What Defines A Person Quotes

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I'm unpredictable, I never know where I'm going until I get there, I'm so random, I'm always growing, learning, changing, I'm never the same person twice. But one thing you can be sure of about me; is I will always do exactly what I want to do.
C. JoyBell C.
No matter where i go, i still end up me. What's missing never changes. The scenery may change, but i'm still the same incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that i can never satisfy. I think that lack itself is as close as i'll come to defining myself.
Haruki Murakami (South of the Border, West of the Sun)
We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven't even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.
Chuck Klosterman (Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story)
...you are defined by how you live your life, not whom you live it with, and certainly not by what you gave up to be with that person.
Greg Behrendt (It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broken: The Smart Girl's Break-Up Buddy)
HOW do you define a word without concrete meaning? To each his own, the saying goes, so WHY push to attain an ideal state of being that no two random people will agree is WHERE you want to be? Faultless. Finished. Incomparable. People can never be these, and anyway, WHEN did creating a flawless facade become a more vital goal than learning to love the person WHO lives inside your skin? The outside belongs to others. Only you should decide for you - WHAT is perfect.
Ellen Hopkins (Perfect (Impulse, #2))
Middle age has been defined as what happens when a person's broad mind and narrow waist change places.
A.C. Grayling (The Heart of Things: Applying Philosophy to the 21st Century)
I am a strong and powerful woman. I am proud to be a woman and I celebrate the qualities that I have as a woman. I am not defined by other people’s opinion of who I should be or what I should do as a woman. I determine that, not anyone else. I am not passed up for a position, title, or promotion because I am a woman. I fully deserve all the good things that comes my way. Irrespective of what anyone might think, being a woman places no boundaries or limits on my abilities. I can do anything I set my mind to. I celebrate my womanhood and I am beautiful both inside and out.
Idowu Koyenikan (Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability)
Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction. These are irresistible forces, able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into traversable pathways and expanding opportunities. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being. As the great nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche so brilliantly noted, “He whose life has a why can bear almost any how.
Jordan B. Peterson (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos)
One way to define wisdom is the ability to see, into the future, the consequences of your choices in the present. That ability can give you a completely different perspective on what the future might look like.
Andy Andrews (The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective)
About once or twice every month I engage in public debates with those whose pressing need it is to woo and to win the approval of supernatural beings. Very often, when I give my view that there is no supernatural dimension, and certainly not one that is only or especially available to the faithful, and that the natural world is wonderful enough—and even miraculous enough if you insist—I attract pitying looks and anxious questions. How, in that case, I am asked, do I find meaning and purpose in life? How does a mere and gross materialist, with no expectation of a life to come, decide what, if anything, is worth caring about? Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don't believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart's content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others—while in the meantime it is precisely those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity—so the answer to the first question falls into two parts. A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called 'meaningless' except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be expended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities… but there, there. Enough.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.
Fannie Flagg (The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion)
I always feel as if I'm struggling to become someone else. As if I'm trying to find a new place, grab hold of a new life, a new personality. I suppose it's part of growing up, yet it's also an attempt to re-invent myself. By becoming a different me, I could free myself of everything. I seriously believed I could escape myself - as long as I made the effort. But I always hit a dead end. No matter where I go, I still end up me. What's missing never changes. The scenery may change, but I'm still the same old incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that I can never satisfy. I think that lack itself is as close as I'll come to defining myself.
Haruki Murakami (South of the Border, West of the Sun)
If you define your personality as creative, it only means you understand what is perceived to be creative by the world at large, so you're really just following a rote creative template. That's the opposite of creativity. Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time. But ANYWAY...
Chuck Klosterman
Having uncompromising belief also means safeguarding your own spirit, defining who and what you want in your life.
Steve Pemberton (The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World)
The most fundamental thing about a person is desire. It defines them. Tell me what a person wants, truly wants, and I'll tell you who they are, and how to persuade them.
Max Barry (Lexicon)
Identity is a strange thing. Are we who we say we are, or do we become the person others see? Do they define us by what we choose to show them, or what they see despite our best attempts to conceal it?
