Task At Hand Quotes

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Truthfully, Professor Hawking? Why would we allow tourists from the future muck up the past when your contemporaries had the task well in Hand?" Brigadier General Patrick E Buckwalder 2241C.E.
Gabriel F.W. Koch (Paradox Effect: Time Travel and Purified DNA Merge to Halt the Collapse of Human Existence)
The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
A hundred people is rather a large handful for the four of us to take on," Malcolm pointed out. "Do you have any ideas about how we're going to handle that task?" "Simple," Halt told him. "We'll surround them.
John Flanagan (Halt's Peril (Ranger's Apprentice, #9))
Let go of your worries and focus only on the task at hand. The future will be what it will, and fretting about it will only make your fears more likely to come true . I know,"--Glaedr
Christopher Paolini (Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle, #4))
Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.
Hannah Arendt
I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstruction that is anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been up linked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond! I’m new wave, but I’m old school and my inner child is outward bound. I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice activated and bio-degradable. I interface with my database, my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive and from time to time I’m radioactive. Behind the eight ball, ahead of the curve, ridin the wave, dodgin the bullet and pushin the envelope. I’m on-point, on-task, on-message and off drugs. I’ve got no need for coke and speed. I've got no urge to binge and purge. I’m in-the-moment, on-the-edge, over-the-top and under-the-radar. A high-concept, low-profile, medium-range ballistic missionary. A street-wise smart bomb. A top-gun bottom feeder. I wear power ties, I tell power lies, I take power naps and run victory laps. I’m a totally ongoing big-foot, slam-dunk, rainmaker with a pro-active outreach. A raging workaholic. A working rageaholic. Out of rehab and in denial! I’ve got a personal trainer, a personal shopper, a personal assistant and a personal agenda. You can’t shut me up. You can’t dumb me down because I’m tireless and I’m wireless, I’m an alpha male on beta-blockers. I’m a non-believer and an over-achiever, laid-back but fashion-forward. Up-front, down-home, low-rent, high-maintenance. Super-sized, long-lasting, high-definition, fast-acting, oven-ready and built-to-last! I’m a hands-on, foot-loose, knee-jerk head case pretty maturely post-traumatic and I’ve got a love-child that sends me hate mail. But, I’m feeling, I’m caring, I’m healing, I’m sharing-- a supportive, bonding, nurturing primary care-giver. My output is down, but my income is up. I took a short position on the long bond and my revenue stream has its own cash-flow. I read junk mail, I eat junk food, I buy junk bonds and I watch trash sports! I’m gender specific, capital intensive, user-friendly and lactose intolerant. I like rough sex. I like tough love. I use the “F” word in my emails and the software on my hard-drive is hardcore--no soft porn. I bought a microwave at a mini-mall; I bought a mini-van at a mega-store. I eat fast-food in the slow lane. I’m toll-free, bite-sized, ready-to-wear and I come in all sizes. A fully-equipped, factory-authorized, hospital-tested, clinically-proven, scientifically- formulated medical miracle. I’ve been pre-wash, pre-cooked, pre-heated, pre-screened, pre-approved, pre-packaged, post-dated, freeze-dried, double-wrapped, vacuum-packed and, I have an unlimited broadband capacity. I’m a rude dude, but I’m the real deal. Lean and mean! Cocked, locked and ready-to-rock. Rough, tough and hard to bluff. I take it slow, I go with the flow, I ride with the tide. I’ve got glide in my stride. Drivin and movin, sailin and spinin, jiving and groovin, wailin and winnin. I don’t snooze, so I don’t lose. I keep the pedal to the metal and the rubber on the road. I party hearty and lunch time is crunch time. I’m hangin in, there ain’t no doubt and I’m hangin tough, over and out!
George Carlin
You can take a thing when no one’s looking. But defending it, even with all the advantage on your side, is no easy task,” Madoc told her with a laugh. She looked up to find him offering her a hand. “Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.
Holly Black (The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2))
Jon Spiro had not hired Pex and Chips for their debating sills. In the job interview, they had only been set one task. A hundred applicants were handed a walnut and asked to smash it however they could. Only two succeeded. Pex had shouted at the walnut for a few minutes, then flattened it between his giant palms. Chips had opted for a more controversial method. He placed the walnut on the table, grabbed is interviewer by the ponytail, and used the man's forehead to smash the nut. Both men were hired on the spot. They quickly established themselves as Arno Blunt's most reliable leiutenants for in-house work. They were not allowed outside Chicago, as this could involve map reading, something Pex and Chips were not very good at.
Eoin Colfer (The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl, #3))
Whatever teaches us to talk to ourselves is important: whatever teaches us to sing ourselves out of despair. But the painting has also taught me that we can speak to each other across time. And I feel I have something very serious and urgent to say to you, my non-existent reader, and I feel I should say it as urgently as if I were standing in the room with you. That life—whatever else it is—is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch. For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time—so too has love. Insofar as it is immortal (and it is) I have a small, bright, immutable part in that immortality. It exists; and it keeps on existing. And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
In a state of flow, however, maintaining focused attention on these absorbing activities requires no exertion of self-control, thereby freeing resources to be directed to the task at hand.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
Alexander Graham Bell
We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn't matter. . . Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency. A writer must say yes to life, to all of life: the water glasses, the Kemp's half-and-half, the ketchup on the counter. It is not a writer's task to say, "It is dumb to live in a small town or to eat in a café when you can eat macrobiotic at home." Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children. We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.
Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within)
If I should die, and leave you here awhile Be not like others sore undone, who keep Long vigils by the silent dust and weep. For my sake, turn again to life, and smile, Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do Something to comfort weaker hearts than thine. Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine, And I, perchance, may therein comfort you!
Mary Lee Hall
Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence — the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes — all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
Take a shower. Wash away every trace of yesterday. Of smells. Of weary skin. Get dressed. Make coffee, windows open, the sun shining through. Hold the cup with two hands and notice that you feel the feeling of warmth. 
 You still feel warmth.
Now sit down and get to work. Keep your mind sharp, head on, eyes on the page and if small thoughts of worries fight their ways into your consciousness: threw them off like fires in the night and keep your eyes on the track. Nothing but the task in front of you.  Get off your chair in the middle of the day. Put on your shoes and take a long walk on open streets around people. Notice how they’re all walking, in a hurry, or slowly. Smiling, laughing, or eyes straight forward, hurried to get to wherever they’re going. And notice how you’re just one of them. Not more, not less. Find comfort in the way you’re just one in the crowd. Your worries: no more, no less. Go back home. Take the long way just to not pass the liquor store. Don’t buy the cigarettes. Go straight home. Take off your shoes. Wash your hands. Your face. Notice the silence. Notice your heart. It’s still beating. Still fighting. Now get back to work.
Work with your mind sharp and eyes focused and if any thoughts of worries or hate or sadness creep their ways around, shake them off like a runner in the night for you own your mind, and you need to tame it. Focus. Keep it sharp on track, nothing but the task in front of you. Work until your eyes are tired and head is heavy, and keep working even after that. Then take a shower, wash off the day. Drink a glass of water. Make the room dark. Lie down and close your eyes.
Notice the silence. Notice your heart. Still beating. Still fighting. You made it, after all. You made it, another day. And you can make it one more. 
You’re doing just fine.
You’re doing fine. I’m doing just fine.
Charlotte Eriksson (You're Doing Just Fine)
To work and create 'for nothing', to sculpture in clay, to know that one's creation has no future, to see one's work destroyed in a day while being aware that fundamentally this has no more importance than building for centuries- this is the difficult wisdom that absurd thought sanctions. Performing these two tasks simultaneously, negating on one hand and magnifying on the other, is the way open to the absurd creator. He must give the void its colors.
Albert Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays)
I love this world," he added. "That is what rules my life. When I die, I want to have done all in my power to leave it in a better state than it was when I found it. At the same time I know that this can never be. The world has grown so complex that one voice can do little to alter it any longer. That doesn't stop me from doing what I can, but it makes the task hard. The successes are so small, the failures so large and many. It's like trying to stem a storm with one's bare hands.
Charles de Lint (The Little Country)
People absorbed in a task, especially when it aggrandizes them somehow, are numb to the world at hand.
Isabeau Vollhardt (The Casebook of Elisha Grey)
Don't dwell on what may be. Apply yourself to the task at hand. The Hags of Fate may predict the future, but there is always free will, and that is your saving grace, my dear.
Yasmine Galenorn (Witchling (Otherworld / Sisters of the Moon, #1))
The room was not a room to elevate the soul. Louis XIV, to pick a name at random, would not have liked it, would have found it not sunny enough, and insufficiently full of mirrors. He would have desired someone to pick up the socks, put the records away, and maybe burn the place down. Michelangelo would have been distressed by its proportions, which were neither lofty nor shaped by any noticeable inner harmony or symmetry, other than that all parts of the room were pretty much equally full of old coffee mugs, shoes and brimming ashtrays, most of which were sharing their tasks with each other. The walls were painted in almost precisely that shade of green which Rafaello Sanzio would have bitten off his own right hand at the wrist rather than use, and Hercules, on seeing the room, would probably have returned half an hour later armed with a navigable river.
Douglas Adams (The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently, #2))
You must set your hands to tasks which you can finish or at least hope to finish, and avoid those which get bigger as you proceed and do not cease where you had intended.
Seneca (On the Shortness of Life)
He couldn’t grab reality if he attempted the task with both hands.
Kelly Moran (Counterbalance)
If you get shot,” Lira says, “I’m going to treat you like you’re incapable of doing the simplest tasks.” She cradles her arms around her knees to keep out the cold. “See how you like it when I hold out my arm to help you walk, even though you’re not shot in the leg.” “I’d be flattered,” I say, “that you would look for an excuse just to hold my hand.” “Perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse to shoot you.
Alexandra Christo (To Kill a Kingdom)
There was, between her and Mik, a fairy-tale promise: that when he had performed three heroic tasks, he could ask for her hand. She’d meant it in jest, but he’d taken it to heart, and was only one task down out of three—though secretly Zuzana accepted his fixing the air-conditioning in their last hotel room as a heroic act and counted it.
Laini Taylor (Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3))
Whether you are shivering with cold or too hot, sleepy or wide awake, spoken well of or badly, dying, or doing anything else, do not let it interfere with doing what is right. For whatever causes us to die is also one of life's processes. Even for this, nothing is required of us than to accomplish well the task at hand.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella. It would be exactly like falling: effortless. Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling—it was pulling myself up a cliff-face, hand over hand, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.
Stephenie Meyer (Midnight Sun [2008 Draft])
What's wrong with me? ... I might seem like the ideal student: homework always in early, every extra credit and extra curricular I can get my hands on, the good girl and the high achiever. But I realized something just now: it's not ambition, not entirely. It's fear. Because I don't know who I am when I'm not working, when I'm not focused on or totally consumed by a task. Who am I between the projects and the assignments, when there's nothing to do? I haven't found her yet and it scares me. Maybe that's why, for my senior capstone project this year, I decided to solve a murder.
Holly Jackson (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1))
He was decisive and wholehearted in everything he did, so intent non the task at hand that he never looked over his shoulder, even if his cloak got caught in a thorny bush. When he did turn to speak to somebody, he used to swing his entire body and dress him full face. When he shook hands, he was never the first to withdraw his own. He inspired such confidence that he was known as al-Amin, the Reliable One.
Karen Armstrong (Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time)
Nothing is therefore more dangerous than solitude. Our imagination, forced by its very nature to unfold, nourished by the fantastic visions of poetry, gives shape to a whole order of creatures of which we are the lowliest, and everything around us seems to be more glorious, everyone else more perfect...If, on the other hand, we can make up our minds to go about our daily tasks, resigned to our feelings, and hardships, we often find that, in spite of our meanderings and procrastinations, we have gone farther than quite a few others have gone with their sails unfurled and steering gear functioning.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Integrity is the sound follow through of your heart, and an important part in the process of manifesting what it is that you aspire to. If you say that you are going to do something, do it. If you fail to complete the task at hand, or fulfill a promise you made, you are not operating at the right frequency. Don't lie to yourself and to others, follow through. Complete yourself, Expand your consciousness.
Will Barnes (The Expansion of The Soul)
As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life - a fabric on the one hand delicate and destructible, on the other miraculously tough and resilient, and capable of striking back in unexpected ways. These extraordinary capacities of life have been ignored by the practitioners of chemical control who have brought to their task no "high-minded orientation," no humility before the vast forces with which they tamper.
Rachel Carson (Silent Spring)
They knew our names and they knew our parents. But they did not know us, because not knowing was essential to their power. To sell a child right from under his mother, you must know that mother only in the thinnest way possible. To strip a man down, condemn him to be beaten, flayed alive, then anointed with salt water, you cannot feel him the way you feel your own. You cannot see yourself in him, lest your hand be stayed, and your hand must never be stayed, because the moment it is, the Tasked will see that you see them, and thus see yourself. In that moment of profound understanding, you are all done, because you cannot rule as is needed.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Intelligence has got the upper hand to such an extent that it transforms the real task into an unreal trick and reality into a play.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.
Vince Lombardi Jr.
Secret to Productivity is single tasking: Focus only on one task at hand. And don't start another till that one is completely done
Vivek Naik (Get More Done Easily: Time Management Mindsets and Simple Exercise to Organize Your Day and be More Productive in 5 Days)
Cooperation implies equality of the participants in the particular task at hand.
Carter G. Woodson (The Mis-Education of the Negro)
Royce understood then why she had come: she had come to finish the task her relatives had begun; to do to him what he had done to her brother. Unmoving, he watched her, noting that tears were pouring down her beautiful face as she slowly bent down. But instead of reaching for his lance or her dagger, she took his hand between both of hers and pressed her lips to it. Through his daze of pain and confusion, Royce finally understood that she was kneeling to him, and a groan tore from his chest: "Darling," he said brokenly, tightening his hand, trying to make her stand, "don't do this…" But his wife wouldn't listen. In front of seven thousand onlookers, Jennifer Merrick Westmoreland, countess of Rockbourn, knelt before her husband in a public act of humble obeisance, her face pressed to his hand, her shoulders wrenched with violent sobs. By the time she finally arose, there could not have been many among the spectators who had not seen what she had done. Standing up, she stepped back, lifted her tear-streaked face to his, and squared her shoulders. Pride exploded in Royce's battered being—because, somehow, she was managing to stand as proudly—as defiantly—as if she had just been knighted by a king.
Judith McNaught (A Kingdom of Dreams (Westmoreland, #1))
There’s a Zen saying I often cite that goes, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” The point: Stay focused on the task at hand rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Phil Jackson (Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success)
I have a well-deserved reputation for being something of a gadget freak, and am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.
Douglas Adams (Last Chance to See)
If you imagine that I have the smallest desire to receive your hand as a reward for having performed a difficult task to your satisfaction you're beside the bridge, my child! I've no fancy for a reluctant wife. I want your love, not your gratitude.
Georgette Heyer (Black Sheep)
Are you going to change yet again, shift your position according to the questions that are put to you, and say that the objections are not really directed at the place from which you are speaking? Are you going to declare yet again that you have never been what you have been reproached with being? Are you already preparing the way out that will enable you in your next book to spring up somewhere else and declare as you're now doing: no, no, I'm not where you are lying in wait for me, but over here, laughing at you?' 'What, do you imagine that I would take so much trouble and so much pleasure in writing, do you think that I would keep so persistently to my task, if I were not preparing – with a rather shaky hand – a labyrinth into which I can venture, into which I can move my discourse... in which I can lose myself and appear at last to eyes that I will never have to meet again. I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.
Michel Foucault (The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language)
Somewhere, on the long road that wound through those four years, the girl with her sachet & dancing slippers had slipped away & there was left a woman with sharp green eyes, who counted pennies & turned her hands to many menial tasks, a woman to whom nothing was left from the wreckage except the indestructible red earth on which she stood.
Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind)
Extroverts are better than introverts at handling information overload. Introverts' reflectiveness uses up a lot of cognitive capacity, according to Joseph Newman. On any given task, he says, ''if we have 100 percent cognitive capacity, an introvert may have only 75 percent on task and 25 percent off task, whereas an extrovert may have 90 percent on task.'' This is because most tasks are goal-directed. Extroverts appear to allocate most of their cognitive capacity to the goal at hand, while introverts use up capacity by monitoring how the task is going.
Susan Cain (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking)
...Men do not sufficiently realize that their future is in their own hands. Theirs is the task of determining first of all whether they want to go on living or not. Theirs is the responsibility, then, for deciding if they want merely to live, or intend to make just the extra effort required for fulfilling, even on this refractory planet, the essential function of the universe, which is a machine for the making of gods.
Henri Bergson
The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy—or attention—is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
...there is no such thing as a charmed life, not for any of us, no matter where we live or how mindfully we attend to the tasks at hand. But there are charmed moments, all the time, in every life and in every day, if we are only awake enough to experience them when they come and wise enough to appreciate them.
