Our Story Began Quotes

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Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. "Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?" I sniffed a few times, considering this. "Why, just before we get on the train." "Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.
Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom)
When I began to write our story down, I thought I was writing a record of hate, but somehow the hate has got mislaid and all I know is that in spite of her mistakes and her unreliability, she was better than most. It's just as well that one of us should believe in her: she never did in herself.
Graham Greene (The End of the Affair)
Life is a story. Why do we die? Because we live. Why do we live? Because our Maker opened His mouth and began to tell a story.
N.D. Wilson (Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent)
There was a story going around about the Special Olympics. For the hundred-yard dash, there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and, at the sound of the gun, they took off. But one little boy didn't get very far. He stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard the boy crying. They slowed down, turned around, and ran back to him--every one of them ran back to him. The little boy got up, and he and the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line. They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone in the stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long time. And you know why? Because deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.
Fred Rogers
It was no accident, no coincidence, that the seasons came round and round year after year. It was the Lord speaking to us all and showing us over and over again the birth, life, death, and resurrection of his only begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord. It was like a best-loved story being told day after day with each sunrise and sunset, year after year with the seasons, down through the ages since time began.
Francine Rivers (The Last Sin Eater)
See," he began, leaning back into the booth, "I was at this car dealership today, and I saw this girl. It was an across-a-crowded-room kind of thing. A real moment, you know?" I rolled my eyes. Chloe said, "And this would be Remy?" "Right. Remy," he said, repeating my name with a smile. Then, as if we were happy honeymooners recounting our story for strangers he added, "Do you want to tell the next part?" "No," I said flatly.
Sarah Dessen (This Lullaby)
Yeah, she said she just can't wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven."...From that moment on, the wound from one of the most painful episodes in our lives, losing a child we had wanted very much, began to heal.
Todd Burpo (Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back)
Father . . . ," Gabriel began. "Father is a worm." Will gave a short laugh. He was in gear as if he had just come from the practice room, and his hair curled damply against his temples. He was not looking at Tessa, but she had grown used to that. Will hardly ever looked at her unless he had to. "It's good to see you've come round to our view of things, Gabriel, but this is an unusual way of announcing it." Gideon shot Will a reproachful look before turning back to his brother. "What do you mean, Gabriel? What did Father do?" Gabriel shook his head. "He's a worm," he said again, tonelessly. "I know. He has brought shame on the name of Lightwood, and lied to both of us. He shamed and destroyed our mother. But we need not be like him." Gabriel pulled away from his brother's grip, his teeth suddenly flashing in an angry scowl. "You're not listening to me," he said. "He's a worm. A worm. A bloody great serpentlike thing. Since Mortmain stopped sending the medicine, he's been getting worse. Changing. Those sores upon his arms, they started to cover him. His hands, his neck, h-his face . . ." Gabriel's green eyes sought Will. "It was the pox, wasn't it? You know all about it, don't you? Aren't you some sort of expert?" "Well, you needn't act as if I invented it," said Will. "Just because I believed it existed. There are accounts of it—old stories in the library—
Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices: Manga, #3))
My turn now. The story of one of my insanities. For a long time I boasted that I was master of all possible landscapes-- and I thought the great figures of modern painting and poetry were laughable. What I liked were: absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naive rhythms of country rimes. I dreamed of Crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents; I used to believe in every kind of magic. I invented colors for the vowels! A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. I made rules for the form and movement of every consonant, and I boasted of inventing, with rhythms from within me, a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And I alone would be its translator. I began it as an investigation. I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.
Arthur Rimbaud
That was the day the ancient songs of blood and war spilled from a hole in the sky And there was a long moment as we listened and fell silent in our grief and then one by one, we stood tall and came together and began to sing of life and love and all that is good and true And I will never forget that day when the ancient songs died because there was no one in the world to sing them.
Brian Andreas (Traveling Light: Stories & Drawings for a Quiet Mind)
These stories were very old, as old as people, and they had survived because they were very powerful indeed. They were the tales that echoed in the head long after the books that contained them were cast aside. They were both an escape from reality and an alternative reality themselves. They were so old, and so strange, that they had found a kind of existence independent of the pages they occupied. The world of the old tales existed parallel to ours, but sometimes the walls separating the two became so thing and brittle that the two worlds started to blend into each other. That was when the trouble started. That was when the bad things came. That was when the Crooked Man began to appear to David.
John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things)
When I began writing The Night Bookmobile, it was a story about a woman's secret life as a reader. As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives, a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word. It became a vision of the afterlife as a library, of heaven as a funky old camper filled with everything you've ever read. What is this heaven? What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?
Audrey Niffenegger (The Night Bookmobile)
I believe that we don't choose our stories," she began, leaning forward. "Our stories choose us." She paused and took a sip of water. Her hand, I noticed was steady.. "And if we don't tell them, then we are somehow diminished.
Dani Shapiro (Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life)
At last we heard Father's footsteps winding up the stairs. It was the best moment in every day, when he came up to tuck us in. We never fell asleep until he had arranged the balnkets in his special way and laid his hand for a moment on each head. Then we tried not to move even a toe. But that night as he stepped through the door I burst into tears. "I need you!" I sobbed. "You can't die! You can't!" Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. "Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?" I sniffed a few times, considering this. "Why, just before we get on the train." "Exactly. And our wise Father in Heaven knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time.
Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom)
The human life cycle no less than evolves around the box; from the open-topped box called a bassinet, to the pine box we call a coffin, the box is our past and, just as assuredly, our future. It should not surprise us then that the lowly box plays such a significant role in the first Christmas story. For Christmas began in a humble, hay-filled box of splintered wood. The Magi, wise men who had traveled far to see the infant king, laid treasure-filled boxes at the feet of that holy child. And in the end, when He had ransomed our sins with His blood, the Lord of Christmas was laid down in a box of stone. How fitting that each Christmas season brightly wrapped boxes skirt the pine boughs of Christmas trees around the world.
Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box (The Christmas Box, #1))
A woman in her thirties came to see me. As she greeted me, I could sense the pain behind her polite and superficial smile. She started telling me her story, and within one second her smile changed into a grimace of pain. Then, she began to sob uncontrollably. She said she felt lonely and unfulfilled. There was much anger and sadness. As a child she had been abused by a physically violent father. I saw quickly that her pain was not caused by her present life circumstances but by an extraordinarily heavy pain-body. Her pain-body had become the filter through which she viewed her life situation. She was not yet able to see the link between the emotional pain and her thoughts, being completely identified with both. She could not yet see that she was feeding the pain-body with her thoughts. In other words, she lived with the burden of a deeply unhappy self. At some level, however, she must have realized that her pain originated within herself, that she was a burden to herself. She was ready to awaken, and this is why she had come. I directed the focus of her attention to what she was feeling inside her body and asked her to sense the emotion directly, instead of through the filter of her unhappy thoughts, her unhappy story. She said she had come expecting me to show her the way out of her unhappiness, not into it. Reluctantly, however, she did what I asked her to do. Tears were rolling down her face, her whole body was shaking. “At this moment, this is what you feel.” I said. “There is nothing you can do about the fact that at this moment this is what you feel. Now, instead of wanting this moment to be different from the way it is, which adds more pain to the pain that is already there, is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?” She was quiet for a moment. Suddenly she looked impatient, as if she was about to get up, and said angrily, “No, I don't want to accept this.” “Who is speaking?” I asked her. “You or the unhappiness in you? Can you see that your unhappiness about being unhappy is just another layer of unhappiness?” She became quiet again. “I am not asking you to do anything. All I'm asking is that you find out whether it is possible for you to allow those feelings to be there. In other words, and this may sound strange, if you don't mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness? Don't you want to find out?” She looked puzzled briefly, and after a minute or so of sitting silently, I suddenly noticed a significant shift in her energy field. She said, “This is weird. I 'm still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less.” This was the first time I heard somebody put it like that: There is space around my unhappiness. That space, of course, comes when there is inner acceptance of whatever you are experiencing in the present moment. I didn't say much else, allowing her to be with the experience. Later she came to understand that the moment she stopped identifying with the feeling, the old painful emotion that lived in her, the moment she put her attention on it directly without trying to resist it, it could no longer control her thinking and so become mixed up with a mentally constructed story called “The Unhappy Me.” Another dimension had come into her life that transcended her personal past – the dimension of Presence. Since you cannot be unhappy without an unhappy story, this was the end of her unhappiness. It was also the beginning of the end of her pain-body. Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness. When our session came to an end, it was fulfilling to know that I had just witnessed the arising of Presence in another human being. The very reason for our existence in human form is to bring that dimension of consciousness into this world. I had also witnessed a diminishment of the pain-body, not through fighting it but through bringing the light of consciousness to it.
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose)
What is the Other?" they ask. The Other is the one who taught me whatI should be like, but not what I am. The Other believes that it is our obligation to spend our entire life thinking about how to get our hands on as much money a possible so that we will not die of hunger when we are old. So we think so much about money and our plans for acquiring it that we discover we are alive only when our days on earth are practically done. And then it's too late." And you? Who are you?" I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart: a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. Who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what they do. It's just that the Other, afraid of disappointment,kept me from taking action." But there is suffering in life," one of the listeners said. And there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you're fighting for." That's it?" another listener asked. Yes, that's it. When I learned this, I resolved to become the person I had always wanted to be. The Other stood there in the corner of my room, watching me, but I will never let the Other into myself again----even though it has already tried to frighten me, warning me that it's risky not to think about the future. From the moment that I ousted the Other from my life, the Divine Energy began to perform its miracles.
Paulo Coelho (By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (On the Seventh Day, #1))
Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, UNICEF Executive Director, Excellencies and distinguished guests from across the world. My name is Kim Nam Jun, also known as RM, the leader of the group BTS. It’s an incredible honour to be invited to an occasion with such significance for today’s young generation. Last November, BTS launched the “Love Myself” campaign with UNICEF, building on our belief that “true love first begins with loving myself.” We have been partnering with UNICEF’s #ENDviolence program to protect children and young people all over the world from violence. Our fans have become a major part of this campaign with their action and enthusiasm. We truly have the best fans in the world! I would like to begin by talking about myself. I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It’s a beautiful place, with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy. I would look up at the night sky in wonder and dream the dreams of a boy. I used to imagine that I was a superhero, saving the world. In an intro to one of our early albums, there is a line that says, “My heart stopped…I was maybe nine or ten.” Looking back, that’s when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and started seeing myself through their eyes. I stopped looking up at the stars at night. I stopped daydreaming. I tried to jam myself into moulds that other people made. Soon, I began to shut out my own voice and started to listen to the voices of others. No one called out my name, and neither did I. My heart stopped and my eyes closed shut. So, like this, I, we, all lost our names. We became like ghosts. I had one sanctuary, and that was music. There was a small voice in me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself!” But it took me a long time to hear music calling my name. Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were hurdles. Most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit. I think I was very lucky that I didn’t give it all up. I’m sure that I, and we, will keep stumbling and falling. We have become artists performing in huge stadiums and selling millions of albums. But I am still an ordinary, twenty-four-year-old guy. If there’s anything that I’ve achieved, it was only possible because I had my other BTS members by my side, and because of the love and support of our ARMY fans. Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become. I would like to say one last thing. After releasing the “Love Yourself” albums and launching the “Love Myself” campaign, we started to hear remarkable stories from our fans all over the world, how our message helped them overcome their hardships in life and start loving themselves. These stories constantly remind us of our responsibility. So, let’s all take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to "speak yourself". I would like to ask all of you. What is your name? What excites you and makes your heart beat? Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself. Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself. I’m Kim Nam Jun, RM of BTS. I’m a hip-hop idol and an artist from a small town in Korea. Like most people, I made many mistakes in my life. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little. What is your name? Speak Yourself!
Kim Namjoon
Augustus Waters was the Mayor of the Secret City of Cancervania, and he is not replaceable", Isaac began. "Other people will be able to tell you funny stories about Gus, because he was a funny guy, but let me tell you a serious one: A day after I got my eye cut out, Gus showed up at the hospital. I was blind and heartbroken and dind't want to do anything and Gus burst into my room and shouted, 'I have wonderful news!' And I was like, 'I don't really want to hear wonderful news right now' and Gus said, 'This is wonderful news you want to hear' and I asked him, 'Fine, what is it?' and he said, 'You're going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!'" Isaac couldn't go on, or maybe that was all he had written.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
there’s always been heroes, there’s always been villains, the stakes may have changed but really there’s no difference. there’s always been greed and heartbreak and ambition. jealousy, love, trespass and contrition, we’re the same beings that began, still living, in all of our fury and foulness and friction. Everyday odysseys. Dreams vs decisions. The stories are there if you listen.
Kae Tempest (Brand New Ancients)
Dear Diary, My pen is finally touching your pages. It is time to tell our story. Our story began in China and now it continues in America. I want to write about our old life and I want to write about our life now. I will write it all down with hopes that somehow I can connect the two worlds I have lived in. Right now those worlds seem so far apart.
Diane René Christian (An-Ya and Her Diary)
On a blustery October night in a church outside Minneapolis, several hundred believers had gathered for a three-day seminar. I began with a one-hour presentation on the gospel of grace and the reality of Salvation. Using Scripture, story, symbolism, and personal experience, I focused on the total sufficiency of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. The service ended with a song and a prayer. Leaving the church by a side door, the pastor turned to his associate and fumed, 'Humph, that airhead didn't say one thing about what we have to do to earn our salvation!' Something is radically wrong.
Brennan Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out)
And then the lights went low, and our song began. The song I’d been working on since I’d arrived on the island. The one that morphed into something else entirely, something I never intended it to be. But music is like that. Much like life. It tells the story, it takes the lead. You’re just along for the ride.
Rachael Wade (Declaration (Preservation, #3))
Our entire life we chase the wrong things because we think having more money and buying more stuff will make us more happy. But it doesn't. You know why a billionaire has 100 Ferraris? Because 99 weren't enough.
Oliver Markus Malloy (Bad Choices Make Good Stories - Finding Happiness in Los Angeles (How The Great American Opioid Epidemic of The 21st Century Began, #3))
The fundamental purpose of storytelling is to pass the time, which is infinite, slow, and weighs heavy in our hands. When the first storyteller, having told the first story, fell silent, somebody sitting there by the fire said, "Then what happened?" and the Age of Sequels began.
Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)
It began with a perfect plan. Shape-wise we had a circle, a simple uncomplicated curve to guide us comfortably from one thing to another, an easy predictable ride promising a natural progression from A to B, C and D, and so on until we reached our destination. But somewhere down that smooth line, I think around F, it all went pear-shaped.
Ivana Hruba (A Decent Ransom: A Story of a Kidnapping Gone Right)
I started to see it Eunice's way. We now had obligations to each other. Our families had failed us, and now we had to form an equally strong and enduring connection to each other. Any gap between us was a failure. Success would come when neither of us knew where one ended and the other began.
Gary Shteyngart (Super Sad True Love Story)
Reading honest literature makes you love the world. Knowledge and understanding are love. Reading educates our feelings and enhances our sympathy. When you read for understanding, you are fundamentally changed. You are a different person at the end of the story or the novel than you were when it began.
John Dufresne
As we walked the streets together, cups of bitter coffee warming our hands, the present told its story all around us. The present has no need for us to do anything except exactly what we're doing. It's the past and future that needs our voices in order to live. So as we walked, as you spoke of yourself and your family, as you spoke of your past, I began to think of the future. I began to put us into a story. What happens after that first night is where I live sometimes, when I can gather enough of us together again, and this is how it goes.
Christopher Barzak (The Love We Share Without Knowing)
Once I learned this truth, I began to see examples of it everywhere. A picture hung on the wall of our parlor. In it, a woman was taking a shirt from a clothesline. She had clothespins in her teeth and it was windy and a boy was tugging at her dress. The woman looked like she was in a hurry and the whole scene gave me the idea that, just outside the frame, full, dark clouds were gathering. But that was not what it was. It was paint. So I decided right then and there to see the picture as it really was. I stared at the thing long and hard, trying to only see the paint. But it was no use. All my eyes would allow me to see was the lie. In fact, the longer I gazed at the paint, the more false detail I began to imagine. The boy was crying, as if afraid, and the woman was weaker than I had first believed. I finally gave up. I understood then that it takes a powerful imagination to see a thing for what it really is.
Norm Macdonald (Based on a True Story)
It began with your eyes cast down, and mine looking right at you, I watched you rule out hundreds of questions and accept only mine. I poured my stories into your eager heart, and you sparked faith inside the stubbornness of mine. Our beginning was written in the stars—how could it not be?
Emalynne Wilder (Infinite Dolls)
Sin? What is sin inside the dynamic of family relationships? It is a mystery that began with man. No one can solve it except through his own unique experience. How you feel is human. But do not think it will leave you alone. We are never free of our blood.
Leon Uris (Redemption: Epic Story of Trinity Continues..., The)
[Author's Note:] When I was sixteen, two of my cousins were brutally raped by four strangers and thrown off a bridge in St. Louis, Missouri. My brother was beaten and also forced off the bridge. I wrote about that horrible crime in my first book, my memoir, A Rip in Heaven. Because that crime and the subsequent writing of the book were both formative experience in my life, I became a person who is always, automatically, more interested in stories about victims than perpetrators. I'm interested in characters who suffer inconceivable hardship, in people who manage to triumph over extraordinary trauma. Characters like Lydia and Soledad. I'm less interested in the violent, macho stories of gangsters and law enforcement. Or in any case, I think the world has enough stories like those. Some fiction set in the world of the cartels and narcotraficantes is compelling and important - I read much of it during my early research. Those novels provide readers with an understanding of the origins of the some of the violence to our south. But the depiction of that violence can feed into some of the worst stereotypes about Mexico. So I saw an opening for a novel that would press a little more intimately into those stories, to imagine people on the flip side of that prevailing narrative. Regular people like me. How would I manage if I lived in a place that began to collapse around me? If my children were in danger, how far would I go to save them? I wanted to write about women, whose stories are often overlooked.
Jeanine Cummins (American Dirt)
never forgetting to return to that place in time, holding the hands of his own kind This is Where The Story of You Began
Afeefah Khazi-Syed (Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air)
Dear friends. I’m dying. “Don’t be upset. I began to die on July 6, 1917. That’s the day I was born, and, in council with what our psalmist says, ‘We who are born, are born to die.
Mitch Albom (Have a Little Faith: A True Story)
The deepwood is vanished in these islands -- much, indeed, had vanished before history began -- but we are still haunted by the idea of it. The deepwood flourishes in our architecture, art and above all in our literature. Unnumbered quests and voyages have taken place through and over the deepwood, and fairy tales and dream-plays have been staged in its glades and copses. Woods have been a place of inbetweenness, somewhere one might slip from one world to another, or one time to a former: in Kipling's story 'Puck of Pook's Hill,' it is by right of 'Oak and Ash and Thorn' that the children are granted their ability to voyage back into English history.
Robert Macfarlane (The Wild Places)
A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand! And then another hundred lives until we began to learn that there is such a thing as perfection, and another hundred again to get the idea that our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth. The same rule holds for us now, of course: we choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.
Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A story)
So it began, the living escape. The writer’s life. Limits left at the door, with muddy boots, grace and undiscovered fantastical, far away lands. Intrigue exists, beyond the confines of four, suffocating walls. The flawed, vulnerable, messy, selfish heroine makes human mistakes, yet we forgive her. We recognize the broken pieces in ourselves, her honesty forces a hard look in the mirror. Characters become real, we picture them with our own eyes, hear their voices, empathize with their story. We root them on. When the writer does their job well, we love them, never wanting to say good-bye.
Jacqueline Cioffa (The Vast Landscape)
The first is to embrace—as a matter of philosophy and public policy—the insights of science, in particular the fields that descend from the great Darwinian revolution that began only a matter of years after Snow’s death: genetics, evolutionary theory, environmental science. Our safety depends on being able to predict the evolutionary path that viruses and bacteria will take in the coming decades, just as safety in Snow’s day depended on the rational application of the scientific method to public-health matters. Superstition, then and now, is not just a threat to the truth. It’s also a threat to national security.
Steven Johnson (The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World)
I gazed up at the sky and let my eyes flicker from one constellation to another, to another, jumping between stepping stones. I thought of the heavenly bodies throwing down their narrow ropes to hook us. I’ve never believed the future was inscribed for each of us the day we were born. If anything were written in the stars, it was we who joined those dots, and our lives were the writing. But baby Garrett, born dead yesterday, and all those whose stories were over before they began, and those who opened their eyes and found they were living in a long nightmare, like Bridie and baby White, who decreed that, I wondered, or at least allowed it?
Emma Donoghue (The Pull of the Stars)
God’s story is our ontology: it explains our nature, our essence, our beginnings and our endings, our qualities, and our attributes. When we daily read our Bibles, in large chunks of whole books at a time, we daily learn that our own story began globally and ontologically. God has known us longer than anyone else has. The Bible declares that he knew us from before the foundations of the world.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ)
The link between animals and words goes way back. (Did you know that our letter A began its life as a drawing of the upside-down head of a bull? The two bits at the bottom that the A stands on, those were originally horns. The pointy top bit was its face and nose.)
Neil Gaiman (Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman)
One day an invitation arrived at their house.  The prince was celebrating his exploitation of the dispossessed and marginalized peasantry by throwing a fancy dress ball.  Cinderella’s sisters-of-step were very excited to be invited to the palace.  They began to plan the expensive clothes they would use to alter and enslave their natural body images to emulate an unrealistic standard of feminine beauty.  (It
James Finn Garner (Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times)
The first generation of therapists doing this work were told by their clients that the one massive cult was everywhere, knew everything, had access to state-of-the-art technology, and was willing to kill both clients and therapists to stop the information from getting out." [] "The reality is that even before stories of ritual abuse and mind control began coming out to therapists, the groups had agreed on what kind of disinformation to spread, so that clients would be afraid to tell their therapists what had happened to them, and therapists would be afraid to work with these clients." [ ] "We know that there is not one massive Satanic cult, but many different interrelated groups, including religious, military/political, and organized crime, using mind control on children and adult survivors. We know that there are effective treatments. We know that many of the paralyzing beliefs our clients lived by are the results of lies and tricks perpetrated by their abusers.
Alison Miller (Healing the Unimaginable: Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control)
The holes in her heart had been repaired. When she came home from the hospital, she began to emerge as the heart of our family, and the holes in our hearts were also repaired. Her little personality began to captivate us, and all the boys fell deeply in love with their little sister.
Theresa Thomas (Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families)
We both grew up at a time when homosexuality was not even spoken about. There were certainly no books that could help a young person understand that two people of the same sex could build a happy, productive and loving life together. When we entered our 50th year, another same sex couple told us we were ‘an inspiration’, so we began to feel we had the responsibility to make what we’ve experienced available to others. We also wanted to show people who were not gay that our life was not unlike theirs. We are all pretty much the same, so we deserve equal protection under the Constitution.