Julie Clark (The Last Flight)
We all have control over what kind of person we are. Each word that comes out, each action that we take, defines us.
Ruth Cardello (Maid for the Billionaire (Legacy Collection, #1))
There’s this idea in psychoanalysis that I’ve always liked.” Julian pulled himself closer and rested his head in the crook of Paul’s arm. “It’s that what we call ‘love’ is actually letting your identity fill in around the shape of the other person—you love someone by defining yourself against them. It says loss hurts because there’s nothing holding that part of you in place anymore. But your outline still holds, and it keeps holding. The thing you shaped yourself into by loving them, you never stop being that. The marks are permanent, so the idea of the person you loved is permanent, too.
Micah Nemerever (These Violent Delights)
Where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to take it in. It was a vision so clear and real and vital to me that in its purity it was almost abstract. This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the tangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one’s own taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person’s love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term “generosity of spirit” applied to nothing, was a cliche, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire- meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface, was all that anyone found meaning in…this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged…
Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho)
A mother isn’t the person who births you; it’s the person who rears you and shows you love.
Raquel Cepeda (Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina)
The literature says this is normal for traumatized people. Experts say it’s all part of the three P’s: We think our sadness is personal, pervasive, and permanent. Personal, in that we have caused all the problems we face. Pervasive, in that our entire life is defined by our failings. And permanent, in that the sadness will last forever.
Stephanie Foo (What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma)
The person you marry is the person you fight with. The house you buy is the house you repair. The dream job you take is the job you stress over. Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice—whatever makes us feel good will also inevitably make us feel bad. What we gain is also what we lose. What creates our positive experiences will define our negative experiences.
Mark Manson
We are called at certain moments to comfort people who are enduring some trauma. Many of us don't know how to react in such situations, but others do. In the first place, they just show up. They provide a ministry of presence. Next, they don't compare. The sensitive person understands that each person's ordeal is unique and should not be compared to anyone else's. Next, they do the practical things--making lunch, dusting the room, washing the towels. Finally, they don't try to minimize what is going on. They don't attempt to reassure with false, saccharine sentiments. They don't say that the pain is all for the best. They don't search for silver linings. They do what wise souls do in the presence of tragedy and trauma. They practice a passive activism. They don't bustle about trying to solve something that cannot be solved. The sensitive person grants the sufferer the dignity of her own process. She lets the sufferer define the meaning of what is going on. She just sits simply through the nights of pain and darkness, being practical, human, simple, and direct.
David Brooks (The Road to Character)
Our instructors do not understand how it is. To be bound to someone in such a way. They are too old, too out of touch with their emotions. They no longer remember what it is to live and breathe within the world. They think it simple to pit any two people against each other. It is never simple. The other person becomes how you define your life, how you define yourself. They become as necessary as breathing. Then they expect the victor to continue on without that. It would be like pulling the Murray twins apart and expecting them to be the same. They would be whole but not complete.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the “choir,” or already “gets it.” White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual antiracist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
The personality is defined by its inconsistencies, not its consistencies. It's what makes us unique and who we are.
Sherrilyn Kenyon (The Guardian (Dark-Hunter, #20; Dream-Hunter, #5; Were-Hunter, #6; Hellchaser, #5))
I believe the defining moment was when certain persons, who shall remain nameless, objected to my fuchsia silk striped waistcoat. I loved that waistcoat. I put my foot down, right then and there; I do not mind telling you!" To punctuate his deeply offended feelings, he stamped one silver-and-pearl-decorated high heel firmly. "No one tells me what I can and cannot wear!" He snapped up a lace fan from where it lay on a hall table and fanned himself vigorously with it for emphasis.