Katrina Kenison (The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir)
Queen of my tub, I merrily sing, While the white foam rises high, And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring, And fasten the clothes to dry; Then out in the free fresh air they swing, Under the sunny sky. I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls The stains of the week away, And let water and air by their magic make Ourselves as pure as they; Then on the earth there would be indeed A glorious washing-day! Along the path of a useful life Will heart's-ease ever bloom; The busy mind has no time to think Of sorrow, or care, or gloom; And anxious thoughts may be swept away As we busily wield a broom. I am glad a task to me is given To labor at day by day; For it brings me health, and strength, and hope, And I cheerfully learn to say- "Head, you may think; Heart, you may feel; But Hand, you shall work always!
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
THE SEX & CASH THEORY - The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.
Hugh MacLeod (Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity)
but I was not, in the true sense of the word, alive. I simply performed the mundane tasks that were handed to me, one after another
Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)
We have a soul at times. No one’s got it non-stop, for keeps. Day after day, year after year may pass without it. Sometimes it will settle for awhile only in childhood’s fears and raptures. Sometimes only in astonishment that we are old. It rarely lends a hand in uphill tasks, like moving furniture, or lifting luggage, or going miles in shoes that pinch. It usually steps out whenever meat needs chopping or forms have to be filled. For every thousand conversations it participates in one, if even that, since it prefers silence. Just when our body goes from ache to pain, it slips off-duty. It’s picky: it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds, our hustling for a dubious advantage and creaky machinations make it sick. Joy and sorrow aren’t two different feelings for it. It attends us only when the two are joined. We can count on it when we’re sure of nothing and curious about everything. Among the material objects it favors clocks with pendulums and mirrors, which keep on working even when no one is looking. It won’t say where it comes from or when it’s taking off again, though it’s clearly expecting such questions. We need it but apparently it needs us for some reason too.
Wisława Szymborska
But you don’t have to let your doubt into the cockpit! You can tolerate doubt as a backseat driver, but if you put doubt in the pilot’s seat, defeat is guaranteed. Remembering that you’ve been through difficulties before and have always survived to fight again shifts the conversation in your head. It will allow you to control and manage doubt, and keep you focused on taking each and every step necessary to achieve the task at hand.
David Goggins (Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds)
The task at hand is not about securing the goodness of the American Idea or about perfecting the union. It is about according dignity and standing to all Americans no matter the color of their skin.
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul)
In a multi-tasking world where pure focus is harder and harder to come by, paper’s seclusion from the Web is an emerging strength. There’s nothing like holding a sheaf of beautifully designed pages in your hands. The whole world slows down, and your mind with it.
William Powers (Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age)
One has to beckon the spiritual warrior inside oneself whenever it is deemed necessary for the task at hand. Courage is the fuel. Healing is the direction. Forgiveness is the balm. Love is the atmosphere Divine.
Donna Goddard (The Love of Devotion)
When you write, it’s like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring them unity. Your fingers have still not perfected the task. Some of the braids are long, others are short. Some are thick, others are thin. Some are heavy. Others are light. Like the diverse women of your family. Those whose fables and metaphors, whose similes and soliloquies, whose diction and je ne sais quoi daily slip into your survival soup, by way of their fingers.
Edwidge Danticat (Krik? Krak!)
Let go of the misconception that our motivational state must match the task at hand. In fact, social psychologists have demonstrated that attitudes follow behaviors more than (or at least as much as) behaviors follow attitudes. When you start to act on your intention as intended, you will see your attitude and motivation change.
Timothy A. Pychyl (Solving the Procrastination Puzzle: A Concise Guide to Strategies for Change)
We had stretched out our arms to each other and supported something in our joined hands, but this thing we were holding was like a sort of gas that exists when you believe in its existence and disappears when you doubt. The task of supporting it seems simple at first glance, but actually requires an ultimate refinement of calculation and a consummate skill.
Yukio Mishima (Confessions of a Mask)
What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life--daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man may be required simple to accept fate, to bear his cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand. When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.
Viktor E. Frankl
Well she was bright; and she danced...And my function in life was to keep that bright thing in existence. And it was almost as difficult as trying to catch with your hand that dancing reflection. And the task lasted for years.
Ford Madox Ford (The Good Soldier)
When we consider that each of us has only one life to live, isn’t it rather tragic to find men and women, with brains capable of comprehending the stars and the planets, talking about the weather; men and women, with hands capable of creating works of art, using those hands only for routine tasks; men and women, capable of independent thought, using their minds as a bowling-alley for popular ideas; men and women, capable of greatness, wallowing in mediocrity; men and women, capable of self-expression, slowly dying a mental death while they babble the confused monotone of the mob?
Neil Gaiman
It is easy to be calm when there is nothing to worry about, Eragon. The true test of your self-control, however, is whether you can remain calm in a trying situation. You cannot allow anger or frustration to cloud your thoughts, not at the moment. Right now, you need your mind to be clear. Have you always been able to remain calm at times like this? The old dragon seemed to chuckle. No. I used to growl and bite and knock down trees and tear up the ground. Once, I broke the top off of a mountain in the Spine; the other dragons were rather upset with me for that. But I have had many years to learn that losing my temper rarely helps. You have not, I know, but allow my experience to guide you in this. Let go of your worries and focus on the task at hand. The future will be what is will, and fretting about it will only make your fears more likely to come true. I know, Eragon sighed, but it's not easy. Of course not. Few things of worth are. Then Glaedr withdrew and left him to the silence of his own mind.
Christopher Paolini (Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle, #4))
Teachers dread nothing so much as unusual characteristics in precocious boys during the initial stages of their adolescence. A certain streak of genius makes an ominous impression on them, for there exists a deep gulf between genius and the teaching profession. Anyone with a touch of genius seems to his teachers a freak from the very first. As far as teachers are concerned, they define young geniuses as those who are bad, disrespectful, smoke at fourteen, fall in love at fifteen, can be found at sixteen hanging out in bars, read forbidden books, write scandalous essays, occasionally stare down a teacher in class, are marked in the attendance book as rebels, and are budding candidates for room-arrest. A schoolmaster will prefer to have a couple of dumbheads in his class than a single genius, and if you regard it objectively, he is of course right. His task is not to produce extravagant intellects but good Latinists, arithmeticians and sober decent folk. The question of who suffers more acutely at the other's hands - the teacher at the boy's, or vice versa - who is more of a tyrant, more of a tormentor, and who profanes parts of the other's soul, student or teacher, is something you cannot examine without remembering your own youth in anger and shame. yet that's not what concerns us here. We have the consolation that among true geniuses the wounds almost always heal. As their personalities develop, they create their art in spite of school. Once dead, and enveloped by the comfortable nimbus of remoteness, they are paraded by the schoolmasters before other generations of students as showpieces and noble examples. Thus the struggle between rule and spirit repeats itself year after year from school to school. The authorities go to infinite pains to nip the few profound or more valuable intellects in the bud. And time and again the ones who are detested by their teachers are frequently punished, the runaways and those expelled, are the ones who afterwards add to society's treasure. But some - and who knows how many? - waste away quiet obstinacy and finally go under.
Hermann Hesse (Beneath the Wheel)
Once we realize that the boundaries between work and play are artificial, we can take matters in hand and begin the difficult task of making life more livable.
Daniel H. Pink (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us)
A seemingly simple task like taking a bath or wearing a condom feels like multitasking to someone who suffers from hemiplegia or has only one hand.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Wherever the Legionary’s hand and soul show up, a garden appears.
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu (For My Legionaries (the Iron Guard))
But listen to me--there are times in life when those kinds of excuses don't cut it anymore. Situations when nobody cares whether you're suited for the task at hand or not.
Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore)
A growing body of work in social psychology offers a possible explanation for this commercialization effect. These studies highlight the difference between intrinsic motivations (such as moral conviction or interest in the task at hand) and external ones (such as money or other tangible rewards). When people are engaged in an activity they consider intrinsically worthwhile, offering them money may weaken their motivation by depreciating or "crowding out" their intrinsic interest or commitment.
Michael J. Sandel (What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets)
Next out of the hall came the sisters and their husbands. Before I could say anything, the captain had clamped his hand over my mouth and was lifting me off my feet as I kicked. Cornwall made as to draw his dagger, but Regan pulled him away. "You've just won a kingdom, my duke, killing vermin is a servant's task. Leave the bitter fool stew in his own bile." She wanted me. It was clear.
Christopher Moore (Fool)
The freeing of an individual, as he grows up, from the authority of his parents is one of the most necessary though one of the most painful results brought about by the course of his development. It is quite essential that that liberation should occur and it may be presumed that it has been to some extent achieved by everyone who has reached a normal state. Indeed, the whole progress of society rests upon the opposition between successive generations. On the other hand, there is a class of neurotics whose condition is recognizably determined by their having failed in this task.
Sigmund Freud (The Sexual Enlightenment of Children)
Audiences often ask if characters are based on real people. Indeed the impulse of the amateur is to write about who one knows. The professional on the other hand understands the impossibility of such a task. The creator of the character must know more about the character than anyone could ever possibly know about a real person. The author must possess the complete knowledge; what the person was wearing on Christmas morning when he or she was five, what presents he or she received, and who gave them and how they were given. A "character" therefore is a real person who exists in another plane, a parallel universe based on the author's perceptions of reality. When it comes to people don't write about who you know but what you know of human nature.
Candace Bushnell (Los Diarios de Carrie (Los diarios de Carrie, #1))
When we live completely from the mind over a period of time, we lose touch with the infinite self, and then we begin to feel lost. This happens when we'are in doing mode all the time, rather than being . The latter means letting ourselves be who and what we are without judgment. Being doesn't mean that we don't do anything. It's just that our actions stem from following our emotions and feelings while staying present in the moment. Doing, on the other hand, is future focused, with the mind creating a series of tasks that take us from here to there in order to achieve a particular outcome, regardless of our current emotional state.
Anita Moorjani (Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing)
Why would anyone who is deeply satisfied with reality, with real life as it is lived, dedicate himself to something as insubstantial and fanciful as the creation of fictional realities? Naturally, those who rebel against lie as it is, using their ability to invent different lives and different people, may do so for any number of reasons, honorable or dishonorable, generous or selfish, complex or banal. The nature of this basic questioning of reality, which to my mind lies at the heart of every literary calling, doesn't matter at all. What matters is that the rejection be strong enough to fuel the enthusiasm for a task as quixotic as tilting at windmills – the slight-of-hand replacement of the concrete, objective world of life as it is lived with the subtle and ephemeral world of fiction.
Mario Vargas Llosa (Letters to a Young Novelist)
Marturano recommended something radical: do only one thing at a time. When you’re on the phone, be on the phone. When you’re in a meeting, be there. Set aside an hour to check your email, and then shut off your computer monitor and focus on the task at hand. Another tip: take short mindfulness breaks throughout the day. She called them “purposeful pauses.” So, for example, instead of fidgeting or tapping your fingers while your computer boots up, try to watch your breath for a few minutes. When driving, turn off the radio and feel your hands on the wheel. Or when walking between meetings, leave your phone in your pocket and just notice the sensations of your legs moving. “If I’m a corporate samurai,” I said, “I’d be a little worried about taking all these pauses that you recommend because I’d be thinking, ‘Well, my rivals aren’t pausing. They’re working all the time.’ ” “Yeah, but that assumes that those pauses aren’t helping you. Those pauses are the ways to make you a more clear thinker and for you to be more focused on what’s important.
Dan Harris (10% Happier)
Ah, the world was ever so. How sad are heroes when their tasks are done...
Michael Moorcock (Corum: The Prince with the Silver Hand (Eternal Champion, #12))
You are married. Healing is not a profession but a way of life. Your spouse is not your patient but your flesh. Healing, then, is a task for your heart as well as your head and your hand.
Walter Wangerin Jr. (As For Me And My House: Crafting Your Marriage To Last)
The inward man is faced with a new and often dramatic task: He must come to terms with the inner tremendum. Since the God 'out there' or 'up there' is more or less dissolved in the many secular structures, the God within asks attention as never before. And just as the God outside could be experienced not only as a loving father but also as a horrible demon, the God within can be not only the source of a new creative life but also the cause of a chaotic confusion. The greatest complaint of the Spanish mystics St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross was that they lacked a spiritual guide to lead them along the right paths and enable them to distinguish between creative and destructive spirits. We hardly need emphasize how dangerous the experimentation with the interior life can be. Drugs as well as different concentration practices and withdrawal into the self often do more harm than good. On the other hand it also is becoming obvious that those who avoid the painful encounter with the unseen are doomed to live a supercilious, boring and superficial life.
Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society)
We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, — of the definite with the indefinite — of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest have proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, — we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long overawed us. It flies — it disappears — we are free. The old energy returns. We will labor now. Alas, it is too late!
Edgar Allan Poe (The Complete Stories and Poems)
In places where jobs disappear, society falls apart. The public sector and civic institutions are poorly equipped to do much about it. When a community truly disintegrates, knitting it back together becomes a herculean, perhaps impossible task. Virtue, trust, and cohesion—the stuff of civilization—are difficult to restore. If anything, it’s striking how public corruption seems to often arrive hand-in-hand with economic hardship.
Andrew Yang (The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future)
You can't rely on others—especially your managers and clients—to engage your strengths. In an ideal world, managers would constantly be thinking about how to best utilize their people—and clients would always unearth your greatest potential. Unfortunately, the reality is that bosses and clients are as worried about their own careers as you are about your own. You must take the task of marketing your strengths into your own hands.
Scott Belsky (Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality)
It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours.
John F. Kennedy
Fate hands you a list of things to experience. Ones you never expected, ones that break you, ones that heal you. So many of them you swear you’ll never even attempt or want to cross off your list. You get caught up in the day to day, moment to moment, and then one day you look at your list and realize you’ve unexpectedly completed some of the tasks. It’s only then you realize that the brutal truths the scavenger hunt has made you face has not only made you a better person, but has also given you an unforeseen prize when all is finally said and done.
K. Bromberg (Raced (Driven, #3.5))
Viagra isn't the only drug being prescribed off-label for women with arousal problems. Los Angeles urologist Jennifer Berman told me some doctors are prescribing low doses of Ritalin. Drugs like Ritalin improve a person's focus, so it stands to reason that it would make it easier to stay attuned to subtle changes taking place in one's body. 'It enables a woman to focus o the task at hand,' said Berman, managing, though surely not intending, to make sex sound like homework.
Mary Roach (Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex)
I guess I was actually sort of grateful that someone else was taking over my life. I mean, I'm obviously pretty terrible at managing my own life, so it was nice to know that it was in good hands. But also it was nice to have all these concrete tasks to do and be sort of distracted and consumed by them. It kept me from thinking about every depressing and weird thing that was going on at that time.
Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
Kevin reacted the way Neil expected everyone would to the truth: with a horrified demand that Neil leave immediately. Andrew, though, nodded in the face of it and told Neil to stay. He stood his ground when Neil asked him for murder and gave him a key to their house. But that didn't count, because Andrew was Andrew, and this was definitely the last turn he needed his thoughts to take. He dragged his attention back to the task at hand and vowed never to listen to Nicky again.
Nora Sakavic (The Raven King (All for the Game, #2))
He turned to Matt and gave a huge smile, one hand on her withers. James reached out and pulled Matt to him, and they stood there in a little circle. It felt disconcertingly like… a family reunion. Matt turned away from James‟s bright smile and looked at Miz in something akin to horror. Was she their… child? Miz nipped him. Hard. While snorting horse mucus all over him. Damn thing couldn‟t even blow her own damn nose. Would she ever grow up?
Anne Tenino (18% Gray (Task Force Iota, #1))
This century will be called Darwin's century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. He has explained more of the phenomena of life than all of the religious teachers. Write the name of Charles Darwin on the one hand and the name of every theologian who ever lived on the other, and from that name has come more light to the world than from all of those. His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has removed in every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox Christianity. He has not only stated, but he has demonstrated, that the inspired writer knew nothing of this world, nothing of the origin of man, nothing of geology, nothing of astronomy, nothing of nature; that the Bible is a book written by ignorance--at the instigation of fear. Think of the men who replied to him. Only a few years ago there was no person too ignorant to successfully answer Charles Darwin, and the more ignorant he was the more cheerfully he undertook the task. He was held up to the ridicule, the scorn and contempt of the Christian world, and yet when he died, England was proud to put his dust with that of her noblest and her grandest. Charles Darwin conquered the intellectual world, and his doctrines are now accepted facts. His light has broken in on some of the clergy, and the greatest man who to-day occupies the pulpit of one of the orthodox churches, Henry Ward Beecher, is a believer in the theories of Charles Darwin--a man of more genius than all the clergy of that entire church put together. ...The church teaches that man was created perfect, and that for six thousand years he has degenerated. Darwin demonstrated the falsity of this dogma. He shows that man has for thousands of ages steadily advanced; that the Garden of Eden is an ignorant myth; that the doctrine of original sin has no foundation in fact; that the atonement is an absurdity; that the serpent did not tempt, and that man did not 'fall.' Charles Darwin destroyed the foundation of orthodox Christianity. There is nothing left but faith in what we know could not and did not happen. Religion and science are enemies. One is a superstition; the other is a fact. One rests upon the false, the other upon the true. One is the result of fear and faith, the other of investigation and reason.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Lectures of Col. R.G. Ingersoll: Including His Letters on the Chinese God--Is Suicide a Sin?--The Right to One's Life--Etc. Etc. Etc, Volume 2)
I noticed several things about the drummer all at once. He was focused on the task at hand, keeping perfect rhythm. Instead of a swirl of transparent colors around his torso, there was a small, concentrated starburst of bright red at his sternum. But otherwise his aura was blank. Huh. That was strange. But before I could contemplate it too much, my eyes landed on his face. Wowza. He was smokin' hot. As in H-O-T-T hot. I'd never understood until that moment why girls insisted on adding an extra T. This guy was extra-T worthy. I examined the drummer, determined to find a flaw. Brown hair. An interesting haircut: short around the sides and back, but longer on top, hanging loose and angling across his forehead. His eyes were narrow and his eyebrows were a bit thick and...Oh, who was I kidding? I could pick him apart, but even the shifty slant of his eyes made him more alluring to me.
Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil (Sweet, #1))
Dig Deep! When the task at hand seems to be very difficult. Dig Deep! Whenever you feel you're drifting away from your intended course. Dig Deep! When others doubt you and say it can't be done. Dig Deep! Whenever you feel like giving up. Dig Deep! When life throws you a curve ball. If you quit, you'll never hit that homerun
Amaka Imani Nkosazana (Sweet Destiny)
Kaz folded his hands over his cane. “It’s getting late, so everybody put away yourPoor Wylan hankies and set your minds to the task at hand. Matthias, Jesper, and Kuwei will leave for the embassy at half past nine bells. You approach from the canal. Jesper, you’re tall, brown, and conspicuous—” “All synonyms for delightful.” “And that means you’ll have to be twice as careful.” “There’s always a price to be paid for greatness.” “Try to take this seriously,” said Kaz, voice like a rusty blade. Was that actual concern? Jesper tried not to wonder if it was for him or the job.
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
Succeed at home first. Seek and merit divine help. Never compromise with honesty. Remember the people involved. Hear both sides before judging. Obtain counsel of others. Defend those who are absent. Be sincere yet decisive. Develop one new proficiency a year. Plan tomorrow’s work today. Hustle while you wait. Maintain a positive attitude. Keep a sense of humor. Be orderly in person and in work. Do not fear mistakes—fear only the absence of creative, constructive, and corrective responses to those mistakes. Facilitate the success of subordinates. Listen twice as much as you speak. Concentrate all abilities and efforts on the task at hand, not worrying about the next job or promotion.
Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change)
The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element, the black sleek heads of seals bouncing like half submerged balls. I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again. I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who stand in the line and haul in their places, who are not parlor generals and field deserters but move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out. The work of the world is common as mud. Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust. But the thing worth doing well done has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident. Greek amphoras for wine or oil, Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums but you know they were made to be used. The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.
Marge Piercy (To Be of Use: Poems)
Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to shake very much; and shaving requires attention, even when you don't dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the end of his nose off, he would have put a piece of sticking-plaster over it, and been quite satisfied.
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings)
so that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again as she sat with the children the words of some old cradle song, murmured by nature, ‘I am guarding you—I am your support," but at other times suddenly and unexpectedly, especially when her mind raised itself slightly from the task actually in hand, had no such kindly meaning, but like a ghostly roll of drums remorsely beat the measure of life, made one think of the destruction of the island and its engulfment in the sea, and warned her whose day had slipped past in one quick doing after another that it was all ephemeral as a rainbow—this sound which had been obscured and concealed under the other sounds suddenly thundered hollow in her ears and made her look up with an impulse of terror.
Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse)
Anyone who has ever tried to write a novel knows what an arduous task it is, undoubtedly one of the worst ways of occupying oneself. You have to remain within yourself all the time, in solitary confinement. It's a controlled psychosis, an obsessive paranoia manacled to work completely lacking in the feather pens and bustles and Venetian masks we would ordinarily associate with it, clothed instead in a butcher's apron and rubber boots, eviscerating knife in hand. You can only barely see from that writerly cellar the feet of passers-by, hear the rapping of their heels. Every so often someone stops and bends down and glances in through the window, and then you get a glimpse of a human face, maybe even exchange a few words. But ultimately the mind is so occupied with its own act, a play staged by the self ofr the self in a hasty, makeshift cabinet of curiosities peopled by author and character, narrator and reader, the person describing and the person described, that feet, shoes, heels, and faces become, sooner or later, mere components of that act.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
I fire again and again, and none of the bullets come close. "Statistically speaking," the Erudite boy next to me-his name is Will-says, grinning at me, "you should have hit the target at least once by now, even by accident." He is blond, with shaggy hair and a crease between his eyebrows. "Is that so," I say without inflection. "Yeah," he says. "I think you're actually defying nature." I grit my teeth and turn toward the target, resolving to at least stand still. If I can't muster the first task they give us,how will I ever make it through stage one? I squeeze the trigger,hard, and this time I'm ready for the recoil.It makes my hand jump back,but my feet stay planted.A bullet hole appears at the edge of the target,and I raise an eyebrow at Will. "So you see,I'm right.The stats don't lie," he says. I smile a little.
Veronica Roth (Divergent (Divergent, #1))
Valek's thoughts returned to Yelena. An icy finger of loneliness touched the emptiness inside him. She was in Sitia, where she needed to be to learn aboout her magical powers, but she had taken his heart with her. Cursing himself for being melodramatic, he concentrated on the grim task at hand.
Maria V. Snyder (Assassin Study (Study, #1.5))
We are used to thinking of doctoring as a solitary, intellectual task. But making medicine go right is less often like making a difficult diagnosis than like making sure everyone washes their hands.
Atul Gawande (Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance)
While play-acting grim scenarios day in and day out may sound like a good recipe for clinical depression, it’s actually weirdly uplifting. Rehearsing for catastrophe has made me positive that I have the problem-solving skills to deal with tough situations and come out the other side smiling. For me, this has greatly reduced the mental and emotional clutter that unchecked worrying produces, those random thoughts that hijack your brain at three o’clock in the morning. While I very much hoped not to die in space, I didn’t live in fear of it, largely because I’d been made to think through the practicalities: how I’d want my family to get the news, for instance, and which astronaut I should recruit to help my wife cut through the red tape at NASA and the CSA. Before my last space flight (as with each of the earlier ones) I reviewed my will, made sure my financial affairs and taxes were in order, and did all the other things you’d do if you knew you were going to die. But that didn’t make me feel like I had one foot in the grave. It actually put my mind at ease and reduced my anxiety about what my family’s future would look like if something happened to me. Which meant that when the engines lit up at launch, I was able to focus entirely on the task at hand: arriving alive.
Chris Hadfield (An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth)
Best part of my week.” I focused on the task at hand. Phone calls didn’t last long these days, and I needed this as much or more than Dean did. “I found a pair of brothers in Texas.” “Cover your ears, Redding,” Michael quipped. “Cassie is going to tell us more about these brothers.” I could practically hear him winking on the other end of the line. “Are they more handsome than Dean? Less broody? More favorable to incorporating colors into their wardrobe?” I rolled my eyes. Dean and I had been together since we were teenagers, and Michael had taken great joy in singing the same song nearly the whole time.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Twelve (The Naturals, #4.5))
Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control. By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
And so I urge you to still every motion that is not rooted in the Kingdom. Become quiet, hushed, motionless until you are finally centered. Strip away all excess baggage and nonessential trappings until you have come into the stark reality of the Kingdom of God. Let go of all distractions until you are driven into the Core. Allow God to reshuffle your priorities and eliminate unnecessary froth. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, 'Pray for me that I not loosen my grip on the hands of Jesus even under the guise of ministering to the poor.' That is our first task: to grip the hands of Jesus with such tenacity that we are obliged to follow his lead, to seek first his Kingdom.
Richard J. Foster (Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World)
Gabe was referring to people like Lou who were competitive. Ambitious people, with their eye on the prize instead of the task at hand. People who wanted to be the best for all the wrong reasons and who'd take almost any path to get there. Being the best was only slightly better than being in the middle, which was equal to being the worst. All were merely a state of being. It was how a person felt in that state and why that was the important thing. Gabe wanted to explain to Lou that people like him were always looking at what the other person was doing, always looking to achieve more and greater things. Always wanting to be better. And the entire point of Gabe's telling Lou Suffern about people like Lou Suffern was to warn him that people who constantly looked over their shoulders often bumped into things. Paths are so much clearer when people stop looking at what everyone else is doing and instead concentrate on themselves.
Cecelia Ahern
He said how love was the sweetest expression of life. The one thing that made life worth living. Love made difficult tasks easy. Raising a family could be a great burden, but if there was love, the sacrifice was a pleasure. And when love matured into devotion then everything you did for your lover was a joy. You would give up your life to save those you loved. On the other hand, if love did not mature it could lead to bondage, to jealousy. If you loved someone, but felt possessive of them, you could end up treating them like an object that belonged to you. Just as bad, with your children, if you showered them with too much love, and never disciplined them, they would grow up weak and spoiled. At times, love had to be tough, or it could end up wrecking those dearest to you.
Christopher Pike (The Shadow of Death (Thirst, #4))
So if you have to live amongst men, you must allow everyone the right to exist in accordance with the character he has, whatever it turns out to be: and all you should strive to do is to make use of this character in such a way as its kind and nature permit, rather than to hope for any alteration in it, or to condemn it off-hand for what it is. This is the true sense of the maxim--Live and let live. That, however, is a task which is difficult in proportion as it is right; and he is a happy man who can once for all avoid having to do with a great many of his fellow creatures.
Arthur Schopenhauer (Parerga and Paralipomena)
We know from the now-iconic 1970s Good Samaritan study that the single greatest predictor of uncaring, unkind, and uncompassionate behavior, even among people who have devoted their lives to the welfare of others, is a perceived lack of time — a feeling of being rushed. The sense of urgency seems to consume all of our other concerns — it is the razor’s blade that severs our connection to anything outside ourselves, anything beyond the task at hand, and turns our laser-sharp focus of concern onto the the immediacy of the self alone.
Maria Popova
I could see how easy it would be to fall into loving Bella. It would be exactly like falling: effortless. Not letting myself love her was the opposite of falling- it was pulling myself up a cliff face, hand over hand, the task as grueling as if I had no more than mortal strength.
Stephenie Meyer (Midnight Sun)
I glance around the room. What a comedy! All these people sitting there, looking serious, eating. No, they aren't eating: they are recuperating in order to successfully finish their tasks. Each one of them has his little personal difficulty which keeps him from noticing that he exists; there isn't one of them who doesn't believe himself indispensable to something or someone. Didn't the Self-Taught Man tell me the other day: "No one better qualified than Noucapie to undertake this vast synthesis?" Each one of them does one small thing and no one is better qualified than he to do it. No one is better qualified than the commercial traveler over there to sell Swan Toothpaste. No one better qualified than that interesting young man to put his hand under his girl friend's skirts. And I am among them and if they look at me they must think that no one is better qualified than I to do what I'm doing. But I know. I don't look like much, but I know I exist and that they exist. And if I knew how to convince people I'd go and sit down next to that handsome white-haired gentleman and explain to him just what existence means. I burst out laughing at the thought of the face he would make. The Self-Taught Man looks at me with surprise. I'd like to stop but I can't; I laugh until I cry.
Jean-Paul Sartre (Nausea)
Everyday should be a working day on those difficult tasks. A little bit per day is the only way to make it through. Never feel it can't be done; it can be done with persistent actions, repeated input and consistent attendance!
Israelmore Ayivor (The Great Hand Book of Quotes)
Our own God Soul, our Holy Guardian Angel, whispers to us, “Be not afraid.” Can we breathe in some courage and breathe out some compassion, and take up the task at hand? Can we live fully, despite our fears? Can we use the energy of fear to propel us forward instead of using it as an excuse to keep us in place? Can we move ever toward the Work of This God?
T. Thorn Coyle (Crafting A Daily Practice)
You can’t roll up your sleeves while you’re wringing your hands,
Stanley McChrystal (My Share of the Task: A Memoir)
You must decide whether you want a DO-CONFIRM checklist or a READ-DO checklist. With a DO-CONFIRM checklist, he said, team members perform their jobs from memory and experience, often separately. But then they stop. They pause to run the checklist and confirm that everything that was supposed to be done was done. With a READ-DO checklist, on the other hand, people carry out the tasks as they check them off—it’s more like a recipe. So for any new checklist created from scratch, you have to pick the type that makes the most sense for the situation.
Atul Gawande (The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right)
I am sure you would not understand if I told you my father is delightfully clear and selfish, tender and lying, formal and incurable. He exhausts all the loves given to him. If I did not leave his house at night to warm myself in Rango's burning hands I would die at my task, arid and barren, sapless, while my father monologues about his past, and I yawn yawn yawn...
Anaïs Nin (The Four-Chambered Heart: V3 in Nin's Continuous Novel)
You may have been too quick to admit the difficulty of a specific task. The question is "how many times have you tried dealing with it"? Don't say it's difficult if you haven't tried it!
Israelmore Ayivor (The Great Hand Book of Quotes)
child. This ability to grieve—that is, to give up the illusion of his “happy” childhood, to feel and recognize the full extent of the hurt he has endured—can restore the depressive’s vitality and creativity and free the grandiose person from the exertions of and dependence on his Sisyphean task. If a person is able, during this long process, to experience the reality that he was never loved as a child for what he was but was instead needed and exploited for his achievements, success, and good qualities—and that he sacrificed his childhood for this form of love—he will be very deeply shaken, but one day he will feel the desire to end these efforts. He will discover in himself a need to live according to his true self and no longer be forced to earn “love” that always leaves him empty-handed, since it is given to his false self—something he has begun to identify and relinquish.
Alice Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self)
My sister Emily first declined. The details of her illness are deep-branded in my memory, but to dwell on them, either in thought or narrative, is not in my power. Never in all her life had she lingered over any task that lay before her, and she did not linger now. She sank rapidly. She made haste to leave us. Yet, while physically she perished, mentally, she grew stronger than we had yet known her. Day by day, when I saw with what a front she met suffering, I looked on her with anguish of wonder and love. I have seen nothing like it; but, indeed, I have never seen her parallel in anything. Stronger than a man, simpler than a child, her nature stood alone. The awful point was, that, while full of ruth for others, on herself she had no pity; the spirit inexorable to the flesh; from the trembling hand, the unnerved limbs, the faded eyes, the same service exacted as they had rendered in health. To stand by and witness this, and not dare to remonstrate, was pain no words can render.
Charlotte Brontë
And I realized how much more complicated life is without the benefit of magic. Rubbing linseed oil into my blistered hands, I thought wistfully of how magic lets you skip over the steps of things. That is what makes it so appealing. But, I thought, the steps of things are where life is truly found, in doing the day-to-day tasks.
Edith Pattou (East (East, #1))
I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble but I am invisible, blackbird over the dark field but I am invisible, what fills the balloon and what it moves through, knot without rope, bloom without flower, galloping without the horse, the spirit of the thing without the thing, location without dimension, without a within, song without throat, word without ink, wingless flight, dark boat in the dark night, shine without light, pure velocity, as the hammer is a hammer when it hits the nail and the nail is a nail when it meets the wood and the invisible table begins to appear out of mind, pure mind, out of nothing, pure thinking, hand of the mind, hand of the emperor, arm of the empire, void and vessel, sheath and shear, and wider, and deeper, more vast, more sure, through silence, through darkness, a vector, a violence, and even farther, and even worse, between, before, behind, and under, and even stronger, and even further, beyond form, beyond number, I labor, I lumber, I fumble forward through the valley as winter, as water, a shift in the river, I mist and frost, flexible and elastic to the task, a fountain of gravity, space curves around me, I thirst, I hunger, I spark, I burn, force and field, force and counterforce, agent and agency, push to your pull, parabola of will, massless mass and formless form, dreamless dream and nameless name, intent and rapturous, rare and inevitable, I am the thing that is hurtling towards you…
Richard Siken
There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world. In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we. We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength. To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14).
Benedict XVI (God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est)
We've lost sight of How simple the task Really is— Hunt. Gather. Live. It's all been overly simplified In a complicated way. Now we're left just looking at each other. What's worse Is when one's sight Is only as far as A cell phone's light— When one's reach Is only as far as A computer screen. Somedays, I could smash it all With my bare hands. This hand held devise Is trying to put my life In a rectangle &The wild Animal Doesn't. Quite. Like. It.
A. Lynn Blumer (Maiden Voyage (Marquette Poets Circle))
One of the supreme paradoxes of baseball, and all sports, is that the harder you try to throw a pitch or hit a ball or accomplish something, the smaller your chances are for success. You get the best results not when you apply superhuman effort but when you let the game flow organically and allow yourself to be fully present. You'll often hear scouts say of a great prospect, "The game comes slow to him." It mean the prospect is skilled and poised enough to let the game unfold in its own time, paying no attention to the angst or urgency or doubt, funnelling all awareness to the athletic task at hand.
R.A. Dickey (Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball)
Growing up, my parents managed to show me the importance of reading without cramming it down my throat. A difficult task, I'm sure. It breaks my heart to think that there are kids out there, ready to have their imaginations lit on fire, excited and wanting to read, and facing naked shelves in their school or local libraries. Rather than complain or wait till the system stops failing our nation's children this is a matter I feel we must take into our own hands. There are children, right now, waiting-wanting to read. What shall we tell them>
Nathan Fillion
Ned looked down gravely at the sword in his hands. “This is no toy for children, least of all for a girl. What would Septa Mordane say if she knew you were playing with swords?” “I wasn’t playing,” Arya insisted. “I hate Septa Mordane.” “That’s enough.” Her father’s voice was curt and hard. “The septa is doing no more than is her duty, though gods know you have made it a struggle for the poor woman. Your mother and I have charged her with the impossible task of making you a lady.