Norman Sunshine (Double Life: The Story of a Fifty Year Marriage)
This story takes place a half a billion years ago-an inconceivably long time ago, when this planet would be all but recognizable to you. Nothing at all stirred on the land except the wind and the dust. Not a single blade of grass waved in the wind, not a single cricket chirped, not a single bird soared in the sky. All these things were tens of millions of years away in the future. But of course there was an anthropologist on hand. What sort of world would it be without an anthropologist? He was, however a very depressed and disillusioned anthropologist, for he'd been everywhere on the planet looking for someone to interview, and every tape in his knapsack was as blank as the sky. But one day as he was moping alongside the ocean he saw what seemed to be a living creature in the shallows off shore. It was nothing to brag about, just sort of a squishy blob, but it was the only prospect he'd seen in all his journeys, so he waded out to where it was bobbing in the waves. He greeted the creature politely and was greeted in kind, and soon the two of them were good friends. The anthropologist explained as well as he could that he was a student of life-styles and customs, and begged his new friend for information of this sort, which was readily forthcoming. ‘And now’, he said at last, ‘I'd like to get on tape in your own words some of the stories you tell among yourselves.’ ‘Stories?’ the other asked. ‘You know, like your creation myth, if you have one.’ ‘What is a creation myth?’ the creature asked. ‘Oh, you know,’ the anthropologist replied, ‘the fanciful tale you tell your children about the origins of the world.’ Well, at this, the creature drew itself up indignantly- at least as well as a squishy blob can do- and replied that his people had no such fanciful tale. ‘You have no account of creation then?’ ‘Certainly we have an account of creation,’ the other snapped. ‘But its definitely not a myth.’ ‘Oh certainly not,’ the anthropologist said, remembering his training at last. ‘Ill be terribly grateful if you share it with me.’ ‘Very well,’ the creature said. ‘But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and scientific method.’ ‘"Of course, of course,’ the anthropologist agreed. So at last the creature began its story. ‘The universe,’ it said, ‘was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system-this star, this planet, and all the others- seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.’ ‘Excuse me,’ the anthropologist said. ‘You say that life appeared. Where did that happen, according to your myth- I mean, according to your scientific account.’ The creature seemed baffled by the question and turned a pale lavender. ‘Do you mean in what precise spot?’ ‘No. I mean, did this happen on land or in the sea?’ ‘Land?’ the other asked. ‘What is land?’ ‘Oh, you know,’ he said, waving toward the shore, ‘the expanse of dirt and rocks that begins over there.’ The creature turned a deeper shade of lavender and said, ‘I cant imagine what you're gibbering about. The dirt and rocks over there are simply the lip of the vast bowl that holds the sea.’ ‘Oh yes,’ the anthropologist said, ‘I see what you mean. Quite. Go on.’ ‘Very well,’ the other said. ‘For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.’ ‘But finally,’ the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, ‘but finally jellyfish appeared!
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1))
I don’t believe in boundaries, either for what we can do in our personal lives or for what life and intelligence can accomplish in our universe. We stand at a threshold of important discoveries in all areas of science. Without doubt, our world will change enormously in the next fifty years. We will find out what happened at the Big Bang. We will come to understand how life began on Earth. We may even discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. While the chances of communicating with an intelligent extra-terrestrial species may be slim, the importance of such a discovery means we must not give up trying. We will continue to explore our cosmic habitat, sending robots and humans into space. We cannot continue to look inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet. Through scientific endeavour and technological innovation, we must look outwards to the wider universe, while also striving to fix the problems on Earth. And I am optimistic that we will ultimately create viable habitats for the human race on other planets. We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space. This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning of what I hope will be billions of years of life flourishing in the cosmos. And one final point—we never really know where the next great scientific discovery will come from, nor who will make it. Opening up the thrill and wonder of scientific discovery, creating innovative and accessible ways to reach out to the widest young audience possible, greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be. So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
It took Lucy forty hours to die and we hardly left her side. . . .We spent those last hours kissing her frequently and telling her how deeply we loved her. Then I began to read Leah’s children’s books out loud to her. She had lived a storyless childhood, so I read in the last day of her life the books she had missed. I told her about Winnie the Pooh and Yertle the Turtle, took her Where the Wild Things Are, introduced her to Peter Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland. Each of us took turns reading to her out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and, at the very last, Leah insisted that I tell all the Great Dog Chippie stories I had told her during our year of exile from the family in Rome.
Pat Conroy (Beach Music)
Outsong in the Jungle [Baloo:] For the sake of him who showed One wise Frog the Jungle-Road, Keep the Law the Man-Pack make For thy blind old Baloo's sake! Clean or tainted, hot or stale, Hold it as it were the Trail, Through the day and through the night, Questing neither left nor right. For the sake of him who loves Thee beyond all else that moves, When thy Pack would make thee pain, Say: "Tabaqui sings again." When thy Pack would work thee ill, Say: "Shere Khan is yet to kill." When the knife is drawn to slay, Keep the Law and go thy way. (Root and honey, palm and spathe, Guard a cub from harm and scathe!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee! [Kaa:] Anger is the egg of Fear-- Only lidless eyes see clear. Cobra-poison none may leech-- Even so with Cobra-speech. Open talk shall call to thee Strength, whose mate is Courtesy. Send no lunge beyond thy length. Lend no rotten bough thy strength. Gauge thy gape with buck or goat, Lest thine eye should choke thy throat. After gorging, wouldst thou sleep ? Look thy den be hid and deep, Lest a wrong, by thee forgot, Draw thy killer to the spot. East and West and North and South, Wash thy hide and close thy mouth. (Pit and rift and blue pool-brim, Middle-Jungle follow him!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee! [Bagheera:] In the cage my life began; Well I know the worth of Man. By the Broken Lock that freed-- Man-cub, ware the Man-cub's breed! Scenting-dew or starlight pale, Choose no tangled tree-cat trail. Pack or council, hunt or den, Cry no truce with Jackal-Men. Feed them silence when they say: "Come with us an easy way." Feed them silence when they seek Help of thine to hurt the weak. Make no bandar's boast of skill; Hold thy peace above the kill. Let nor call nor song nor sign Turn thee from thy hunting-line. (Morning mist or twilight clear, Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!) Wood and Water, Wind and Tree, Jungle-Favour go with thee! [The Three:] On the trail that thou must tread To the threshold of our dread, Where the Flower blossoms red; Through the nights when thou shalt lie Prisoned from our Mother-sky, Hearing us, thy loves, go by; In the dawns when thou shalt wake To the toil thou canst not break, Heartsick for the Jungle's sake; Wood and Water, Wind air Tree, Wisdom, Strength, and Courtesy, Jungle-Favour go with thee!
Rudyard Kipling
When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day….I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day.' I would suggest that you keep a paper and pencil you your side as you read this book, particularly the stories and examples shared here. I am confident that as you read the stories of others, you will be reminded of times in your life when the Lord has given you special blessings. Or perhaps thoughts will come that will teach you what to do to have your own tender mercies. Write them down, and, if appropriate, share them with your families.
Henry B. Eyring
That was where our fishing began
Ernest Hemingway (The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories)
God began rewriting the ending to my life's story, our worlds collided with His, and He provided us with the most beautiful second chance.
Shelley Taylor
God began rewriting the ending to my life's story, our worlds collided with His, and He provided us with the most beautiful second chance.
Shelley Taylor (With My Last Breath, I'd Say I Love You)
All human behaviour, including language, is the working out of intentions, what our minds are directed towards.
Daniel L. Everett (How Language Began: The Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention)
Really valuable studies began about twenty years ago. For one experiment in 2011, 114 Canadians ate specially produced yogurt twice a day. The
Giulia Enders (Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ)
He might (as we have seen in our example) allow a lesser evil if doing so would prevent a greater evil.
Gregory Koukl (The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between)
Your story -my story, our story- began billions of years ago," she says. "But that probably doesn't come first to your mind when you wake up in the morning." A pause fills the air-conditioned room. "We need to change that." [...] "We are intimately connected with these faraways times and faraways places," she continues, "because it takes a cosmos to make a human".
Sarah Scoles (Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)
The day had begun like any other ordinary day for Barnabas Crackle. That is to say, as extra-ordinarily as his days typically began, which were the usual for our faithful protagonist.
Brooke Warra (Sanitarium #31)
The Idiot. I have read it once, and find that I don't remember the events of the book very well--or even all the principal characters. But mostly the 'portrait of a truly beautiful person' that dostoevsky supposedly set out to write in that book. And I remember how Myshkin seemed so simple when I began the book, but by the end, I realized how I didn't understand him at all. the things he did. Maybe when I read it again it will be different. But the plot of these dostoevsky books can hold such twists and turns for the first-time reader-- I guess that's b/c he was writing most of these books as serials that had to have cliffhangers and such. But I make marks in my books, mostly at parts where I see the author's philosophical points standing in the most stark relief. My copy of Moby Dick is positively full of these marks. The Idiot, I find has a few... Part 3, Section 5. The sickly Ippolit is reading from his 'Explanation' or whatever its called. He says his convictions are not tied to him being condemned to death. It's important for him to describe, of happiness: "you may be sure that Columbus was happy not when he had discovered America, but when he was discovering it." That it's the process of life--not the end or accomplished goals in it--that matter. Well. Easier said than lived! Part 3, Section 6. more of Ippolit talking--about a christian mindset. He references Jesus's parable of The Word as seeds that grow in men, couched in a description of how people are interrelated over time; its a picture of a multiplicity. Later in this section, he relates looking at a painting of Christ being taken down from the cross, at Rogozhin's house. The painting produced in him an intricate metaphor of despair over death "in the form of a huge machine of the most modern construction which, dull and insensible, has aimlessly clutched, crushed, and swallowed up a great priceless Being, a Being worth all nature and its laws, worth the whole earth, which was created perhaps solely for the sake of the advent of this Being." The way Ippolit's ideas are configured, here, reminds me of the writings of Gilles Deleuze. And the phrasing just sort of remidns me of the way everyone feels--many people feel crushed by the incomprehensible machine, in life. Many people feel martyred in their very minor ways. And it makes me think of the concept that a narrative religion like Christianity uniquely allows for a kind of socialized or externalized, shared experience of subjectivity. Like, we all know the story of this man--and it feels like our own stories at the same time. Part 4, Section 7. Myshkin's excitement (leading to a seizure) among the Epanchin's dignitary guests when he talks about what the nobility needs to become ("servants in order to be leaders"). I'm drawn to things like this because it's affirming, I guess, for me: "it really is true that we're absurd, that we're shallow, have bad habits, that we're bored, that we don't know how to look at things, that we can't understand; we're all like that." And of course he finds a way to make that into a good thing. which, it's pointed out by scholars, is very important to Dostoevsky philosophy--don't deny the earthly passions and problems in yourself, but accept them and incorporate them into your whole person. Me, I'm still working on that one.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
The original mistake, which was responsible for all this misery, was committed when our scientists began to create a new world of steel and iron and chemistry and electricity and forgot that the human mind is slower than the proverbial turtle, is lazier than the well-known sloth, and marches from one hundred to three hundred years behind the small group of courageous leaders.
Hendrik Willem van Loon (The Story of Mankind)
I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: 'Freedom of assembly' and 'freedom of speech' and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions - everyone has one - and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple - that's why you don't notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, 'We, the government, allow the people the following rights,' and our Constitution says 'We the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights.' We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that's the whole story of the difference - why we're unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we're going to overcome.
Ronald Reagan
I think it should be done over, Buddy. …Please make peace with your wit. It's not going to go away, Buddy. To dump it on your own advice would be as bad and unnatural as dumping your adjectives and your adverbs because Prof. B. wants you to. What does he know about it? What do you really know about your own wit? I've been sitting here tearing up notes to you. I keep starting to say things like 'This one is wonderfully constructed,' and 'The conversation between the two cops is terrific.' So I'm hedging. I'm not sure why. I started to get a little nervous right after you began to read. It sounded like the beginning of something your arch-enemy Bob B. calls a rattling good story. Don't you think he would call this a step in the right direction? Doesn't that worry you? Even what is funny about the woman on the back of the truck doesn't sound like something you think is funny. It sounds much more like something that you think is universally considered funny. I feel gypped. Does that make you mad? You can say our relatedness spoils my judgement. It worries me enough. But I'm also just a reader. Are you a writer or just a writer of rattling good stories. I mind getting a rattling good story from you.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction)
The world of shadows and superstition that was Victorian England, so well depicted in this 1871 tale, was unique. While the foundations of so much of our present knowledge of subjects like medicine, public health, electricity, chemistry and agriculture, were being, if not laid, at least mapped out, people could still believe in the existence of devils and demons. And why not? A good ghost story is pure entertainment. It was not until well into the twentieth century that ghost stories began to have a deeper significance and to become allegorical; in fact, to lose their charm. No mental effort is required to read 'The Weird Woman', no seeking for hidden meanings; there are no complexities of plot, no allegory on the state of the world. And so it should be. At what other point in literary history could a man, standing over the body of his fiancee, say such a line as this: 'Speak, hound! Or, by heaven, this night shall witness two murders instead of one!' Those were the days. (introduction to "The Weird Woman")
Hugh Lamb (Terror by Gaslight: More Victorian Tales of Terror)
After a childhood reading fairy tales and myths, is it any wonder that when I began to write my own stories I included fairy tales? Fairy tales are storytelling at its most basic. They’ve been with mankind for as long as people have told stories to each other. Fairy tales speak to something intrinsic in humans—they touch our most primitive selves. How else to explain that the Cinderella story is told in nearly every society on earth? To think of fairy tales as merely stories for children is to ignore thousands of years when fairy tales were used to teach morality, to warn, and to entertain both children and adults.
Elizabeth Hoyt (Clever John (Maiden Lane, #2.5))
My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens. But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family—that is the story that we all must tell.
Ben Rhodes (The World As It Is: Inside the Obama White House)
Right in front of God, Daddy, and everyone else in our family, she dropped to her knees and began giving Frank Darling light puffs of air, her lips sealed on his like the lid on a Mason jar of fresh canned peaches.
Sandra Chastain (On Grandma's Porch: Stories and True Facts about Growing up Southern in the Good Old Days (Sweet Tea, #3))
We dressed ourselves up as Gauguin pictures and careered round Crosby Hall. Mrs. Whitehead was scandalized. She said that Vanessa and I were practically naked. My mother's ghost was invoked once more...to deplore the fact that I had taken a house in Brunswick Square and had asked young men to share it...Stories began to circulate about parties at which we all undressed in public. Logan Pearsall Smith told Ethel Sands that he knew for a fact that Maynard had copulated with Vanessa on a sofa in the middle of the drawing room. It was a heartless, immoral, cynical society it was said; we were abandoned women and our friends were the most worthless of young men.
Virginia Woolf (Moments of Being: A Collection of Autobiographical Writing)
But clouds bellied out in the sultry heat, the sky cracked open with a crimson gash, spewed flame-and the ancient forest began to smoke. By morning there was a mass of booming, fiery tongues, a hissing, crashing, howling all around, half the sky black with smoke, and the bloodied sun just barely visible. And what can little men do with their spades, ditches, and pails? The forest is no more, it was devoured by fire: stumps and ash. Perhaps illimitable fields will be plowed here one day, perhaps some new, unheard-of wheat will ripen here and men from Arkansas with shaven faces will weigh in their palms the heavy golden grain. Or perhaps a city will grow up-alive with ringing sound and motion, all stone and crystal and iron-and winged men will come here flying over seas and mountains from all ends of the world. But never again the forest, never again the blue winter silence and the golden silence of summer. And only the tellers of tales will speak in many-colored patterned words about what had been, about wolves and bears and stately green-coated century-old grandfathers, about old Russia; they will speak about all this to us who have seen it with our own eyes ten years - a hundred years! - ago, and to those others, the winged ones, who will come in a hundred years to listen and to marvel at it all as at a fairy tale. ("In Old Russia")
Yevgeny Zamyatin (The Dragon: Fifteen Stories)
Presently we began to have our slices of the national cake,” F. Scott Fitzgerald remembered, “and our idealism only flared up when the newspapers made melodrama out of such stories as Harding and the Ohio Gang or Sacco and Vanzetti.
Bruce Watson (Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind)
..I began speaking.. First, I took issue with the media's characterization of the post-Katrina New Orleans as resembling the third world as its poor citizens clamored for a way out. I suggested that my experience in New Orleans working with the city's poorest people in the years before the storm had reflected the reality of third-world conditions in New Orleans, and that Katrina had not turned New Orleans into a third-world city but had only revealed it to the world as such. I explained that my work, running Reprieve, a charity that brought lawyers and volunteers to the Deep South from abroad to work on death penalty issues, had made it clear to me that much of the world had perceived this third-world reality, even if it was unnoticed by our own citizens. To try answer Ryan's question, I attempted to use my own experience to explain that for many people in New Orleans, and in poor communities across the country, the government was merely an antagonist, a terrible landlord, a jailer, and a prosecutor. As a lawyer assigned to indigent people under sentence of death and paid with tax dollars, I explained the difficulty of working with clients who stand to be executed and who are provided my services by the state, not because they deserve them, but because the Constitution requires that certain appeals to be filed before these people can be killed. The state is providing my clients with my assistance, maybe the first real assistance they have ever received from the state, so that the state can kill them. I explained my view that the country had grown complacent before Hurricane Katrina, believing that the civil rights struggle had been fought and won, as though having a national holiday for Martin Luther King, or an annual march by politicians over the bridge in Selma, Alabama, or a prosecution - forty years too late - of Edgar Ray Killen for the murder of civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, were any more than gestures. Even though President Bush celebrates his birthday, wouldn't Dr. King cry if he could see how little things have changed since his death? If politicians or journalists went to Selma any other day of the year, they would see that it is a crumbling city suffering from all of the woes of the era before civil rights were won as well as new woes that have come about since. And does anyone really think that the Mississippi criminal justice system could possibly be a vessel of social change when it incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than almost any place in the world, other than Louisiana and Texas, and then compels these prisoners, most of whom are black, to work prison farms that their ancestors worked as chattel of other men? ... I hoped, out loud, that the post-Katrina experience could be a similar moment [to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fiasco], in which the American people could act like the children in the story and declare that the emperor has no clothes, and hasn't for a long time. That, in light of Katrina, we could be visionary and bold about what people deserve. We could say straight out that there are people in this country who are racist, that minorities are still not getting a fair shake, and that Republican policies heartlessly disregard the needs of individual citizens and betray the common good. As I stood there, exhausted, in front of the thinning audience of New Yorkers, it seemed possible that New Orleans's destruction and the suffering of its citizens hadn't been in vain.
Billy Sothern (Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City)
When I heard Good News’s account of her life, I mentally began to formulate questions that start with the words “Why don’t you . . . ,” followed by a description of what—in our view—one should do in this sort of situation. My lips were on the point of producing one of these impertinent “why don’t yous” when I bit my tongue. That’s just what the color magazines do—just for a moment I’d wanted to be like them: they tell us what we’ve failed to do, where we’ve messed up, what we’ve neglected; ultimately they set us on ourselves, filling us with self-contempt. So I didn’t say a word. Other people’s life stories are not a topic for debate. One should hear them out, and reciprocate in the same coin.
Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead)
Our marriage began with knots and fangs; vows inked on skin. Black venom stained our fingers, twinned snakes strangling the marriage vein in Celtic macramé – cocksure monogamy. We became one, me and the gun, the serpent reeling itself from the needle. I had few firsts left; marriage a wild west for the hedonist. Snakes unspooled like figure-eights, symbols of eternity. Acrimony, alimony; Leave the moaning to adults. We children will be wiser wed, inoculated – these hickeys, homeopathy.
Jalina Mhyana (Dreaming in Night Vision: A Story in Vignettes)
For the last hour of our trip Jeremy ran through the do’s and don’ts. Most of them were don’ts. The simple act of dining now came with even more rules than Miss Fishton had for the kindergarten sandbox. I couldn’t raid the icebox. I couldn’t ask anyone except Jeremy for between-meal snacks. I had to eat with utensils. I had to chew with my mouth shut. I had to sit with the other Pack youth. I couldn’t touch any food before everyone older than I had taken their share. I couldn’t take seconds until everyone older than I had taken seconds. I couldn’t eat other people’s scraps. I couldn’t eat food I found on the floor. With all these rules I began to fear I might have to starve, rather than risk disobedience. I hoped it’d be a short weekend.
Kelley Armstrong (Savage (Otherworld Stories, #0.03))
It had a strange resemblance to Kafka's novel,The Trial- that dream-like allegory of a man who,having received a mysterious convocation to attend his 'trial",strives and struggles in vain to find out where the trial would be held and what it would be about; wherever he inquires he receives non - commital,elusive replies,as if everybody has joined in a secret conspiracy:the closer he gets to his aim,the farther it recedes,like the transparent walls of a dream:and the story ends abruptly,as it began,in tormenting suspense.The High Court which Kafka's hero is unable to find is his own conscience:but what was the symbolic meaning of all these nut-cracker-faced,nail-biting,pimpled,slimy features,spinning their spider webs of intrigue and sabotage in the bureaux of the French Administration?Perhaps I was really guilty,I and my like:perhaps our guilt was the past,the guilt of having forseen the catastrophe and yet failed to open the eyes of the blind.But if we were guilty-who were they to sit in judgement over us?
Arthur Koestler (Scum of the Earth)
Clemens laughed until he began coughing again. “Don’t you see, James?” he said at last. “You and I are only minor characters in this story about the Great Detective. Our little lives and endings mean nothing to the God-Writer, whoever the sonofabitch might be.
Dan Simmons (The Fifth Heart)
Beautiful was it to mark how the poorest began to improve in personal appearance immediately after they came to our Class; how they gradually got shoes and one bit of clothing after another, to enable them to attend our other Meetings, and then to go to Church; and, above all, how eagerly they sought to bring others with them, taking a deep personal interest in all the work of the Mission. Long after they themselves could appear in excellent dress, many of them still continued to attend in their working clothes, and to bring other and poorer girls with them to that Morning Class, and thereby helped to improve and elevate their companions. My delight in that Bible Class was among the purest joys in all my life, and the results were amongst the most certain and precious of all my Ministry.
John G. Paton (The Story of John G. Paton Or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals)
…”The Emersons who were at Florence, do you mean? No, I don’t suppose it will prove to be them. It is probably a long cry from them to friends of Mr. Vyse’s. Oh, Mrs. Honeychurch, the oddest people! The queerest people! For our part we liked them, didn’t we?” He appealed to Lucy. “There was a great scene over some violets. They picked violets and filled all the vases in the room of these very Miss Alans who have failed to come to Cissie Villa. Poor little ladies! So shocked and so pleased. It used to be one of Miss Catharine’s great stories. ‘My dear sister loves flowers,’ it began. They found the whole room a mass of blue — vases and jugs — and the story ends with ‘So ungentlemanly and yet so beautiful.’ It is all very difficult. Yes, I always connect those Florentine Emersons with violets.”…
E.M. Forster (A Room with a View)
I began thinking about what would happen if we all just acknowledged our brokenness, if we owned up to our weaknesses, our deficits, our biases, our fears. Maybe if we did, we wouldn’t want to kill the broken among us who have killed others. Maybe we would look harder for solutions to caring for the disabled, the abused, the neglected, and the traumatized. I had a notion that if we acknowledged our brokenness, we could no longer take pride in mass incarceration, in executing people, in our deliberate indifference to the most vulnerable.
Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption)
The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession of 2007–2009, unpleasant though it was. Now it’s over. The big story is that the Chinese in 1978 and then the Indians in 1991 began to adopt liberal ideas in their economies, and came to welcome creative destruction.
Deirdre Nansen McCloskey (Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All)
During Advent, we prepare room in a new day for an old story. Through our attentive waiting, we participate in the story of the season and make it new again. And we are made new by it. We emerge at the other end of Advent’s tunnel, and we are not as we were when our journey began.
Christie Purifoy (Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons)
It is critical to get certain facts right. Put simply—reason assesses, faith trusts.5 That is the relationship of reason to faith. Reason helps us know what is actually true, leading to accurate belief. Faith is our step of trust to rely on what we have good reason to believe is so. In
Gregory Koukl (The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between)
They say that once you see the ocean, no other water can compare. My love story started so many years ago. Pa and I began our marriage with the strength of a tiger’s head but it slowly transformed into the weak tail of the snake. How could it be that I placed the green hat upon his head?
Jean Kwok (Searching for Sylvie Lee)
Back then, poets seemed quaint, possibly irrelevant, but there is something about crisis that returns us to the fundamentals to make sense of an uncertain future and remind us of what we need to know. It’s been that way since humans began telling stories. We sang our poems, we chanted them.
Tara Conklin (The Last Romantics)
1. Those who first set themselves to discover nature’s secrets and designs, fearlessly opposing mankind’s early ignorance, deserve our praise;   2. For they began the quest to measure what once was unmeasurable, to discern its laws, and conquer time itself by understanding.   3. New eyes were needed to see what lay hidden in ignorance, new language to express the unknown,   4. New hope that the world would reveal itself to inquiry and investigation.   5. They sought to unfold the world’s primordial sources, asking how nature yields its abundance and fosters it,   6. And where in its course everything goes when it ends, either to change or cease.   7. The first inquirers named nature’s elements atoms, matter, seeds, primal bodies, and understood that they are coeval with the world;   8. They saw that nothing comes from nothing, so that discovering the elements reveals how the things of nature exist and evolve.   9. Fear holds dominion over people when they understand little, and need simple stories and legends to comfort and explain; 10. But legends and the ignorance that give them birth are a house of limitations and darkness. 11. Knowledge is freedom, freedom from ignorance and its offspring fear; knowledge is light and liberation, 12. Knowledge that the world contains itself, and its origins, and the mind of man, 13. From which comes more know­ledge, and hope of knowledge again. 14. Dare to know: that is the motto of enlightenment.  
A.C. Grayling (The Good Book: A Secular Bible)
Travelling the dusty highways in the early evenings, just as the light began to fade, I would look out along the perpendicular dirt tracks that joined the road at intervals. They undulated away gently into the distance; slow streams of people in twos and threes and fours walked them, through the haze, talking easily, making their way back from wherever lay beyond. I longed to take every one of these turnings, to step out along every track in the morning, to return at dusk, to see what lay over each of these horizons and to share in the stories of those that returned from them. My trajectory, and that of each one of us, was that of a meteor, shedding millions of tiny sparks of possibility with every passing second, each with the capacity to ignite a flash of experience, but nearly all of which quickly burned up and vanished as it was left behind. The fire that moved forward was the flame of our lives.
Luke F.D. Marsden (Wondering, the Way is Made: A South American Odyssey)
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated. But
Barack Obama (Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance)
How much more satisfying had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us, its other occupants put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a celebrated story in the Western tradition like this, except that not quite everything was there for us. There was one particular tree of which we were not to partake, a tree of knowledge. Knowledge and understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this story. We were to be kept ignorant. But we couldn’t help ourselves. We were starving for knowledge—created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, it is why we no longer live in a garden: We found out too much. So long as we were incurious and obedient, I imagine, we could console ourselves with our importance and centrality, and tell ourselves that we were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity, though, to explore, to learn how the Universe really is, we expelled ourselves from Eden. Angels with a flaming sword were set as sentries at the gates of Paradise to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles and wanderers. Occasionally we mourn that lost world, but that, it seems to me, is maudlin and sentimental. We could not happily have remained ignorant forever.
Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
To prevent lower-income African Americans from living in neighborhoods where middle-class whites resided, local and federal officials began in the 1910s to promote zoning ordinances to reserve middle-class neighborhoods for single-family homes that lower-income families of all races could not afford. Certainly, an important and perhaps primary motivation of zoning rules that kept apartment buildings out of single-family neighborhoods was a social class elitism that was not itself racially biased. But there was also enough open racial intent behind exclusionary zoning that it is integral to the story of de jure segregation.
Richard Rothstein (The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America)
Frequently an enterprising individual would leave the family haven, adventure beyond the traditional boundaries, and by hard labor reclaim land from the forest, the jungle or the marsh; such land he guarded jealously as his own, and in the end society recognized his right, and another form of individual property began.
Will Durant (Our Oriental Heritage (Story of Civilization 1))
Astrology is superstition. A remnant of the ignorant dark ages, when people knew nothing about how the world works. They believed the earth is flat and the center of the universe. Astrology might have made sense a long time ago, when people didn't know any better. Back then people believed that the stars were gods, with names like Zeus or Mars, the God of war, who had nothing better to do than to watch us down here on earth, and fuck with us. And gods have superpowers. So it would make sense for gods to be able to influence our lives or our decisions. Back then it sounded like there was an internal logic to it all. But nowadays we know better. Now we know that the earth is not flat and not the center of the universe. And now we know that the stars are not gods with superpowers, but simply suns and planets, millions of miles away. Big balls of gas and rock, flying through space, minding their own business. Mars is not the God of War. Mars is just a big red rock. There is simply no mechanism by which a big rock, flying through space millions of miles away, is gonna affect whether you're gonna get a raise tomorrow or not. Think about how self-centered and narcissistic that idea actually is. Astrology is the idea that this endlessly big universe and all the trillions of planets in it, are only here to affect whether you are gonna have a good day tomorrow. Because all these big rocks flying through space millions of miles away have nothing better to do than worry about you. Because you're so special, and everything is about you. The idea behind astrology is so stupid, it's actually kinda funny.
Oliver Markus Malloy (Bad Choices Make Good Stories - Finding Happiness in Los Angeles (How The Great American Opioid Epidemic of The 21st Century Began, #3))
Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country. It should possess the tone and quality that I desired, somewhat cool and clear, be redolent of our ‘air’ (the clime and soil of the North West, meaning Britain and the hither parts of Europe: not Italy or the Aegean, still less the East), and, while possessing (if I could achieve it) the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic (though it is rarely found in genuine ancient Celtic things), it should be ‘high’, purged of the gross, and fit for the more adult mind of a land long now steeped in poetry. I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama. Absurd. Of course, such an overweening purpose did not develop all at once. The mere stories were the thing. They arose in my mind as ‘given’ things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew. An absorbing, though continually interrupted labour (especially since, even apart from the necessities of life, the mind would wing to the other pole and spend itself on the linguistics): yet always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’. Of course, I made up and even wrote lots of other things (especially for my children). Some escaped from the grasp of this branching acquisitive theme, being ultimately and radically unrelated: Leaf by Niggle and Farmer Giles, for instance, the only two that have been printed. The Hobbit, which has much more essential life in it, was quite independently conceived: I did not know as I began it that it belonged. But it proved to be the discovery of the completion of the whole, its mode of descent to earth, and merging into ‘history’. As the high Legends of the beginning are supposed to look at things through Elvish minds, so the middle tale of the Hobbit takes a virtually human point of view – and the last tale blends them.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)
And yet it was also true that the tumor could not be removed by our doctor, and as a result of that a strange medication had been given him that enabled my brother to become even more of an enigma than he was before, and as a result of that there came to exist not only the machine and the inertia that came with it, but a change of perspective among the townsfolk that was a result of their interactions with the various phases of my brother. And so it was that when the flood began to rear its terrible head, not only was there the inertia that we all had to deal with, but a sense of the sublime that we had begun to feel for the waters which had roared upon the horizon.
Justin Dobbs
I’m Steve, and I’m an addict,” Steve said after raising his hand to share. Steve was in his seventies and always shared first. It was as if he prepared an amazing speech every morning to present to all of us and his words always had a way of putting everything into perspective for me. “I look at these young girls over here, man,” he said pointing to our row, “and I can’t help but feel a bit envious. I’m 71 years old. I’ve got five years clean. I used for fifty years. I missed so damn much. I missed everything.” His voice broke and I could tell he was getting emotional. “I lost my wife once she finally got sick enough of my shit. My kids are adults and haven’t spoken to me in over twenty years—hell—I got grandbabies I ain’t even met.” He stared down at the table for a moment, you could hear a pin drop in that room. When he finally looked up, he looked straight at me and stared into my eyes. “Man, I’ll tell you what…. I would give anything in this world, to go back in time, and enter these rooms when I was your fucking age. Then I might actually have something to look back on and be proud of. You girls are young enough now to get it right, to have a life and make something of yourself. Don’t do what I did. Get it now so that you aren’t my age looking back on your life and thinking damn…I wasted all of it.” It felt like I’d suddenly been struck by lightning. Tears began welling in my eyes as I processed what he’d just said. I imagined what it would be like to have waited until I was an old woman to get clean – if I made it that long. I imagined my children being adults and never speaking to me. The loneliness, the guilt… for what? A momentary high? Never in my life had anyone’s words saturated my skin and seeped into my soul like his just did. I could hear other members voices mumbling as they shared their own bits of wisdom, but all I could do was replay in my head what Steve had said. That was it. That was the moment. Steve’s words changed my life that day. The universe had carefully devised a grand plan to align our paths so we both ended up in the same room that day. Whatever higher power was out there, knew that I needed to hear what that man had just said.
Tiffany Jenkins (High Achiever: The Shocking True Story of One Addict's Double Life)
He kissed me like the horizon kisses the sun as it sets — tenderly, with the blinding promise that another day would come. With that kiss, we sealed our choice. With that kiss, we shut the door on the past. And with that kiss, with my hands over his, and his over our child, we began a new chapter in our story — together. And I knew this one would be brighter than the last.
Kandi Steiner (What He Always Knew (What He Doesn't Know, #2))
And the Crooked Man heard her dreams, because that was where he wandered. His place was the land of the imagination, the world where stories began. The stories were always looking for a way to be told, to be brought to life through books and reading. That was how they crossed over from their world into ours. But with them came the Crooked Man, prowling between his world and ours, looking for stories of his own to create, hunting for children who dreamed bad dreams, who were jealous and angry and proud. And he made kings and queens of them, cursing them with a kind of power, even if the real power lay always in his hands. And in return they betrayed the objects of their jealousy to him, and he took them into his lair deep beneath the castle...
John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things)
[From Sid Vicious's letter to Nancy Spungen's mother Deborah] P.S. Thank you, Debbie, for understanding that I have to die. Everyone else just thinks that I'm being weak. All I can say is that they never loved anyone as passionately as I love Nancy. I always felt unworthy to be loved by someone so beautiful as her. Everything we did was beautiful. At the climax of our lovemaking, I just used to break down and cry. It was so beautiful it was almost unbearable. It makes me mad when people say you must have really loved her.' So they think that I don't still love her? At least when I die, we will be together again. I feel like a lost child, so alone. The nights are the worst. I used to hold Nancy close to me all night so that she wouldn't have nightmares and I just can't sleep without my my beautiful baby in my arms. So warm and gentle and vulnerable. No one should expect me to live without her. She was a part of me. My heart. Debbie, please come and see me. You are the only person who knows what I am going through. If you don’t want to, could you please phone me again, and write. I love you. I was staggered by Sid's letter. The depth of his emotion, his sensitivity and intelligence were far greater than I could have imagined. Here he was, her accused murderer, and he was reaching out to me, professing his love for me. His anguish was my anguish. He was feeling my loss, my pain - so much so that he was evidently contemplating suicide. He felt that I would understand that. Why had he said that? I fought my sympathetic reaction to his letter. I could not respond to it, could not be drawn into his life. He had told the police he had murdered my daughter. Maybe he had loved her. Maybe she had loved him. I couldn't become involved with him. I was in too much pain. I couldn't share his pain. I hadn't enough strength. I began to stuff the letter back in its envelope when I came upon a separate sheet of paper. I unfolded it. It was the poem he'd written about Nancy. NANCY You were my little baby girl And I shared all your fears. Such joy to hold you in my arms And kiss away your tears. But now you’re gone there’s only pain And nothing I can do. And I don’t want to live this life If I can’t live for you. To my beautiful baby girl. Our love will never die. I felt my throat tighten. My eyes burned, and I began to weep on the inside. I was so confused. Here, in a few verses, were the last twenty years of my life. I could have written that poem. The feelings, the pain, were mine. But I hadn't written it. Sid Vicious had written it, the punk monster, the man who had told the police he was 'a dog, a dirty dog.' The man I feared. The man I should have hated, but somehow couldn't.
Deborah Spungen (And I Don't Want to Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder)
Our genus, Homo, arose two and a half million years ago, and for more than ninety-nine percent of human existence, we all lived like Onwas, in small bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers. Though the groups may have been tight-knit and communal, nearly everyone, anthropologists conjecture, spent significant parts of their lives surrounded by quiet, either alone or with a few others, foraging for edible plants and stalking prey in the wild. This is who we truly are. The agricultural revolution began twelve thousand years ago, in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, and the planet was swiftly reorganized into villages and cities and nations, and soon the average person spent virtually no time alone at all. To a thin but steady stream of people, this was unacceptable, so they escaped. Recorded history extends back five thousand years, and for as long as humans have been writing, we have been writing about hermits. It’s a primal fascination. Chinese texts etched on animal bones, as well as the clay tablets containing the Epic of Gilgamesh, a poem from Mesopotamia dating to around 2000 B.C., refer to shamans or wild men residing alone in the woods. People
Michael Finkel (The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit)
It didn’t begin just before you were born. It began before the world was born. He placed his grace on you and wrote your story in such a way that at a certain point in time you would hear the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and believe. His love for you is never a result of your character; it is a clear demonstration of his. He granted you and me what we never could have deserved; our new life is his choice, his gift.
Paul David Tripp (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)
And with all this we lift up our eyes and realize that when the New Testament tells us the meaning of the cross, it gives us not a system, but a story; not a theory, but a meal and an act of humble service; not a celestial mechanism for punishing sin and taking people to heaven, but an earthly story of a human Messiah who embodies and incarnates Israel’s God and who unveils his glory in bringing his kingdom to earth as in heaven.
N.T. Wright (The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion)
It was then that stories of the dreaming disease began to circulate more widely. We heard from our customers of a girl who smelled of cooking oil, who remembered all the wars ever fought. She could recall and recount every death, every rape, every wound, every moment of suffering that had ever been inflicted by a member of her ancestral lineage. The only place she could find relief from this barrage of collective memory was in water.
Larissa Lai (Salt Fish Girl)
It was our passion for words and our ardent desire to write that drew me and Michael together, and the same that drove us apart. Michael wanted to be a great playwright, like the former master Molière. He had high ambitions and scorned what I wrote as frivolous and feminine. ‘All these disguises and duels and abductions,’ he said contemptuously, one day a year or so after our affair began, slapping down the pile of paper covered with my sprawling handwriting. ‘All these desperate love affairs. And you wish me to take you seriously.’ ‘I like disguises and duels.’ I sat bolt upright on the edge of my bed. ‘Better than those dreary boring plays you write. At least something happens in my stories.’ ‘At least my plays are about something.’ ‘My stories are about something too. Just because they aren’t boring doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy.’ ‘What are they about? Love’ He clasped his hands together near his ear and fluttered his eyelashes.’ ‘Yes, love. What’s wrong with writing about love? Everyone longs for love.’ ‘Aren’t there enough love stories in the world without adding to them? ‘Isn’t there enough misery and tragedy?’ Michael snorted with contempt. ‘What’s wrong with wanting to be happy? ‘It’s sugary and sentimental.’ ‘Sugary? I’m not sugary.’ I was so angry that I hurled my shoes at his head.
Kate Forsyth
One At A Time A friend of ours was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he grew nearer, he noticed that the local native kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things out into the ocean. As our friend approached even closer, he noticed that the man was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water. Our friend was puzzled. He approached the man and said, “Good evening, friend. I was wondering what you are doing.” “I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it’s low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don’t throw them back into the sea, they’ll die up here from lack of oxygen.” “I understand,” my friend replied, “but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don’t you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?” The local native smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, “Made a difference to that one!” Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen
Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit)
Asking a writer why they like to write {in the theoretical sense of the question} is like asking a person why they breathe. For me, writing is a natural reflex to the beauty, the events, and the people I see around me. As Anais Nin put it, "We write to taste life twice." I live and then I write. The one transfers to the other, for me, in a gentle, necessary way. As prosaic as it sounds, I believe I process by writing. Part of the way I deal with stressful situations, catty people, or great joy or great trials in my own life is by conjuring it onto paper in some way; a journal entry, a blog post, my writing notebook, or my latest story. While I am a fair conversationalist, my real forte is expressing myself in words on paper. If I leave it all chasing round my head like rabbits in a warren, I'm apt to become a bug-bear to live with and my family would not thank me. Some people need counselors. Some people need long, drawn-out phone-calls with a trusted friend. Some people need to go out for a run. I need to get away to a quiet, lonesome corner--preferably on the front steps at gloaming with the North Star trembling against the darkening blue. I need to set my pen fiercely against the page {for at such moments I must be writing--not typing.} and I need to convert the stress or excitement or happiness into something to be shared with another person. The beauty of the relationship between reading and writing is its give-and-take dynamic. For years I gathered and read every book in the near vicinity and absorbed tale upon tale, story upon story, adventures and sagas and dramas and classics. I fed my fancy, my tastes, and my ideas upon good books and thus those aspects of myself grew up to be none too shabby. When I began to employ my fancy, tastes, and ideas in writing my own books, the dawning of a strange and wonderful idea tinged the horizon of thought with blush-rose colors: If I persisted and worked hard and poured myself into the craft, I could create one of those books. One of the heart-books that foster a love of reading and even writing in another person somewhere. I could have a hand in forming another person's mind. A great responsibility and a great privilege that, and one I would love to be a party to. Books can change a person. I am a firm believer in that. I cannot tell you how many sentiments or noble ideas or parts of my own personality are woven from threads of things I've read over the years. I hoard quotations and shadows of quotations and general impressions of books like a tzar of Russia hoards his icy treasures. They make up a large part of who I am. I think it's worth saying again: books can change a person. For better or for worse. As a writer it's my two-edged gift to be able to slay or heal where I will. It's my responsibility to wield that weapon aright and do only good with my words. Or only purposeful cutting. I am not set against the surgeon's method of butchery--the nicking of a person's spirit, the rubbing in of a salty, stinging salve, and the ultimate healing-over of that wound that makes for a healthier person in the end. It's the bitter herbs that heal the best, so now and again you might be called upon to write something with more cayenne than honey about it. But the end must be good. We cannot let the Light fade from our words.
Rachel Heffington
Whoever has been poor and lonely himself understands other poor and lonely people all the better. At least we should learn to understand our fellow beings, for we are powerless to stop their misery, their ignominy, their suffering, their weakness, and their death. One day Frau Wilke whispered, as she stretched out her hand and arm to me: "Hold my hand. It's like ice." I took her poor, old, thin hand in mine. It was cold as ice. Frau Wilke crept about her home now like a ghost. Nobody visited her. For days she sat alone in her unheated room. To be alone: icy, iron terror, foretaste of the grave, forerunner of unpitying death. Oh, whoever has been himself alone can never find another's loneliness strange. I began to realize that Frau Wilke had nothing to eat. The lady who owned the house, and later took Frau Wilke's rooms, allowing me to stay in mine, brought, of course in pity for her forsaken state, every midday and evening a cup of broth, but not for long, and so Frau Wilke faded away. She lay there, no longer moving: and soon she was taken to the city hospital, where, after three days, she died. One afternoon soon after her death, I entered her empty room, into which the good evening sun was shining, gladdening it with rose-bright, gay and soft colors. There I saw on the bed the things which the poor lady had till recently worn.... The strange sight of them made me unspeakably sad, and my peculiar state of mind made it seem to me almost that I had died myself, and life in all its fullness, which had often appeared so huge and beautiful, was thin and poor to the point of breaking. All things past, all things vanishing away, were more close to me than ever. For a long time I looked at Frau Wilke's possessions, which now had lost their mistress and lost all purpose, and at the golden room, gloried by the smile of the evening sun, while I stood there motionless, not understanding anything anymore.
Robert Walser (Berlin Stories)
I did not tell him my decision, that would have broken my will. I did not wait to have breakfast with him but only drank some coffee and made an excuse to go home. I knew the excuse did not fool Joey; but he did not know how to protest or insist; he did not know that this was all he needed to have done. Then I, who had seen him that summer nearly every day till then, no longer went to see him. He did not come to see me. I would have been very happy to see him if he had, but the manner of my leavetaking had begun a constriction which neither of us knew how to arrest. When I finally did see him, more or less by accident, near the end of the summer, I made up a long and totally untrue story about a girl I was going with and when school began again I picked up with a rougher, older crowd and was very nasty to Joey. And the sadder this made him, the nastier I became. He moved away at last, out of the neighborhood, away from our school, and I never saw him again.
James Baldwin (Giovanni's Room)
Don’t you see, Mhairie, if we don’t keep telling the stories, we shall forget them. And if we forget them, our marrow will leak away, our clan marrow will vanish. Now was not the time to forget. Now was the time to remember. Memory, Dearlea thought, is the life-pumping artery, the blood in that artery. Memory is the sinew, the muscle that stretches back to the Beyond and before the Beyond. Have we not come full circle? she wondered. Now is not the time to forget. She felt a quiet despair, for there was song deep within her desperate to get out. Lupus, she would not die with the song inside her! Her mother, who rode next to her on another narwhale’s back with Abban, turned toward her and howled, “Sing, Dearlea! Sing! You are a skreeleen. The first in this new world.” So Dearlea threw back her head and sang. And out of that dark place we fled That broken land so scarred and dead Our hopes our dreams forever gone. Then did we follow this wolf so bold To this place that did unfold As if lost in mists of time It was the Distant Blue A new world sublime. On a bridge of ice we walked and walked We now give thanks to Lupus, to Glaux, To Ursus and gods not known, And to whales who carried us The last way To here in our new home. The other creatures began to join in. The wolves howled, and from Toby’s and Burney’s deep chests came sonorous roars that stirred Faolan’s heart. Dearlea was so right to sing, to remind them of what they had left behind.