Gail Carriger (Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1))
you said. if it is meant to be. fate will bring us back together. for a second i wonder if you are really that naive. if you really believe fate works like that. as if it lives in the sky staring down at us. as if it has five fingers and spends its time placing us like pieces of chess. as if it is not the choices we make. who taught you that. tell me. who convinced you. you’ve been given a heart and a mind that isn’t yours to use. that your actions do not define what will become of you. i want to scream and shout it’s us you fool. we’re the only ones that can bring us back together. but instead i sit quietly. smiling softly through quivering lips thinking. isn’t it such a tragic thing. when you can see it so clearly but the other person doesn’t.
Rupi Kaur (milk and honey)
What kind of dining set defines me as a person?
Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)
What marriage offers - and what fidelity is meant to protect - is the possibility of moments when what we have chosen and what we desire are the same. Such a convergence obviously cannot be continuous. No relationship can continue very long at its highest emotional pitch. But fidelity prepares us for the return of these moments, which give us the highest joy we can know; that of union, communion, atonement (in the root sense of at-one-ment)... To forsake all others does not mean - because it cannot mean - to ignore or neglect all others, to hide or be hidden from all others, or to desire or love no others. To live in marriage is a responsible way to live in sexuality, as to live in a household is a responsible way to live in the world. One cannot enact or fulfill one's love for womankind or mankind, or even for all the women or men to whom one is attracted. If one is to have the power and delight of one's sexuality, then the generality of instinct must be resolved in a responsible relationship to a particular person. Similarly, one cannot live in the world; that is, one cannot become, in the easy, generalizing sense with which the phrase is commonly used, a "world citizen." There can be no such think as a "global village." No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one's partiality. (pg.117-118, "The Body and the Earth")
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
Perfect? How do you define a word without concrete meaning? To each his own, the saying goes, so why push to attain an ideal state of being that no two random people will agree is where you want to be? Faultless. Finished. Incomparable. People can never be these, and anyway, when did creating a flawless facade become a more vital goal than learning to love the person who lives inside your skin? The outside belongs to others. Only you should decide for you--- what is perfect
Ellen Hopkins (Perfect (Impulse, #2))
It was so silly to try to define things by words. What did one person mean by infatuation or obsession and another mean by love. The whole thing couldn't be tidied away with neat little labels." - Lena Gray
Maeve Binchy (The Glass Lake)
It is important not to confuse “patriotism” with “nationalism.” As I define it, nationalism is a monologue in which you place your country in a position of moral and cultural supremacy over others. Patriotism, while deeply personal, is a dialogue with your fellow citizens, and a larger world, about not only what you love about your country but also how it can be improved.
Dan Rather (What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism)
For some life is incredibly easy, and for others, life is incredibly hard. Regardless of what side you fall on, you will certainly face challenges in your life. It's how you face and overcome these challenges that will ultimately define you as a person.
Bryan A. Wood (Unspoken Abandonment: Sometimes the hardest part of going to war is coming home)
There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. You think you know yourself when you know what you are. But you never know who you are. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot. See that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable. You are not. Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation. Suffering is a call for enquiry, all pain needs investigation. Don’t be too lazy to think.
Nisargadatta Maharaj
Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life's most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt. When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20. Even if you do nothing, not making choices is a choice all the same. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do.
Meg Jay (The Defining Decade Why Your 20s Matter)
Henry, this isn't about us. I mean it is, but they don't define you by the button you wear. They define you by what you do, by what your actions say about you. And coming here, despite your parents, says a lot to them- and me. And they're Americans first. They don't see you as the enemy. They see you as a person.
Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet)
Maybe I wasn’t defined by the mistakes I had made after all . . . maybe those decisions were what allowed me to become the person I was always destined to be.
Holly Madison (Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny)
The more a person knows of himself, the more he will hesitate to define his nature and to assert what he must necessarily feel, and the more he will be astounded at his capacity to feel in unsuspected and unpredictable ways.
