narrow escape from an ordinary life: A true story)
Individual humans know embarrassingly little about the world, and as history progressed, they came to know less and less. A hunter-gatherer in the Stone Age knew how to make her own clothes, how to start a fire, how to hunt rabbits and how to escape lions. We think we know far more today, but as individuals, we actually know far less. We rely on the expertise of others for almost all our needs. In one humbling experiment, people were asked to evaluate how well they understood the workings of an ordinary zip. Most people confidently replied that they understood them very well – after all, they use zips all the time. They were then asked to describe in as much detail as possible all the steps involved in the zip’s operation. Most had no idea.2 This is what Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach have termed ‘the knowledge illusion’. We think we know a lot, even though individually we know very little, because we treat knowledge in the minds of others as if it were our own.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Dumbledore's plan works well in giving Harry protection from the external danger of Voldemort. The plan also gives him an ordinary life. This ordinary life is a protection from the spiritual danger of pride, while being an aid to humility. Voldemort does not escape this danger. He has contempt for anything that makes him ordinary, such as his name Tom. He wants to be "different, separate, notorious." Harry, on the other hand, never tries to avoid his name, although the Dursleys think it a "nasty common name." He interiorises the value of being ordinary. ... singularity [is] the vice that is the opposite of accepting one's ordinariness.
Luke Bell (Baptizing Harry Potter: A Christian Reading of J.K. Rowling)
Below the surface, the force driving noir stories is the urge to escape: from the past, from the law, from the ordinary, from poverty, from constricting relationships, from the limitations of the self. Noir found its fullest expression in America because the American psyche harbors a passion for independence . . . With this desire for autonomy comes a corresponding fear of loneliness and exile. The more we crave success, the more we dread failure; the more we crave freedom, the more we dread confinement. This is the shadow that spawns all of noir’s shadows: the anxiety imposed by living in a country that elevates opportunity above security; one that instills the compulsion to “make it big," but offers little sympathy to those who fall short. Film noir is about people who break the rules, pursuing their own interests outside the boundaries of decent society, and about how they are destroyed by society - or by themselves. Noir springs from a fundamental conflict between the values of individual freedom and communal safety: a fundamental doubt that the two can coexist. . . . Noir stories are powered by the need to escape, but they are structured around the impossibility of escape: their fierce, thwarted energy turns inward. The ultimate noir landscape, immeasurable as the ocean and confining as a jail cell, is the mind - the darkest city of all.
Imogen Sara Smith (In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City)
But we should also aim to create a self and a life and an artistic vision that aren’t an escape from ordinary life, but a way of rendering ordinary life for people of every color, shape, size, and background more magical to them. In order to do that, we have to see that every human is divine. We have to train ourselves to see that with our own eyes. It will fuel us, once we see it. The ordinary people around us, the angry ones and the indifferent ones, the good ones and the bad ones, will start to glow and shimmer.
Heather Havrilesky (What If This Were Enough?: Essays)
I wonder why I write about these things. As if I didn't know them! Why do I tell myself in writing what I already so well know? Don't I know about the mountain, and the brimming cup of blue light? It is because, I suppose, it's lonely to stay inside oneself. One has to come out and talk. And if there is no one to talk to one imagines someone, as though one were writing a letter to somebody who loves one, and who will want to know, with the sweet eagerness and solicitude of love, what one does and what the place one is in looks like. It makes one feel less lonely to think like this,—to write it down, as if to one's friend who cares. For I'm afraid of loneliness; shiveringly, terribly afraid. I don't mean the ordinary physical loneliness, for here I am, deliberately travelled away from London to get to it, to its spaciousness and healing. I mean that awful loneliness of spirit that is the ultimate tragedy of life. When you've got to that, really reached it, without hope, without escape, you die. You just can't bear it, and you die.
Elizabeth von Arnim (In the Mountains)
What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist? Not necessity, for necessity comes to many, and they all take refuge in convention. Not moral decision, for nine times out of ten we decide for convention likewise. What is it, then, that inexorably tips the scales in favour of the extra-ordinary? It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from it’s well-worn paths. True personality is always a vocation and puts its trust in it as God, despite its being, as the ordinary man would say, only a personal feeling. But vocation acts like a law of God from which there is no escape. The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing to one who has a vocation. He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths. Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: he is called…. The original meaning of “to have a vocation” is “to be addressed by a voice.” The clearest examples of this are to be found in the avowals of the Old Testament prophets. That it is not just a quaint old-fashioned way of speaking is proved by the confessions of historical personalities such as Goethe and Napolean, to mention only two familiar examples, who made no secret of their feeling of vocation.