Kathryn Lasky (Star Wolf (Wolves of the Beyond, #6))
In the campaign of 1876, Robert G. Ingersoll came to Madison to speak. I had heard of him for years; when I was a boy on the farm a relative of ours had testified in a case in which Ingersoll had appeared as an attorney and he had told the glowing stories of the plea that Ingersoll had made. Then, in the spring of 1876, Ingersoll delivered the Memorial Day address at Indianapolis. It was widely published shortly after it was delivered and it startled and enthralled the whole country. I remember that it was printed on a poster as large as a door and hung in the post-office at Madison. I can scarcely convey now, or even understand, the emotional effect the reading of it produced upon me. Oblivious of my surroundings, I read it with tears streaming down my face. It began, I remember: "The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life.We hear the sounds of preparation--the music of boisterous drums--the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers..." I was fairly entranced. he pictured the recruiting of the troops, the husbands and fathers with their families on the last evening, the lover under the trees and the stars; then the beat of drums, the waving flags, the marching away; the wife at the turn of the lane holds her baby aloft in her arms--a wave of the hand and he has gone; then you see him again in the heat of the charge. It was wonderful how it seized upon my youthful imagination. When he came to Madison I crowded myself into the assembly chamber to hear him: I would not have missed it for every worldly thing I possessed. And he did not disappoint me. A large handsome man of perfect build, with a face as round as a child's and a compelling smile--all the arts of the old-time oratory were his in high degree. He was witty, he was droll, he was eloquent: he was as full of sentiment as an old violin. Often, while speaking, he would pause, break into a smile, and the audience, in anticipation of what was to come, would follow him in irresistible peals of laughter. I cannot remember much that he said, but the impression he made upon me was indelible. After that I got Ingersoll's books and never afterward lost an opportunity to hear him speak. He was the greatest orater, I think, that I have ever heard; and the greatest of his lectures, I have always thought, was the one on Shakespeare. Ingersoll had a tremendous influence upon me, as indeed he had upon many young men of that time. It was not that he changed my beliefs, but that he liberated my mind. Freedom was what he preached: he wanted the shackles off everywhere. He wanted men to think boldly about all things: he demanded intellectual and moral courage. He wanted men to follow wherever truth might lead them. He was a rare, bold, heroic figure.
Robert Marion La Follette (La Follette's Autobiography: A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences)
: Whether we are aware of it or not, we will refine the quality of our humanity throughout the course of our lives. More and more, people seek spiritual techniques to help them do this. But joy and suffering will do this for you, too. Every lifetime offers countless opportunities to become more whole. Life offers its wisdom generously. Everything teaches. Not everyone learns. Life asks of us the same thing we have been asked in every class: "Stay awake." "Pay attention." But paying attention is no simple matter. It requires us not to be distracted by expectations, past experiences, labels, and masks. It asks that we not jump to early conclusions and that we remain open to surprise. Wisdom comes most easily to those who have the courage to embrace life without judgment and are willing to not know, sometimes for a long time. It requires us to be more fully and simply alive than we have been taught to be. It may require us to suffer. But ultimately we will be more than we were when we began.
Rachel Naomi Remen (My Grandfather's Blessings : Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging)
In that year began the tragic bookending of the Indian debate on secularism with two unspeakable pogroms. From that time onwards the 1984 riots in Delhi that took place on Rajiv Gandhi’s watch and the 2002 Gujarat riots that took place on Narendra Modi’s watch would be used to checkmate one another in what might be called the chessboard of competitive communalism. And secularism, the foundation of the republic, fashioned out of our astonishingly diverse society, would find itself challenged again.
Barkha Dutt (This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines)
But before I go, I want to tell you a little story. “A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived. “Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention. “The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours. “‘Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,’ said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. ‘As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.’ “The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was. “‘Well,’ asked the wise man, ‘did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?’ “The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him. “‘Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,’ said the wise man. ‘You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house.’ “Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen. “‘But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?’ asked the wise man. “Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone. “‘Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,’ said the wisest of wise men. ‘The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
When older people ask me, “How have you been so successful after age 65?” I tell them, “Anyone who’s reached 65 years of age has had a world of experience behind him. He’s had his ups and downs and all the trials and tribulations of life. He certainly ought to be able to gather something out of that, something he can put together at the end of his 65 years so he can get a new start.” The way I see it, a man’s life is written by the way he lives it. It’s using any talent God has given him, even if his talent is cooking food or running a good motel. You can reach higher, think bigger, grow stronger and live deeper in this country of ours than anywhere else on Earth. The rules here give everybody a chance to win. If my story is different, it’s because my life really began at age 65 when most folks have already called it a day. I’d been modestly successful before I hit 65. After that I made millions. When they’re about 60 or 65, a lot of people feel that life is all over for them. Too many of them just sit and wait until they die or they become a burden to other people. The truth is they can make a brand new life for themselves if they just don’t give up and hunker down. I want to tell people, “You’re only as old as you feel or as you think, and no matter what your age there’s plenty of work to be done.” I don’t want to sound like I’m clearing my throat and giving advice about how a man can be successful. I’m not all puffed up. My main trade secret is I’m not afraid of hard, back-cracking work. After all, I was raised on a farm where hard work is the way of life.
Harland Sanders (Colonel Harland Sanders: The Autobiography of the Original Celebrity Chef)
We have seen that imagining an act engages the same motor and sensory programs that are involved in doing it. We have long viewed our imaginative life with a kind of sacred awe: as noble, pure, immaterial, and ethereal, cut off from our material brain. Now we cannot be so sure about where to draw the line between them. Everything your “immaterial” mind imagines leaves material traces. Each thought alters the physical state of your brain synapses at a microscopic level. Each time you imagine moving your fingers across the keys to play the piano, you alter the tendrils in your living brain. These experiments are not only delightful and intriguing, they also overturn the centuries of confusion that have grown out of the work of the French philosopher René Descartes, who argued that mind and brain are made of different substances and are governed by different laws. The brain, he claimed, was a physical, material thing, existing in space and obeying the laws of physics. The mind (or the soul, as Descartes called it) was immaterial, a thinking thing that did not take up space or obey physical laws. Thoughts, he argued, were governed by the rules of reasoning, judgment, and desires, not by the physical laws of cause and effect. Human beings consisted of this duality, this marriage of immaterial mind and material brain. But Descartes—whose mind/body division has dominated science for four hundred years—could never credibly explain how the immaterial mind could influence the material brain. As a result, people began to doubt that an immaterial thought, or mere imagining, might change the structure of the material brain. Descartes’s view seemed to open an unbridgeable gap between mind and brain. His noble attempt to rescue the brain from the mysticism that surrounded it in his time, by making it mechanical, failed. Instead the brain came to be seen as an inert, inanimate machine that could be moved to action only by the immaterial, ghostlike soul Descartes placed within it, which came to be called “the ghost in the machine.” By depicting a mechanistic brain, Descartes drained the life out of it and slowed the acceptance of brain plasticity more than any other thinker. Any plasticity—any ability to change that we had—existed in the mind, with its changing thoughts, not in the brain. But now we can see that our “immaterial” thoughts too have a physical signature, and we cannot be so sure that thought won’t someday be explained in physical terms. While we have yet to understand exactly how thoughts actually change brain structure, it is now clear that they do, and the firm line that Descartes drew between mind and brain is increasingly a dotted line.
Norman Doidge (The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science)
Once Upon A Time” I began. We made it through three stories before she was in a deep sleep. In the end, she probably didn’t have a better grasp on our legal system, racism, or social complexity. However, she now knew that sometimes the most loyal friend you could have was a mouse, that sometimes people weren’t always who they seemed, even if their eyes were allegedly only bigger to see you with, and that everyone had the capacity to live happily ever after. It wasn’t in her lesson plan, and maybe it wasn’t all true, but it was important.
Jessica Fortunato (The Sin Collector (The Sin Collector, #1))
The soldiers were already laying pikes along the wall by torch-light, with the points bristling upwards; they had draped cloaks over the poles to make small tents to sleep under. A few of them were sitting around small campfires, soaking dried meat in boiling water, stirring kasha into the broth to cook up. They cleared hastily out of our way without our even having to say a word, afraid. Sarkan seemed not to notice, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry and strange and wrong. One of the soldiers was a boy my own age, industriously sharpening pike-heads one by one with a stone, skillfully: six strokes for each one and done as quick as the two men putting them along the wall could come back for them. He must have put himself to it, to learn how to do it so well. He didn’t look sullen or unhappy. He’d chosen to go for a soldier. Maybe he had a story that began that way: a poor widowed mother at home and three young sisters to feed, and a girl from down the lane who smiled at him over the fence as she drove her father’s herd out into the meadows every morning. So he’d given his mother his signing-money and gone to make his fortune. He worked hard; he meant to be a corporal soon, and after that a sergeant: he’d go home then in his fine uniform, and put silver in his mother’s hands, and ask the smiling girl to marry him. Or maybe he’d lose a leg, and go home sorrowful and bitter to find her married to a man who could farm; or maybe he’d take to drink to forget that he’d killed men in trying to make himself rich. That was a story, too; they all had stories. They had mothers or fathers, sisters or lovers. They weren’t alone in the world, mattering to no one but themselves.
Naomi Novik (Uprooted)
Up near the top, underlined and in capitals were the words: 'READ THIS.' Jay grimaced as she wondered what she was in for. Would it be a semi-literate political rant, a half-baked conspiracy theory or a quasi-religious manifesto? Perhaps it was just a very long suicide note: a self-pitying list of misfortune and hardship. Whatever it was she doubted it would contain anything useful. Unable to put it off any longer, she finished her coffee and began: 'We are all stories that we tell ourselves, memories selected to fit our chosen form. What becomes of us when there is no-one there to read?
Valis Umbra (Mortlake and Other Stories)
to love Grace unconditionally—to be blind to her condition. Bonnie had already reached that point. In fact, as she realized that our culture would not affect Grace in the same way as other girls, she began to see the advantage of having a daughter with Down syndrome. On the day of her surgery, Bonnie could not bear to be the one to hand her over to the medical staff. As I held Grace in the early morning hours prior to her surgery and then eventually walked down the hall to the operating room with her, my heart swelled with emotion. I was falling in love. Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine losing my baby girl.
Theresa Thomas (Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families)
But even when Facebook isn't deliberately exploiting its users, it is exploiting its users—its business model requires it. Even if you distance yourself from Facebook, you still live in the world that Facebook is shaping. Facebook, using our native narcissism and our desire to connect with other people, captured our attention and our behavioral data; it used this attention and data to manipulate our behavior, to the point that nearly half of America began relying on Facebook for news. Then, with the media both reliant on Facebook as a way of reaching readers and powerless against the platform's ability to suck up digital advertising revenue—it was like a paperboy who pocketed all the subscription money—Facebook bent the media's economic model to match its own practices: publications needed to capture attention quickly and consistently trigger high emotional responses to be seen at all. The result, in 2016, was an unending stream of Trump stories, both from the mainstream news and from the fringe outlets that were buoyed by Facebook's algorithm. What began as a way for Zuckerberg to harness collegiate misogyny and self-interest has become the fuel for our whole contemporary nightmare, for a world that fundamentally and systematically misrepresents human needs.
Jia Tolentino (Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion)
You know those tragic stories where two kids from feuding families fall in love? Okay, flip that inside out and turn it on its head and you’ve got our story, Ryder’s and mine. It all began like this: On April 6, 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh, Captain Jeremiah D. Marsden--that’s Ryder’s ancestor--took a minié ball in the left kneecap. Corporal Lewiston G. Cafferty--that’s mine--picked up Captain Marsden and carried him off the field of battle to safety. On his back. More than a mile. Barefoot. At least, that’s how the story goes. Frankly, I’m a little skeptical, but whatever. The point is, the Marsdens and the Caffertys have been like this ever since.
Kristi Cook (Magnolia (Magnolia Branch, #1))
Do you want to know what finally changed things for me?” “What?” My voice is barely above a whisper. Dappled sunlight falls across his face, highlighting his flushed cheeks. “I met someone. She’s about five-six, golden brown hair, devastating smile. The kind that warms you from the inside out. And she made me so mad. Not two weeks after I started the job, she called to grill me about a story I posted on Facebook. She insisted I edit it because I didn’t get the wording right.” He adopts a mock falsetto voice. “ ‘It isn’t the “Panama Canal” cruise. It’s “Panama Canal and the Wonders of Azuero.” Fix it, please.’ ” My muscles go limp and my knees nearly buckle. Because he’s talking about me. “Finally, someone who wasn’t walking on eggshells. She actually snapped at me, and it was like she snapped me out of my fog. I may have been unnecessarily combative after that, just to get a rise out of her, but I started to feel again. Irritation, at first, but then more. After a while, I began getting out of the house. Seeing a therapist. Playing hockey. I adopted Winnie—best decision ever. I actually started looking forward to waking up in the morning.” Graeme steps closer, but I’m glued to the spot. Heat sizzles through my veins when he reaches up to run his knuckles along my cheek. “And staff meeting Thursdays? They became my favorite day of the week. Because I got to see her face.” My heart is hammering and my lungs seize. The sound of guests approaching rumbles closer, but I don’t look away. I swallow past the lump that’s lodged in my throat. “After this cruise, they’re my favorite day of the week too.” Reaching up, I run my fingers lightly along the hand that’s cupping my cheek. Graeme’s eyes widen and his lips part. Gathering every ounce of resolve I can muster, I step away just as Nikolai and Dwight crest a nearby hill. We continue through the highlands, fastening our platonic coworker facades into place. But an unspoken understanding hangs in the space between us, heavy and undeniable… This just went way past any bet.
Angie Hockman (Shipped)
My lover is dead. And they think I killed him. I'm running rogue. Hell bent on both revenge and redemption. Whatever it takes, I'm going to finish a job that began nine months ago. An unauthorized assignment that turned horribly, devastatingly wrong. My miscalculation. My fault. My heart left shattered into incomplete pieces which will never wholly fit back together again. But first I have to outsmart my former organization and the hired killer they've sent after me; a ghost from my past who knows my every move, who’s been inside my head, my heart, my dreams and memories: Jaxson. I'm the traitor, Kylie. The rogue mercenary, Jaxon's newest assignment. And this is our love story.
Michele Mannon (Rogue (Deadliest Lies #1))
Charming ladies, as I doubt not you know, the understanding of mortals consisteth not only in having in memory things past and taking cognizance of things present; but in knowing, by means of the one and the other of these, to forecast things future is reputed by men of mark to consist the greatest wisdom. To-morrow, as you know, it will be fifteen days since we departed Florence, to take some diversion for the preservation of our health and of our lives, eschewing the woes and dolours and miseries which, since this pestilential season began, are continually to be seen about our city. This, to my judgment, we have well and honourably done; for that, an I have known to see aright, albeit merry stories and belike incentive to concupiscence have been told here and we have continually eaten and drunken well and danced and sung and made music, all things apt to incite weak minds to things less seemly, I have noted no act, no word, in fine nothing blameworthy, either on your part or on that of us men; nay, meseemeth I have seen and felt here a continual decency, an unbroken concord and a constant fraternal familiarity; the which, at once for your honour and service and for mine own, is, certes, most pleasing to me. Lest, however, for overlong usance aught should grow thereof that might issue in tediousness, and that none may avail to cavil at our overlong tarriance,
Giovanni Boccaccio (The Decameron and Collected Works of Giovanni Boccaccio (Illustrated) (Delphi Series Nine Book 2))
We had our family patterns and were quite comfortable in them, which made it even more shocking when, just after his eightieth birthday, Papa began bringing up his time as a prisoner of war in Germany. Of course, I had always known that he had served in World War II and been captured, just like I had always know the stories about my grandmother and the build of their house. It's that peculiar type of family memory, where someone has obviously told you but you were too young to remember actually hearing it, so it seems like knowledge that was instilled at birth. Papa never brought it up, and my parents said they hadn't heard him mention it once in the previous fifty years. But suddenly, he was talking.
Jesse Cozean
I’m not… What’s wrong with them believing?” Bea asked, a note of pleading creeping, uninvited, into her voice. “You do not sell belief, you sell belief-in. Belief in true love, as if everyone were entitled to it. Belief in a simple solution to a complex problem. Belief in one type of person, one type of future.” “No I don’t. I offer people dreams, and hope, and, and, something to organise their lives with,” Bea said, not sure why she was trying to convince him. “I don’t make them into ‘one person’.” “Oh no? Let me recall your doctrine: Kings, Princes and their ilk must marry girls whose only asset is their beauty. Not clever girls, not worthy girls, not girls who could rule. Powerful women, older women – like one day you will become – are nought but wicked creatures, consumed with jealousy and unfit to hold position. No,” he said as Bea began to speak, “I am not finished. Let us turn our attention to the men. As long as the woman is something to be won, it follows only the worthy will prevail. It matters not if they truly love the girl, nor if the man is cruel or arrogant or unfit to tie his own doublet. As long as he has wealth and completes whatever trials are decided fit, he is suitable. For what is stupidity or arrogance when compared against a crown? The good will win, and the wicked perish, and you and your stories decide what makes a person good or wicked. Not life. Not choice. Not even common sense. You.
F.D. Lee (The Fairy's Tale (The Pathways Tree, #1))
I rest my head on his shoulder, feeling his heart beating against me. I wish I could gather time around us, slowing the minutes, making them last a lifetime. “I was born on the island kingdom of Ghedda,” I whisper. This is a story I never told even to you, Habiba. I tell it now only because I cannot bear to leave him without the truth, knowing only half of me. I raise my head and meet his eyes. “That was more than four thousand years ago. I was the eldest daughter of a wise and generous king.” Aladdin stares at me, his eyes soft and curious, encouraging me to go on. “When I was seventeen, I became queen of Ghedda. In those days, the jinn were greater in number, and the Shaitan held greater sway over the realms of men. He demanded we offer him twenty maidens and twenty warriors in sacrifice, in return for fair seas and lucrative trade. I was young and proud and desired, above all else, to be a fair ruler. I would not bow to his wishes, so he shook our island until it began to fall into the sea.” I shudder, and Aladdin draws me closer. “I climbed to the alomb at the top of the Mountain of Tongues, and there offered myself to the Shaitan, if he would only save my city from the sea.” My voice falls to a whisper, little more than a ripple on the water. “So he took me and made me jinn and put me in the lamp. And then he caused the Mountain of Tongues to erupt, and Ghedda was lost to fire. For he had sworn only to save my people from the sea, not from flame.
Jessica Khoury (The Forbidden Wish)
It is common for people who are depressed to have a very different understanding of their past, as well as their future, compared to when they are well. Via neuroplasticity and Hebb’s axiom, practice tends to make permanent. Thus, if we tell ourselves, using imagery and sensations as much as words, that our life isn’t going anywhere, we literally wire our brain to continue in that pattern of storytelling. It becomes an embodied reality, and no amount of theological facts that state otherwise, apart from equally embodied action, will necessarily change the story’s outcome. Robert began to see how the “facts” of his life were not immutable realities but were as much a function of the story he told himself on a moment-to-moment basis.
Curt Thompson (The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves)
People who learned Eric and I wanted to adopt a child often told us stories of adoptions gone wrong. The adopted child incapable of attachment. Who became a drug addict, a runaway, who drained bank accounts, ruined marriages. "I have a friend who adopted," these stories began. "It was a nightmare."... And their stories did make me afraid, convinced me I was the vulnerable one whose life was at risk. Listening, I'd forget the abandoned, the neglected, the children curled on the floor of some empty-cabinet kitchen or crying in some school bathroom stall or shaking in some crib. I'd forget that these children belong to all of us. If they wield knives in the dark or hit heads against walls or refuse to speak, they signal our failure, not theirs.
Sarah Sentilles (Stranger Care)
When I was growing up it was still acceptable—not to me but in social terms—to say that one was not interested in science and did not see the point in bothering with it. This is no longer the case. Let me be clear. I am not promoting the idea that all young people should grow up to be scientists. I do not see that as an ideal situation, as the world needs people with a wide variety of skills. But I am advocating that all young people should be familiar with and confident around scientific subjects, whatever they choose to do. They need to be scientifically literate, and inspired to engage with developments in science and technology in order to learn more. A world where only a tiny super-elite are capable of understanding advanced science and technology and its applications would be, to my mind, a dangerous and limited one. I seriously doubt whether long-range beneficial projects such as cleaning up the oceans or curing diseases in the developing world would be given priority. Worse, we could find that technology is used against us and that we might have no power to stop it. I don’t believe in boundaries, either for what we can do in our personal lives or for what life and intelligence can accomplish in our universe. We stand at a threshold of important discoveries in all areas of science. Without doubt, our world will change enormously in the next fifty years. We will find out what happened at the Big Bang. We will come to understand how life began on Earth. We may even discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. While the chances of communicating with an intelligent extra-terrestrial species may be slim, the importance of such a discovery means we must not give up trying. We will continue to explore our cosmic habitat, sending robots and humans into space. We cannot continue to look inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet. Through scientific endeavour and technological innovation, we must look outwards to the wider universe, while also striving to fix the problems on Earth. And I am optimistic that we will ultimately create viable habitats for the human race on other planets. We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space. This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning of what I hope will be billions of years of life flourishing in the cosmos. And one final point—we never really know where the next great scientific discovery will come from, nor who will make it. Opening up the thrill and wonder of scientific discovery, creating innovative and accessible ways to reach out to the widest young audience possible, greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be. So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
We are experiencing a cultural collapse. The very same collapse that was experienced by the Plains Indians when their way of life was destroyed and they were herded onto reservations. The very same collapse that was experiences by aboriginal people overrun by us in Africa, everywhere. For all of us, in just a few decades, shocking realities invalidated our vision of the world and made nonsense of a destiny that had always seemed self evident. The outcome: things fall apart. Order and purpose are replaced by chaos and bewilderment. People lose the will to live, become listless, violent, suicidal, addicted. The frog smiled for ten thousand years, as the water got hotter and hotter and hotter, but eventually when the water began to boil , the frog was dead.
Daniel Quinn (The Story of B (Ishmael, #2))
I knew, of course, that I should be well paid for my services, but I would gladly have accepted half the sum I expected if I could have had it that night, for our little treasury was wholly exhausted, and we had not sixpence to purchase a breakfast for the following day. When the great hall door shut upon me, and I found myself on the pavement, with all the luxury and splendour on one side, and I and my desolation on the other, the contrast struck me cruelly, for I too, had been rich, and dwelt in illuminated palaces, and had a train of liveried servants at my command, and sweet music had echoed through my halls. I felt desperate, and drawing my hat over my eyes I began pacing the square, forming wild plans for the relief or escape from my misery. ("The Italian's Story")
Catherine Crowe (The Gentlewomen of Evil: An Anthology of Rare Supernatural Stories from the Pens of Victorian Ladies)
He recalls that the room went ‘icy cold’ as his patient Catherine strangely began to channel messages from Dr Weiss’s own deceased family members; things she could not have possibly known. “She didn’t know anything about me,” Dr Weiss says. “I didn’t even have diplomas in my office. This was before the internet, and she’s telling me “You’re Father’s here and your son.” Dr Weiss remembers his shock that a stranger shared so many facts about his life, including that his Father had tragically died from a heart condition. “She tells me my daughter is named after my Father..which she is, and it is an unusual name. She said, “Your Father is here; he died from his heart.” And she went into other medical details. “I’m thinking, “What is this? How does she know this?” My Father never had an obituary.
Tessy Rawlins (True Stories of Afterlife Communication. Messages from our loved ones; True Stories from Heaven. Proof of the Afterlife.)