Alan W. Watts (Nature, Man and Woman)
I think about how there are certain people who come into your life, and leave a mark. I don’t mean the usual faint impression: he was cute, she was nice, they made me laugh, I wish I’d known her better, I remember the time she threw up in class. And I don’t just mean that they change you. A lot of people can change you – the first kid who called you a name, the first teacher who said you were smart., the first person who crowned you best friend. It’s the change you remember, the firsts and what they meant, not really the people. Ethan changed me, for instance, but the longer we are apart the more he sort of recedes into the distance as a real person and in his place is a cardboard cutout that says first boyfriend. I’m talking about the ones who, for whatever reason are a part of you as your own soul. Their place in your heart is tender; a bruise of longing, a pulse of unfinished business. My mom was right about that. Just hearing their names pushes and pulls at you in a hundred ways, and when you try to define those hundred ways, describe them even to yourself, words are useless. If you had a lifetime to talk, there would still be things left unsaid.
Sara Zarr (Sweethearts)
Love isn’t defined by what you deserve. It’s about finding that one person you know you can’t live without and never letting them go.-Pierce
Lisa De Jong (Lies Unspoken (Flawed Love, #1))
The English historian Thomas Carlyle defined a person’s religion as the set of values evident in his or her actions, regardless of what the individual would claim to believe when asked.
Terryl L. Givens (The Crucible of Doubt)
With my veil I put my faith on display—rather than my beauty. My value as a human is defined by my relationship with God, not by my looks. I cover the irrelevant. And when you look at me, you don’t see a body. You view me only for what I am: a servant of my Creator. You see, as a Muslim woman, I’ve been liberated from a silent kind of bondage. I don’t answer to the slaves of God on earth. I answer to their King.
Yasmin Mogahed (Reclaim Your Heart: Personal Insights on Breaking Free from Life's Shackles)
by now you've already formed your own impression. you believe that an act committed a lifetime ago defines a man, or you believe that a person's past has nothing to do with his future. you think i am either a hero, or a monster. maybe knowning more about circumstances will make you think differently about me, but it won't change what happened twenty-eight years ago.
Jodi Picoult (Vanishing Acts)
I think that, generally, people of the world typify a "free and wild" person as someone who's uprooted, detached and uninhibited. But I don't believe in that kind of freedom. I think that's an infantile concept. Freedom means something when it has escaped something! Those people who escaped things— their inner cages, cages set by others around them— when those people are able to roam free and say, "This is who I am because this is who I choose to be", THAT is freedom. Freedom isn't being stupid; freedom is being so smart that you develop a strength strong enough to break free and become your own person. A better person than what your circumstances would like to define you as.
C. JoyBell C.
The gospel of submission, commitment, decision, and victorious living is not good news about what God has achieved but a demand to save ourselves with God’s help. Besides the fact that Scripture never refers to the gospel as having a personal relationship with Jesus nor defines faith as a decision to ask Jesus to come into our heart, this concept of salvation fails to realize that everyone has a personal relationship with God already: either as a condemned criminal standing before a righteous judge or as a justified coheir with Christ and adopted child of the Father.
Michael S. Horton
Make life easier for those around you, not harder. Every person you know is fighting their own great battle. Few of us ever know what those battles entail, and so often we say and do things that push others deeper and harder into the front lines of those battles. I know such has been the relentless lifelong reality for me. Love a person for the person that they are. Or dislike them for the person that they are. But don’t love or dislike them for the sole reason that they see people differently than you do. Don’t love or dislike them because they experience the world differently than you do. And please don’t eternally and wholly define them with sexual labels just because they were among those who finally found the courage to acknowledge their truth.
Dan Pearce (Single Dad Laughing: The Best of Year One)
We live in time, it bounds us and defines us, and time is supposed to measure history, isn't it? But if we can't understand time, can't grasp its mysteries of pace and progress, what chance do we have with history—even our own small, personal, largely undocumented piece of it?
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending)
We want our children to become who they are--- and a developed person is, above all, free. But freedom as we define it doesn't mean doing what you want. Freedom means the ability to make choices that are good for you. It is the power to choose to become what you are capable of becoming, to develop your unique potential by making choices that turn possibility into reality. It is the ability to make choices that actualize you. As often as not, maybe more often than not, this kind of freedom means doing what you do not want, doing what is uncomfortable or tiring or boring or annoying.