C.G. Jung (The Collected Works of C.G. Jung)
In the passenger seat, Nahil is all questions. Was Kabul safe? How was the food? Did he [Idris] get sick? Did he take pictures and videos of everything? He does his best. He describes for her the shell-blasted schools, the squatters living in roofless buildings, the beggars, the mud, the fickle electricity, but it's like describing music. He cannot bring it to life. Kabul's vivid, arresting details--the bodybuilding gym amid the rubble, for instance, a painting of Schwarzenegger on the window. Such details escape him now, and his descriptions sound to him generic, insipid, like those of an ordinary AP story.
Khaled Hosseini (And the Mountains Echoed)
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No double alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that "non-attachment" is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for "non-attachment" is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the otherworldly or the humanistic ideal is "higher." The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives," from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi)
The truth is that I understood very little of what she was saying. Before Alex, what thrills I'd experienced I'd found in my imagination, the result of burying myself in book after book. I depended, I mean, on escape for my various joys. It had never occurred to me that real life might offer the smallest portion of the happiness I found in reading, the ordinary scaffolding of my day to day a thing I'd made a habit of burying under a thousand imagined lives, each more inviting than the last. And then she came along and it was as though life were a Christmas tree and I'd discovered the hidden switch, the whole thing lighting up in a blaze of color.
Aria Beth Sloss (Autobiography of Us)
Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can’t bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the…atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.
C.S. Lewis
This place where she worked certainly didn't make it look as if she continued to believe her calling was to change the course of American history. The building's rusted fire escape would just come down, just come loose from its moorings and crash onto the street, if anyone stepped on it - a fire escape whose function was not to save lives in the event of a fire but to uselessly hang there testifying to the immense loneliness inherent to living. For him it was stripped of any other meaning - no meaning could make better use of that building. Yes, alone we are, deeply alone, and always, in store for us, a layer of loneliness even deeper. There is nothing we can do to dispose of that. No, loneliness shouldn't surprise us, as astonishing to experience it as it may be. You can try turning yourself inside out, but all you are then is inside out and lonely instead of inside in and lonely. My stupid, stupid Merry dear, stupider even than your stupid father, not even blowing up buildings helps. It's lonely if there are buildings and it's lonely if there are no buildings. There is no protest to be lodged against loneliness - not all the bombing campaigns in history have made a dent in it. The most lethat of manmade explosives can't touch it. Stand in awe not of Communism, my idiot child, but of ordinary, everyday loneliness. On May Day go out and march with your friends to its greater glory, the superpower of superpowers, the force that overwhelms all. Put your money on it, bet on it, worship it - bow down in submission not to Karl Marx, my stuttering, angry, idiot child, not to Ho Chi-Minh and Mao Tse-tung - bow down to the great god of Loneliness!
Philip Roth (American Pastoral)
The mind is more comfortable in reckoning probabilities in terms of the relative frequency of remembered or imagined events. That can make recent and memorable events - a plane crash, a shark attack, an anthrax infection - loom larger on one's worry list than more frequent and boring events, such as the car crashes and ladder falls that get printed beneath the fold on page B14. And it can lead risk experts to speak one language and ordinary people to hear another. In hearings for a proposed nuclear waste site, an expert might present a fault tree that lays out the conceivable sequences of events by which radioactivity might escape. For example, erosion, cracks in the bedrock, accidental drilling, or improper sealing might cause the release of radioactivity into groundwater. In turn, groundwater movement, volcanic activity, or an impact of a large meteorite might cause the release of radioactive wastes into the biosphere. Each train of events can be assigned a probability, and the aggregate probability of an accident from all the causes can be estimated. When people hear these analyses, however, the are not reassured but become more fearful than ever. They hadn't realized there are so many ways for something to go wrong! They mentally tabulate the number of disaster scenarios, rather than mentally aggregating the probabilities of the disaster scenarios.
Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature)
The question I'm most commonly asked is "Why?" A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don't attempt to escape the limitations imposed upon them? If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it is familiar. Wherever there is pressure to conform (one person's conformity is often in the interests of another person's power), there is a requirement to resist. Of course I did not mean that people should drop what they were doing and head for the wilder places, certainly not that they should copy what I did. I meant that one can choose adventure in the most ordinary of circumstances. Adventure of the mind, or to use an old-fashioned word, the spirit.