George R.R. Martin (A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1))
Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a particular point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to have that point occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand, a person who takes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared, so far as is required, to fake the context as well. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less deliberative than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and independent, with more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the 'bullshit artist'.
Harry G. Frankfurt (On Bullshit)
  If your expectations are always those of someone content to live without physical challenge, then when it comes time for mental, moral, or emotional challenge you fail to meet it because you are out of practice. Meeting and overcoming obstacles are skills that can be honed, as opposed to talents with which we are born. The best way to prepare for the inevitable shit that life occasionally hands us all is to live in a way that prepares you for it. If you can treat personal tragedy like a heavy set of 20 squats, you'll do better than someone who has never met any challenge. Intentionally placing yourself in the position of having to complete a task when you don't know if you can is the single best way of preparing to be in that position unintentionally.
Mark Rippetoe (Strong Enough? Thoughts from Thirty Years of Barbell Training)
Ideas first and last: yet it is not till these are formulated and utilized that the devotees of the common sense discern their value and advantages. The idealist is the capitalist on whose resources multitudes are maintained life long. Ideas in the head set hands about their several tasks, thus carrying forward all human endeavors to their issues.
Amos Bronson Alcott (Table-talk (BCL1-PS American Literature))
In the Golleschau quarry, stone-carriers were forced to haul huge blocks of limestone endlessly, from one mound to another and back again. During the torture, they carried their lives in their hands. The insane task was not futile only in the sense that faith is not futile. A camp inmate looked up at the stars and suddenly remembered that they’d once seemed beautiful to him. This memory of beauty was accompanied by a bizarre stab of gratitude. When I first read this I couldn’t imagine it. But later I felt I understood. Sometimes the body experiences a revelation because it has abandoned every other possibility.
Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces)
These two voices represent opposing paths for the feminist movement. On the one hand, Sandberg and her ilk see feminism as a handmaiden of capitalism. They want a world where the task of managing exploitation in the workplace and oppression in the social whole is shared equally by ruling-class men and women. This is a remarkable vision of equal opportunity domination: one that asks ordinary people, in the name of feminism, to be grateful that it is a woman, not a man, who busts their union, orders a drone to kill their parent, or locks their child in a cage at the border. In sharp contrast to Sandberg’s liberal feminism, the organizers of the huelga feminista insist on ending capitalism: the system that generates the boss, produces national borders, and manufactures the drones that guard them.
Nancy Fraser (Feminism for the 99%)
Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death. The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present)
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky. I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast. My cheek like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed. Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end. I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend. I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well. I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell. Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die. I give a share of my soul to the world where my course is run. I know that another shall finish the task I must leave undone. I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod. As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God. Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
Amelia Josephine Burr
Though we are addicted to instant gratification, we are seldom gratified because, although we are making everything possible now, we are seldom present to enjoy it now. The moment we attain our desire, our attention jumps out of the present and into planning our next acquisition. This creates a world that’s comfortable with living in debt, on borrowed time, and on somebody else’s energy. We no longer own our houses, cars, and clothes – the bank does. We have robbed ourselves of the satisfaction of organic accomplishment. There’s no more “rite of passage,” only the fast lane. Young children want to be teenagers, teenagers want to be adults, and adults want to accomplish a lifetime’s work before turning thirty. We spend each moment running ahead of ourselves, believing there’s a destination we are supposed to arrive at that’s saturated with endless happiness, acknowledgement, ease, and luxury. We are forever running away from something and toward something – and because everyone is behaving in this manner, we accept it as normal. We mentally leapfrog over the eternal present moment in everything we do, ignoring the flow of life. The Presence Process – including the consequences inherent in completing it – moves at a different pace. This journey isn’t about getting something done “as quickly as possible.” It’s about process, not instant gratification. The consequences we activate by completing this journey are made possible because of its gently unfolding integrative approach. By following the instructions carefully, taking one step at a time, being consistent and committed to completing the task at hand no matter what, we experience a rite of passage that reminds us of what “process” means. Realizing what “process” involves isn’t just a mental realization, but requires an integrated emotional, mental, and physical experience. Awakening to the value of process work is rare in a world of instant gratification. It powerfully impacts the quality of our experience because life in the present is an ongoing organic process. Realizing the power within the rhythm of process work may not necessarily impact our ability to earn a living, but it enhances our ability to open ourselves to the heartbeat of life.
Michael L. Brown (The Presence Process - A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness)
Shabbat comes with its own holiness; we enter not simply a day, but an atmosphere. My father cites the Zohar: the Sabbath is the name of God. We are within the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being within us. For my father, the question is how to perceive that holiness: not how much to observe, but how to observe. Strict adherence to the laws regulating Sabbath observance doesn’t suffice; the goal is creating the Sabbath as a foretaste of paradise. The Sabbath is a metaphor for paradise and a testimony to God’s presence; in our prayers, we anticipate a messianic era that will be a Sabbath, and each Shabbat prepares us for that experience: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.” It was on the seventh day that God gave the world a soul, and “[the world’s] survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.” The task, he writes, becomes how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit: “Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Sabbath)
Once more the odious courtesies began, the first handed the knife across K. to the second, who handed it across K. back again to the first. K. now perceived clearly that he was supposed to seize the knife himself, as it traveled from hand to hand above him, and plunge it into his own breast. But he did not do so, he merely turned his head, which was still free to move, and gazed around him. He could not completely rise to the occasion, he could not relieve the officials of all their tasks; the responsibility for this last failure of his lay with him who had not left him the remnant of strength necessary for the deed.
Franz Kafka (The Trial)
He touched the sword he had taken from the ambush. "Aside from this and the trio of juggling stones, I've nothing but the clothes on my back." Well then, tomorrow we'll go-" "No. Prince Ryne told me to make sure you stay in the manor." "It's just into town to buy you a few things. Surely there won't be any danger at the market." I sensed a softening. "And we'll take along Saul or Odd." No. We'll send one of the caregivers with a shopping list," Flea said. "Hey, that's..." He waited. I huffed. "A good idea. But don't be so smug. You're not going to win every argument." "Oh, yes, I am." "Oh, no, you're not." Flea straightened to his full height. When did he get so tall? He rested his hands on his hips. "I am. Prince Ryne trusted me with the task of keeping you safe. And I'm not going to disappoint him." I crossed my arms. "You sound like Kerrick." "Thank you." Uh-huh. You do know I disobeyed almost all of his orders. Right?" I suppressed a grin. "I do. But I'm smarter than Kerrick." "You are?" Oh, yes. I know the magic word." "And what would that be?" "Please.
Maria V. Snyder (Scent of Magic (Healer, #2))
I helped lift a sixty-five-year-old woman out of the bloody machine that had just torn four fingers off her hand, and I still hear her cries—"Jesus and Mary, I won't be able to work again!" The factory. Long live the factory! Today, even as new factories are being built, the civilization that made the factory into a cathedral is dying. And somewhere, right now, other young men and women are driving through the night into the heart of the emergent Third Wave civilization. Our task from here on will be to join, as it were, their quest for tomorrow.
Alvin Toffler (The Third Wave)
I was of the age when it was natural to seek out a wife, but by then I had seen tasking women promised to tasking men, and then seen how such “promises” were kept. I remember how these young couples would hold one another, each morning before going to their separate tasks, how they would clasp hands at night, sitting on the steps of their quarters, how they would fight and draw knives, kill each other, before being without each other, kill each other, because Natchez-way was worse than death, was living death, an agony of knowing that somewhere in the vastness of America, the one whom you loved most was parted from you, never again to meet in this shackled, fallen world. That was the love the Tasked made, and it was that love that occupied my thoughts when time came to tend to Maynard—how families formed in the shadow and quick, and then turned to dust with the white wave of a hand.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him, and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the state of his own mind--or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see. Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties of directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate the most useful human characteristics, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office. 2. It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very 'spiritual', that is is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rhuematism. Two advantages will follow. In the first place, his attention will be kept on what he regards are her sins, by which, with a little guidance from you, he can be induced to mean any of her actions which are inconvenient or irritating to himself. Thus you can keep rubbing the wounds of the day a little sorer even while he is on his knees; the operation is not at all difficult and you will find it very entertaining. In the second place, since his ideas about her soul will be very crude and often erroneous, he will, in some degree, be praying for an imaginary person, and it will be your task to make that imaginary person daily less and less like the real mother--the sharp-tongued old lady at the breakfast table. In time you may get the cleavage so wide that no thought or feeling from his prayers for the imagined mother will ever flow over into his treatment of the real one. I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment's notice from impassioned prayer for a wife's or son's soul to beating or insulting the real wife or son without any qualm. 3. When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face whice are almost unedurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother's eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy--if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbablity of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.
C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)
Let us never weary of repeating, that to think first of the disinherited and sorrowful classes; to relieve, ventilate, enlighten, and love them; to enlarge their horizon to a magnificent extent; to lavish upon them education in every shape; to set them an example of labor, and never of indolence; to lessen the weight of the individual burden by increasing the notion of the universal aim; to limit poverty without limiting wealth; to create vast fields of public and popular activity; to have, like Briareus, a hundred hands to stretch out on all sides to the crushed and the weak; to employ the collective power in the grand task of opening workshops for every arm, schools for every aptitude, and laboratories for every intellect; to increase wages, diminish toil, and balance the debit and credit--that is to say, proportion enjoyment to effort, and supply to demand; in a word, to evolve from the social machine, on behalf of those who suffer and those who are ignorant, more light and more comfort, is (and sympathetic souls must not forget it) the first of brotherly obligations, and (let egotistic hearts learn the fact) the first of political necessities.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
We, the black people, the most displaced, the poorest, the most maligned and scourged, we had the glorious task of reclaiming the soul and saving the honor of the country. We, the most hated, must take hate into our hands and by the miracle of love, turn loathing into love. We, the most feared and apprehensive must take fear and by love, change it into hope. We, who die daily in large and small ways, must take the demon death and turn it into life.-Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou
Something as simple and ordinary as drinking a cup of tea can bring us great joy and help us feel our connection to the Earth. The way we drink our tea can transform our lives if we truly devote our attention to it. Sometimes we hurry through our daily tasks, looking forward to the time when we can stop and have a cup of tea. But then when we’re finally sitting with the cup in our hands, our mind is still running off into the future and we can’t enjoy what we’re doing; we lose the pleasure of drinking our tea. We need to keep our awareness alive and value each moment of our daily life. We may think our other tasks are less pleasant than drinking tea. But if we do them with awareness, we may find that they’re actually very enjoyable. Drinking a cup of tea is a pleasure we can give ourselves every day. To enjoy our tea, we have to be fully present and know clearly and deeply that we are drinking tea. When you lift your cup, you may like to breathe in the aroma. Looking deeply into your tea, you see that you are drinking fragrant plants that are the gift of Mother Earth. You see the labor of the tea pickers; you see the luscious tea fields and plantations in Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam. You know that you are drinking a cloud; you are drinking the rain. The tea contains the whole universe.
Thich Nhat Hanh (How to Eat (Mindfulness Essentials, #2))
This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively. To be great at something is to be well myelinated. This understanding is important because it provides a neurological foundation for why deliberate practice works. By focusing intensely on a specific skill, you’re forcing the specific relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation. This repetitive use of a specific circuit triggers cells called oligodendrocytes to begin wrapping layers of myelin around the neurons in the circuits—effectively cementing the skill. The reason, therefore, why it’s important to focus intensely on the task at hand while avoiding distraction is because this is the only way to isolate the relevant neural circuit enough to trigger useful myelination. By contrast, if you’re trying to learn a complex new skill (say, SQL database management) in a state of low concentration (perhaps you also have your Facebook feed open), you’re firing too many circuits simultaneously and haphazardly to isolate the group of neurons you actually want to strengthen. In
Cal Newport (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World)
Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask the question why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers, have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theories. In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: Did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, 'The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.' What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant! However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason--for then we would know the mind of God.
Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time)
All it takes is six cuts,” he said near her ear. She nodded, relaxing against him as he guided her hands with precision. One deep stroke of the blade neatly removed an angled section of wood. They rotated the pencil and made another cut, and then a third, creating a precise triangular prism. “Now trim the sharp edges.” They concentrated on the task with his hands still bracketed over hers, using the blade to chamfer each corner of wood until they had created a clean, satisfying point. Done.
Lisa Kleypas (Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1))
Rev. [Martin Luther] King continued, chanting, singing his prophetic litany. We were one people, indivisible in the sight of God, responsible to each other and for each other. We, the black people, the most displaced, the poorest, the most maligned and scourged, we had the glorious task of reclaiming the soul and saving the honor of the country. We, the most hated, must take hate into our hands and by the miracle of love, turn loathing into love. We, the most feared and apprehensive, must take fear and by love, change it into hope. We, who die daily in large and small ways, must take the demon death and turn it into Life. His head was thrown back and his words rolled out with the rumbling of thunder. We had to pray without ceasing and work without tiring. We had to know evil will not forever stay on the throne. That right, dashed to the ground, will rise, rise again and again.
Maya Angelou (The Heart of a Woman)
But what if you can’t find a colleague with a compatible schedule? When Taylor went away to speak at a conference for a week, I needed to re-create the experience of making an effort pact with another person. Thankfully, I found Focusmate. With a vision to help people around the world stay focused, they facilitate effort pacts via a one-to-one video conferencing service. While Taylor was away, I signed up at Focusmate.com and was paired with a Czech medical school student named Martin. Because I knew he would be waiting for me to co-work at our scheduled time, I didn’t want to let him down. While Martin was hard at work memorizing human anatomy, I stayed focused on my writing. To discourage people from skipping their meeting times, participants are encouraged to leave a review of their focus mate.5 Effort pacts make us less likely to abandon the task at hand. Whether we make them with friends and colleagues, or via tools like Forest, SelfControl, Focusmate, or kSafe, effort pacts are a simple yet highly effective way to keep us from getting distracted.
Nir Eyal (Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life)
Tenways showed his rotten teeth. ‘Fucking make me.’ ‘I’ll give it a try.’ A man came strolling out of the dark, just his sharp jaw showing in the shadows of his hood, boots crunching heedless through the corner of the fire and sending a flurry of sparks up around his legs. Very tall, very lean and he looked like he was carved out of wood. He was chewing meat from a chicken bone in one greasy hand and in the other, held loose under the crosspiece, he had the biggest sword Beck had ever seen, shoulder-high maybe from point to pommel, its sheath scuffed as a beggar’s boot but the wire on its hilt glinting with the colours of the fire-pit. He sucked the last shred of meat off his bone with a noisy slurp, and he poked at all the drawn steel with the pommel of his sword, long grip clattering against all those blades. ‘Tell me you lot weren’t working up to a fight without me. You know how much I love killing folk. I shouldn’t, but a man has to stick to what he’s good at. So how’s this for a recipe…’ He worked the bone around between finger and thumb, then flicked it at Tenways so it bounced off his chain mail coat. ‘You go back to fucking sheep and I’ll fill the graves.’ Tenways licked his bloody top lip. ‘My fight ain’t with you, Whirrun.’ And it all came together. Beck had heard songs enough about Whirrun of Bligh, and even hummed a few himself as he fought his way through the logpile. Cracknut Whirrun. How he’d been given the Father of Swords. How he’d killed his five brothers. How he’d hunted the Shimbul Wolf in the endless winter of the utmost North, held a pass against the countless Shanka with only two boys and a woman for company, bested the sorcerer Daroum-ap-Yaught in a battle of wits and bound him to a rock for the eagles. How he’d done all the tasks worthy of a hero in the valleys, and so come south to seek his destiny on the battlefield. Songs to make the blood run hot, and cold too. Might be his was the hardest name in the whole North these days, and standing right there in front of Beck, close enough to lay a hand on. Though that probably weren’t a good idea. ‘Your fight ain’t with me?’ Whirrun glanced about like he was looking for who it might be with. ‘You sure? Fights are twisty little bastards, you draw steel it’s always hard to say where they’ll lead you. You drew on Calder, but when you drew on Calder you drew on Curnden Craw, and when you drew on Craw you drew on me, and Jolly Yon Cumber, and Wonderful there, and Flood – though he’s gone for a wee, I think, and also this lad here whose name I’ve forgotten.’ Sticking his thumb over his shoulder at Beck. ‘You should’ve seen it coming. No excuse for it, a proper War Chief fumbling about in the dark like you’ve nothing in your head but shit. So my fight ain’t with you either, Brodd Tenways, but I’ll still kill you if it’s called for, and add your name to my songs, and I’ll still laugh afterwards. So?’ ‘So what?’ ‘So shall I draw?