Gregory J. Millman (Homeschooling: A Family's Journey)
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)
The porn films are not about sex. Sex is airbrushed and digitally washed out of the films. There is no acting because none of the women are permitted to have what amounts to a personality. The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation. The lightning in the films is harsh and clinical. Pubic hair is shaved off to give the women the look of young girls or rubber dolls. Porn, which advertises itself as sex, is a bizarre, bleached pantomime of sex. The acts onscreen are beyond human endurance. The scenarios are absurd. The manicured and groomed bodies, the huge artificial breasts, the pouting oversized lips, the erections that never go down, and the sculpted bodies are unreal. Makeup and production mask blemishes. There are no beads of sweat, no wrinkle lines, no human imperfections. Sex is reduced to a narrow spectrum of sterilized dimensions. It does not include the dank smell of human bodies, the thump of a pulse, taste, breath—or tenderness. Those in films are puppets, packaged female commodities. They have no honest emotion, are devoid of authentic human beauty, and resemble plastic. Pornography does not promote sex, if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation. It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.
Chris Hedges (Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle)
The word “repurpose” means to take an object and give it amnesia. It means to make something forget what it’s been trained to do so you can use it for a better reason. I am learning that this body is not a shotgun. I am learning that this body is not a pistol. I am learning that a man is not defined by what he can destroy. I am learning that a person who only knows how to fight can only communicate in violence and that shouldn’t be anyone’s first language. I am learning that the difference between a garden and a graveyard is only what you choose to put in the ground.
Rudy Francisco (Helium (Button Poetry))
I favour humans over ideology, but right now the ideologues are winning, and they're creating a stage for constant artificial high dramas, where everyone is either a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. We can lead good, ethical lives, but some bad phraseology in a Tweet can overwhelm it all - even though we know that's not how we should define our fellow humans. What's true about our fellow humans is that we are clever and stupid. We are grey areas. And so ... when you see an unfair or an ambiguous shaming unfold, speak up on behalf of the shamed person. A babble of opposing voices - that's democracy. The great thing about social media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people. Let's not turn it into a world where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless.
Jon Ronson (So You've Been Publicly Shamed)
You think your past defines you, and worse, you think that it is an unchangeable reality, when really, your perception of it changes as you do. Because experience is always multi-dimensional, there are a variety of memories, experiences, feelings, “gists” you can choose to recall…and what you choose is indicative of your present state of mind. So many people get caught up in allowing the past to define them or haunt them simply because they have not evolved to the place of seeing how the past did not prevent them from achieving the life they want, it facilitated it. This doesn’t mean to disregard or gloss over painful or traumatic events, but simply to be able to recall them with acceptance and to be able to place them in the storyline of your personal evolution.
Brianna Wiest (101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think)
For many people, life is full of pain, suffering. It doesn't consist of clear blue skies or fresh green grass that's always greener on the other side. It's filled with hardships, grief, betrayal, and death. These things define the human condition. They define the sort of person an individual grows up to be, once those tribulations have, for the most part, ended. But what truly defines you isn't the fact that you have seen death, known the feeling of betrayal by someone you trust, or watched as something you loved was ripped out of your hands. What truly defines you is the way you reacted.
Tiana Dalichov
But I still feel like I lost. We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It's easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in the sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven't even met yet. probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you'll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there's still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it always happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of those lovable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. You will remember having conversations with this person that never actually happened. You will recall sexual trysts with this person that never technically occurred. This is because the individual who embodies your personal definition of love does not really exist. The person is real, and the feelings are real-but you create the context. And context is everything. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they're often just the person you happen to meet first time you really, really want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else.
Chuck Klosterman (Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story)
One's 'thing'--(1) A point of personal interest; a hobby, sport, or avocation that succinctly defines a person. (2) A brief coupling of words used to evoke someone's personality in a small-talk setting: Billy's thing used to be soccer; now it's masterbation. (3) A laconic summation of one's character and interests used for the purpose of categorization and judgement. See also 'What do you do?