Robyn Davidson (Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback)
The way I feel about you, Jacinda...I know you feel it, too." He stares at me so starkly, so hungrily that I can only nod. Agree. Of course, I feel it. "I do," I admit. But I don't understand him. Don't get why he should feel this way about me. Why should he want me so much? What do I offer him? Why did he save me that day in the mountains? And why does he pursue me now? When no girl spiked his interest before? "Good," he says. "Then how about a date?" "A date?" I repeat, like I've never heard the word. "Yeah. A real date. Something official. You. Me. Tonight. We're long overdue." His smile deepens, revealing the deep grooves on the sides of his cheeks. "Dinner. Movie. Popcorn." "Yes." The word slips past. For a moment I forget. Forget that I'm not an ordinary girl. That he's not an ordinary boy. For the first time, I understand Tamra. And the appeal of normal. "Yes." It feels good to say it. To pretend. To drink in the sight of him and forget there's an ulterior reason I need to go out with him. A reason that's going to tear us apart forever. Stupid. Did you think you might have a future with him? Mom's right. Time to grow up. He smiles. Then he's gone. Out the door. For a second, I'm confused. Then he's at my door, opening it, helping me out. Together we walk through the parking lot. Side by side. We move only a few feet before he slips his hand around mine. As we near the front of the building, I see several kids hanging out around the flagpole. Tamra with her usual crowd. Brooklyn at the head. I try to tug my hand free. His fingers tighten on mine. I glance at him, see the resolve in his eyes. His hazel eyes glint brightly in the already too hot morning. "Coward." "Oh." The single sound escapes me. Outrage. Indignation. I stop. Turn and face him. Feel something slip, give way, and crumble loose inside me. Set free, it propels me. Standing on my tiptoes, I circle my hand around his neck and pull his face down to mine. Kiss him. Right there in front of the school. Reckless. Stupid. I stake a claim on him like I've got something to prove, like a drake standing before the pride in a bonding ceremony. But then I forget our audience. Forget everything but the dry heat of our lips. My lungs tighten, contract. I feel my skin shimmer, warm as my lungs catch. Crackling heat works its way up my chest. Not the smartest move I've ever made.
Sophie Jordan (Firelight (Firelight, #1))
It is no doubt the existence of our body, similar for us to a vase in which our spirituality is enclosed, that induces us to suppose that all our inner goods, our past joys, all our sorrows, are perpetually in our possession. Perhaps this is as inaccurate as to believe that they escape or return. At all events, if they do remain inside us, it is for most of the time in an unknown domain where they are of no service to us, and where even the most ordinary of them are repressed by memories of a different order, which exclude all simultaneity with them in our consciousness. But if the framework of sensations in which they are preserved be recaptured, they have in their turn the same capacity to expel all that is incompatible with them, to install in us, on its own, the self that experienced them.
Marcel Proust (Sodom and Gomorrah)
When everything broken is broken, and everything dead is dead, and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt, and the heroine has studied her face and its defects remorselessly, and the pain they thought might, as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves has lost its novelty and not released them, and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly, watching the others go about their days— likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears— that self-love is the one weedy stalk of every human blossoming, and understood, therefore, why they had been, all their lives, in such a fury to defend it, and that no one— except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light, faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.
Robert Hass (Sun under Wood)
I thought of my primary and secondary education. I remembered feeling crippling guilt as I silently wondered why every enslaved person couldn’t simply escape like [Frederick] Douglass, [Harriet] Tubman, and [Harriet] Jacobs had. I found myself angered by the stories of those who did not escape. Had they not tried hard enough? Didn’t they care enough to do something? Did they choose to remain enslaved? This, I now realize, is part of the insidiousness of white supremacy; it illuminates the exceptional in order to implicitly blame those who cannot, in the most brutal circumstances, attain superhuman heights. It does this instead of blaming the system, the people who built it, the people who maintained it. In overly mythologizing our ancestors, we forget an all-too-important reality: the vast majority were ordinary people, which is to say they were people just like everyone else. This ordinariness is only shameful when used to legitimate oppression. This is its own quiet violence.