Joe Abercrombie (The Heroes (First Law World, #5))
The lady who works in the grocery store at the corner of my block is called Denise, and she's one of America's great unpublished novelists. Over the years she's written forty-two romantic novels, none of which have ever reached the bookstores. I, however, have been fortunate enough to hear the plots of the last twenty-seven of these recounted in installments by the authoress herself every time I drop by the store for a jar of coffee or can of beans, and my respect for Denise's literary prowess knows no bounds. So, naturally enough, when I found myself faced with the daunting task of actually starting the book you now hold in your hands, it was Denise I turned to for advice.
Dave Gibbons (Watchmen)
My very core clenches and spasms, my hips with a mind of their own, lurch. It is as if I no longer have control of any part of my body. ‘Ugh,’ I continue to groan in relief. And then, slowly, the rush is over and I am able to part my eyelids again. David is still looking at my face, a light sheen of sweat on his brow indicates that his task was not without effort. Finding his gaze too forthright in the current circumstances, my eyes move to the arm that still dwells beneath my skirts and the hand that clings viciously to his sleeve. My hand.
Ayana Prende (The Anatomy of Desire)
Escalation of commitment is a major factor in preventable failures. Ironically, it can be fueled by one of the most celebrated engines of success: grit. Grit is the combination of passion and perseverance, and research shows that it can play an important role in motivating us to accomplish long-term goals. When it comes to rethinking, though, grit may have a dark side. Experiments show that gritty people are more likely to overplay their hands in roulette and more willing to stay the course in tasks at which they’re failing and success is impossible.
Adam M. Grant (Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know)
I could kill every spider in her home, cut the thorns off every rosebush she might one day touch, block every speeding car that got within a mile of her, but there was no task I could perform that would make me something other than what I was. I stared at my white, stone-like hand—so grotesquely inhuman—and despaired. I could not hope to compete against the human boys, whether these specific boys appealed to her or not.
Stephenie Meyer (Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5))
Still, injuring Venka was no easy task. More by sheer luck than anything, Rin managed to land a blow early on in the match. Venka, underestimating Rin’s speed, had brought her guard back up too slowly after an attempted left hook. Rin took the opening and whipped a backhand through at Venka’s nose. Bone broke under Rin’s fist with an audible crack. Venka immediately retreated. One hand flew to her face, groping around her swelling nose. She glanced down at her blood-covered fingers and then back up at Rin. Her nostrils flared. Her cheeks turned a ghastly white. “Problem?” Rin asked. The look Venka gave her was pure murder. “You shouldn’t even be here,” she snarled. “Tell that to your nose,” Rin said.
R.F. Kuang (The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1))
By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-today existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand. At such moments something resembling happiness actually stirs in your chest, but it isn’t the sort of emotion you want to lean on very hard. In solo climbing the whole enterprise is held together with little more than chutzpah, not the most reliable adhesive.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
As the liberal sees it, the task of the state consists solely and exclusively in guaranteeing the protection of life, health, liberty, and private property against violent attacks. Everything that goes beyond this is an evil. A government that, instead of fulfilling its task, sought to go so far as actually to infringe on personal security of life and health, freedom, and property would, of course, be altogether bad. Still, as Jacob Burckhardt says, power is evil in itself, no matter who exercises it. It tends to corrupt those who wield it and leads to abuse. Not only absolute sovereigns and aristocrats, but the masses also, in whose hands democracy entrusts the supreme power of government, are only too easily inclined to excesses.
Ludwig von Mises (Liberalism: The Classical Tradition)
Cassie fumbled helplessly beneath the shade of the ancient oak, still searching for her second shoe.The first had been easy to find, having landed close to where she had kicked it off; and when her hand had finally encountered it, she clutched it to her breast in a gesture of smug triumph. For one brief moment, she felt a twinge of sympathy for the sighted people who would never experience such sweet victory from a task as simple as finding a shoe.
Melinda Cross
He worked with that aggrieved persistence, as though calling on heaven to witness the injustice done him, which the sullen everywhere bring to their trivial tasks; and as he worked, his lips moved in unison with his hands to shape his petulant thoughts for his pleasure, for his mind rehearsed eternally the inequities that had been forced upon him—inequities which he must endure in silence, since he was one of the underprivileged ones of the world, the unfortunate son of an unfortunate sharecropper, the pathetic victim of an oppressive system, as everyone who knew anything at all admitted, and had admitted for a long time.
William March (The Bad Seed)
To illustrate what a personality preference is, I like to compare it to hand dominance. As we all know, a right-handed person will prefer to use her right hand for the majority of tasks, especially those requiring fine motor skills, such as writing. This of course doesn't mean that she never uses her left hand, but only that it tends to play more of a supportive, rather than a dominant or leading role. The same is true for our personality preferences. While we may at times use our non-dominant preferences, in most situations we prefer to lead with our dominant ones. Not only does this feel more comfortable and natural, but typically produces better results.
A.J. Drenth
What rhymes with insensitive?” I tap my pen on the kitchen table, beyond frustrated with my current task. Who knew rhyming was so fucking difficult? Garrett, who’s dicing onions at the counter, glances over. “Sensitive,” he says helpfully. “Yes, G, I’ll be sure to rhyme insensitive with sensitive. Gold star for you.” On the other side of the kitchen, Tucker finishes loading the dishwasher and turns to frown at me. “What the hell are you doing over there, anyway? You’ve been scribbling on that notepad for the past hour.” “I’m writing a love poem,” I answer without thinking. Then I slam my lips together, realizing what I’ve done. Dead silence crashes over the kitchen. Garrett and Tucker exchange a look. An extremely long look. Then, perfectly synchronized, their heads shift in my direction, and they stare at me as if I’ve just escaped from a mental institution. I may as well have. There’s no other reason for why I’m voluntarily writing poetry right now. And that’s not even the craziest item on Grace’s list. That’s right. I said it. List. The little brat texted me not one, not two, but six tasks to complete before she agrees to a date. Or maybe gestures is a better way to phrase it... “I just have one question,” Garrett starts. “Really?” Tuck says. “Because I have many.” Sighing, I put my pen down. “Go ahead. Get it out of your systems.” Garrett crosses his arms. “This is for a chick, right? Because if you’re doing it for funsies, then that’s just plain weird.” “It’s for Grace,” I reply through clenched teeth. My best friend nods solemnly. Then he keels over. Asshole. I scowl as he clutches his side, his broad back shuddering with each bellowing laugh. And even while racked with laughter, he manages to pull his phone from his pocket and start typing. “What are you doing?” I demand. “Texting Wellsy. She needs to know this.” “I hate you.” I’m so busy glaring at Garrett that I don’t notice what Tucker’s up to until it’s too late. He snatches the notepad from the table, studies it, and hoots loudly. “Holy shit. G, he rhymed jackass with Cutlass.” “Cutlass?” Garrett wheezes. “Like the sword?” “The car,” I mutter. “I was comparing her lips to this cherry-red Cutlass I fixed up when I was a kid. Drawing on my own experience, that kind of thing.” Tucker shakes his head in exasperation. “You should have compared them to cherries, dumbass.” He’s right. I should have. I’m a terrible poet and I do know it. “Hey,” I say as inspiration strikes. “What if I steal the words to “Amazing Grace”? I can change it to…um…Terrific Grace.” “Yup,” Garrett cracks. “Pure gold right there. Terrific Grace.” I ponder the next line. “How sweet…” “Your ass,” Tucker supplies. Garrett snorts. “Brilliant minds at work. Terrific Grace, how sweet your ass.” He types on his phone again. “Jesus Christ, will you quit dictating this conversation to Hannah?” I grumble. “Bros before hos, dude.” “Call my girlfriend a ho one more time and you won’t have a bro.” Tucker chuckles. “Seriously, why are you writing poetry for this chick?” “Because I’m trying to win her back. This is one of her requirements.” That gets Garrett’s attention. He perks up, phone poised in hand as he asks, “What are the other ones?” “None of your fucking business.” “Golly gee, if you do half as good a job on those as you’re doing with this epic poem, then you’ll get her back in no time!” I give him the finger. “Sarcasm not appreciated.” Then I swipe the notepad from Tuck’s hand and head for the doorway. “PS? Next time either of you need to score points with your ladies? Don’t ask me for help. Jackasses.” Their wild laughter follows me all the way upstairs. I duck into my room and kick the door shut, then spend the next hour typing up the sorriest excuse for poetry on my laptop. Jesus. I’m putting more effort into this damn poem than for my actual classes.
Elle Kennedy (The Mistake (Off-Campus, #2))
Rejoice, Micayon. Yours is a prophet’s dream. The Great Nostalgia has made your world too small, and made you a stranger in that world. It has unloosed your imagination from the grip of the despotic senses; and imagination has brought you forth your Faith. And Faith shall lift you high above the stagnant, stifling world and carry you across the dreary emptiness and up the Rugged Mountains where every faith must needs be tried and purified of the last dregs of Doubt. And Faith so purified and triumphant shall lead you to the boundaries of the eternally green summit and there deliver you into the hands of Understanding. Having discharged its task, Faith shall retire, and Understanding shall guide your steps to the unutterable Freedom of the Summit which is the true, the boundless, and all-including home of God and the Overcoming Man.
Mikhail Naimy (The Book of Mirdad: The strange story of a monastery which was once called The Ark)
In accordance with the prevailing conceptions in the U.S., there is no infringement on democracy if a few corporations control the information system: in fact, that is the essence of democracy. In the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the leading figure of the public relations industry, Edward Bernays, explains that “the very essence of the democratic process” is “the freedom to persuade and suggest,” what he calls “the engineering of consent.” “A leader,” he continues, “frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at even general understanding … Democratic leaders must play their part in … engineering … consent to socially constructive goals and values,” applying “scientific principles and tried practices to the task of getting people to support ideas and programs”; and although it remains unsaid, it is evident enough that those who control resources will be in a position to judge what is “socially constructive,” to engineer consent through the media, and to implement policy through the mechanisms of the state. If the freedom to persuade happens to be concentrated in a few hands, we must recognize that such is the nature of a free society.
Noam Chomsky (Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies)
They knew our names and they knew our parents. But they did not know us, because not knowing was essential to their power. To sell a child right from under his mother, you must know that mother only in the thinnest way possible. To strip a man down, condemn him to be beaten, flayed alive, then anointed with salt water, you cannot feel him the way you feel your own. You cannot see yourself in him, lest your hand be stayed, and your hand must never be stayed, because the moment it is, the Tasked will see that you see them, and thus see yourself. In that moment of profound understanding, you are all done, because you cannot rule as is needed. You can no longer ensure that the tobacco hillocks are raised
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Amedeo loved thick tomes, and in tackling them he felt the physical pleasure of undertaking a great task. Weighing them in his hand, thick, closely printed, squat, he would consider with some apprehension the number of pages, the length of the chapters, then venture into them, a bit reluctant at the beginning, without any desire to perform the initial chore of remembering the names, catching the drift of the story; then he would entrust himself to it, running along the lines, crossing the grid of the uniform page, and beyond the leaden print the flame and fire of battle appeared, the cannonball that, whistling through the sky, fell at the feet of Prince Andrei, and the shop filled with engravings and statues where Frederic Moreau, his heart in his mouth, was to meet the Arnoux family. Beyond the surface of the page you entered a world where life was more alive than here on this side…
Italo Calvino (Difficult Loves)
To other cities, other machines, other forests of buildings of concrete where other men and women missed the stars at night and tended small plants on windowsills and kept tiny dogs and took them for walks along corridors in the endless procession of boxes and intersections and lights; where they rented space in other peoples's property so they had somewhere to sleep so they could get up and perform profit-related tasks they neither understood nor cared about, simply so they would be given the tokens of exchange they needed in order to rent the space in which they slept and snarled and watched television until finally some of them slipped out of the window and ran howling down the dark streeets, throwing off a numbness handed down from a society that was itself trapped in fracture and betrayal and despair; the lonely insane in a culture turning into a Christmas bauble, gaudy beauty wrapped around an emptiness coalescing faster and faster into parking lots and malls and waiting areas and virtual chat rooms--non places where nobody knew anything about anybody anymore.
Michael Marshall Smith
He had not stopped looking into her eyes, and she showed no signs of faltering. He gave a deep sigh and recited: "O sweet treasures, discovered to my sorrow." She did not understand. "It is a verse by the grandfather of my great-great-grandmother," he explained. "He wrote three eclogues, two elegies, five songs, and forty sonnets. Most of them for a Portuguese lady of very ordinary charms who was never his, first because he was married, and then because she married another man and died before he did." "Was he a priest too?" "A soldier," he said. Something stirred in the heart of Sierva María, for she wanted to hear the verse again. He repeated it, and this time he continued, in an intense, well-articulated voice, until he had recited the last of the forty sonnets by the cavalier of amours and arms Don Garcilaso de la Vega, killed in his prime by a stone hurled in battle.When he had finished, Cayetano took Sierva María's hand and placed it over his heart. She felt the internal clamor of his suffering. "I am always in this state," he said. And without giving his panic an opportunity, he unburdened himself of the dark truth that did not permit him to live. He confessed that every moment was filled with thoughts of her, that everything he ate and drank tasted of her, that she was his life, always and everywhere, as only God had the right and power to be, and that the supreme joy of his heart would be to die with her. He continued to speak without looking at her, with the same fluidity and passion as when he recited poetry, until it seemed to him that Sierva María was sleeping. But she was awake, her eyes, like those of a startled deer, fixed on him. She almost did not dare to ask: "And now?" "And now nothing," he said. "It is enough for me that you know." He could not go on. Weeping in silence, he slipped his arm beneath her head to serve as a pillow, and she curled up at his side. And so they remained, not sleeping, not talking, until the roosters began to crow and he had to hurry to arrive in time for five-o'clock Mass. Before he left, Sierva María gave him the beautiful necklace of Oddúa: eighteen inches of mother-of-pearl and coral beads. Panic had been replaced by the yearning in his heart. Delaura knew no peace, he carried out his tasks in a haphazard way, he floated until the joyous hour when he escaped the hospital to see Sierva María. He would reach the cell gasping for breath, soaked by the perpetual rains, and she would wait for him with so much longing that only his smile allowed her to breathe again. One night she took the initiative with the verses she had learned after hearing them so often. 'When I stand and contemplate my fate and see the path along which you have led me," she recited. And asked with a certain slyness: "What's the rest of it?" "I reach my end, for artless I surrendered to one who is my undoing and my end," he said. She repeated the lines with the same tenderness, and so they continued until the end of the book, omitting verses, corrupting and twisting the sonnets to suit themselves, toying with them with the skill of masters. They fell asleep exhausted. At five the warder brought in breakfast, to the uproarious crowing of the roosters, and they awoke in alarm. Life stopped for them.
Gabriel García Márquez (Of Love and Other Demons)
In his early text, somewhat cumbersomely titled 'Towards a Critique of Hegel's PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT,' the young Karl Marx famously noted that religion - the Christian faith, he meant primarily - is 'the opiate of the people.' It's a drug, and it's a 'downer' or 'depressant' insulating people from the pain of oppressive social realities and consoling them with a dream world of heavenly bliss. Alternatively, religion can function as an 'upper,' a 'stimulant' energizing people for the tasks at hand - a function of religion Marx failed to grasp.
Miroslav Volf (A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good)
Children need practice dealing with other people. With people, practice never leads to perfect. But perfect isn’t the goal. Perfect is the goal only in a simulation. Children become fearful of not being in control in a domain where control is not the point. Beyond this, children use conversations with one another to learn how to have conversations with themselves. For children growing up, the capacity for self-reflection is the bedrock of development. I worry that the holding power of the screen does not encourage this. It jams that inner voice by offering continual interactivity or continual connection. Unlike time with a book, where one’s mind can wander and there is no constraint on time out for self-reflection, “apps” bring children back to the task at hand just when a child’s mind should be allowed to wander. So in addition to taking children away from conversation with other children, too much time with screens can take children away from themselves. It is one thing for adults to choose distraction over self-reflection. But children need to learn to hear their own voices.
John Brockman (What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night)
Certain vocations, e.g., raising children, offer a perfect setting for living a contemplative life. They provide a desert for reflection, a real monastery. The mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is certainly monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of social life and from the centres of important power. She feels removed. Moreover, her constant contact with young children, the mildest of the mild, gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild and learn empathy and unselfishness. Perhaps more so even than the monk or the minister of the Gospel, she is forced, almost against her will, to mature. For years, while she is raising small children, her time is not her own, her own needs have to be put into second place, and every time she turns around some hand is reaching out demanding something.
Ronald Rolheiser
He who kills from afar knows nothing at all about act of killing. He who kills from afar derives no lesson from life or from death; he neither risks nor stains his hands with blood, nor hears the breathing of his adversary, nor reads the fear, courage, or indifference in his eyes. He who kills from afar tests neither his arm, his heart, nor his conscience, nor does he create ghosts that will later haunt him every single night for the rest of his life. He who kills from afar is a knave who commends to others the dirty and terrible task that is his own.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte (The Sun Over Breda (Adventures of Captain Alatriste, #3))
A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.
Orhan Pamuk
Mercer,” Rick said. “I am your friend,” the old man said. “But you must go on as if I did not exist. Can you understand that?” He spread empty hands. “No,” Rick said. “I can’t understand that. I need help.” “How can I save you,” the old man said, “if I can’t save myself?” He smiled. “Don’t you see? There is no salvation.” “Then what’s this for?” Rick demanded. “What are you for?” “To show you,” Wilbur Mercer said, “that you aren’t alone. I am here with you and always will be. Go and do your task, even though you know it’s wrong.” “Why?” Rick said. “Why should I do it? I’ll quit my job and emigrate.” The old man said, “You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.” “That’s all you can tell me?” Rick said.
Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don't dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control. By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence — the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes — all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand. At such moments something resembling happiness actually stirs in your chest, but it isn't the sort of emotion you want to lean on very hard. In solo climbing the whole enterprise is held together with little more than chutzpah, not the most reliable adhesive.
Jon Krakauer
The answer to that question is…I won’t. You belong with me. Which leads me to the discussion I wanted to have with you.” “Where I belong is for me to decide, and though I may listen to what you have to say, that doesn’t mean I will agree with you.” “Fair enough.” Ren pushed his empty plate to the side. “We have some unfinished business to take care of.” “If you mean the other tasks we have to do, I’m already aware of that.” “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about us.” “What about us?” I put my hands under the table and wiped my clammy palms on my napkin. “I think there are a few things we’ve left unsaid, and I think it’s time we said them.” “I’m not withholding anything from you, if that’s what you mean.” “You are.” “No. I’m not.” “Are you refusing to acknowledge what has happened between us?” “I’m not refusing anything. Don’t try to put words in my mouth.” “I’m not. I’m simply trying to convince a stubborn woman to admit that she has feelings for me.” “If I did have feelings for you, you’d be the first one to know.” “Are you saying that you don’t feel anything for me?” “That’s not what I’m saying.” “Then what are you saying?” “I’m saying…nothing!” I spluttered. Ren smiled and narrowed his eyes at me. If he kept up this line of questioning, he was bound to catch me in a lie. I’m not a very good liar. He sat back in his chair. “Fine. I’ll let you off the hook for now, but we will talk about this later. Tigers are relentless once they set their minds to something. You don’t be able to evade me forever.” Casually, I replied, “Don’t get your hopes up, Mr. Wonderful. Every hero has his Kryptonite, and you don’t intimidate me.” I twisted my napkin in my lap while he tracked my every move with his probing eyes. I felt stripped down, as if he could see into the very heart of me. When the waitress came back, Ren smiled at her as she offered a smaller menu, probably featuring desserts. She leaned over him while I tapped my strappy shoe in frustration. He listened attentively to her. Then, the two of them laughed again. He spoke quietly, gesturing to me, and she looked my way, giggled, and then cleared all the plates quickly. He pulled out a wallet and handed her a credit card. She put her hand on his arm to ask him another question, and I couldn’t help myself. I kicked him under the table. He didn’t even blink or look at me. He just reached his arm across the table, took my hand in his, and rubbed the back of it absentmindedly with his thumb as he answered her question. It was like my kick was a love tap to him. It only made him happier. When she left, I narrowed my eyes at him and asked, “How did you get that card, and what were you saying to her about me?” “Mr. Kadam gave me the card, and I told her that we would be having our dessert…later.” I laughed facetiously. “You mean you will be having dessert later by yourself this evening because I am done eating with you.” He leaned across the candlelit table and said, “Who said anything about eating, Kelsey?” He must be joking! But he looked completely serious. Great! There go the nervous butterflies again. “Stop looking at me like that.” “Like what?” “Like you’re hunting me. I’m not an antelope.” He laughed. “Ah, but the chase would be exquisite, and you would be a most succulent catch.” “Stop it.” “Am I making you nervous?” “You could say that.” I stood up abruptly as he was signing the receipt and made my way toward the door. He was next to me in an instant. He leaned over. “I’m not letting you escape, remember? Now, behave like a good date and let me walk you home. It’s the least you could do since you wouldn’t talk with me.
Colleen Houck (Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga, #1))
When life hands you questions, answer them. When life hands you mysteries, unravel them. When life hands you enigmas, decipher them. When life hands you tasks, accomplish them. When life hands you problems, tackle them. When life hands you skills, develop them. When life hands you talents, sharpen them. When life hands you friends, cherish them. When life hands you family, value them. When life hands you acquaintances, treasure them. When life hands you opponents, confront them. When life hands you acquaintances, celebrate them. When life hands you allies, support them. When life hands you riches, multiply them. When life hands you possessions, protect them. When life hands you pleasures, ration them. When life hands you experiences, relish them. When life hands you students, instruct them. When life hands you mentors, study them. When life hands you teachers, esteem them. When life hands you disciples, inspire them. When life hands you gurus, honor them. When life hands you lessons, remember them. When life hands you teachings, impart them. When life hands you demands, tackle them. When life hands you obstacles, challenge them. When life hands you troubles, overcome them. When life hands you burdens, conquer them. When life hands you titles, cherish them. When life hands you degrees, employ them. When life hands you medals, welcome them. When life hands you awards, appreciate them. When life hands you blessings, count them.
Matshona Dhliwayo
It was the task of industrial society to destroy all of that. All that "community" implies -- self-sufficiency, mutual aid, morality in the marketplace, stubborn tradition, regulation by custom, organic knowledge instead of mechanistic science -- had to be steadily and systematically disrupted and displaced. All of the practices that kept the individual from being a consumer had to be done away with so that the cogs and wheels of an unfettered machine called "the economy" could operate without interference, influenced merely by invisible hands and inevitable balances and all the rest of that benevolent free-market system guided by what Cobbett called, his lip curled toward Hume and James Steuart and Adam Smith, "Scotch Feelosophy.
Kirkpatrick Sale (Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution: Lessons for the Computer Age)
You make plans and decisions assuming randomness and chaos are for chumps. The illusion of control is a peculiar thing because it often leads to high self-esteem and a belief your destiny is yours for the making more than it really is. This over-optimistic view can translate into actual action, rolling with the punches and moving ahead no matter what. Often, this attitude helps lead to success. Eventually, though, most people get punched in the stomach by life. Sometimes, the gut-punch doesn’t come until after a long chain of wins, until you’ve accumulated enough power to do some serious damage. This is when wars go awry, stock markets crash, and political scandals spill out into the media. Power breeds certainty, and certainty has no clout against the unpredictable, whether you are playing poker or running a country. Psychologists point out these findings do not suggest you should throw up your hands and give up. Those who are not grounded in reality, oddly enough, often achieve a lot in life simply because they believe they can and try harder than others. If you focus too long on your lack of power, you can slip into a state of learned helplessness that will whirl you into a negative feedback loop of depression. Some control is necessary or else you give up altogether. Langer proved this when studying nursing homes where some patients were allowed to arrange their furniture and water plants—they lived longer than those who had had those tasks performed by others. Knowing about the illusion of control shouldn’t discourage you from attempting to carve a space for yourself out of whatever field you want to tackle. After all, doing nothing guarantees no results. But as you do so, remember most of the future is unforeseeable. Learn to coexist with chaos. Factor it into your plans. Accept that failure is always a possibility, even if you are one of the good guys; those who believe failure is not an option never plan for it. Some things are predictable and manageable, but the farther away in time an event occurs, the less power you have over it. The farther away from your body and the more people involved, the less agency you wield. Like a billion rolls of a trillion dice, the factors at play are too complex, too random to truly manage. You can no more predict the course of your life than you could the shape of a cloud. So seek to control the small things, the things that matter, and let them pile up into a heap of happiness. In the bigger picture, control is an illusion anyway.
David McRaney (You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself)
Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be. Or, put differently: since we necessarily underestimate our creativity, it is desirable that we underestimate to a roughly similar extent the difficulties of the tasks we face so as to be tricked by these two offsetting underestimates into undertaking tasks that we can, but otherwise would not dare, tackle. The principle is important enough to deserve a name: since we are apparently on the trail here of some sort of invisible or hidden hand that beneficially hides difficulties from us, I propose the Hiding Hand.
Albert O. Hirschman (Development Projects Observed (A Brookings Classic))
Repetition and memorization of imposed lessons are indeed tedious work for children, whose instincts urge them constantly to play and think freely, raise their own questions, and explore the world in their own ways. Children did not adapt well to forced schooling, and in many cases they rebelled. This was no surprise to the adults. By this point in history, the idea that children’s own preferences had any value had been pretty well forgotten. Brute force, long used to keep children on task in fields and factories, was transported into the classroom to make children learn. Some of the underpaid, ill-prepared schoolmasters were quite sadistic. One master in Germany kept records of the punishments he meted out in fifty-one years of teaching, a partial list of which included: “911,527 blows with a rod, 124,010 blows with a cane, 20,989 taps with a ruler, 136,715 blows with the hand, 10,235 blows to the mouth, 7,905 boxes on the ear, and 1,118,800 blows on the head.”25 Clearly he was proud of all the educating he had done.
Peter O. Gray (Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life)
The Peacemaker Colt has now been in production, without change in design, for a century. Buy one to-day and it would be indistinguishable from the one Wyatt Earp wore when he was the Marshal of Dodge City. It is the oldest hand-gun in the world, without question the most famous and, if efficiency in its designated task of maiming and killing be taken as criterion of its worth, then it is also probably the best hand-gun ever made. It is no light thing, it is true, to be wounded by some of the Peacemaker’s more highly esteemed competitors, such as the Luger or Mauser: but the high-velocity, narrow-calibre, steel-cased shell from either of those just goes straight through you, leaving a small neat hole in its wake and spending the bulk of its energy on the distant landscape whereas the large and unjacketed soft-nosed lead bullet from the Colt mushrooms on impact, tearing and smashing bone and muscle and tissue as it goes and expending all its energy on you. In short when a Peacemaker’s bullet hits you in, say, the leg, you don’t curse, step into shelter, roll and light a cigarette one-handed then smartly shoot your assailant between the eyes. When a Peacemaker bullet hits your leg you fall to the ground unconscious, and if it hits the thigh-bone and you are lucky enough to survive the torn arteries and shock, then you will never walk again without crutches because a totally disintegrated femur leaves the surgeon with no option but to cut your leg off. And so I stood absolutely motionless, not breathing, for the Peacemaker Colt that had prompted this unpleasant train of thought was pointed directly at my right thigh. Another thing about the Peacemaker: because of the very heavy and varying trigger pressure required to operate the semi-automatic mechanism, it can be wildly inaccurate unless held in a strong and steady hand. There was no such hope here. The hand that held the Colt, the hand that lay so lightly yet purposefully on the radio-operator’s table, was the steadiest hand I’ve ever seen. It was literally motionless. I could see the hand very clearly. The light in the radio cabin was very dim, the rheostat of the angled table lamp had been turned down until only a faint pool of yellow fell on the scratched metal of the table, cutting the arm off at the cuff, but the hand was very clear. Rock-steady, the gun could have lain no quieter in the marbled hand of a statue. Beyond the pool of light I could half sense, half see the dark outline of a figure leaning back against the bulkhead, head slightly tilted to one side, the white gleam of unwinking eyes under the peak of a hat. My eyes went back to the hand. The angle of the Colt hadn’t varied by a fraction of a degree. Unconsciously, almost, I braced my right leg to meet the impending shock. Defensively, this was a very good move, about as useful as holding up a sheet of newspaper in front of me. I wished to God that Colonel Sam Colt had gone in for inventing something else, something useful, like safety-pins.
Alistair MacLean (When Eight Bells Toll)
As I learned the house, and began to read, and began to see more of the Quality, I saw that just as the fields and its workers were the engine of everything, the house itself would have been lost without those who tasked within it. My father, like all the masters, built an entire apparatus to disguise this weakness, to hide how prostrate they truly were. The tunnel, where I first entered the house, was the only entrance that the Tasked were allowed to use, and this was not only for the masters’ exaltation but to hide us, for the tunnel was but one of the many engineering marvels built into Lockless so as to make it appear powered by some imperceptible energy. There were dumbwaiters that made the sumptuous supper appear from nothing, levers that seemed to magically retrieve the right bottle of wine hidden deep in the manor’s bowels, cots in the sleeping quarters, drawn under the canopy bed, because those charged with emptying the chamber-pot must be hidden even more than the chamber-pot itself. The magic wall that slid away from me that first day and opened the gleaming world of the house hid back stairways that led down into the Warrens, the engine-room of Lockless, where no guest would ever visit. And when we did appear in the polite areas of the house, as we did during the soirées, we were made to appear in such appealing dress and grooming so that one could imagine that we were not slaves at all but mystical ornaments, a portion of the manor’s charm. But I now knew the truth—that Maynard’s folly, though more profane, was unoriginal. The masters could not bring water to boil, harness a horse, nor strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them—we had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives. It occurred to me then that even my own intelligence was unexceptional, for you could not set eyes anywhere on Lockless and not see the genius in its makers—genius in the hands that carved out the columns of the portico, genius in the songs that evoked, even in the whites, the deepest of joys and sorrows, genius in the men who made the fiddle strings whine and trill at their dances, genius in the bouquet of flavors served up from the kitchen, genius in all our lost, genius in Big John. Genius in my mother.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Human beings have a deeply ingrained habit of passivity, which is strengthened by the relatively long period that we spend under the control of parents and schoolmasters. Moments of intensity are also moments of power and control; yet we have so little understanding of this that we wait passively for some chance to galvanize the muscle that created the intensity. But whether you use the negative methods of relaxation (which is fundamentally 'transcendental meditation') or the positive method of intense alertness and concentration, the result is the same: a realization of the enormous vistas of reality that lie outside our normal range of awareness. You recognize that the chief obstacle to such awareness is that we don't need it to get through an ordinary working day. I can make do fairly well with a narrow awareness and a moderate mount of vital energy. I have 'peak experiences' when I occasionally develop more awareness and more energy than I need for the task in hand; then I 'overflow', and realize, for a dazzled moment, what a fascinating universe I actually inhabit. It is significant that Maslow's 'peakers' were not daydreaming romantics, but healthy, practical people...
Colin Wilson (Strange Powers)
He closed the distance between them, slipped an arm around her waist beneath the blanket. His fingers traced her jaw, slid into the hair at her nape. “You are a fascinating woman, Paige. No wonder Russell chose you for this task. Or did you volunteer?” With a tug, she was flush against him. The blanket fell away as she let it go to press her hands against his chest. Paige closed her eyes. His naked chest. His skin was hot beneath her hands, silky and hard, and she wanted to pet him like a cat. How could she possibly find him sexy at a time like this? “Let me go,” she breathed. “Before you’ve done what you came to do?” “I didn’t come here to do anything.” “What did Russell offer you?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” “Were you supposed to seduce me? Supposed to leave me sated and exhausted in bed while you went through my papers?” His head dipped toward her. “Because I have to say, Paige, that I am very disappointed in your technique thus far. But I find I am quite willing to allow you to complete your mission. She knew she should pull away when his lips touched hers, but it was physically impossible. Not because he held her too tightly, but because her body was zinging with sparks that she didn’t want to end…
Lynn Raye Harris (Prince Voronov's Virgin)
Now, looking for labels, it is hard to call the Hell's Angels anything but mutants. They are urban outlaws with a rural ethic and a new, improvised style of self-preservation. Their image of themselves derives mainly from Celluloid, from the Western movies and two-fisted TV shows that have taught them most of what they know about the society they live in. Very few read books, and in most cases their formal education ended at fifteen or sixteen. What little they know of history has come from the mass media, beginning with comics ... so if they see themselves in terms of the past, it's because they can't grasp the terms of the present, much less the future. They are the sons of poor men and drifters, losers and the sons of losers. Their backgrounds are overwhelmingly ordinary. As people, they are like millions of other people. But in their collective identity they have a peculiar fascination so obvious that even the press has recognized it, although not without cynicism. In its ritual flirtation with reality the press has viewed the Angels with a mixture of awe, humor and terror -- justified, as always, by a slavish dedication to the public appetite, which most journalists find so puzzling and contemptible that they have long since abandoned the task of understanding it to a handful of poll-takers and "experts.
Hunter S. Thompson (Hell's Angels)
Loving or not loving should be like coffee or tea; people should be allowed to decide. How else are we to get over all our dead and the women we've lost?" Cunco whispered dejectedly. "Maybe we shouldn't." "You think so? Not get over it. but...then? What then? What task do the departed want us to do?" That was the question that Jean Perdu had been unable to answer for all these years. Until now. Now he knew. "To carry them within us—that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those we've lost, then...then we are no longer present either. " Jean looked at the Allier River, glittering in the moonlight. "All the love, all the dead, all the people we've known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up too." He felt an overwhelming inner thirst to seize life with both hands before time sped past even faster. He didn't want to die of thirst, he wanted to be as wide and free as the sea—full and deep. He longed for friends. He wanted to love. He wanted to feel the marks that Manon had left inside him. He still wanted to feel her coursing through him, mingling with him. Manon had changed him forever—why deny it? That was how he had become the man whom Catherine had allowed to approach her. Jean Perdu suddenly realized that Catherine could never taken Mann's place. She took her own place. No worse, no better, simply different. He longed to show Catherine the full expanse of his sea!