Joshua Braff (The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green)
Wisdom can be gathered on your downtime. Wisdom that can change the very course of your life will come from the people you are around, the books you read, and the things you listen to or watch on radio or television. Of course, bad information is gathered in your downtime too. Bad information that can change the very course of your life will come from the people you are around, the books you read, and the things you listen to or watch on radio or television. One of wisdom's greatest benefits, is accurate discernment- the learned ability to immediately tell right from wrong. Good from evil. Acceptable from unacceptable. Time well spent from time wasted. The right decision from the wrong decision. And many times this is simply a matter of having the correct perspective. One way to define wisdom is THE ABILITY TO SEE, INTO THE FUTURE, THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES IN THE PRESENT. That ability can give you a completely different perspective on what the future might look like... with a degree of intelligence and a hint of wisdom, most people can tell the difference between good and bad. However, it takes a truly wise person to discern the oh-so-thin line between good and best. And that line...[gives you the] perspective that allows you to see clearly the long-term consequences of your choices.
Andy Andrews (The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective)
People live their lives based on what they define as "reality" and "truth", but both are vague terms, their meaning easily change from person to person and even from time to time, therefore, cannot we say that people live in illusions of their own creation? Wisdom is to see beyond our own foolishness, once that is achieved it becomes impossible not to see how the world should really be; cowards remain indifferent and forsake their wisdom by lying to themselves, the only other path is to choose to change the world, and in doing so we become great, we become people to be remembered, and best of all, we forsake our regrets.
Masashi Kishimoto
The simplistic way of not conforming is to see what is in style in our culture and then do the opposite. If short hair is in vogue, the nonconformist wears long hair. If going to the movies is popular, then Christians avoid movies as “worldly.” The extreme case of this may be seen in groups that refuse to wear buttons or use electricity because such things, too, are worldly. A superficial style of nonconformity is the classical pharisaical trap. The kingdom of God is not about buttons, movies, or dancing. The concern of God is not focused on what we eat or what we drink. The call of nonconformity is a call to a deeper level of righteousness, that goes beyond externals. When piety is defined exclusively in terms of externals, the whole point of the apostle’s teaching has been lost. Somehow we have failed to hear Jesus’ words that it is not what goes into a person’s mouth that deflies a person, but what comes out of that mouth. We still want to make the kingdom a matter of eating and drinking.
R.C. Sproul (The Holiness of God)
The boxes that are supposed to help us understand one another ultimately wedge us further apart. Even worse is that we rage against the artificial divisions the boxes create, claim that we’re more complex and complicated than how we’re defined by others, and then turn around and stuff the next person we meet into one and tape the lid shut. And then, as if the indignity of life isn’t enough, when a person dies, we cram what’s left of them into one final box for eternity.
Shaun David Hutchinson (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried)
Most Muggles lived in a world defined by the limits of what you could do with cars and telephones. Even though Muggle physics explicitly permitted possibilities like molecular nanotechnology or the Penrose process for extracting energy from black holes, most people filed that away in the same section of their brain that stored fairy tales and history books, well away from their personal realities: Long ago and far away, ever so long ago.
Eliezer Yudkowsky (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality)
Is there something in your past that you think measured you? A test score? A dishonest or callous action? Being fired from a job? Being rejected? Focus on that thing. Feel all the emotions that go with it. Now put it in a growth-mindset perspective. Look honestly at your role in it, but understand that it doesn’t define your intelligence or personality. Instead, ask: What did I (or can I ) learn from that experience? How can I use it as a basis for growth? Carry that with you instead.
Carol S. Dweck (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success)
Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the defining word on God—on what the heart of God is truly like, on what God is up to in the world, and on what God is up to in your life. An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home. To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.