Clint Smith (How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America)
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that "non-attachment" is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for "non-attachment" is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the otherworldly or the humanistic ideal is "higher." The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all "radicals" and "progressives," from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man
George Orwell (Reflections on Gandhi)
What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep; he could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world, and share, without exertion or even trouble, in their prospective fruits and advantages; or he could decide to couple the security of his fortunes with the good faith of the townspeople of any substantial municipality in any continent that fancy or information might recommend. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality, could despatch his servant to the neighbouring office of a bank for such supply of the precious metals as might seem convenient, and could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters, without knowledge of their religion, language, or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person, and would consider himself greatly aggrieved and much surprised at the least interference. But, most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalisation of which was nearly complete in practice.
John Maynard Keynes (The Economic Consequences of the Peace)
Jess Pepper's review of the Avalon Strings: 'In a land so very civilized and modern as ours, it is unpopular to suggest that the mystical isle of Avalon ever truly existed. But I believe I have found proof of it right here in Manhattan. To understand my reasoning, you must recall first that enchanting tale of a mist-enshrouded isle where medieval women--descended from the gods--spawned heroic men. Most notable among these was the young King Arthur. In their most secret confessions, these mystic heroes acknowledged Avalon, and particularly the music of its maidens, as the source of their power. Many a school boy has wept reading of Young King Arthur standing silent on the shore as the magical isle disappears from view, shrouded in mist. The boy longs as Arthur did to leap the bank and pilot his canoe to the distant, singing atoll. To rejoin nymphs who guard in the depths of their water caves the meaning of life. To feel again the power that burns within. But knowledge fades and memory dims, and schoolboys grow up. As the legend goes, the way became unknown to mortal man. Only woman could navigate the treacherous blanket of white that dipped and swirled at the surface of the water. And with its fading went also the music of the fabled isle. Harps and strings that heralded the dawn and incited robed maidens to dance evaporated into the mists of time, and silence ruled. But I tell you, Kind Reader, that the music of Avalon lives. The spirit that enchanted knights in chain mail long eons ago is reborn in our fair city, in our own small band of fair maids who tap that legendary spirit to make music as the Avalon Strings. Theirs is no common gift. Theirs is no ordinary sound. It is driven by a fire from within, borne on fingers bloodied by repetition. Minds tormented by a thirst for perfection. And most startling of all is the voice that rises above, the stunning virtuoso whose example leads her small company to higher planes. Could any other collection of musicians achieve the heights of this illustrious few? I think not. I believe, Friends of the City, that when we witnes their performance, as we may almost nightly at the Warwick Hotel, we witness history's gift to this moment in time. And for a few brief moments in the presence of these maids, we witness the fiery spirit that endured and escaped the obliterating mists of Avalon.
Bailey Bristol (The Devil's Dime (The Samaritan Files #1))
Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter. I was the first that ever did so for his pleasures. I was the first that could plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty. But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete. Think of it-I did not even exist! Let me but escape into my laboratory door, give me but a second or two to mix and swallow the draught that I had always standing ready; and whatever he had done, Edward Hyde would pass away like the stain of breath upon a mirror; and there in his stead, quietly at home, trimming the midnight lamp in his study, a man who could afford to laugh at suspicion, would be Henry Jekyll. The pleasures which I made haste to seek in my disguise were, as I have said, undignified; I would scarce use a harder term. But in the hands of Edward Hyde, they soon began to turn toward the monstrous. When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth alone to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centered on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone. Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.
Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things. They may mean (1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can’t bear to think of. Or they may mean (2) that we must try to keep out of his mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil. If they mean the first I agree with them: but not if they mean the second. The second would indeed be to give children a false impression and feed them on escapism in the bad sense. There is something ludicrous in the idea of so educating a generation which is born to the Ogpu and the atomic bomb. Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker. Nor do most of us find that violence and bloodshed, in a story, produce any haunting dread in the minds of children. As far as that goes, I side impenitently with the human race against the modern reformer. Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book. Nothing will persuade me that this causes an ordinary child any kind or degree of fear beyond what it wants, and needs, to feel. For, of course, it wants to be a little frightened.
C.S. Lewis (On Three Ways of Writing for Children)
Why the Albanians had created the institution of the guest, exalting it above all other human relations, even those of kinship. “Perhaps the answer lies in the democratic character of this institution,” he said, setting himself to think his way through the matter. “Any ordinary man, on any day, can be raised to the lofty station of a guest. The path to that temporary deification is open to anybody at any time.[...] Given that anyone at all can grasp the sceptre of the guest,” he went on, “and since that sceptre, for every Albanian, surpasses even the king’s sceptre, may we not assume that in the Albanian’s life of danger and want, that to be a guest if only for four hours or twenty-four hours, is a kind of respite, a moment of oblivion, a truce, a reprieve, and—why not?—an escape from everyday life into some divine reality?