Nina George (The Little Paris Bookshop)
I've thought of myself a girl on several occasions because I like to polish shoes and find household tasks amusing. There was once even a time when I insisted on mending a torn suit with my own hands. And in winter I always light the heating stoves myself, as though this were the natural course of things. But of course I'm not a real girl. Please give me a moment to consider all this would entail. The first thing that comes to mind is the question of whether I might possibly be a girl has never, never, not for a single moment, troubled me, rattled my bourgeois composure or made me unhappy. An absolutely by no means unhappy person stands before you, I'd like to put quite special emphasis on this, for I have never experienced sexual torment or distress, for I was never at a loss for quite simple methods of freeing myself from pressures. A rather curious, that is to say, important discovery for me was that it filled me with the most delightful gaiety to imagine myself someone's servant.... My nature, then, merely inclines me to treat people well, to be helpful and so forth. Not long ago I carried with flabbergasting zeal a shopping bag full of new potatoes for a petit bourgeoise. She's have been perfectly able to tote it herself. Now my situation is this: my particular nature also sometimes seeks, I've discovered, a mother, a teacher, that is, to express myself better, an unapproachable entity, a sort of goddess. At times I find the goddess in an instant, whereas at others it takes time before I'm able to imagine her, that is, find her bright, bountiful figure and sense her power. And to achieve a moment of human happiness, I must always first think up a story containing an encounter between myself and another person, whereby I am always the subordinate, obedient, sacrificing, scrutinized, and chaperoned party. There's more to it, of course, quite a lot, but this still sheds light on a few things. Many conclude it must be terribly easy to carry out a course of treatment, as it were, upon my person, but they're all gravely mistaken. For, the moment anyone seems ready to start lording and lecturing it over me, something within me begins to laugh, to jeer, and then, of course, respect is out of the question, and within the apparently worthless individual arises a superior one whom I never expel when he appears in me....
Robert Walser (The Robber)
It seems very straightforward when I say “I.” At the time, “I” meant Justice of Toren, the whole ship and all its ancillaries. A unit might be very focused on what it was doing at that particular moment, but it was no more apart from “me” than my hand is while it’s engaged in a task that doesn’t require my full attention. Nearly twenty years later “I” would be a single body, a single brain. That division, I–Justice of Toren and I–One Esk, was not, I have come to think, a sudden split, not an instant before which “I” was one and after which “I” was “we.” It was something that had always been possible, always potential. Guarded against. But how did it go from potential to real, incontrovertible, irrevocable? On one level the answer is simple—it happened when all of Justice of Toren but me was destroyed. But when I look closer I seem to see cracks everywhere. Did the singing contribute, the thing that made One Esk different from all other units on the ship, indeed in the fleets? Perhaps. Or is anyone’s identity a matter of fragments held together by convenient or useful narrative, that in ordinary circumstances never reveals itself as a fiction? Or is it really a fiction? I don’t know the answer. But I do know that, though I can see hints of the potential split going back a thousand years or more, that’s only hindsight. The first I noticed even the bare possibility that I–Justice of Toren might not also be I–One Esk, was that moment that Justice of Toren edited One Esk’s memory of the slaughter in the temple of Ikkt. The moment I—“I”—was surprised by it.
Ann Leckie (Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1))
FATHER FORGETS W. Livingston Larned Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside. There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor. At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!” Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive—and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father! Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding—this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years. And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed! It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy—a little boy!” I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends & Influence People)
For my part, I’d come for the textbook and was glad to have it. Betta’s tortellini are now in my head and my hands. I follow her formula for the dough—an egg for every etto of flour, sneaking in an extra yolk if the mix doesn’t look wet enough. I’ve learned to roll out a sheet until I see the grain of the wood underneath. I let it dry if I’m making tagliatelle; I keep it damp if I’m making tortellini. I make a small batch, roll out a sheet, then another, the rhythm of pasta, each movement like the last one. My mind empties. I think only of the task. Is the dough too sticky? Will it tear? Does the sheet, held between my fingers, feel right? But often I wonder what Betta would think, and, like that, I’m back in that valley with its broken-combed mountain tops and the wolves at night and the ever-present feeling that the world is so much bigger than you, and my mind becomes a jumble of associations, of aunts and a round table and laughter you can’t hear anymore, and I am overcome by a feeling of loss. It is, I concluded, a side effect of this kind of food, one that’s handed down from one generation to another, often in conditions of adversity, that you end up thinking of the dead, that the very stuff that sustains you tastes somehow of mortality.
Bill Buford
Close your eyes and stare into the dark. My father's advice when I couldn't sleep as a little girl. He wouldn't want me to do that now but I've set my mind to the task regardless. I'm staring beyond my closed eyelids. Though I lie still on the ground, I feel perched at the highest point I could possibly be; clutching at a star in the night sky with my legs dangling above cold black nothingness. I take one last look at my fingers wrapped around the light and let go. Down I go, falling, then floating, and, falling again, I wait for the land of my life. I know now, as I knew as that little girl fighting sleep, that behind her gauzed screen of shut-eye, lies colour. It taunts me, dares me to open my eyes and lose sleep. Flashes of red and amber, yellow and white speckle my darkness. I refuse to open them. I rebel and I squeeze my eyelids together tighter to block out the grains of light, mere distractions that keep us awake but a sign that there's life beyond. But there's no life in me. None that I can feel, from where I lie at the bottom of the staircase. My heart beats quicker now, the lone fighter left standing in the ring, a red boxing glove pumping victoriously into the air, refusing to give up. It's the only part of me that cares, the only part that ever cared. It fights to pump the blood around to heal, to replace what I'm losing. But it's all leaving my body as quickly as it's sent; forming a deep black ocean of its own around me where I've fallen. Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Never have enough time here, always trying to make our way there. Need to have left here five minutes ago, need to be there now. The phone rings again and I acknowledge the irony. I could have taken my time and answered it now. Now, not then. I could have taken all the time in the world on each of those steps. But we're always rushing. All, but my heart. That slows now. I don't mind so much. I place my hand on my belly. If my child is gone, and I suspect this is so, I'll join it there. There.....where? Wherever. It; a heartless word. He or she so young; who it was to become, still a question. But there, I will mother it. There, not here. I'll tell it; I'm sorry, sweetheart, I'm sorry I ruined your chances - our chances of a life together.But close your eyes and stare into the darkness now, like Mummy is doing, and we'll find our way together. There's a noise in the room and I feel a presence. 'Oh God, Joyce, oh God. Can you hear me, love? Oh God. Oh God, please no, Hold on love, I'm here. Dad is here.' I don't want to hold on and I feel like telling him so. I hear myself groan, an animal-like whimper and it shocks me, scares me. I have a plan, I want to tell him. I want to go, only then can I be with my baby. Then, not now. He's stopped me from falling but I haven't landed yet. Instead he helps me balance on nothing, hover while I'm forced to make the decision. I want to keep falling but he's calling the ambulance and he's gripping my hand with such ferocity it's as though I'm all he has. He's brushing the hair from my forehead and weeping loudly. I've never heard him weep. Not even when Mum died. He clings to my hand with all of his strength I never knew his old body had and I remember that I am all he has and that he, once again just like before, is my whole world. The blood continues to rush through me. Rushing, rushing, rushing. We are always rushing. Maybe I'm rushing again. Maybe it's not my time to go. I feel the rough skin of old hands squeezing mine, and their intensity and their familiarity force me to open my eyes. Lights fills them and I glimpse his face, a look I never want to see again. He clings to his baby. I know I lost mind; I can't let him lose his. In making my decision I already begin to grieve. I've landed now, the land of my life. And still my heart pumps on. Even when broken it still works.
Cecelia Ahern (Thanks for the Memories)
The Distinctions: SINCERITY - is the assessment that you are honest, that you say what you mean and mean what you say; you can be believed and taken seriously. It also means when you express an opinion it is valid, useful, and is backed up by sound thinking and evidence. Finally, it means that your actions will align with your words. RELIABILITY - is the assessment that you meet the commitments you make, that you keep your promises. COMPTENCE - is the assessment that you have the ability to do what you are doing or propose to do. In the workplace this usually means the other person believes you have the requisite capacity, skill, knowledge, and resources, to do a particular task or job. CARE - is the assessment that you have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions. Of the four assessments of trustworthiness, care is in some ways the most important for building lasting trust. When people believe you are only concerned with your self-interest and don’t consider their interests as well, they may trust your sincerity, reliability and competence, but they will tend to limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions. On the other hand, when people believe you hold their interest in mind, they will extend their trust more broadly to you.
Charles Feltman (The Thin Book of Trust; An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work)
The first ripple of unease hit him. He lifted his head for a moment, and his prey’s blood spurted out. He bent once more to his task, this time all efficiency and quickness. It was Alexandria. He could feel the first wave of pain hitting her. He flew to her, to be close when she called out for him. And he hoped, for both their sakes, that that would be soon. She needed him, but he had promised to compel her no further than the blood exchange. She had to call for him. Outside the underground chamber he paced, Alexandria’s pitiful cries sending shards of pain through his own heart. A dozen times he reached for the door, wanting even needing to kick it in. But she had to call for him. She had to express faith in him or she would never believe he was helping, not harming, her. He rested his forehead against the door, then was shocked to see a crimson stain from the contact. He was sweating blood, in agony hearing her pleas and feeling the pain twisting and burning within her body. The physical agony he could manage, but his heart and his mind were in torment. “Where are you? You promised to help me. Where are you?” He had waited so long for the invitation, he thought he was hallucinating when it actually came. He hit the door with the flat of his hand and burst inside. She could see her own agony reflected in his eyes. There was a scarlet smear on his forehead.
Christine Feehan (Dark Gold (Dark, #3))
The Job Application Esteemed gentlemen, I am a poor, young, unemployed person in the business field, my name is Wenzel, I am seeking a suitable position, and I take the liberty of asking you, nicely and politely, if perhaps in your airy, bright, amiable rooms such a position might be free. I know that your good firm is large, proud, old, and rich, thus I may yield to the pleasing supposition that a nice, easy, pretty little place would be available, into which, as into a kind of warm cubbyhole, I can slip. I am excellently suited, you should know, to occupy just such a modest haven, for my nature is altogether delicate, and I am essentially a quiet, polite, and dreamy child, who is made to feel cheerful by people thinking of him that he does not ask for much, and allowing him to take possession of a very, very small patch of existence, where he can be useful in his own way and thus feel at ease. A quiet, sweet, small place in the shade has always been the tender substance of all my dreams, and if now the illusions I have about you grow so intense as to make me hope that my dream, young and old, might be transformed into delicious, vivid reality, then you have, in me, the most zealous and most loyal servitor, who will take it as a matter of conscience to discharge precisely and punctually all his duties. Large and difficult tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-ranging sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever, and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. I am a dreamer rather than a thinker, a zero rather than a force, dim rather than sharp. Assuredly there exists in your extensive institution, which I imagine to be overflowing with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do as in a dream? --I am, to put it frankly, a Chinese; that is to say, a person who deems everything small and modest to be beautiful and pleasing, and to whom all that is big and exacting is fearsome and horrid. I know only the need to feel at my ease, so that each day I can thank God for life's boon, with all its blessings. The passion to go far in the world is unknown to me. Africa with its deserts is to me not more foreign. Well, so now you know what sort of a person I am.--I write, as you see, a graceful and fluent hand, and you need not imagine me to be entirely without intelligence. My mind is clear, but it refuses to grasp things that are many, or too many by far, shunning them. I am sincere and honest, and I am aware that this signifies precious little in the world in which we live, so I shall be waiting, esteemed gentlemen, to see what it will be your pleasure to reply to your respectful servant, positively drowning in obedience. Wenzel
Robert Walser (Selected Stories)
In the economic sphere too, the ability to hold a hammer or press a button is becoming less valuable than before. In the past, there were many things only humans could do. But now robots and computers are catching up, and may soon outperform humans in most tasks. True, computers function very differently from humans, and it seems unlikely that computers will become humanlike any time soon. In particular, it doesn’t seem that computers are about to gain consciousness, and to start experiencing emotions and sensations. Over the last decades there has been an immense advance in computer intelligence, but there has been exactly zero advance in computer consciousness. As far as we know, computers in 2016 are no more conscious than their prototypes in the 1950s. However, we are on the brink of a momentous revolution. Humans are in danger of losing their value, because intelligence is decoupling from consciousness. Until today, high intelligence always went hand in hand with a developed consciousness. Only conscious beings could perform tasks that required a lot of intelligence, such as playing chess, driving cars, diagnosing diseases or identifying terrorists. However, we are now developing new types of non-conscious intelligence that can perform such tasks far better than humans. For all these tasks are based on pattern recognition, and non-conscious algorithms may soon excel human consciousness in recognising patterns. This raises a novel question: which of the two is really important, intelligence or consciousness? As long as they went hand in hand, debating their relative value was just a pastime for philosophers. But in the twenty-first century, this is becoming an urgent political and economic issue. And it is sobering to realise that, at least for armies and corporations, the answer is straightforward: intelligence is mandatory but consciousness is optional.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
I usually enjoy setting up a new kitchen, but this has become a joyless and highly charged task. My mother and I each have our own set of kitchen boxes, which means that if there are two cheese graters between us, only one will make it into a cupboard. The other will be put back in a box or given to Goodwill. Each such little decision has the weight of a Middle East negotiation. While her kitchenware is serviceable, I’m a sucker for the high end: All-Clad saucepans and Emile Henry pie dishes. Before long, I’m shaking my head at pretty much everything my mother removes from her San Diego boxes. She takes each rejected item as a personal slight – which in fact it is. I begrudge her even her lightweight bowls, which she can lift easily with her injured hand. Here she is, a fragile old woman barely able to bend down as she peers into a low cupboard, looking for a place where she can share life with her grown daughter. At such a sight my heart should be big, but it’s small, so small that when I see her start stuffing her serving spoons into the same drawer as my own sturdy pieces, lovingly accumulated over the years, it makes me crazy. Suddenly I’m acting out decades of unvoiced anger about my mother’s parenting, which seems to be materializing in the form of her makeshift collection of kitchenware being unpacked into my drawers. When I became a mother myself, I developed a self-righteous sense of superiority to my mother: I was better than my mother, for having successfully picked myself up and dusted myself off, for never having lain in bed for days on end, too blotto to get my child off to school or even to know if it was a school day. By sheer force of will and strength of character, I believed, I had risen above all that she succumbed to and skirted all that I might have inherited. This, of course, is too obnoxiously smug to say in words. So I say it with flatware.
Katie Hafner (Mother Daughter Me)
Torrens kicked at the door until it was finally opened. The farm couple and three youngsters had been eating breakfast in the common room. The yard dog would have bounded in had not Torrens kicked the door shut. 'I want a bed. Quilts. A hot drink. I am a doctor. This woman is my patient.' The farm couple was terrified. The look on the face of Torrens cut short any questions. They did as he ordered. One of the children ran to fetch his medical kit from the cart. The woman motioned for Torrens to set Caroline on a straw pallet. The farmer kept his distance, but his wife, shyly, fearffully, ventured closer. She glanced at Torrens, as if requesting his permission to help. Between them, they made Caroline as comfortable as they could. Torrens knelt by the pallet. Caroline reached for his hand. 'Leave while you can. Do not burden yourself with me.' 'A light burden.' 'I wish you to find Augusta.' 'You have my promise.' 'Take this.' Caroline had slipped off a gold ring set with diamonds. 'It was a wedding gift from the king. It has not left my finger since then. I give it to you now - ' Torrens protested, but Caroline went on - 'not as a keepsake. You and I have better keepsakes in our hearts. I wish you to sell it. You will need money, perhaps even more than this will bring. But you must stary alive and find my child. Help her as you have always helped me.' 'We shall talk of this later, when you are better. We shall find her together.' 'You have never lied to me.' Caroline's smile was suddenly flirtacious. 'Sir, if you begin now, I shall take you to task for it.' Her face seemed to grow youthful and earnest for an instant. Torrens realized she held life only by strength of will. 'I am thinking of the Juliana gardens,' Caroline said. 'How lovely they were. The orangerie. And you, my loving friend. Tell me, could we have been happy?' 'Yes.' Torrens raised her hand to his lips. 'Yes. I am certain of it.' Caroline did not speak again. Torrens stayed at her side. She died later that morning. Torrens buried her in the shelter of a hedgerow at the far edge of the field. The farmer offered to help, but Torrens refused and dug the grave himself. Later, in the farmhouse, he slept heavily for the first time since his escape. Mercifully, he did not dream. Next day, he gave the farmer his clothing in trade for peasant garb. He hitched up the cart and drove back to the road. He could have pressed on, lost himself beyond search in the provinces. He was free. Except for his promise. He turned the cart toward Marianstat.
Lloyd Alexander (The Beggar Queen (Westmark, #3))
Of course, the champions of totalitarianism protest that what they want to abolish is "only economic freedom" and that all "other freedoms" will remain untouched. But freedom is indivisible. The distinction between an economic sphere of human life and activity and a noneconomic sphere is the worst of their fallacies. If an omnipotent authority has the power to assign to every individual the tasks he has to perform, nothing that can be called freedom and autonomy is left to him. He has only the choice between strict obedience and death by starvation.1 Committees of experts may be called to advise the planning authority whether or not a young man should be given the opportunity to prepare himself for and to work in an intellectual or artistic field. But such an arrangement can merely rear disciples committed to the parrotIike repetition of the ideas of the preceding generation. It would bar innovators who disagree with the accepted ways of thought. No innovation would ever have been accomplished if its originator had been in need of an authorization by those from whose doctrines and methods he wanted to deviate. Hegel would not have ordained Schopenhauer or Feuerbach, nor would Professor Rau have ordained Marx or Carl Menger. If the supreme planning board is ultimately to determine which books are to be printed, who is to experiment in the laboratories and who is to paint or to sculpture, and which alterations in technological methods should be undertaken, there will be neither improvement nor progress. Individual man will become a pawn in the hands of the rulers, who in their "social engineering" will handle him as engineers handle the stuff of which they construct buildings, bridges, and machines. In every sphere of human activity an innovation is a challenge not only to ali routinists and to the experts and practitioners of traditional methods but even more to those who have in the past themselves been innovators. It meets at the beginning chiefly stubborn opposition. Such obstacles can be overcome in a society where there is economic freedom. They are insurmountable in a socialist system.