But the loneliness was still on Danny and demanded an outlet. 'Here we sit,' he began at last. ' - broken-hearted,' Pilon added rhythmically. 'No, this is not a poem,' Danny said. 'Here we sit, homeless. We gave our lives for our country, and now we have no roof over our head.' 'We never did have,' Pilon added helpfully. Danny drank dreamily until Pilon touched his elbow and took the bottle. 'That reminds me,' Danny said, 'of a story of a man who owned two whore-houses--' His mouth dropped open. 'Pilon! my little fat duck of a baby friend. I had forgotten! I am an heir! I own two houses.' 'Whore-houses?' Pilon asked hopefully. 'Thou art a drunken liar,' he continued. 'No, Pilon. I tell the truth. The viejo died. I am the heir. I, the favourite grandson.' 'Thou art the only grandson,' said the realist Pilon.
John Steinbeck (Tortilla Flat)
Likewise, we “trusted the process,” but the process didn’t save Toy Story 2 either. “Trust the Process” had morphed into “Assume that the Process Will Fix Things for Us.” It gave us solace, which we felt we needed. But it also coaxed us into letting down our guard and, in the end, made us passive. Even worse, it made us sloppy. Once this became clear to me, I began telling people that the phrase was meaningless. I told our staff that it had become a crutch that was distracting us from engaging, in a meaningful way, with our problems. We should trust in people, I told them, not processes. The error we’d made was forgetting that “the process” has no agenda and doesn’t have taste. It is just a tool—a framework. We needed to take more responsibility and ownership of our own work, our need for self-discipline, and our goals. Imagine an old, heavy suitcase whose well-worn handles are hanging by a few threads. The handle is “Trust the Process” or “Story Is King”—a pithy statement that seems, on the face of it, to stand for so much more. The suitcase represents all that has gone into the formation of the phrase: the experience, the deep wisdom, the truths that emerge from struggle. Too often, we grab the handle and—without realizing it—walk off without the suitcase. What’s more, we don’t even think about what we’ve left behind. After all, the handle is so much easier to carry around than the suitcase. Once you’re aware of the suitcase/handle problem, you’ll see it everywhere. People glom onto words and stories that are often just stand-ins for real action and meaning. Advertisers look for words that imply a product’s value and use that as a substitute for value itself. Companies constantly tell us about their commitment to excellence, implying that this means they will make only top-shelf products. Words like quality and excellence are misapplied so relentlessly that they border on meaningless. Managers scour books and magazines looking for greater understanding but settle instead for adopting a new terminology, thinking that using fresh words will bring them closer to their goals. When someone comes up with a phrase that sticks, it becomes a meme, which migrates around even as it disconnects from its original meaning. To ensure quality, then, excellence must be an earned word, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves. It is the responsibility of good leaders to make sure that words remain attached to the meanings and ideals they represent.
Ed Catmull (Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration)
We laughed and laughed and passed the bong around each other taking turns to burn our lungs. The room was smokier than ever before and it was late in the afternoon when I realised I was stuck. I was stuck to the sofa like glue. My whole body sank deeper and deeper into the material. My blood felt like liquid lead in my limbs as if lifting my arm could not be possible without a powerful crane. My mind drifted to the big cranes you see on building sites and I imagined it attempting to lift my arm as it buckled under the weight. I closed my eyes unable to hold my eyelids open anymore. My body sank even deeper as if the sofa was melting chocolate and my body heat was melting it beneath me. It began to feel like thick treacle beneath me as if it would stick to me making it harder for me to move or get up then I felt his hand again.
Nicci Greene (My Story Confessions of a Temptress)
. . . Do you remember all the tiny turtles? How they hatched and how they began to run down toward the shore. On the way many were eaten up by birds. Only a few survived and made it to the ocean, to the water. There even more were eaten by fish, and perhaps some few grew up and became large. Just a few managed to carry out the program of their lives. The others were consumed by life. Their forms disappeared. They disinte- grated in the stomachs of birds or fish. Became the flapping of wings or the gentle movements of tail fins. But the original idea, to become a tur- tle, was not realized. That could only happen in the great depths. That is essentially man’s place in the universe. Just a few of us reach the edge of the water, the place where the spirit can be nourished. Just a few of us accomplish our goal and become Human, far too many become some- thing else, something used up by life, something that is equated with life. But when we come down to the great depths. Then the world is still and clarified . . . I want so much to be your sustenance, to be your light and your water. That’s why I’m often seized by bitterness when I see that instead I’m the person who makes you desperate, chaotic, confused and unhappy . . . My own wonderful turtle, I feel and I hope that you have this some- thing extra in you that can open your eyes so that you can see the ugly vampire that sits on your back, that creature in yourself that empties you of nourishment. And when you begin to suspect something of this . . . this unknown power that is fed by your negative emotional life willwithdraw, the devil will lose his interest in you and God will redouble his. Forgive me this letter. I love you.
Kari Hesthamar (So Long, Marianne: A Love Story)
Although our American friends, some of whose generals visited us, took a more alarmist view of our position, and the world at large regarded the invasion of Britain as probable, we ourselves felt free to send overseas all the troops our available shipping could carry and to wage offensive war in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Here was the hinge on which our ultimate victory turned, and it was in 1941 that the first significant events began. In war armies must fight. Africa was the only continent in which we could meet our foes on land. The defence of Egypt and of Malta were duties compulsive upon us, and the destruction of the Italian Empire the first prize we could gain. The British resistance in the Middle East to the triumphant Axis Powers and our attempt to rally the Balkans and Turkey against them are the theme and thread of our story now.
Winston S. Churchill (The Second World War 3. the Grand Alliance)
In what commanders and technicians realized in hindsight was a bad decision, the test messages were identical to the real alert messages that’d be used in an attack, but simply used zeroes to indicate the number of missiles in the air. The real totals would be filled in during an attack. The faulty computer chip began inserting the numeral 2 in place of zeroes—hence the quickly escalating alert from 2 missiles to 220 to 2,200 Soviet ICBMs. It had been a disaster just waiting to happen. The government’s after-action report reported dryly, “Now, that message is in a different format which just indicates the status of the communications system rather than the any indication of numbers of missiles.” The Pentagon’s classified talking points tried to put lipstick on the pig, celebrating that “The human safeguards which are a central part of our system worked as designed.” •
Garrett M. Graff (Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die)
Why two (or whole groups) of people can come up with the same story or idea at the same time, even when across the world from each-other: "A field is a region of influence, where a force will influence objects at a distance with nothing in between. We and our universe live in a Quantum sea of light. Scientists have found that the real currency of the universe is an exchange of energy. Life radiates light, even when grown in the dark. Creation takes place amidst a background sea of energy, which metaphysics might call the Force, and scientists call the "Field." (Officially the Zero Point Field) There is no empty space, even the darkest empty space is actually a cauldron of energies. Matter is simply concentrations of this energy (particles are just little knots of energy.) All life is energy (light) interacting. The universe is self-regenreating and eternal, constantly refreshing itself and in touch with every other part of itself instantaneously. Everything in it is giving, exchanging and interacting with energy, coming in and out of existence at every level. The self has a field of influence on the world and visa versa based on this energy. Biology has more and more been determined a quantum process, and consciousness as well, functions at the quantum level (connected to a universe of energy that underlies and connects everything). Scientist Walter Schempp's showed that long and short term memory is stored not in our brain but in this "Field" of energy or light that pervades and creates the universe and world we live in. A number of scientists since him would go on to argue that the brain is simply the retrieval and read-out mechanism of the ultimate storage medium - the Field. Associates from Japan would hypothesize that what we think of as memory is simply a coherent emission of signals from the "Field," and that longer memories are a structured grouping of this wave information. If this were true, it would explain why one tiny association often triggers a riot of sights, sounds and smells. It would also explain why, with long-term memory in particular, recall is instantaneous and doesn't require any scanning mechanism to sift through years and years of memory. If they are correct, our brain is not a storage medium but a receiving mechanism in every sense, and memory is simply a distant cousin of perception. Some scientists went as far as to suggest that all of our higher cognitive processes result from an interaction with the Field. This kind of constant interaction might account for intuition or creativity - and how ideas come to us in bursts of insight, sometimes in fragments but often as a miraculous whole. An intuitive leap might simply be a sudden coalescence of coherence in the Field. The fact that the human body was exchanging information with a mutable field of quantum fluctuation suggested something profound about the world. It hinted at human capabilities for knowledge and communication far deeper and more extended than we presently understand. It also blurred the boundary lines of our individuality - our very sense of separateness. If living things boil down to charged particles interacting with a Field and sending out and receiving quantum information, where did we end and the rest of the world began? Where was consciousness-encased inside our bodies or out there in the Field? Indeed, there was no more 'out there' if we and the rest of the world were so intrinsically interconnected. In ignoring the effect of the "Field" modern physicists set mankind back, by eliminating the possibility of interconnectedness and obscuring a scientific explanation for many kinds of miracles. In re-normalizing their equations (to leave this part out) what they'd been doing was a little like subtracting God.
Lynne McTaggart (The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe)
On the day of Calvin’s arrival, Mark was on a business trip with our high-school kids, so I went to the airport with the younger ones. I greeted Calvin as he got off the plane; mom and son—total strangers. He smiled nervously. I loaded everyone into our van and began driving. As I looked in the rearview mirror and saw Calvin talking with the younger children, a wave of peace washed over me. Everything was going to be okay. When Mark returned with the older kids, Tyler, the same age as Calvin, was thrilled that his long-awaited “brother from the other color mother” had finally arrived. Luke, our seventeen-year-old, had persistently warned us that taking in another child would be too chaotic. Before he went to bed on Calvin’s first night, he told me, “I’m glad he’s here.” I thought we were just trying to be good Christians and help someone in need, but when I learned the rest of the story, I realized that we were the ones who had been blessed.
Theresa Thomas (Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families)
The story is that while a child named Servius Tullius lay sleeping, his head burst into flames in the sight of many. The general outcry which so great a miracle called forth brought the king and queen to the place. One of the servants fetched water to quench the fire, but was checked by the queen, who stilled the uproar and commanded that the boy should not be disturbed until he awoke of himself. Soon afterwards sleep left him, and with it disappeared the flames. Then, talking her husband aside, Tanaquil Said: 'Do you see this child whom we are bringing up in so humble a fashion? Be assured he will one day be a lamp to our dubious fortunes, and a protector to the royal house in the day of its distress. Let us therefore rear with all solicitude one who will lend high renowen to the state and to our family.' It is said that from that moment the boy began to be looked upon as a son, and to be trained in the studies by which men are inspired to bear themselves greatly.
Livy (The History of Rome, Books 1-5: The Early History of Rome)
One of my most vivid memories is of coming back West from prep school and later from college at Christmas time. Those who went farther than Chicago would gather in the old dim Union Station at six o’clock of a December evening, with a few Chicago friends, already caught up into their own holiday gayeties, to bid them a hasty good-by. I remember the fur coats of the girls returning from Miss This-or-that’s and the chatter of frozen breath and the hands waving overhead as we caught sight of old acquaintances, and the matchings of invitations: “Are you going to the Ordways’? the Herseys’? the Schultzes’?” and the long green tickets clasped tight in our gloved hands. And last the murky yellow cars of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad looking cheerful as Christmas itself on the tracks beside the gate. When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again. That’s my Middle West — not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns, but the thrilling returning trains of my youth, and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. I am part of that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters, a little complacent from growing up in the Carraway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family’s name. I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all — Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
The very next day, delegates from Moscow visited mining towns around the USSR to recruit miners for an operation to cool the ground beneath the destroyed reactor. They were bussed to Chernobyl and began work on the 13th. One miner described the plan: “Our mission was this: dig a 150-meter tunnel, from the third block to the fourth. Then dig a room 30 meters long and 30 meters wide [and 2 meters tall] to hold a refrigeration device for cooling down the reactor.”210 Scientists worried that pneumatic drills would stress the building’s fragile foundations, so the miners were ordered to dig their tunnel by hand. To limit exposure, they dug down 12 meters before heading towards Unit 4. The project took one month and four days, with miners digging 24 hours a day - in a normal mine, that distance would have taken three times as long. Due to the nature of the dig, it wasn’t possible to install ventilation holes, so there was a lack of oxygen and the temperature reached highs of 30°C.
Andrew Leatherbarrow (Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster)
On the screen luminous tremors appeared. Lila began to type on the keyboard, I was speechless. It was in no way comparable to a typewriter, even an electric one. With her fingertips she caressed gray keys, and the writing appeared silently on the screen, green like newly sprouted grass. What was in her head, attached to who knows what cortex of the brain, seemed to pour out miraculously and fix itself on the void of the screen. It was power that, although passing for act, remained power, an electrochemical stimulus that was instantly transformed into light. It seemed to me like the writing of God as it must have been on Sinai at the time of the Commandments, impalpable and tremendous, but with a concrete effect of purity. Magnificent, I said. I'll teach you, she said. And she taught me, and dazzling, hypnotic segments began to lengthen, sentences that I said, sentences that she said, our volatile discussions were imprinted on the dark well of the screen like wakes without foam.
Elena Ferrante (The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels, #4))
About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 15 billion miles across accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it—99.9 percent of the mass of the solar system—went to make the Sun. Out of the floating material that was left over, two microscopic grains floated close enough together to be joined by electrostatic forces. This was the moment of conception for our planet. All over the inchoate solar system, the same was happening. Colliding dust grains formed larger and larger clumps. Eventually the clumps grew large enough to be called planetesimals. As these endlessly bumped and collided, they fractured or split or recombined in endless random permutations, but in every encounter there was a winner, and some of the winners grew big enough to dominate the orbit around which they traveled. It all happened remarkably quickly. To grow from a tiny cluster of grains to a baby planet some hundreds of miles across is thought to have taken only a few tens of thousands of years. In just 200 million years, possibly less, the Earth was essentially formed, though still molten and subject to constant bombardment from all the debris that remained floating about. At this point, about 4.5 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon. Within weeks, it is thought, the flung material had reassembled itself into a single clump, and within a year it had formed into the spherical rock that companions us yet. Most of the lunar material, it is thought, came from the Earth’s crust, not its core, which is why the Moon has so little iron while we have a lot. The theory, incidentally, is almost always presented as a recent one, but in fact it was first proposed in the 1940s by Reginald Daly of Harvard. The only recent thing about it is people paying any attention to it. When Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane, and sulfur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently, and life might never have gotten a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites, and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later people began to wonder how it had all happened. And it is there that our story next takes us.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
This is the crux of the issue, the crux of our story. For the shift in the American environmental movement from aesthetic environmentalism to regulatory environmentalism wasn’t just a change in political strategy. It was the manifestation of a crucial realization: that unrestricted commercial activity was doing damage—real, lasting, pervasive damage. It was the realization that pollution was global, not just local, and the solution to pollution was not dilution. This shift began with the understanding that DDT remained in the environment long after its purpose was served. And it grew as acid rain and the ozone hole demonstrated that pollution traveled hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from its source, doing damage to people who did not benefit from the economic activity that produced it. It reached a crescendo when global warming showed that even the most seemingly innocuous by-product of industrial civilization—CO2, the stuff on which plants depend—could produce a very different planet.
Naomi Oreskes (Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming)
[Chang Yu relates the following anecdote of Kao Tsu, the first Han Emperor: “Wishing to crush the Hsiung-nu, he sent out spies to report on their condition. But the Hsiung-nu, forewarned, carefully concealed all their able-bodied men and well-fed horses, and only allowed infirm soldiers and emaciated cattle to be seen. The result was that spies one and all recommended the Emperor to deliver his attack. Lou Ching alone opposed them, saying: “When two countries go to war, they are naturally inclined to make an ostentatious display of their strength. Yet our spies have seen nothing but old age and infirmity. This is surely some ruse on the part of the enemy, and it would be unwise for us to attack.” The Emperor, however, disregarding this advice, fell into the trap and found himself surrounded at Po-teng.”] 19.  Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. [Ts’ao Kung’s note is “Make a display of weakness and want.” Tu Mu says: “If our force happens to be superior to the enemy’s, weakness may be simulated in order to lure him on; but if inferior, he must be led to believe that we are strong, in order that he may keep off. In fact, all the enemy’s movements should be determined by the signs that we choose to give him.” Note the following anecdote of Sun Pin, a descendent of Sun Wu: In 341 B.C., the Ch’i State being at war with Wei, sent T’ien Chi and Sun Pin against the general P’ang Chuan, who happened to be a deadly personal enemy of the later. Sun Pin said: “The Ch’i State has a reputation for cowardice, and therefore our adversary despises us. Let us turn this circumstance to account.” Accordingly, when the army had crossed the border into Wei territory, he gave orders to show 100,000 fires on the first night, 50,000 on the next, and the night after only 20,000. P’ang Chuan pursued them hotly, saying to himself: “I knew these men of Ch’i were cowards: their numbers have already fallen away by more than half.” In his retreat, Sun Pin came to a narrow defile, with he calculated that his pursuers would reach after dark. Here he had a tree stripped of its bark, and inscribed upon it the words: “Under this tree shall P’ang Chuan die.” Then, as night began to fall, he placed a strong body of archers in ambush near by, with orders to shoot directly they saw a light. Later on, P’ang Chuan arrived at the spot, and noticing the tree, struck a light in order to read what was written on it. His body was immediately riddled by a volley of arrows, and his whole army thrown into confusion. [The above is Tu Mu’s version of the story; the SHIH CHI, less dramatically but probably with more historical truth, makes P’ang Chuan cut his own throat with an exclamation of despair, after the rout of his army.] ] He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it. 20.  By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him. [With an emendation suggested by Li Ching, this then reads, “He lies in wait with the main body of his troops.”] 21.  The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.
Sun Tzu (The Art of War)
Within this narrative, creation itself is understood as a kind of Temple, a heaven-and-earth duality, where humans function as the “image-bearers” in the cosmic Temple, part of earth yet reflecting the life and love of heaven. This is how creation was designed to function and flourish: under the stewardship of the image-bearers. Humans are called not just to keep certain moral standards in the present and to enjoy God’s presence here and hereafter, but to celebrate, worship, procreate, and take responsibility within the rich, vivid developing life of creation. According to Genesis, that is what humans were made for. The diagnosis of the human plight is then not simply that humans have broken God’s moral law, offending and insulting the Creator, whose image they bear—though that is true as well. This lawbreaking is a symptom of a much more serious disease. Morality is important, but it isn’t the whole story. Called to responsibility and authority within and over the creation, humans have turned their vocation upside down, giving worship and allegiance to forces and powers within creation itself. The name for this is idolatry. The result is slavery and finally death. It isn’t just that humans do wrong things and so incur punishment. This is one element of the larger problem, which isn’t so much about a punishment that might seem almost arbitrary, perhaps even draconian; it is, rather, about direct consequences. When we worship and serve forces within the creation (the creation for which we were supposed to be responsible!), we hand over our power to other forces only too happy to usurp our position. We humans have thus, by abrogating our own vocation, handed our power and authority to nondivine and nonhuman forces, which have then run rampant, spoiling human lives, ravaging the beautiful creation, and doing their best to turn God’s world into a hell (and hence into a place from which people might want to escape). As I indicated earlier, some of these “forces” are familiar (money, sex, power). Some are less familiar in the popular mind, not least the sense of a dark, accusing “power” standing behind all the rest. Called
N.T. Wright (The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion)
After wandering the world and living on the Continent I had long tired of well-behaved, fart-free gentlemen who opened the door and paid the bills but never had a story to tell and were either completely asexual or demanded skin-burning action until the morning light. Swiss watch salesmen who only knew of “sechs” as their wake-up hour, or hairy French apes who always required their twelve rounds of screwing after the six-course meal. I suppose I liked German men the best. They were a suitable mixture of belching northerner and cultivated southerner, of orderly westerner and crazy easterner, but in the post-war years they were of course broken men. There was little you could do with them except try to put them right first. And who had the time for that? Londoners are positive and jolly, but their famous irony struck me as mechanical and wearisome in the long run. As if that irony machine had eaten away their real essence. The French machine, on the other hand, is fuelled by seriousness alone, and the Frogs can drive you beyond the limit when they get going with their philosophical noun-dropping. The Italian worships every woman like a queen until he gets her home, when she suddenly turns into a slut. The Yank is one hell of a guy who thinks big: he always wants to take you the moon. At the same time, however, he is as smug and petty as the meanest seamstress, and has a fit if someone eats his peanut butter sandwich aboard the space shuttle. I found Russians interesting. In fact they were the most Icelandic of all: drank every glass to the bottom and threw themselves into any jollity, knew countless stories and never talked seriously unless at the bottom of the bottle, when they began to wail for their mother who lived a thousand miles away but came on foot to bring them their clean laundry once a month. They were completely crazy and were better athletes in bed than my dear countrymen, but in the end I had enough of all their pommel-horse routines. Nordic men are all as tactless as Icelanders. They get drunk over dinner, laugh loudly and fart, eventually start “singing” even in public restaurants where people have paid to escape the tumult of the world. But their wallets always waited cold sober in the cloakroom while the Icelandic purse lay open for all in the middle of the table. Our men were the greater Vikings in this regard. “Reputation is king, the rest is crap!” my Bæring from Bolungarvík used to say. Every evening had to be legendary, anything else was a defeat. But the morning after they turned into weak-willed doughboys. But all the same I did succeed in loving them, those Icelandic clodhoppers, at least down as far as their knees. Below there, things did not go as well. And when the feet of Jón Pre-Jón popped out of me in the maternity ward, it was enough. The resemblances were small and exact: Jón’s feet in bonsai form. I instantly acquired a physical intolerance for the father, and forbade him to come in and see the baby. All I heard was the note of surprise in the bass voice out in the corridor when the midwife told him she had ordered him a taxi. From that day on I made it a rule: I sacked my men by calling a car. ‘The taxi is here,’ became my favourite sentence.
Hallgrímur Helgason
Dear Mr. Jacob Witting,’” read Grandfather haltingly, slowly. “‘I am Sarah Wheaton from Maine…’” He looked at me. “That was her first letter to Jacob?” he asked. I nodded. “The answer to Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother,” I said. “And then she wrote to us. See, there.” I pointed, and Grandfather began to read. “‘My favorite colors are the colors of the sea, blue and gray and green, depending on the weather.’” Grandfather sat back. “She came a long way.” “We were excited,” I said. “Sarah wrote that she was coming. And then she added something for Anna and me that made us even more excited.” “What?” asked Grandfather. “What did she write?” I turned the pages of the journal. “There,” I said. I couldn’t help smiling. “‘Tell them I sing,’” read Grandfather. He couldn’t help smiling either. “We were afraid she wouldn’t stay,” I said. “She loved Maine.” Grandfather nodded. He closed the book that Anna had written so long ago. I could tell our lesson was over for today. Grandfather walked to the window and looked out over the farm. “You always love what you know first,” he said. “Always,” he repeated softly.
Patricia MacLachlan (Caleb's Story (Sarah, Plain and Tall #3))
Those who had fought for what they called the revolution maintained a great pride: the pride of being on the correct side of the front lines. Ten or twelve years later (around the time of our story) the front lines began to melt away, and with them the correct side. No wonder the former supporters of the revolution feel cheated and are quick to seek substitute fronts; thanks to religion they can (in their role as atheists struggling against believers) stand again on the correct side and retain their habitual and precious sense of their own superiority. But to tell the truth, the substitute front was also useful to others, and it will perhaps not be too premature to disclose that Alice was one of them. Just as the directress wanted to be on the correct side, Alice wanted to be on the opposite side. During the revolution they had nationalized her papa's shop, and Alice hated those who had done this to him. But how should she show her hatred? Perhaps by taking a knife and avenging her father? But this sort of thing is not the custom in Bohemia. Alice had a better means for expressing her opposition: she began to believe in God.