Ismail Kadare (Broken April)
To escape the throngs, we decided to see the new Neil Degrasse Tyson planetarium show, Dark Universe. It costs more than two movie tickets and is less than thirty minutes long, but still I want to go back and see it again, preferably as soon as possible. It was more visually stunning than any Hollywood special effect I’d ever seen, making our smallness as individuals both staggering and - strangely - rather comforting. Only five percent of the universe consists of ordinary matter, Neil tells us. That includes all matter - you, and me, and the body of Michael Brown, and Mork’s rainbow suspenders, and the letters I wrote all summer, and the air conditioner I put out on the curb on Christmas Day because I was tired of looking at it and being reminded of the person who had installed it, and my sad dying computer that sounds like a swarm of bees when it gets too hot, and the fields of Point Reyes, and this year’s blossoms which are dust now, and the drafts of my book, and Israeli tanks, and the untaxed cigarettes that Eric Garner sold, and my father’s ill-fitting leg brace that did not accomplish what he’d hoped for in terms of restoring mobility, and the Denver airport, and haunting sperm whales that sleep vertically, and the water they sleep in, and Mars and Jupiter and all of the stars we see and all of the ones we don’t. That’s all regular matter, just five percent. A quarter is “dark matter,” which is invisible and detectable only by gravitational pull, and a whopping 70 percent of the universe is made up of “dark energy,” described as a cosmic antigravity, as yet totally unknowable. It’s basically all mystery out there - all of it, with just this one sliver of knowable, livable, finite light and life. And did I mention the effects were really cool? After seeing something like that it’s hard to stay mad at anyone, even yourself.
Summer Brennan
To my eyes, the presence of a few families like these only brought into sharper relief the ambiguous morality of the evacuation. The marines were doing their job with typical efficiency and even dignity, but there was no escaping the ugly fact that America was swooping into this country once again to conduct a triage, neglecting precisely those who were least able to fend for themselves. Ordinary Liberians were being relegated to a category of subhuman existence whose intimate workings I had first learned about as a young reporter covering police headquarters in New York. There, I quickly deduced how certain murders were automatically classified as nickel-and-dime cases—‘jobs’ that required little follow-up by detectives, and by inference, by the press as well. It was another insidious form of triage, and it took only a few days on the assignment to understand that the ‘garbage’ cases almost invariably involved people of color
Howard W. French (A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa)
Close friendships, Gandhi says, are dangerous, because “friends react on one another” and through loyalty to a friend one can be led into wrong-doing. This is unquestionably true. Moreover, if one is to love God, or to love humanity as a whole, one cannot give one's preference to any individual person. This again is true, and it marks the point at which the humanistic and the religious attitude cease to be reconcilable. To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi — with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction — always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth. This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which — I think — most people would give to the word, it is inhuman. The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that “non-attachment” is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for “non-attachment” is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is “higher”. The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all “radicals” and “progressives”, from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.
George Orwell
After a careful look up and down the corridor, James ushered Cordelia down the stairs. But their covert escape was not to be: Will appeared suddenly on the landing, in the midst of fixing his cuff links, and beamed with delight to see Cordelia. “My dear,” he said. “A pleasure to see you. Have you come from Cornwall Gardens? How is your mother?” “Oh, very well, thank you,” Cordelia said, then realized that if her mother really were in peak condition, she had little excuse for staying away from James and the Institute. “Well, she has been very tired, and of course we are all concerned that she get her energy back. Risa has been trying to build her back up again with many…soups.” Soups? Cordelia was not at all sure why she’d said that. Perhaps because her mother had always told her that ash-e jo, a sour barley soup, could cure anything. “Soups?” “Soups,” Cordelia said firmly. “Risa’s caretaking is very thorough, though of course, my mother wishes me to be by her side as much as possible. I have been reading to her—” “Oh, anything interesting? I’m always seeking a new book,” said Will, having finished with the cuff links. They were studded with yellow topaz. The color of James’s eyes. “Ah—no,” said Cordelia. “Only very boring things, really. Books about…ornithology.” Will’s eyebrows went up, but James had already thrown himself into the fray. “I really must get Cordelia back home,” he said, laying a hand on her back. It was an entirely ordinary husbandly gesture, not at all remarkable. It felt to Cordelia like being struck by lightning between her shoulder blades. “I’ll see you in a moment, Father.” “Well Cordelia, we all hope you’ll be back before too long,” Will said. “James is positively pining away without you here. Incomplete without his better half, eh, James?” He went away up the stairs and down the corridor, whistling. “Well,” said James after a long silence. “I thought, when I was ten years old and my father showed everyone the drawings I’d made of myself as Jonathan Shadowhunter, slaying a dragon, that was the most my parents would ever humiliate me. But that is no longer the case. There is a new champion.” “Your father is something of a romantic, that’s all.” “So you’ve noticed?