John Eldredge (Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus)
The theme of invisibility has haunted me for many years, since earliest girlhood. A woman often feels ‘invisible’ in a public sense precisely because her physical being - her ‘visibility’ - figures so prominently in her identity. She is judged as a body, she is ‘attractive’ or ‘unattractive’, while knowing that her deepest self is inward, and secret: knowing, hoping that her spiritual essence is a great deal more complex than the casual eye of the observer will allow… it might be argued that all persons, defined to themselves rather more as what they think and dream than what they do, are ‘invisible’.
Joyce Carol Oates
Even though people are shallow and lots of people prefer scripted fictional heroes to real human beings, they can still be shaken out of it in the presence of someone who is REAL. Your problem is not that you haven’t mastered the conversational skills necessary to maintain someone’s interest. Your problem is that you’ve never forced yourself to define exactly who you are and what you love and how you want to live. You’ve never had to talk about these things passionately. You’ve never dared to lay yourself bare, without apology. Once you can look someone in the eyes and say, “Here’s what really matters to me”? That’s what people find attractive, trust me. They want to be with someone who knows himself and gives a shit. That’s what’s alluring and attractive and irreplaceable, even in this age of smooth make-believe.
Heather Havrilesky (How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life)
Well, everyone has a friend who holds a very special place in his life. Talking about men…a friend whom you love unconditionally and selflessly.....a friend who knows every secret of your life and who is always the first person whom you want to call when you are in some mess…a friend who tells you exactly what you want to hear. Ena was such a friend to me. My best friend – if that defines the zenith of good friendship. I would rather say, there is no definition of friendship that we shared with each other, the more I explain it, the more complicated it becomes to recite the aspects of our relationship. She was that closer a friend to me, who knew all the nitty-gritties of my life…from every girl who ever came into my life, to passwords of my email accounts or public profiles. Absolutely everything! She was the only girl on earth I trusted blindly and cared for, truly and unconditionally. She was the only girl who could actually make me dance to her beats. We shared that deeper relationship with each other.
Shivam Singh (Best Friends)
The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you’re already good, whole, and complete. It’s about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind. In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.
Yongey Mingyur (The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness)
This must be our day to define the best of who we are and what we will stand for. Tonight, in the glow of gratitude for our free will, let us write down the words and phrases that describe our ideal identity. Put them on beautiful paper and in ink. Carry them everywhere. Look at these words, memorize them, verbalize them—become them. The more we align our actions with this identity, the more free, motivated, and whole we shall become. Life will feel brighter and more our own, more deep and satisfying. Destiny will smile on us and we will be welcomed into the gates of heaven as people of purpose and integrity.
Brendon Burchard (The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power)
Perhaps I just feel safer with the history that’s been more or less agreed upon. Or perhaps it’s that same paradox again: the history that happens underneath our noses ought to be the clearest, and yet it’s the most deliquescent. We live in time, it bounds us and defines us, and time is supposed to measure history, isn’t it? But if we can’t understand time, can’t grasp its mysteries of pace and progress, what chance do we have with history - even our own small, personal, largely undocumented piece of it? And it ought to be obvious to us that time doesn’t act as a fixative, rather as a solvent. But it’s not convenient - it’s not useful - to believe this; it doesn’t help us get on with our lives; so we ignore it.
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending)
There is a sense of danger in leaving what you know, even if what you know isn’t much. These mill towns with their narrow lanes and often narrow minds were all I really knew and I feared that if I left it behind, I would lose it and not find anything to replace it. The other reason I didn’t want to go was because I wanted to be the kind of person who stays, who builds a stable and predictable life. But I wasn’t one of the people, nor would I ever be. I had a vision for my life. It wasn’t clear, but it was beautiful and involved leaving my history and my poverty behind me. I wasn’t happy about who I was or where I was, but I didn’t worry about it. It didn’t define me. We’re always in the making. God always has us on his anvil, melting, bending and shaping us for another purpose. It was time to change, to find a new purpose.