Milan Kundera (Laughable Loves)
There is a kind of despair involved in creation which I am sure any artist knows all about. In art, as in morality, great things go by the board because at the crucial moment we blink our eyes. When is the crucial moment? Greatness is to recognize it and be able to hold it and to extend it. But for most of us the space between 'dreaming on things to come' and 'it is too late, it is all over' is too tiny to enter. And so we let each thing go, thinking vaguely that it will always be given to us to try again. Thus works of art, and thus whole lives of men, are spoilt by blinking and moving quickly on. I often found that I had ideas for stories, but by the time I had thought them out in detail they seemed to me hardly worth writing, as if I had already 'done' them: not because they were bad, but because they already belonged to the past and I had lost interest. My thoughts were soon stale to me. Some things I ruined by starting them too soon. Others by thinking them so intensely in my head that they were over before they began. Projects would change in a second from hazy uncommitted dreams into unsalvageable ancient history. Whole novels existed only in their titles.
Iris Murdoch (The Black Prince)
A world where only a tiny super-elite are capable of understanding advanced science and technology and its applications would be, to my mind, a dangerous and limited one. I seriously doubt whether long-range beneficial projects such as cleaning up the oceans or curing diseases in the developing world would be given priority. Worse, we could find that technology is used against us and that we might have no power to stop it. I don’t believe in boundaries, either for what we can do in our personal lives or for what life and intelligence can accomplish in our universe. We stand at a threshold of important discoveries in all areas of science. Without doubt, our world will change enormously in the next fifty years. We will find out what happened at the Big Bang. We will come to understand how life began on Earth. We may even discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. While the chances of communicating with an intelligent extra-terrestrial species may be slim, the importance of such a discovery means we must not give up trying. We will continue to explore our cosmic habitat, sending robots and humans into space. We cannot continue to look inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet. Through scientific endeavour and technological innovation, we must look outwards to the wider universe, while also striving to fix the problems on Earth. And I am optimistic that we will ultimately create viable habitats for the human race on other planets. We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space. This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning of what I hope will be billions of years of life flourishing in the cosmos. And one final point—we never really know where the next great scientific discovery will come from, nor who will make it. Opening up the thrill and wonder of scientific discovery, creating innovative and accessible ways to reach out to the widest young audience possible, greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be. So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
Radiation levels inside the tunnel were around 1 roentgen per hour, but because the work was so cramped and demanding, the miners dug without any protective gear - not even their respirators, which became damp and useless within minutes. At the tunnel entrance, radiation reached highs of 300 roentgens-per-hour. The miners were never warned of the true extent of the danger, and every single one of them received a significant dose. Vladimir Amelkov, a miner who participated in the operation, said years later, “Someone had to go and do it. Us or someone else. We did our duty. Should we have done it? It’s too late to judge. I don’t regret anything.”211 The miners achieved their goal of digging a room beneath Unit 4, but the refrigeration machinery was never installed because the core began to cool on its own. Instead, the space was filled with heat resistant concrete. While no official studies have ever been published, it’s estimated that one-quarter of the miners - who were all between 20 and 30 - died before they reached the age of 40.212 “The miners died for nothing,” laments Veniamin Prianichnikov, chief of the plant’s training programmes. “Everything we did was a waste of time.213
Andrew Leatherbarrow (Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster)
The former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu used to famously say, “We are prisoners of hope.” Such a statement might be taken as merely rhetorical or even eccentric if you hadn’t seen Bishop Tutu stare down the notorious South African Security Police when they broke into the Cathedral of St. George’s during his sermon at an ecumenical service. I was there and have preached about the dramatic story of his response more times than I can count. The incident taught me more about the power of hope than any other moment of my life. Desmond Tutu stopped preaching and just looked at the intruders as they lined the walls of his cathedral, wielding writing pads and tape recorders to record whatever he said and thereby threatening him with consequences for any bold prophetic utterances. They had already arrested Tutu and other church leaders just a few weeks before and kept them in jail for several days to make both a statement and a point: Religious leaders who take on leadership roles in the struggle against apartheid will be treated like any other opponents of the Pretoria regime. After meeting their eyes with his in a steely gaze, the church leader acknowledged their power (“You are powerful, very powerful”) but reminded them that he served a higher power greater than their political authority (“But I serve a God who cannot be mocked!”). Then, in the most extraordinary challenge to political tyranny I have ever witnessed, Archbishop Desmond Tutu told the representatives of South African apartheid, “Since you have already lost, I invite you today to come and join the winning side!” He said it with a smile on his face and enticing warmth in his invitation, but with a clarity and a boldness that took everyone’s breath away. The congregation’s response was electric. The crowd was literally transformed by the bishop’s challenge to power. From a cowering fear of the heavily armed security forces that surrounded the cathedral and greatly outnumbered the band of worshipers, we literally leaped to our feet, shouted the praises of God and began…dancing. (What is it about dancing that enacts and embodies the spirit of hope?) We danced out of the cathedral to meet the awaiting police and military forces of apartheid who hardly expected a confrontation with dancing worshipers. Not knowing what else to do, they backed up to provide the space for the people of faith to dance for freedom in the streets of South Africa.
Jim Wallis (God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It)
As the last passengers boarded the aircraft, the constant slamming of the overhead bins started to hurt Hero's ears. The infant began to cry, and everyone in the cabin glared in Jack and Goldilocks's direction. "Everyone is looking at us like we've personally offended them," Jack remarked. "It's because you brought a baby on a plane," Bree said. "They're worried he's going to cry the whole way to New York." Goldilocks was not going to put up with this. She passed Hero to Jack and stood in the aisle where all the passengers could see her. "Now, wait just one Hickory Dickory second," she called out. "I don't care if you have to listen to my baby cry! Eight days ago I experienced the worst pain humanly possible by pushing him out of my body! It's something all mothers must endure for the survival of our species! It's natural, it's brave, it's beautiful, and I will NOT be disrespected for it! Now, I suggest you all wipe those foul looks off your faces or YOU"LL be the ones crying all the way to New York!" "I'd listen to my wife if I were you," Jack added. "She's on caffeine." All the passengers quickly diverted their gazes elsewhere. Bree tried to start a round of applause for Goldilocks, but no one joined her.
Chris Colfer (Worlds Collide (The Land of Stories, #6))
But the 1880s are also embedded in our lives in many smaller ways. Over a decade ago, in Creating the Twentieth Century, I traced several daily American experiences through mundane artifacts and actions that stem from that miraculous decade. A woman wakes up today in an American city and makes a cup of Maxwell House coffee (launched in 1886). She considers eating her favorite Aunt Jemima pancakes (sold since 1889) but goes for packaged Quaker Oats (available since 1884). She touches up her blouse with an electric iron (patented in 1882), applies antiperspirant (available since 1888), but cannot pack her lunch because she has run out of brown paper bags (the process to make strong kraft paper was commercialized in the 1880s). She commutes on the light rail system (descended directly from the electric streetcars that began serving US cities in the 1880s), is nearly run over by a bicycle (the modern version of which—with equal-sized wheels and a chain drive—was another creation of the 1880s: see engines are older than bicycles!, this page), then goes through a revolving door (introduced in a Philadelphia building in 1888) into a multistory steel-skeleton skyscraper (the first one was finished in Chicago in 1885). She stops at a newsstand on the first floor, buys a copy of the Wall Street Journal (published since 1889) from a man who rings it up on his cash register (patented in 1883). Then she goes up to the 10th floor in an elevator
Vaclav Smil (Numbers Don't Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World)
Our voices sounded small in the noisy darkness. We called her name again and again. We waved our flashlights in hope that she’d see their bobbing light. We were hoarse from calling. And desperate when she didn’t answer. The faint trail gave out, and we began circling back to the house without realizing it until we saw the lights in the windows. “We need to call the police,” Dad said. “We don’t know the land the way they do. We’ll get lost ourselves if we keep going.” Wordlessly, we made our way home. Mom was on the front porch, shivering in her warmest down coat. “You didn’t find her?” “No.” Dad stopped to hug her. Mom clung to him. They stood there whispering to each other, as if they’d forgotten about me. I waited, shifting my weight from one frozen foot to the other, afraid Bloody Bones might be watching us from the trees. Not that I believed he actually existed, not in my world, the real world, the five-senses world. But with the wind blowing and the moon sailing in and out of clouds like a ghost racing across the sky, I could almost believe I’d crossed a border into another world, where anything could be true—even conjure women and spells and monsters. The police came sooner than we’d expected. We heard their sirens and saw their flashing lights before they’d even turned into the driveway. Four cars and an ambulance stopped at the side of the house. Doors opened, men got out. A couple of them had dogs, big German shepherds who
Mary Downing Hahn (Took: A Ghost Story)
INVENTING ALADDIN” One thing that puzzles me (and I use puzzle here in the technical sense of really, really irritates me) is reading, as from time to time I have, learned academic books on folktales and fairy stories that explain why nobody wrote them and which go on to point out that looking for authorship of folktales is in itself a fallacy; the kind of books or articles that give the impression that all stories were stumbled upon or, at best, reshaped, and I think, Yes, but they all started somewhere, in someone’s head. Because stories start in minds—they aren’t artifacts or natural phenomena. One scholarly book I read explained that any fairy story in which a character falls asleep obviously began life as a dream that was recounted on waking by a primitive type unable to tell dreams from reality, and this was the starting point for our fairy stories—a theory which seemed filled with holes from the get-go, because stories, the kind that survive and are retold, have narrative logic, not dream logic. Stories are made up by people who make them up. If they work, they get retold. There’s the magic of it. Scheherazade as a narrator was a fiction, as was her sister and the murderous king they needed nightly to placate. The Arabian Nights are a fictional construct, assembled from a variety of places, and the story of Aladdin is itself a late tale, folded into the Nights by the French only a few hundred years ago. Which is another way of saying that when it began, it certainly didn’t begin as I describe. And yet.
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
I loved driving with Marlboro Man. I saw things I’d never seen before, things I’d never even considered in my two and a half decades of city life. For the first time ever, I began to grasp the concept of north, south, east, and west, though I imagine it would take another twenty-five years before I got them straight. I saw fence lines and gates made of welded iron pipe, and miles upon miles of barbed wire. I saw creeks--rocky, woodsy creeks that made the silly water hazard in my backyard seem like a little mud puddle. And I saw wide open land as far as the eye could see. I’d never known such beauty. Marlboro Man loved showing me everything, pointing at pastures and signs and draws and lakes and giving me the story behind everything we saw. The land, both on his family’s ranch and on the ranches surrounding it, made sense to him: he saw it not as one wide open, never-ending space, but as neatly organized parcels, each with its own purpose and history. “Betty Smith used to own this part of our ranch with her husband,” he’d say. “They never had kids and were best friends with my grandparents.” Then he’d tell some legend of Betty Smith’s husband’s grandfather, remembering such vivid details, you’d think he’d been there himself. I absorbed it all, every word of it. The land around him pulsated with the heartbeats of all who’d lived there before…and as if it were his duty to pay honor to each and every one of them, he told me their names, their stories, their relationship, their histories. I loved that he knew all those things.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
The new God is the intelligence of a living, sacred universe. The purpose that guides the evolution of species comes from larger, living wholes. The environment creates organisms for its purposes, as much as organisms alter the environment for theirs. The parts create the whole, and the whole creates the parts. 20 Thirteen years ago when I first began telling people I was a Lamarckian, I was met with eye rolls or blank stares. But last week I confessed it to a biologist I met at a conference and he didn’t bat an eye. “Everyone is a Lamarckian now,” he said. “Lamarck was right.” This is no longer fringe science. I refer the interested or skeptical reader to James Shapiro’s Evolution: A View from the 21st Century, Denis Noble’s Dance to the Tune of Life, and Scott Turner’s Purpose and Desire. The Whole has created humans too for its purpose. There is a certain comfort in thinking that the planet will be fine without us, yet there is also a certain fatalism. It is akin to the fatalism that comes in response to disconnection from one’s destiny. It induces a kind of aimlessness. As humanity exits the old Story of Ascent and its triumphant techno-utopian destiny, we are indeed experiencing a collective aimlessness. In that story, our purpose was ourselves. That purpose has been exhausted. We are ready to devote ourselves to something greater. In the Story of Interbeing, entrusted with gifts and bound by love, we realize that our passage through the present initiatory crisis is of planetary moment. Out of the wreckage of what we thought we knew, something else may be born.
Charles Eisenstein (Climate: A New Story)
We do not want to go to the right or left,” he said, “but straight back to our own country!” A few days later, on June 1, a treaty was drawn up. The Navajos agreed to live on a new reservation whose borders were considerably smaller than their traditional lands, with all four of the sacred mountains outside the reservation line. Still, it was a vast domain, nearly twenty-five thousand square miles, an area nearly the size of the state of Ohio. After Barboncito, Manuelito, and the other headmen left their X marks on the treaty, Sherman told the Navajos they were free to go home. June 18 was set as the departure date. The Navajos would have an army escort to feed and protect them. But some of them were so restless to get started that the night before they were to leave, they hiked ten miles in the direction of home, and then circled back to camp—they were so giddy with excitement they couldn’t help themselves. The next morning the trek began. In yet another mass exodus, this one voluntary and joyful, the entire Navajo Nation began marching the nearly four hundred miles toward home. The straggle of exiles spread out over ten miles. Somewhere in the midst of it walked Barboncito, wearing his new moccasins. When they reached the Rio Grande and saw Blue Bead Mountain for the first time, the Navajos fell to their knees and wept. As Manuelito put it, “We wondered if it was our mountain, and we felt like talking to the ground, we loved it so.” They continued marching in the direction the coyote had run, toward the country they had told their young children so much about. And as they marched, they chanted—
Hampton Sides (Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West)
Testing his image in Hartford, he would refine it further in subsequent speeches. “If I saw a venomous snake crawling in the road,” Lincoln began, “any man would say I might seize the nearest stick and kill it; but if I found that snake in bed with my children, that would be another question. I might hurt the children more than the snake, and it might bite them. . . . But if there was a bed newly made up, to which the children were to be taken, and it was proposed to take a batch of young snakes and put them there with them, I take it no man would say there was any question how I ought to decide! . . . The new Territories are the newly made bed to which our children are to go, and it lies with the nation to say whether they shall have snakes mixed up with them or not.” The snake metaphor acknowledged the constitutional protection of slavery where it legally existed, while harnessing the protective instincts of parents to safeguard future generations from the venomous expansion of slavery. This homely vision of the territories as beds for American children exemplified what James Russell Lowell described as Lincoln’s ability to speak “as if the people were listening to their own thinking out loud.” When Seward reached for a metaphor to dramatize the same danger, he warned that if slavery were allowed into Kansas, his countrymen would have “introduced the Trojan horse” into the new territory. Even if most of his classically trained fellow senators immediately grasped his intent, the Trojan horse image carried neither the instant accessibility of Lincoln’s snake-in-the-bed story nor its memorable originality.
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)
language . . . what exactly was it, and how did it happen? Celeste shrugged. “Some people think it was just business as usual—mutation, adaptation, selection, mutation, adaptation, selection, a slow continuity kind of thing, for hundreds of thousands of years. But other people think it happened incredibly fast, within about forty thousand years. And that this capacity that made it possible—this built-in capacity for the operation that lets us merge expressible things into other expressible things to make more and more complex expressible things—appeared in an instant! Which makes complete sense, even though it could not be more bizarre. One tiny molecular irregularity in one tiny fetus, in a very small population of humans somewhere in Africa! One instant! A universe-altering mutation!” “But what about . . . ,” he began, but ran aground. “What about the other stuff? The stuff we can’t manage to think?” “Yeah,” he said. “Or . . . well, I mean, yeah.” “Uh-huh, that’s a problem. Actually, Friedlander was pretty interested in that. In his opinion, language developed as a way for us to deceive ourselves into believing that we understand things, so then we can just go ahead and do stuff that’s more ruthless than what any other animal does. According to him, we can formulate like a fraction of what’s inside our heads and that what’s inside our heads is mostly . . . drainage, basically, sloshing around, that doesn’t have too much to do with what’s actually out there . . .” They looked at each other, and vague shapes, like amoebas, rose, morphed, blended, and faded between them. “But at least it’s all ours,” she said. “It’s the main unique thing we’ve got. It’s our gift.
Deborah Eisenberg (Your Duck Is My Duck: Stories)
Helene was a person who had never been able to ask for help, and she couldn't ask for help now. She turned north and started walking toward her home, many miles away in San Rafael. It took her almost eight hours to reach there. After a short time her feet began to hurt, so she took off the heels and throw them away. As she walked on, her nylons tore and her feet began to bleed. She passed buildings that had collapsed, stumbled over rubble, waded through streets filled with filthy water from the fire-fighting efforts. Dirty, sweaty, and disheveled, she walked down the Marina to the Golden Gate Bridge and crossed it into the next county. She reached her home sometime after midnight and knocked on her own front door. It was opened by her fiance, who had never before seen her with her hair uncombed. Without a word, he took her into his arms, kicked the door closed, covered her dirty, tearstained face with kisses, and made love to her right there on the floor. Helene is a very intelligent person but she could not understand why she had never met this ardent lover before. When she asked him, he said simply, 'I was always afraid of smearing your lipstick.' She tells me that now when she begins to relapse into her former perfectionism, she remembers the look of love in her fiance's eyes when he opened the door. She had been looked at by men all of her life but she had never seen that expression in a man's eyes before. At the heart of any real intimacy is a certain vulnerability. It is hard to trust someone with your vulnerability unless you can see in them a matching vulnerability and know that you will not be judged. In some basic way it is our imperfections and even our pain that draws others close to us.
Rachel Naomi Remen (Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal)
God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create-and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations. Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. Modern Jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument. It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls. Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down. And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Information or allegations reflecting negatively on individuals or groups seen less sympathetically by the intelligentsia pass rapidly into the public domain with little scrutiny and much publicity. Two of the biggest proven hoaxes of our time have involved allegations of white men gang-raping a black woman-- first the Tawana Brawley hoax of 1987 and later the false rape charges against three Duke University students in 2006. In both cases, editorial indignation rang out across the land, without a speck of evidence to substantiate either of these charges. Moreover, the denunciations were not limited to the particular men accused, but were often extended to society at large, of whom these men were deemed to be symptoms or 'the tip of the iceberg.' In both cases, the charges fit a pre-existing vision, and that apparently made mundane facts unnecessary. Another widely publicized hoax-- one to which the President of the United States added his sub-hoax-- was a 1996 story appearing in USA Today under the headline, 'Arson at Black Churches Echoes Bigotry of the Past.' There was, according to USA Today, 'an epidemic of church burning,' targeting black churches. Like the gang-rape hoaxes, this story spread rapidly through the media. The Chicago Tribune referred to 'an epidemic of criminal and cowardly arson' leaving black churches in ruins. As with the gang-rape hoaxes, comments on the church fire stories went beyond those who were supposed to have set these fires to blame forces at work in society at large. Jesse Jackson was quoted was quoted in the New York Times as calling these arsons part of a 'cultural conspiracy' against blacks, which 'reflected the heightened racial tensions in the south that have been exacerbated by the assault on affirmative action and the populist oratory of Republican politicians like Pat Buchanan.' Time magazine writer Jack White likewise blamed 'the coded phrases' of Republican leaders for 'encouraging the arsonists.' Columnist Barbara Reynolds of USA Today said that the fires were 'an attempt to murder the spirit of black America.' New York Times columnist Bob Herbert said, "The fuel for these fires can be traced to a carefully crafted environment of bigotry and hatred that was developed over the last century.' As with the gang-rape hoaxes, the charges publicized were taken as reflecting on the whole society, not just those supposedly involved in what was widely presumed to be arson, rather than fires that break out for a variety of other reasons. Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam said that society in effect was 'giving these arsonists permission to commit these horrible crimes.' The climax of these comments came when President Bill Clinton, in his weekly radio address, said that these church burnings recalled similar burnings of black churches in Arkansas when he was a boy. There were more that 2,000 media stories done on the subject after the President's address. This story began to unravel when factual research showed that (1) no black churches were burned in Arkansas when Bill Clinton was growing up, (2) there had been no increase in fires at black churches, but an actual decrease over the previous 15 years, (3) the incidence of fires at white churches was similar to the incidence of fires at black churches, and (4) where there was arson, one-third of the suspects were black. However, retractions of the original story-- where there were retractions at all-- typically were given far less prominence than the original banner headlines and heated editorial comments.
Thomas Sowell (Intellectuals and Society)
The Meaning of Birds Of the genesis of birds we know nothing, save the legend they are descended from reptiles: flying, snap-jawed lizards that have somehow taken to air. Better the story that they were crab-apple blossoms or such, blown along by the wind; time after time finding themselves tossed from perhaps a seaside tree, floated or lifted over the thin blue lazarine waves until something in the snatch of color began to flutter and rise. But what does it matter anyway how they got up high in the trees or over the rusty shoulders of some mountain? There they are, little figments, animated---soaring. And if occasionally a tern washes up greased and stiff, and sometimes a cardinal or a mockingbird slams against the windshield and your soul goes oh God and shivers at the quick and unexpected end to beauty, it is not news that we live in a world where beauty is unexplainable and suddenly ruined and has its own routines. We are often far from home in a dark town, and our griefs are difficult to translate into a language understood by others. We sense the downswing of time and learn, having come of age, that the reluctant concessions made in youth are not sufficient to heat the cold drawn breath of age. Perhaps temperance was not enough, foresight or even wisdom fallacious, not only in conception but in the thin acts themselves. So our lives are difficult, and perhaps unpardonable, and the fey gauds of youth have, as the old men told us they would, faded. But still, it is morning again, this day. In the flowering trees the birds take up their indifferent, elegant cries. Look around. Perhaps it isn't too late to make a fool of yourself again. Perhaps it isn't too late to flap your arms and cry out, to give one more cracked rendition of your singular, aspirant song.
Charlie Smith (Indistinguishable from the Darkness)
September 1995: Mark and I had our well documented book entitled TRANCE Formation of America published, complete with irrefutable graphic details which are in themselves evidence to present to Congress, all factions of law enforcement including the FBI, CIA, DIA, DEA, TBI, NSA, etc., all major news media groups, national and international human rights advocates, both American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations, the National Institute of Mental Health, and more… to no avail. TRANCE thoroughly exposes many of the perpe-TRAITORS and their agenda replete with names, which raises the question “why haven't we been sued?” The obvious answer is that the same “National Security Act” that continues to block our access to all avenues of justice and public exposure also prevents these criminals from inevitably bringing mind control to light through court procedures, an opportunity we would welcome. Meanwhile, as reported by both APAs, survivors of U.S. Government sponsored mind control began to surface all across our nation. The first to encounter the vast number of survivors were law enforcement and mental health professionals, and these professionals began to ask questions. in other countries, answers are being provided through somewhat less controlled media, reflecting the CIA's involvement in Project MK Ultra human rights atrocities. A television documentary entitled The Sleep Room aired across Canada by the Canadian Broadcast Corp. in the spring of 1998. Dr. Martin Orne, an associate boasted by Dr. William Mitchell M.D., Ph.D. who thrust Kelly into Vanderbilt's cover-up attempt (re: p.14), is named as an accomplice to Dr. Ewing Cameron's MK Ultra 'experiments' in Montreal, Quebec. Additionally, it should be known that Dr. Cameron went on to found the American Psychiatric Association, which has helped to maintain America's mental health profession in the dark ages of information control.