Ludwig von Mises (Theory and History: An Interpretation of Social and Economic Evolution)
To write, to be able to write, what does it mean? It means spending long hours dreaming before a white page, scribbling unconsciously, letting your pen play round a blot of ink and nibble at a half-formed word, scratching it, making it bristle with darts and adorning it with antennae and paws until it loses all resemblance to a legible word and turns into a fantastic insect or a fluttering creature half butterfly, half fairy. To write is to sit and stare, hypnotized, at the reflection of the window in the silver ink-stand, to feel the divine fever mounting to one's cheeks and forehead while the hand that writes grows blissfully numb upon the paper. It also means idle hours curled up in the hollow of the divan, and then the orgy of inspiration from which one emerges stupefied and aching all over, but already recompensed and ladened with treasures that one unloads slowly on to the virgin page in the little round pool of light under the lamp. To write is to pour one's innermost self passionately upon the tempting paper, at such frantic speed that sometimes one's hand struggles and rebels, overdriven by the impatient god who guides it — and to find, next day, in place of the golden bough that bloomed miraculously in that dazzling hour, a withered bramble and a stunted flower. To write is the joy and torment of the idle. Oh to write! From time to time I feel a need, sharp as thirst in summer, to note and to describe. And then I take up my pen again and attempt the perilous and elusive task of seizing and pinning down, under its flexible double-pointed jib, the many-hued, fugitive, thrilling adjective.… The attack does not last long; it is but the itching of an old scar.
Colette (The Vagabond)
Feeling the slight tremor of his fingers against her skin, Daisy was emboldened to remark, “I’ve never been attracted to tall men before. But you make me feel—” “If you don’t keep quiet,” he interrupted curtly, “I’m going to strangle you.” Daisy felt silent, listening to the rhythm of his breath as it turned deeper, less controlled. By contrast his fingers became more certain in their task, working along the row of pearls until her dress gaped open and the sleeves slipped from her shoulders. “Where is it?” he asked. “The key?” His tone was deadly. “Yes, Daisy. The key.” “It fell inside my corset. Which means… I’ll have to take that off too.” There was no reaction to the statement, no sound or movement. Daisy twisted to glance at Matthew. He seemed dazed. His eyes looked unnaturally blue against the flush on his face. She realized he was occupied with a savage inner battle to keep from touching her. Feeling hot and prickly with embarrassment, Daisy pulled her arms completely out of her sleeves. She worked the dress over her hips, wriggling out of the filmy white layers, letting them slide to the floor in a heap. Matthew stared at the discarded dress as if it were some kind of exotic fauna he had never seen before. Slowly his eyes returned to Daisy, and an incoherent protest came from his throat as she began to unhook her corset. She felt shy and wicked, undressing in front of him. But she was encouraged by the way he seemed unable to tear his gaze from each newly revealed inch of pale skin. When the last metal hook came apart, she tossed the web of lace and stays to the floor. All that remained over her breasts was a crumpled chemise. The key had dropped into her lap. Closing her fingers around the metal object, she risked a cautious glance at Matthew. His eyes were closed, his forehead scored with furrows of pained concentration. “This isn’t going to happen,” he said, more to himself than to her. Daisy leaned forward to tuck the key into his coat pocket. Gripping the hem of her chemise, she stripped it over her head. A tingling shock chased over her naked upper body. She was so nervous that her teeth had begun to chatter. “I just took my chemise off,” she said. “Don’t you want to look?” “No.” But his eyes had opened, and his gaze found her small, pink-tipped breasts, and the breath hissed through his clenched teeth. He sat without moving, staring at her as she untied his cravat and unbuttoned the layers of his waistcoat and shirt. She blushed everywhere but continued doggedly, rising to her knees to tug the coat from his shoulders. He moved like a dreamer, slowly pulling his arms from the coat sleeves and waistcoat. Daisy pushed his shirt open with awkward determination, her gaze drinking in the sight of his chest and torso. His skin gleamed like heavy satin, stretched taut over broad expanses of muscle. She touched the powerful vault of his ribs, trailing her fingertips to the rippled tautness of his midriff. Suddenly Matthew caught her hand, seemingly undecided whether to push it away or press it closer. Her fingers curled over his. She stared into his dilated blue eyes. “Matthew,” she whispered. “I’m here. I’m yours. I want to do everything you’ve ever imagined doing with me.” He stopped breathing. His will foundered and collapsed, and suddenly nothing mattered except the demands of a desire that had been denied too long. With a rough groan of surrender, he lifted her onto his lap.
Lisa Kleypas (Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers, #4))
How nice that our former stable boy has begotten a namesake from my elder daughter,” the countess remarked acidly. “This will be the first of many brats, I am sure. Regrettably there is still no heir to the earldom…which is your responsibility, I believe. Come to me with news of your impending marriage to a bride of good blood, Westcliff, and I will evince some satisfaction. Until then, I see little reason for congratulations.” Though he displayed no emotion at his mother’s hard-hearted response to the news of Aline’s child, not to mention her infuriating preoccupation with the begetting of an heir, Marcus was hard-pressed to hold back a savage reply. In the midst of his darkening mood, he became aware of Lillian’s intent gaze. Lillian stared at him astutely, a peculiar smile touching her lips. Marcus arched one brow and asked sardonically, “Does something amuse you, Miss Bowman?” “Yes,” she murmured. “I was just thinking that it’s a wonder you haven’t rushed out to marry the first peasant girl you could find.” “Impertinent twit!” the countess exclaimed. Marcus grinned at the girl’s insolence, while the tightness in his chest eased. “Do you think I should?” he asked soberly, as if the question was worth considering. “Oh yes,” Lillian assured him with a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. “The Marsdens could use some new blood. In my opinion, the family is in grave danger of becoming overbred.” “Overbred?” Marcus repeated, wanting nothing more than to pounce on her and carry her off somewhere. “What has given you that impression, Miss Bowman?” “Oh, I don’t know…” she said idly. “Perhaps the earth-shattering importance you attach to whether one should use a fork or spoon to eat one’s pudding.” “Good manners are not the sole province of the aristocracy, Miss Bowman.” Even to himself, Marcus sounded a bit pompous. “In my opinion, my lord, an excessive preoccupation with manners and rituals is a strong indication that someone has too much time on his hands.” Marcus smiled at her impertinence. “Subversive, yet sensible,” he mused. “I’m not certain I disagree.” “Do not encourage her effrontery, Westcliff,” the countess warned. “Very well—I shall leave you to your Sisyphean task.” “What does that mean?” he heard Daisy ask. Lillian replied while her smiling gaze remained locked with Marcus’s. “It seems you avoided one too many Greek mythology lessons, dear. Sisyphus was a soul in Hades who was damned to perform an eternal task…rolling a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again just before he reached the top.” “Then if the countess is Sisyphus,” Daisy concluded, “I suppose we’re…” “The boulder,” Lady Westcliff said succinctly, causing both girls to laugh. “Do continue with our instruction, my lady,” Lillian said, giving her full attention to the elderly woman as Marcus bowed and left the room. “We’ll try not to flatten you on the way down.
Lisa Kleypas (It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2))
In the deep woods of the far North, under feathery leaves of fern, was a great fairyland of merry elves, sometimes called forest brownies. These elves lived joyfully. They had everything at hand and did not need to worry much about living. Berries and nuts grew plentiful in the forest. Rivers and springs provided the elves with crystal water. Flowers prepared them drink from their flavorful juices, which the munchkins loved greatly. At midnight the elves climbed into flower cups and drank drops of their sweet water with much delight. Every elf would tell a wonderful fairy tale to the flower to thank it for the treat. Despite this abundance, the pixies did not sit back and do nothing. They tinkered with their tasks all day long. They cleaned their houses. They swung on tree branches and swam in forested streams. Together with the early birds, they welcomed the sunrise, listened to the thunder growling, the whispering of leaves and blades of grass, and the conversations of the animals. The birds told them about warm countries, sunbeams whispered of distant seas, and the moon spoke of treasures hidden deeply in the earth. In winter, the elves lived in abandoned nests and hollows. Every sunny day they came out of their burrows and made the forest ring with their happy shouts, throwing tiny snowballs in all directions and building snowmen as small as the pinky finger of a little girl. The munchkins thought they were giants five times as large as them. With the first breath of spring, the elves left their winter residences and moved to the cups of the snowdrop flowers. Looking around, they watched the snow as it turned black and melted. They kept an eye on the blossoming of hazel trees while the leaves were still sleeping in their warm buds. They observed squirrels moving their last winter supplies from storage back to their homes. Gnomes welcomed the birds coming back to their old nests, where the elves lived during winters. Little by little, the forest once more grew green. One moonlight night, elves were sitting at an old willow tree and listening to mermaids singing about their underwater kingdom. “Brothers! Where is Murzilka? He has not been around for a long time!” said one of the elves, Father Beardie, who had a long white beard. He was older than others and well respected in his striped stocking cap. “I’m here,” a snotty voice arose, and Murzilka himself, nicknamed Feather Head, jumped from the top of the tree. All the brothers loved Murzilka, but thought he was lazy, as he actually was. Also, he loved to dress in a tailcoat, tall black hat, boots with narrow toes, a cane and a single eyeglass, being very proud of that look. “Do you know where I’m coming from? The very Arctic Ocean!” roared he. Usually, his words were hard to believe. That time, though, his announcement sounded so marvelous that all elves around him were agape with wonder. “You were there, really? Were you? How did you get there?” asked the sprites. “As easy as ABC! I came by the fox one day and caught her packing her things to visit her cousin, a silver fox who lives by the Arctic Ocean. “Take me with you,” I said to the fox. “Oh, no, you’ll freeze there! You know, it’s cold there!” she said. “Come on.” I said. “What are you talking about? What cold? Summer is here.” “Here we have summer, but there they have winter,” she answered. “No,” I thought. “She must be lying because she does not want to give me a ride.” Without telling her a word, I jumped upon her back and hid in her bushy fur, so even Father Frost could not find me. Like it or not, she had to take me with her. We ran for a long time. Another forest followed our woods, and then a boundless plain opened, a swamp covered with lichen and moss. Despite the intense heat, it had not entirely thawed. “This is tundra,” said my fellow traveler. “Tundra? What is tundra?” asked I. “Tundra is a huge, forever frozen wetland covering the entire coast of the Arctic Ocean.
Anna Khvolson
FATHER FORGETS W. Livingston Larned Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside. There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor. At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!’ and I frowned, and said in reply, ‘Hold your shoulders back!’ Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father! Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. ‘What is it you want?’ I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years. And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed! It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: ‘He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!’ I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much. Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. ‘To know all is to forgive
Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)
Yesterday while I was on the side of the mat next to some wrestlers who were warming up for their next match, I found myself standing side by side next to an extraordinary wrestler. He was warming up and he had that look of desperation on his face that wrestlers get when their match is about to start and their coach is across the gym coaching on another mat in a match that is already in progress. “Hey do you have a coach.” I asked him. “He's not here right now.” He quietly answered me ready to take on the task of wrestling his opponent alone. “Would you mind if I coached you?” His face tilted up at me with a slight smile and said. “That would be great.” Through the sounds of whistles and yelling fans I heard him ask me what my name was. “My name is John.” I replied. “Hi John, I am Nishan” he said while extending his hand for a handshake. He paused for a second and then he said to me: “John I am going to lose this match”. He said that as if he was preparing me so I wouldn’t get hurt when my coaching skills didn’t work magic with him today. I just said, “Nishan - No score of a match will ever make you a winner. You are already a winner by stepping onto that mat.” With that he just smiled and slowly ran on to the mat, ready for battle, but half knowing what the probable outcome would be. When you first see Nishan you will notice that his legs are frail - very frail. So frail that they have to be supported by custom made, form fitted braces to help support and straighten his limbs. Braces that I recognize all to well. Some would say Nishan has a handicap. I say that he has a gift. To me the word handicap is a word that describes what one “can’t do”. That doesn’t describe Nishan. Nishan is doing. The word “gift” is a word that describes something of value that you give to others. And without knowing it, Nishan is giving us all a gift. I believe Nishan’s gift is inspiration. The ability to look the odds in the eye and say “You don’t pertain to me.” The ability to keep moving forward. Perseverance. A “Whatever it takes” attitude. As he predicted, the outcome of his match wasn’t great. That is, if the only thing you judge a wrestling match by is the actual score. Nishan tried as hard as he could, but he couldn’t overcome the twenty-six pound weight difference that he was giving up to his opponent on this day in order to compete. You see, Nishan weighs only 80 pounds and the lowest weight class in this tournament was 106. Nishan knew he was spotting his opponent 26 pounds going into every match on this day. He wrestled anyway. I never did get the chance to ask him why he wrestles, but if I had to guess I would say, after watching him all day long, that Nishan wrestles for the same reasons that we all wrestle for. We wrestle to feel alive, to push ourselves to our mental, physical and emotional limits - levels we never knew we could reach. We wrestle to learn to use 100% of what we have today in hopes that our maximum today will be our minimum tomorrow. We wrestle to measure where we started from, to know where we are now, and to plan on getting where we want to be in the future. We wrestle to look the seemingly insurmountable opponent right in the eye and say, “Bring it on. - I can take whatever you can dish out.” Sometimes life is your opponent and just showing up is a victory. You don't need to score more points than your opponent in order to accomplish that. No Nishan didn’t score more points than any of his opponents on this day, that would have been nice, but I don’t believe that was the most important thing to Nishan. Without knowing for sure - the most important thing to him on this day was to walk with pride like a wrestler up to a thirty two foot circle, have all eyes from the crowd on him, to watch him compete one on one against his opponent - giving it all that he had. That is what competition is all about. Most of the times in wrestlin
JohnA Passaro
Before the troops left Rome, the consul Varro made a number of extremely arrogant speeches. The nobles, he complained, were directly responsible for the war on Italian soil, and it would continue to prey upon the country's vitals if there were any more commanders on the Fabian model. He himself, on the contrary, would bring it to an end on the day he first caught sight of the enemy. His colleague Paullus spoke only once before the army marched, and in words which though true were hardly popular. His only harsh criticism of Varro was to express his surprise about how any army commander, while still at Rome, in his civilian clothes, could possibly know what his task on the field of battle would be, before he had become acquainted either with his own troops or the enemy's or had any idea of the lie and nature of the country where he was to operate--or how he could prophesy exactly when a pitched battle would occur. As for himself, he refused to recommend any sort of policy prematurely; for policy was moulded by circumstance, not circumstance by policy. . . . [T]o strengthen [Paullus'] determination Fabius (we are told) spoke to him at his departure in the following words. 'If, Lucius Aemilius, you were like your colleague, or if--which I should much prefer--you had a colleague like yourself, anything I could now say would be superfluous. Two good consuls would serve the country well in virtue of their own sense of honour, without any words from me; and two bad consuls would not accept my advice, nor even listen to me. But as things are, I know your colleague's qualities and I know your own, so it is to you alone I address myself, understanding as I do that all your courage and patriotism will be in vain, if our country must limp on one sound leg and one lame one. With the two of you equal in command, bad counsels will be backed by the same legal authority as good ones; for you are wrong, Paullus, if you think to find less opposition from Varro than from Hannibal. Hannibal is your enemy, Varro your rival, but I hardly know which will prove the more hostile to your designs; with the former you will be contending only on the field of battle, but with the latter everywhere and always. . . . [I]t is not the enemy who will make it difficult and dangerous for you to tread, but your fellow-countrymen. Your own men will want precisely what the enemy wants; the wishes of Varro, the Roman consul, will play straight into the hands of Hannibal, commander-in-chief of the Carthaginian armies. You will have two generals against you; but you will stand firm against both, if you can steel yourself to ignore the tongues of men who will defame you--if you remain unmoved by the empty glory your colleague seeks and the false infamy he tries to bring upon yourself. . . . Never mind if they call your caution timidity, your wisdom sloth, your generalship weakness; it is better that a wise enemy should fear you than that foolish friends should praise. Hannibal will despise a reckless antagonist, but he will fear a cautious one. Not that I wish you to do nothing--all I want is that your actions should be guided by a reasoned policy, all risks avoided; that the conduct of the war should be controlled by you at all times; that you should neither lay aside your sword nor relax your vigilance but seize the opportunity that offers, while never giving the enemy a chance to take you at a disadvantage. Go slowly, and all will be clear and sure. Haste is always improvident and blind.
Livy (The History of Rome, Books 21-30: The War with Hannibal)