Cassandra Clare (Chain of Thorns (The Last Hours, #3))
What is contrary to the visible truth must change or disappear—that's the law of life. We have this advantage over our ancestors of a thousand years ago, that we can see the past in depth, which they couldn't. We have this other advantage, that we can see it in breadth—an ability that likewise escaped them. For a world population of two thousand two hundred and fifty millions, one can count on the earth a hundred and seventy religions of a certain importance—each of them claiming, of course, to be the repository of the truth. At least a hundred and sixty-nine of them, therefore, are mistaken! Amongst the religions practised to-day, there is none that goes back further than two thousand five hundred years. But there have been human beings, in the baboon category, for at least three hundred thousand years. There is less distance between the man-ape and the ordinary modern man than there is between the ordinary modern man and a man like Schopenhauer. In comparison with this millenary past, what does a period of two thousand years signify? The universe, in its material elements, has the same composition whether we're speaking of the earth, the sun or any other planet. It is impossible to suppose nowadays that organic life exists only on our planet. Does the knowledge brought by science make men happy? That I don't know. But I observe that man can be happy by deluding himself with false knowledge. I grant one must cultivate tolerance. It's senseless to encourage man in the idea that he's a king of creation, as the scientist of the past century tried to make him believe. That same man who, in order to get about quicker, has to straddle a horse—that mammiferous, brainless being! I don't know a more ridiculous claim. The Russians were entitled to attack their priests, but they had no right to assail the idea of a supreme force. It's a fact that we're feeble creatures, and that a creative force exists. To seek to deny it is folly. In that case, it's better to believe something false than not to believe anything at all. Who's that little Bolshevik professor who claims to triumph over creation? People like that, we'll break them. Whether we rely on the catechism or on philosophy, we have possibilities in reserve, whilst they, with their purely materialistic conceptions, can only devour one another.
Adolf Hitler (Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-1944)
Do you ever feel that same need? Your life is so very different from my own. The grandness of the world, the real world, the whole world, is a known thing for you. And you have no need of dispatches because you have seen so much of the American galaxy and its inhabitants—their homes, their hobbies—up close. I don’t know what it means to grow up with a black president, social networks, omnipresent media, and black women everywhere in their natural hair. What I know is that when they loosed the killer of Michael Brown, you said, “I’ve got to go.” And that cut me because, for all our differing worlds, at your age my feeling was exactly the same. And I recall that even then I had not yet begun to imagine the perils that tangle us. You still believe the injustice was Michael Brown. You have not yet grappled with your own myths and narratives and discovered the plunder everywhere around us. Before I could discover, before I could escape, I had to survive, and this could only mean a clash with the streets, by which I mean not just physical blocks, nor simply the people packed into them, but the array of lethal puzzles and strange perils that seem to rise up from the asphalt itself. The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat-down, a shooting, or a pregnancy. No one survives unscathed. And yet the heat that springs from the constant danger, from a lifestyle of near-death experience, is thrilling. This is what the rappers mean when they pronounce themselves addicted to “the streets” or in love with “the game.” I imagine they feel something akin to parachutists, rock climbers, BASE jumpers, and others who choose to live on the edge. Of course we chose nothing. And I have never believed the brothers who claim to “run,” much less “own,” the city. We did not design the streets. We do not fund them. We do not preserve them. But I was there, nevertheless, charged like all the others with the protection of my body. The crews, the young men who’d transmuted their fear into rage, were the greatest danger. The crews walked the blocks of their neighborhood, loud and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power. They would break your jaw, stomp your face, and shoot you down to feel that power, to revel in the might of their own bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)