Cathy O'Brien (TRANCE Formation of America: True life story of a mind control slave)
On the third day, I asked if she would like to climb Ben Loyal with me--with anyone else who fancied coming along. None of the guys wanted to join me and I ended up with a group of four girls, including Shara. We spent two hours crossing the marshy moon grass to reach the foot of the mountain before starting up the steep slope toward the summit ridge. It was fairly sheer, but essentially we were still going the “easy” way. Within two hundred feet, half of the girls were looking pretty beat. I figured that having slogged across the marsh for so long, we should definitely do some of the climb. After all, that was the fun bit. They all agreed and we continued up steadily. Before the slope eases at the top, though, there is a section where the heather becomes quite exposed. It is only a short, few hundred feet, and I wrongly figured the girls would enjoy a safe, steep scramble that didn’t require any ropes. Plus the views were amazing out to sea. But things didn’t quite go to plan. The first panicked whimper seemed to set off a cacophony of cheeps, as, one by one, the girls began to voice their fears. It is funny how quickly everyone can go from being totally fine to totally not-fine, very fast, once one person starts to panic. Then the tears started. Nightmare. I ended up literally having to shadow the three girls who were worst struck by this fear, one by one down the slope. I had to stand behind them, hands on top of their hands, and help them move one step at a time, planting their feet exactly where I did, to shield them from the drop. The point of this story is that the only girl who was supercool through the whole mission was Shara, who steadily plodded up, and then just as steadily plodded down beside me, as I tried to help the others. Now I was really smitten. A cool head under pressure is truly irresistible to me, and if I hadn’t been totally besotted before, then our mountain experience together tipped the balance. I had a sneaking feeling that I had met the girl of my dreams.
Bear Grylls (Mud, Sweat and Tears)
Ywa was neither man nor woman, and was not in a human form. Ywa was the creator of the world and a force for good. To balance Ywa there was also a force for evil, called Mu Kaw Lee. Ywa created three sons in human form. The eldest was a Karen, the second a Burman, and the youngest was a white man. To the Karen son Ywa gave a golden book, to the Burman a silver book, and to the white man Ywa gave a book bound in normal paper. When the rains began and the Karen son went to plant his rice field, he placed the golden book nearby, on a tree stump. But his youngest brother, the white man, had grown jealous and coveted his beautiful golden book. When the Karen man wasn’t looking the white man came along and took it, replacing it with his own. Then the white man built a boat and escaped to a far-off country. He carried his prize with him–the golden book that contained the teachings Ywa had given to his eldest son. After a long day working under the heavy rain, the Karen man went to fetch his golden book. The book that the white man had left in its place had fallen apart in the rain, and there was nothing left. A chicken had been scratching around the stump searching for food, and all the Karen man found was chicken scratch marks. He concluded that the golden book had been replaced by the scratch marks, and that those must embody the message that Ywa had left him. And so the Karen man taught himself to read and write in chicken scratch. Over time, he learned the truth about the golden book being stolen, but by then it was too late–chicken scratch had become the official language of the Karen. The Karen man wrote down the story of how the golden book was stolen, and the word of Ywa lost, in a new book. He called this book Li Hsaw Weh–‘the book of chicken scratch teachings’. Centuries later the first white missionaries came to Burma. Many Karen believed that this was the younger brother returning, bringing the golden book in the form of the Bible, and so they welcomed them. Many Karen believe this story absolutely, and that one day the younger brother–a white man–will come again to help save our people.
Zoya Phan (Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West)
When I returned from the restroom and Jase saw how much I was bleeding, he began to grill the doctor with every question imaginable. She remained completely stoic, no matter what he said. Every time he asked her a question, she provided the same measured response: “I will not know until I begin to operate.” She began trying to offer various common medical possibilities for this incident, such as a ruptured cyst and other diagnoses. Jase shot down every explanation with the power and speed he would use to blast a duck out of the sky with a shotgun. He was never disrespectful toward her, but he was intense. Due to the pain I was experiencing, I did not realize exactly what was going on, but I did know I was lying on the bed while the doctor and my husband were in a Western movie standoff on either side of me. These two strong personalities were about to collide, and I was in the direct line of fire! At one point, the telephone in my pre-op room rang. Without saying a word, the doctor picked up the phone, stretched it across my bed, and handed it to Jase, never taking her eyes off his. To say that one could cut the tension in the room with a knife is a complete understatement. I was not happy about Jase’s confrontational manner, but at the same time, I was grateful that he was asking the questions I never thought to ask and telling the doctor exactly how he wanted her to treat me. “Like your own daughter,” he said. Jase clearly communicated that he wanted the doctor to rectify the situation. He went on to tell her, “You better not start taking out a bunch of things that need to be left inside of her. I understand that you have to operate, but do not remove anything that does not have to come out.” She confirmed her understanding of his expectations and left the room. “Jason,” I said, using his full name, “she is my boss.” I hated the thought that he might say something to offend her, something that might make my working for her difficult or awkward in the future. “I don’t care,” Jase said, “my main concern is you. I am about to send you back into that operating room with her, and I want to make sure she knows my expectations are high.
Missy Robertson (Blessed, Blessed ... Blessed: The Untold Story of Our Family's Fight to Love Hard, Stay Strong, and Keep the Faith When Life Can't Be Fixed)
When inanimate things ceased to commune with me like natural men, other dreams came to live with me. Animals took on lives and characteristics which nobody knew anything about except myself. Little things that people did or said grew into fantastic stories. There was a man who turned into an alligator for my amusement. All he did was live in a one-room house by himself down near Lake Belle. I did the rest myself. He came into the village one evening near dusk and stopped at the store. Somebody teased him about living out there by himself, and said that if he did not hurry up and get married, he was liable to go wild. I saw him tending his little garden all day, and otherwise just being a natural man. But I made an image of him for after dark that was different. In my imagination, his work-a-day hands and feet became the reptilian claws of an alligator. A tough, knotty hide crept over him, and his mouth became a huge snout with prong-toothed, powerful jaws. In the dark of the night, when the alligators began their nightly mysteries behind the cloaking curtain of cypress trees that all but hid Lake Belle, I could see him crawling from his door, turning his ugly head from left to right to see who was looking, then gliding down into the dark waters to become a ’gator among ’gators. He would mingle his bellow with other bull ’gator bellows and be strong and terrible. He was the king of ’gators and the others minded him. When I heard the thunder of bull ’gator voices from the lake on dark nights, I used to whisper to myself, “That’s Mr. Pendir! Just listen at him!” I kept adding detail. For instance, late one afternoon, my mother had taken me for a walk down around Lake Belle. On our way home, the sun had set. It was good and dark when we came to the turning-off place that would take us straight home. At that spot, the trees stood apart, and the surface of the lake was plain. I saw the early moon laying a shiny track across the water. After that, I could picture the full moon laying a flaming red sword of light across the water. It was a road of yellow-red light made for Mr. Pendir to tread. I could see him crossing the lake down this flaming road wrapped in his awful majesty, with thousands on thousands of his subject-’gators moving silently along beside him and behind him in an awesome and mighty convoy.
Zora Neale Hurston (Dust Tracks on a Road)
Sitting with some of the other members of the Scholastic Decathlon team, quiet, studious Martha Cox heard snatches of the lunchtime poetry. Her ears instantly pricked up. "What's going on?" she asked, her eyes bright. Betty Hong closed her book and leaned close. "Taylor McKessie told me all about it," she whispered. Betty told Martha about next week's poetry-reading assembly and how Taylor was trying to help half the starting basketball team locate their muse. "That's totally fresh!" Martha cried. "Too bad I'm not in Ms Barrington's English class." Betty made a face. "You like poetry stuff? I thought you were into maths and science." "I like it all," Martha replied. "I love astronomy and hip-hop-" Betty rolled her eyes. "Not hip-hop again." "Word, girl," Martha replied. "You know I've been bustin' out kickin' rhymes for years. It helps me remember lessons, like last night's astronomy lecture." "No," Betty said. "You didn't make up a rap to that." "Just watch," Martha cried. Leaping out of her chair, she began to chant, freestyle: "At the centre of our system is the molten sun, A star that burns hot, Fahrenheit two billion and one. But the sun, he ain't alone in the heavenly sphere, He's got nine homeys in orbit, some far, some near. Old Mercury's crowding in 'bout as close as he can, Yo, Merc's a tiny planet who loves a tan.... Some kids around Martha heard her rap. They really got into it, jumping up from their tables to clap and dance. The beat was contagious. Martha started bustin' some moves herself. She kept the rap flowing, and more kids joined the party.... "Venus is next. She's a real hot planet, Shrouded by clouds, hot enough to melt granite. Earth is the third planet from the sun, Just enough light and heat to make living fun. Then comes Mars, a planet funky and red. Covered with sand, the place is pretty dead. Jupiter's huge! The largest planet of all! Saturn's big, too, but Uranus is small. So far away, the place is almost forgotten, Neptune's view of Earth is pretty rotten. And last but not least, Pluto's in a fog, Far away and named after Mickey's home dog. Yo, that's all the planets orbiting our sun, But the Milky Way galaxy is far from done!" When Martha finished her freestyle, hip-hop flow, the entire cafeteria burst into wild applause. Troy, Chad, Zeke, and Jason had been clapping and dancing, too. Now they joined in the whooping and hollering. "Whoa," said Chad. "Martha's awesome.
Alice Alfonsi (Poetry in Motion (High School Musical: Stories from East High, #3))
Then he took my arm, in a much softer grip than the one he’d used on our first date when he’d kept me from biting the dust. “No, c’mon,” he said, pulling me closer to him and securing his arms around my waist. I died a thousand deaths as he whispered softly, “What’s wrong?” What could I possibly say? Oh, nothing, it’s just that I’ve been slowly breaking up with my boyfriend from California and I uninvited him to my brother’s wedding last week and I thought everything was fine and then he called last night after I got home from cooking you that Linguine and Clam Sauce you loved so much and he said he was flying here today and I told him not to because there really wasn’t anything else we could possibly talk about and I thought he understood and while I was driving out here just now he called me and it just so happens he’s at the airport right now but I decided not to go because I didn’t want to have a big emotional drama (you mean like the one you’re playing out in Marlboro Man’s kitchen right now?) and I’m finding myself vacillating between sadness over the end of our four-year relationship, regret over not going to see him in person, and confusion over how to feel about my upcoming move to Chicago. And where that will leave you and me, you big hunk of burning love. “I ran over my dog today!” I blubbered and collapsed into another heap of impossible-to-corral tears. Marlboro Man was embracing me tightly now, knowing full well that his arms were the only offering he had for me at that moment. My face was buried in his neck and I continued to laugh, belting out an occasional “I’m sorry” between my sobs, hoping in vain that the laughter would eventually prevail. I wanted to continue, to tell him about J, to give him the complete story behind my unexpected outburst. But “I ran over my dog” was all I could muster. It was the easiest thing to explain. Marlboro Man could understand that, wrap his brain around it. But the uninvited surfer newly-ex-boyfriend dangling at the airport? It was a little more information than I had the strength to share that night. He continued holding me in his kitchen until my chest stopped heaving and the wellspring of snot began to dry. I opened my eyes and found I was in a different country altogether, The Land of His Embrace. It was a peaceful, restful, safe place. Marlboro Man gave me one last comforting hug before our bodies finally separated, and he casually leaned against the counter. “Hey, if it makes you feel any better,” he said, “I’ve run over so many damn dogs out here, I can’t even begin to count them.” It was a much-needed--if unlikely--moment of perspective for me.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
During this time my father was in a labor camp, for the crime of wanting to leave the country, and my mother struggled to care for us, alone and with few provisions. One day she went out to the back patio to do the wash and saw a cute little frog sitting by the door to the kitchen. My mother has always liked frogs, and this frog by the kitchen door gave her an idea. She began to spin wonderful stories about a crazy, adventurous frog named Antonica who would overcome great odds with her daring and creativity. Antonica helped us dream of freedom and possibilities. These exciting tales were reserved for mealtime. We ate until our bowls were empty, distracted from the bland food by the flavor of Antonica’s world. Mamina knew her children were well nourished, comforted, and prepared for the challenges and adventures to come. In 2007, I was preparing to host a TV show on a local station and was struggling with self-doubt. With encouragement and coaching from a friend, I finally realized that I had been preparing for this opportunity most of my life. All I needed was confidence in myself, the kind of confidence Antonica had taught me about, way back in Cuba. Through this process of self-discovery, the idea came to me to start cooking with my mother. We all loved my Mamina’s cooking, but I had never been interested in learning to cook like her. I began to write down her recipes and take pictures of her delicious food. I also started to write down the stories I had heard from my parents, of our lives in Cuba and coming to the United States. At some point I realized I had ninety recipes. This is a significant number to Cuban exiles, as there are ninety miles between Cuba and Key West, Florida. A relatively short distance, but oh, so far! My effort to grow closer to my mother through cooking became another dream waiting to be fulfilled, through a book called 90 Miles 90 Recipes: My Journey to Understanding. My mother now seemed as significant as our journey to the United States. While learning how she orchestrated these flavors, I began to understand my mother as a woman with many gifts. Through cooking together, my appreciation for her has grown. I’ve come to realize why feeding everyone was so important to her. Nourishing the body is part of nurturing the soul. My mother is doing very poorly now. Most of my time in the last few months has been dedicated to caring for her. Though our book has not yet been published, it has already proven valuable. It has taught me about dreams from a different perspective—helping me recognize that the lives my sisters and I enjoy are the realization of my parents’ dream of freedom and opportunity for them, and especially for us.
Whitney Johnson (Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream)
refuge imagine how it feels to be chased out of home. to have your grip ripped. loosened from your fingertips, something you so dearly held on to. like a lover’s hand that slips when pulled away you are always reaching. my father would speak of home. reaching. speaking of familiar faces. girl next door who would eventually grow up to be my mother. the fruit seller at the market. the lonely man at the top of the road who nobody spoke to. and our house at the bottom of the street lit up by a single flickering lamp where beyond was only darkness. there they would sit and tell stories of monsters that lurked and came only at night to catch the children who sat and listened to stories of monsters that lurked. this is how they lived. each memory buried. an artefact left to be discovered by archaeologists. the last words on a dying family member’s lips. this was sacred. not even monsters could taint it. but there were monsters that came during the day. monsters that tore families apart with their giant hands. and fingers that slept on triggers. the sound of gunshots ripping through the sky became familiar like the tapping of rain fall on a window sill. monsters that would kill and hide behind speeches, suits and ties. monsters that would chase families away forcing them to leave everything behind. i remember when we first stepped off the plane. everything was foreign. unfamiliar. uninviting. even the air in my lungs left me short of breath. we came here to find refuge. they called us refugees so, we hid ourselves in their language until we sounded just like them. changed the way we dressed to look just like them. made this our home until we lived just like them and began to speak of familiar faces. girl next door who would grow up to be a mother. the fruit seller at the market. the lonely man at the top of the road who nobody spoke to. and our house at the bottom of the street lit up by a flickering lamp to keep away the darkness. there we would sit and watch police that lurked and came only at night to arrest the youths who sat and watched police that lurked and came only at night. this is how we lived. i remember one day i heard them say to me they come here to take our jobs they need to go back to where they came from not knowing that i was one of the ones who came. i told them that a refugee is simply someone who is trying to make a home. so next time when you go home tuck your children in and kiss your families goodnight, be glad that the monsters never came for you. in their suits and ties. never came for you. in the newspapers with the media lies. never came for you. that you are not despised. and know that deep inside the hearts of each and every one of us we are all always reaching for a place that we can call home.
J.J. Bola (REFUGE: The Collected Poetry of JJ Bola)
Of course, no china--however intricate and inviting--was as seductive as my fiancé, my future husband, who continued to eat me alive with one glance from his icy-blue eyes. Who greeted me not at the door of his house when I arrived almost every night of the week, but at my car. Who welcomed me not with a pat on the arm or even a hug but with an all-enveloping, all-encompassing embrace. Whose good-night kisses began the moment I arrived, not hours later when it was time to go home. We were already playing house, what with my almost daily trips to the ranch and our five o’clock suppers and our lazy movie nights on his thirty-year-old leather couch, the same one his parents had bought when they were a newly married couple. We’d already watched enough movies together to last a lifetime. Giant with James Dean, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Reservoir Dogs, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, All Quiet on the Western Front, and, more than a handful of times, Gone With the Wind. I was continually surprised by the assortment of movies Marlboro Man loved to watch--his taste was surprisingly eclectic--and I loved discovering more and more about him through the VHS collection in his living room. He actually owned The Philadelphia Story. With Marlboro Man, surprises lurked around every corner. We were already a married couple--well, except for the whole “sleepover thing” and the fact that we hadn’t actually gotten hitched yet. We stayed in, like any married couple over the age of sixty, and continued to get to know everything about each other completely outside the realm of parties, dates, and gatherings. All of that was way too far away, anyway--a minimum hour-and-a-half drive to the nearest big city--and besides that, Marlboro Man was a fish out of water in a busy, crowded bar. As for me, I’d been there, done that--a thousand and one times. Going out and panting the town red was unnecessary and completely out of context for the kind of life we’d be building together. This was what we brought each other, I realized. He showed me a slower pace, and permission to be comfortable in the absence of exciting plans on the horizon. I gave him, I realized, something different. Different from the girls he’d dated before--girls who actually knew a thing or two about country life. Different from his mom, who’d also grown up on a ranch. Different from all of his female cousins, who knew how to saddle and ride and who were born with their boots on. As the youngest son in a family of three boys, maybe he looked forward to experiencing life with someone who’d see the country with fresh eyes. Someone who’d appreciate how miraculously countercultural, how strange and set apart it all really is. Someone who couldn’t ride to save her life. Who didn’t know north from south, or east from west. If that defined his criteria for a life partner, I was definitely the woman for the job.
Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels)
WILL WORK FOR FOOD © 2013 Lyrics & Music by Michele Jennae There he was with a cardboard sign, Will Work For Food Saw him on the roadside, As I took my kids to school I really didn’t have time to stop, Already running late Found myself pulling over, Into the hands of fate The look in his eyes was empty, But he held out his hand I knew my kids were watching, As I gave him all I had My heart in my throat I had to ask, “What brought you here?” He looked up and straight into my eyes, I wanted to disappear. CHORUS He said… Do you think I really saw myself, Standing in this light Forgotten by society, After fighting for your rights WILL WORK FOR FOOD, WILL DIE FOR YOU I AM JUST A FORGOTTEN SOLDIER, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO v. 2 He put the money in his pocket, Then he took me by the hand Thank you dear for stopping by, I am sure that you have plans He nodded toward my children, Watching from afar It’s time they were off to school, You should get in the car My eyes welled up and tears fell down, I couldn’t say a word Here this man with nothing to his name, Showing me his concern I knew then that the lesson, That today must be taught Wouldn’t come from textbooks, And it could not be bought CHORUS He said… Do you think I really saw myself, Standing in this light Forgotten by society, After fighting for your rights WILL WORK FOR FOOD, WILL DIE FOR YOU I AM JUST A FORGOTTEN SOLDIER, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO v. 3 I told him then that I had a job, That I could give him work And in return he’d have a meal, And something to quench his thirst He looked at me and shrugged a bit, And followed me to the car We went right over to a little café, Just up the road not too far After I ordered our food he looked at me, And asked about the kids “Shouldn’t these tykes be in school, And about that job you said.” “Your job,” I said, “is to school my girls, In the ways of the world Explain to them your service, And how your life unfurled.” He said… Do you think I really saw myself, Standing in this light Forgotten by society, After fighting for your rights WILL WORK FOR FOOD, WILL DIE FOR YOU I AM JUST A FORGOTTEN SOLDIER, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO v. 4He wasn’t sure quite what to do, As he ate his food And began to tell us all about his life… the bad… the good. He wiped his own tears from his eyes, His story all but done My girls and I all choked up, Hugged him one by one Understanding his sacrifice, But not his current plight We resolved then and there that day, That for him, we would fight. We offered him our friendship, And anything else we had He wasn’t sure how to accept it, But we made him understand LAST CHORUS That we had not really seen before, Him standing in the light No longer forgotten by us, We are now fighting for his rights He had… WORKED FOR FOOD HE HAD ALL BUT DIED FOR ME AND YOU NOT FORGOTTEN ANYMORE BUT STILL A SOLDIER IN TRUST
Michele Jennae
About 4.6 billion years ago, a great swirl of gas and dust some 24 billion kilometres across accumulated in space where we are now and began to aggregate. Virtually all of it – 99.9 per cent of the mass of the solar system21 – went to make the Sun. Out of the floating material that was left over, two microscopic grains floated close enough together to be joined by electrostatic forces. This was the moment of conception for our planet. All over the inchoate solar system, the same was happening. Colliding dust grains formed larger and larger clumps. Eventually the clumps grew large enough to be called planetesimals. As these endlessly bumped and collided, they fractured or split or recombined in endless random permutations, but in every encounter there was a winner, and some of the winners grew big enough to dominate the orbit around which they travelled. It all happened remarkably quickly. To grow from a tiny cluster of grains to a baby planet some hundreds of kilometres across is thought to have taken only a few tens of thousands of years. In just 200 million years, possibly less22, the Earth was essentially formed, though still molten and subject to constant bombardment from all the debris that remained floating about. At this point, about 4.4 billion years ago, an object the size of Mars crashed into the Earth, blowing out enough material to form a companion sphere, the Moon. Within weeks, it is thought, the flung material had reassembled itself into a single clump, and within a year it had formed into the spherical rock that companions us yet. Most of the lunar material, it is thought, came from the Earth’s crust, not its core23, which is why the Moon has so little iron while we have a lot. The theory, incidentally, is almost always presented as a recent one, but in fact it was first proposed in the 1940s by Reginald Daly of Harvard24. The only recent thing about it is people paying any attention to it. When the Earth was only about a third of its eventual size, it was probably already beginning to form an atmosphere, mostly of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, methane and sulphur. Hardly the sort of stuff that we would associate with life, and yet from this noxious stew life formed. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas. This was a good thing, because the Sun was significantly dimmer back then. Had we not had the benefit of a greenhouse effect, the Earth might well have frozen over permanently25, and life might never have got a toehold. But somehow life did. For the next 500 million years the young Earth continued to be pelted relentlessly by comets, meteorites and other galactic debris, which brought water to fill the oceans and the components necessary for the successful formation of life. It was a singularly hostile environment, and yet somehow life got going. Some tiny bag of chemicals twitched and became animate. We were on our way. Four billion years later, people began to wonder how it had all happened. And it is there that our story next takes us.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
It interests me that there is no end of fictions, and facts made over in the forms of fictions. Because we class them under so many different rubrics, and media, and means of delivery, we don't recognize the sheer proliferation and seamlessness of them. I think at some level of scale or perspective, the police drama in which a criminal is shot, the hospital in which the doctors massage a heart back to life, the news video in which jihadists behead a hostage, and the human-interest story of a child who gets his fondest wish (a tourist trip somewhere) become the same sorts of drama. They are representations of strong experience, which, as they multiply, began to dedifferentiate in our uptake of them, despite our names and categories and distinctions... I say I watch the news to "know". But I don't really know anything. Certainly I can't do anything. I know that there is a war in Iraq, but I knew that already. I know that there are fires and car accidents in my state and in my country, but that, too, I knew already. With each particular piece of footage, I know nothing more than I did before. I feel something, or I don't feel something. One way I am likely to feel is virtuous and "responsible" for knowing more of these things that I can do nothing about. Surely this feeling is wrong, even contemptible. I am not sure anymore what I feel. What is it like to watch a human being's beheading? The first showing of the video is bad. The second, fifth, tenth, hundredth are—like one's own experiences—retained, recountable, real, and yet dreamlike. Some describe the repetition as "numbing". "Numbing" is very imprecise. I think the feeling, finally, is of something like envelopment and even satisfaction at having endured the worst without quite caring or being tormented. It is the paradoxically calm satisfaction of having been enveloped in a weak or placid "real" that another person endured as the worst experience imaginable, in his personal frenzy, fear, and desperation, which we view from the outside as the simple occurrence of a death... I see: Severed heads. The Extra Value Meal. Kohl-gray eyelids. A holiday sale at Kohl's. Red seeping between the fingers of the gloved hand that presses the wound. "Doctor, can you save him?" "We'll do our best." The dining room of the newly renovated house, done in red. Often a bold color is best. The kids are grateful for their playroom. The bad guy falls down, shot. The detectives get shot. The new Lexus is now available for lease. On CNN, with a downed helicopter in the background, a peaceful field of reeds waves in the foreground. One after another the reeds are bent, broken, by boot treads advancing with the camera. The cameraman, as savior, locates the surviving American airman. He shoots him dead. It was a terrorist video. They run it again. Scenes from ads: sales, roads, ordinary calm shopping, daily life. Tarpaulined bodies in the street. The blue of the sky advertises the new car's color. Whatever you could suffer will have been recorded in the suffering of someone else. Red Lobster holds a shrimp festival. Clorox gets out blood. Advil stops pain fast. Some of us are going to need something stronger.
Mark Greif (Against Everything: Essays)
We need to be humble enough to recognize that unforeseen things can and do happen that are nobody’s fault. A good example of this occurred during the making of Toy Story 2. Earlier, when I described the evolution of that movie, I explained that our decision to overhaul the film so late in the game led to a meltdown of our workforce. This meltdown was the big unexpected event, and our response to it became part of our mythology. But about ten months before the reboot was ordered, in the winter of 1998, we’d been hit with a series of three smaller, random events—the first of which would threaten the future of Pixar. To understand this first event, you need to know that we rely on Unix and Linux machines to store the thousands of computer files that comprise all the shots of any given film. And on those machines, there is a command—/bin/rm -r -f *—that removes everything on the file system as fast as it can. Hearing that, you can probably anticipate what’s coming: Somehow, by accident, someone used this command on the drives where the Toy Story 2 files were kept. Not just some of the files, either. All of the data that made up the pictures, from objects to backgrounds, from lighting to shading, was dumped out of the system. First, Woody’s hat disappeared. Then his boots. Then he disappeared entirely. One by one, the other characters began to vanish, too: Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, Rex. Whole sequences—poof!—were deleted from the drive. Oren Jacobs, one of the lead technical directors on the movie, remembers watching this occur in real time. At first, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Then, he was frantically dialing the phone to reach systems. “Pull out the plug on the Toy Story 2 master machine!” he screamed. When the guy on the other end asked, sensibly, why, Oren screamed louder: “Please, God, just pull it out as fast as you can!” The systems guy moved quickly, but still, two years of work—90 percent of the film—had been erased in a matter of seconds. An hour later, Oren and his boss, Galyn Susman, were in my office, trying to figure out what we would do next. “Don’t worry,” we all reassured each other. “We’ll restore the data from the backup system tonight. We’ll only lose half a day of work.” But then came random event number two: The backup system, we discovered, hadn’t been working correctly. The mechanism we had in place specifically to help us recover from data failures had itself failed. Toy Story 2 was gone and, at this point, the urge to panic was quite real. To reassemble the film would have taken thirty people a solid year. I remember the meeting when, as this devastating reality began to sink in, the company’s leaders gathered in a conference room to discuss our options—of which there seemed to be none. Then, about an hour into our discussion, Galyn Susman, the movie’s supervising technical director, remembered something: “Wait,” she said. “I might have a backup on my home computer.” About six months before, Galyn had had her second baby, which required that she spend more of her time working from home. To make that process more convenient, she’d set up a system that copied the entire film database to her home computer, automatically, once a week. This—our third random event—would be our salvation. Within a minute of her epiphany, Galyn and Oren were in her Volvo, speeding to her home in San Anselmo. They got her computer, wrapped it in blankets, and placed it carefully in the backseat. Then they drove in the slow lane all the way back to the office, where the machine was, as Oren describes it, “carried into Pixar like an Egyptian pharaoh.” Thanks to Galyn’s files, Woody was back—along with the rest of the movie.
Ed Catmull (Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration)
I’ll tell you what’s true,’ said Weston presently. ‘What?’ ‘A little child that creeps upstairs when nobody’s looking and very slowly turns the handle to take one peep into the room where its grandmother’s dead body is laid out–and then runs away and has bad dreams. An enormous grandmother, you understand.’ ‘What do you mean by saying that’s truer?’ ‘I mean that child knows something about the universe which all science and all religion is trying to hide.’ Ransom said nothing. ‘Lots of things,’ said Weston presently. ‘Children are afraid to go through a churchyard at night, and the grown-ups tell them not to be silly: but the children know better than the grown-ups. People in Central Africa doing beastly things with masks on in the middle of the night–and missionaries and civil servants say it’s all superstition. Well, the blacks know more about the universe than the white people. Dirty priests in back streets in Dublin frightening half-witted children to death with stories about it. You’d say they are unenlightened. They’re not: except that they think there is a way of escape. There isn’t. That is the real universe, always has been, always will be. That’s what it all means.’ ‘I’m not quite clear–’ began Ransom, when Weston interrupted him. ‘That’s why it’s so important to live as long as you can. All the good things are now–a thin little rind of what we call life, put on for show, and then–the real universe for ever and ever. To thicken the rind by one centimetre–to live one week, one day, one half hour longer–that’s the only thing that matters. Of course you don’t know it: but every man who is waiting to be hanged knows it. You say “What difference does a short reprieve make?” What difference!!’ ‘But nobody need go there,’ said Ransom. ‘I know that’s what you believe,’ said Weston. ‘But you’re wrong. It’s only a small parcel of civilised people who think that. Humanity as a whole knows better. It knows–Homer knew–that all the dead have sunk down into the inner darkness: under the rind. All witless, all twittering, gibbering, decaying. Bogeymen. Every savage knows that all ghosts hate the living who are still enjoying the rind: just as old women hate girls who still have their good looks. It’s quite right to be afraid of the ghosts. You’re going to be one all the same.’ ‘You don’t believe in God,’ said Ransom. ‘Well, now, that’s another point,’ said Weston. ‘I’ve been to church as well as you when I was a boy. There’s more sense in parts of the Bible than you religious people know. Doesn’t it say He’s the God of the living, not of the dead? That’s just it. Perhaps your God does exist–but it makes no difference whether He does or not. No, of course you wouldn’t see it; but one day you will. I don’t think you’ve got the idea of the rind–the thin outer skin which we call life–really clear. Picture the universe as an infinite glove with this very thin crust on the outside. But remember its thickness is a thickness of time. It’s about seventy years thick in the best places. We are born on the surface of it and all our lives we are sinking through it. When we’ve got all the way through then we are what’s called Dead: we’ve got into the dark part inside, the real globe. If your God exists, He’s not in the globe–He’s outside, like a moon. As we pass into the interior we pass out of His ken. He doesn’t follow us in. You would express it by saying He’s not in time–which you think comforting! In other words He stays put: out in the light and air, outside. But we are in time. We “move with the times”. That is, from His point of view, we move away, into what He regards as nonentity, where He never follows. That is all there is to us, all there ever was. He may be there in what you call “Life”, or He may not. What difference does it make? We’re not going to be there for long!
C.S. Lewis (The Space Trilogy)
It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.
C.S. Lewis (The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles Of Narnia #1 ))
What Wolf began to realize was that the secret of Roseto wasn’t diet or exercise or genes or location. It had to be Roseto itself. As Bruhn and Wolf walked around the town, they figured out why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited one another, stopping to chat in Italian on the street, say, or cooking for one another in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and saw the unifying and calming effect of the church. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town of just under two thousand people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the community, which discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.
Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers: The Story of Success)
and even if I remembered them, whom could they interest?’ ‘Then how’s it to be?’ began the master of the house. ‘There was nothing much of interest about my first love either; I never fell in love with any one till I met Anna Nikolaevna, now my wife, – and everything went as smoothly as possible with us; our parents arranged the match, we were very soon in love with each other, and got married without loss of time. My story can be told in a couple of words. I must confess, gentlemen, in bringing up the subject of first love, I reckoned upon you, I won’t say old, but no longer young, bachelors. Can’t you enliven us with something, Vladimir Petrovitch?’ ‘My first love, certainly, was not quite an ordinary one,’ responded, with some reluctance, Vladimir Petrovitch, a man of forty, with black hair turning grey. ‘Ah!’ said
Ivan Turgenev (First Love)
Sin is the mutation that has twisted and distorted man from his original beauty. Sin is what has broken the world. And a broken world produces broken people and crippled circumstances. Because of sin—man’s sin, our sin—the world is no longer the way it is supposed to be.
Gregory Koukl (The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between)
In proficient English, Samira explained that her current job for the United Nations was to represent women who had been raped by Taliban militia. The leaders of the militia wanted to kill Samira because of her faith in Christ and because of her attempts to hold them accountable in a United Nations court of law. She had personally led more than thirty women to Christ, baptized them, and was now discipling them. She had done all of this in an environment nearly devoid of male believers who might be able to lend her protection. I listened in amazement as she shared the story of her own spiritual pilgrimage. The Lord was obviously using her in a powerful way. By the time she and I met, Samira’s superiors were already seeking to extradite Samira to the United States—for her own protection. I begged her to stay among her own people because I couldn’t see how God could replace this young woman of faith in such a dark and difficult place. However, the slow-grinding, irreversible gears of international diplomacy had already been set in motion. Samira was whisked out of Central Asia and flown immediately to the American Midwest where she began to make a new life. When I arrived home from my trip, I told Ruth all about this remarkable young woman. We arranged to fly her from her new home to Kentucky for a visit. She spent a week in our home. We took Samira to a moderate-sized church in central Kentucky for Sunday morning worship. It just so happened that there was a baptism service scheduled for that morning; an entire family—mother, father, and two children—were to be baptized. As their baptism progressed—with this young lady believer from a Muslim background sitting in the pew between Ruth and me—I noticed Samira beginning to fidget, twisting, turning, and rocking backward and forward. It was as if she was having an anxiety attack. In a quiet whisper, I asked her if there was something wrong. Samira tugged on the sleeve of my jacket. She whispered forcefully in my ear: “I cannot believe this! I cannot believe that I have lived long enough to see people being baptized in public. An entire family together! No one is shooting at them, no one is threatening them, no one will go to prison, no one will be tortured, and no one will be killed. And they are being openly and freely baptized as a family! I never dreamed that God could do such things! I never believed that I would live to see a miracle like this.
Nik Ripken (The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected)
Has there been a single moment in any of our lives when we have loved God with the intensity he deserves or loved our enemies as we have loved ourselves? There has not been for me. When measured by the true standard, are we not all found wanting? Are we not all grievous criminals before God every waking moment of our lives?
Gregory Koukl (The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between)
Our entire race was poisoned by our first parents. And so we all are born to corruption, a flaw passed like a vile gene from soul to soul, parent to child, generation to generation.
Gregory Koukl (The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between)
So what was the divine purpose hidden within that long story of Israel under Mosaic law? In Romans 7 Paul comes up with a striking answer, which leads directly to his fullest and clearest statement of the means by which the goal was attained. The law was given, he argues boldly, in order to draw “Sin” on to one point, so that it could be condemned there once and for all. The story of “Israel under the Torah” was designed, he says, in order to accumulate sin, to heap it up into one place—and simultaneously to lead to Israel’s representative, the Messiah. The double narrative we see in “twin” passages like Psalms 105 and 106—the resonant and hopeful story of election, rescue, and promise and the dark and sorry story of rebellion, failure, and exile—would run together at last, as the Messiah, the focal point of hope and promise, met the Sin that the law had heaped up. His death would then be the means by which “Sin,” accumulated precisely through the Torah, would finally be dealt with. If we want to understand what the early Christians meant by “he died for our sins,” this passage will offer us the fullest account.
N.T. Wright (The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus's Crucifixion)
If things go according to his Plan B, Nate will soon arrive at the place where this story found its start ‒ in the field beyond his backyard. It may have appeared instead that our beginning began in the Lansing kitchen but as he might point out, it was technically several minutes earlier ‒ when Zero's path had first intersected with Twitch’s. This chance meeting surely involved the rat scurrying vainly in an effort to flee the considerably more nimble predator; whose destiny required that he first catch and then deliver his prey ‒ sometimes twitching, sometimes not ‒ into a terrifyingly unfamiliar world. One which he'd not likely realized at the time was nonetheless infinitely preferable to his captor's probable backup plan. Thus it was a bit later before Nate’s path first converged with Twitch’s; although they weren’t yet on a first name basis. So this is yet another detail ‒ that the unfortunate rat’s scurrying prompted two such beginnings in slightly more or marginally less than five minutes in total. In truth, such recurrences aren't so terribly peculiar ‒ although it would be altogether unsurprising if one were inclined to suppose otherwise. To presume that the scurrying detailed at the outset had in fact been the very same escape attempt that directed Twitch to his imminent sanctuary beneath Ms. Lansing’s china cabinet. Although the bewildered rodent is incapable of comprehending it, Nate's decision to remain home in anticipation of fulfilling his own destiny by returning it to roam once more through the very fields wherein its fate had changed so dramatically such a short time ago portends a far more auspicious outcome to Twitch's immediate fortune than any alternative which realistically exists. Of course, you should be scrupulously aware of such details by now. What you do not yet realize (that is, unless you peeked), is that through whichever plan or by whatever happenstance Twitch's plight is resolved; this narrative will proceed forward; retreat at times, backward ‒ and go on 'till you come to the end; then stop.
Monte Souder (Rat Luck: Vol I)
If things go according to his Plan B, Nate will soon arrive at the place where this story found its start ‒ in the field beyond his backyard. It may have appeared instead that our beginning began in the Lansing kitchen but as he might point out, it was technically several minutes earlier ‒ when Zero's path had first intersected with Twitch’s. This chance meeting surely involved the rat scurrying vainly in an effort to flee the considerably more nimble predator; whose destiny required that he first catch and then deliver his prey ‒ sometimes twitching, sometimes not ‒ into a terrifyingly unfamiliar world. One which he'd not likely realized at the time was nonetheless infinitely preferable to his captor's probable backup plan. Thus it was a bit later before Nate’s path first converged with Twitch’s; although they weren’t yet on a first name basis. So this is yet another detail ‒ that the unfortunate rat’s scurrying prompted two such beginnings in slightly more or marginally less than five minutes in total. In truth, such recurrences aren't so terribly peculiar ‒ although it would be altogether unsurprising if one were inclined to suppose otherwise. To presume that the scurrying detailed at the outset had in fact been the very same escape attempt that directed Twitch to his imminent sanctuary beneath Ms. Lansing’s china cabinet. Although the bewildered rodent is incapable of comprehending it, Nate's decision to remain home in anticipation of fulfilling his own destiny by returning it to roam once more through the very fields wherein its fate had changed so dramatically such a short time ago portends a far more auspicious outcome to Twitch's immediate fortune than any alternative which realistically exists. Of course, you should be scrupulously aware of such details by now. What you do not yet realize (that is, unless you peeked), is that through whichever plan or by whatever happenstance Twitch's plight is resolved; this narrative will proceed forward; retreat at times, backward ‒ and go on 'till you come to the end; then stop. Whereupon in a star's glint it will begin again…
Monte Souder (Rat Luck: Vol I)
As we developed the ability to tell a story with a computer, we still didn’t have storytellers among us, and we were the poorer for it. So aware were Alvy and I of this limitation that we began making quiet overtures to Disney and other studios, trying to gauge their interest in investing in our tools.
Ed Catmull (Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration)
Place Message Here" I knew that somewhere Jesus wept. --Larry Brown, Dirty Work That was when our love began for me, though late, the way a flock of darkness settles over your shoulders. I remember the muted reflections that smudged the water prowling among the lingering rocks, a snail crawling out of its shell, the drizzle of light, the blackened windows. It was when that the sun peeled away the dark from the air, the surface of the water, then the soul. It was only then that I could read the shadows that followed our words. It seemed that the whole planet was taking aim at our future. I thought, then, that I could see your own soul in the constant waves tearing unconcerned at the impenetrable dunes. I wanted, then, to believe the moon is a flower, fragrant, its stem tossed across the water. It was then that I entered some other world, the way your life wakes suddenly in the middle of the night to find your own worn-out dreams lying in sheets around you, an empty bottle on the table, and yet some voice stumbling down the hallway of the wind trying the locked doors of the heart, calling out your name. It was then on that shore after I heard the news of my friend's heart tearing open like a wet paper bag. I was standing where Marconi sent his messages which seemed to fill the air, still, like swallows. There is always another life in the corner of our eyes, one that begins because our poor words have never said what we meant at the time. Today, here, ladybugs fill my porch screen trying to reach the early sun that radiates through the fine mesh. They halt there like messages never received, empty husks of some abandoned future we can never know. Why is it we love so fully what has washed up on the beaches of our hearts, those lost messages, lost friends, the daylight stars we never get to see? Bad luck never takes a vacation, my friend once wrote. It lies there among the broken shells and stones we collect, a story he would say begins with you, with me, a story that is forever lost among the backwaters of our lives, our endless fear of ourselves, and our endless need for hope, a story, perhaps an answer, a word suddenly on wing, the simple sound of a torn heart, or the unmistakable scent of the morning's fading moon. Richard Jackson, The Cortland Review. Spring 2005.
Richard Jackson
And in my secret heart of hearts, I admit there was some old mush that hadn't been scooped out of me by hardship and insanity. But there was also the story itself, the story Boris and I had written together, and in that story, our bodies and thoughts and memories had gotten themselves so tangled up that it was hard to see where one person's ended and the other's began.
Siri Hustvedt (The Summer Without Men)
FOREWORD BY HUGH HOWEY We are all storytellers. I believe it is a central piece of the human soul, our urge to share stories with others. As a self-published author, I have spoken often and exuberantly about the wonderful changes in publishing today, changes that allow anyone to become published at minimal expense. And so it felt natural to me, when authors approached me about writing fan fiction in the world of Wool, that they should not only share their stories but be able to profit from their hard work. So began a wonderful journey into the world of fan fiction. I have made some incredible friends, have read some brilliant stories, and have been honored to see a community form around the tales you’ll find here. I couldn’t believe at first that anyone would want to explore this world that I invented. Now, I can’t imagine these stories not existing. That the proceeds of this collection will go to National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, seems to me a perfect fit. Here is an organization that encourages people to get the stories inside of them out into the world. For those of you who are about to get whisked away on these adventures, I encourage you to turn your imaginations loose. What stories would you like to tell? Someone out there is waiting to hear them. -Hugh Howey
W.J. Davies (Wool Gathering)
We are now a race of cyborgs. We long ago began to spread our minds into the electronic realm, and it is no longer possible to squeeze all of ourselves back into our brains.
Ken Liu (The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories)
Ted, my husband, asked me to introduce his story because I am the one who heard it first. We had been married for two years when his “gift” was given to us. It was about 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. We were both asleep in our home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, when he sat up in bed and said, “I know how I died!” I awoke to those words, astonished as he began to tell the end of his life in a different-sounding voice and using words and a dialect I had not heard before. After a few moments of an intense outpouring of emotional facts, places, names, and events, I knew I had to write “his story” down on paper. I climbed out of bed in the dark, found a legal-size yellow pad and pencil and began writing as fast as I could. He did not slow down to help me catch up; the tale just kept flowing from his mouth. The hairs on my arms stood on end and chills continued as he told in detail events that happened over one hundred years ago. My fingers began to cramp as I kept trying to keep up with him. The descriptions were so vivid that I could visualize what he was saying like a movie playing before my eyes. Eventually we hurried to the living room after I found a small tape recorder in our dresser drawer. Ted continued to talk in this unusual voice, causing me to laugh and cry as this true-to-life saga of the 1870s began to unravel. He told me how he died at about the age of sixty. Then he went to the beginning, when Tom Summers, who was sixteen years old, left home to join the Union Army. He lied about his age and was able to join the army and fight in the Civil War. The journey takes you into the war, on into Indian Territory and westward. Every day for Tom was an adventure, and Ted will share it with you. Anyone who meets Ted is drawn to him instantly. His manner is one of confidence: of a very genuine, honest, loveable guy. He will win you over with his “Just one more story” or a big bear hug if you are not careful. We met at a teen hop in the 1950s, when I was fifteen and he was seventeen. We dated in rural America for about a year. He was then leaving the farm to go to Oklahoma State University, and he asked me to marry him. We both married other people and raised our children. Forty-one years later, we discovered each other again. This time, I said, “Yes.” Join us on our fascinating journey into the Old West as seen through Tom Summers’s “beautiful blue eyes.
Linda Riddle (A True-To-Life Western Story: No Lookin' Back)
It was about 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. We were both asleep in our home in Tonkawa, Oklahoma, when he sat up in bed and said, ‘I know how I died!’ I awoke to those words, astonished as he began to tell the end of his life in a different-sounding voice and using words and a dialect I had not heard before. After a few moments of an intense outpouring of emotional facts, places, names, and events, I knew I had to write ‘his story’ down on paper.
Linda Riddle (A True-To-Life Western Story: No Lookin' Back)
I set a line and looked back at the valley. It was like a green open hand among the hills. The cliffs stood near and far, red, gray, black. In the valley chimneys began to smoke, one of them mine. Ingi was up. A green offering hand, our valley, corn-giver, fire-giver, water-giver, keeper of men and beasts. The other hand that fed us was this blue hand of the sea, which was treacherous, which had claws to it, which took more than ever it gave. Today it was peaceable enough. Blue hand and green hand lay together, like praying, in the summer dawn.
George Mackay Brown (A Time To Keep and Other Stories)