John William Tuohy
Some empathy must be learned and then imagined, by perceiving the suffering of others and translating it into one's own experience of suffering and thereby suffering a little with then. Empathy can be a story you tell yourself about what it must be like to be that other person; but its lack can also arrive from narrative, about why the sufferer deserved it, or why that person or those people have nothing to do with you. Whole societies can be taught to deaden feeling, to dissociate from their marginal and minority members, just as people can and do erase the humanity of those close to them. Empathy makes you imagine the sensation of the torture, of the hunger, of the loss. You make that person into yourself, you inscribe their suffering on your own body or heart or mind, and then you respond to their suffering as though it were your own. Identification, we say, to mean that I extend solidarity to you, and who and what you identify with builds your own identity. Physical pain defines the physical boundaries of the self but these identifications define a larger self, a map of affections and alliances, and the limits of this psychic self are nothing more or less than the limits of love. Which is to say love enlarges; it annexes affectionately; at its utmost it dissolves all boundaries.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
In earlier times, one had an easier conscience about being a person than one does today. People were like cornstalks in a field, probably more violently tossed back and forth by God, hail, fire, pestilence, and war than they are today, but as a whole, as a city, a region, a field, and as to what personal movement was left to the individual stalk – all this was clearly defined and could be answered for. But today responsibility’s center of gravity is not in people but in circumstances. Have we not noticed that experiences have made themselves independent of people? They have gone on the stage, into books, into the reports of research institutes and explorers, into ideological or religious communities, which foster certain kinds of experience at the expense of others as if they are conducting a kind of social experiment, and insofar as experiences are not actually being developed, they are simply left dangling in the air. Who can say nowadays that his anger is really his own anger when so many people talk about it and claim to know more about it than he does? A world of qualities without a man has arisen, of experiences without the person who experiences them, and it almost looks as though ideally private experience is a thing of the past, and that the friendly burden of personal responsibility is to dissolve into a system of formulas of possible meanings. Probably the dissolution of the anthropocentric point of view, which for such a long time considered man to be at the center of the universe but which has been fading away for centuries, has finally arrived at the “I” itself, for the belief that the most important thing about experience is the experiencing, or of action the doing, is beginning to strike most people as naïve. There are probably people who still lead personal lives, who say “We saw the So-and-sos yesterday” or “We’ll do this or that today” and enjoy it without its needing to have any content of significance. They like everything that comes in contact with their fingers, and are purely private persons insofar as this is at all possible. In contact with such people, the world becomes a private world and shines like a rainbow. They may be very happy, but this kind of people usually seems absurd to the others, although it is still not at all clear why. And suddenly, in view of these reflections, Ulrich had to smile and admit to himself that he was, after all, a character, even without having one.
Robert Musil (The Man Without Qualities: Volume I)
Each of our lives’ is a separate and precious journey. No matter how happy, sad, painful, tragic or confusing it may by, it is unique and beautiful. No matter if we hurt others or if we ourselves were hurt, it happened and it is part of our story. If we think we can have complete control over this journey, our journey will wake us up… usually with a very unpleasant surprise. More than genetics, money or education, it is our journey who defines who we are. It defines what kind of person you are. Not the experiences you encountered nor the happy or traumatic events you may have endured. But rather how we dealt with those events and how we continue to deal with those events; when we evaluate ourselves and how we treat others. Your journey is part of your story. But it is not the complete story of who and how you are. You are a soul, a spirit, who has traveled through this life and along the way; you learned and gathered bits and pieces from here and there. And you, yourself, have woven together a soul, a spirit. And that is who you are today. You define… you. Oh, and just in case you thought your journey, your story was over… surprise, its not. So keep weaving. You are not finished yet. It is never to late to define who you are.
José N. Harris
But what is [the] quality of originality? It is very hard to define or specify. Indeed, to define originality would in itself be a contradiction, since whatever action can be defined in this way must evidently henceforth be unoriginal. Perhaps, then, it will be best to hint at it obliquely and by indirection, rather than to try to assert positively what it is. One prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it. Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear to him may be overturned. But the ability to learn in this way is a principle common to the whole of humanity. Thus it is well known that a child learns to walk, to talk, and to know his way around the world just by trying something out and seeing what happens, then modifying what he does (or thinks) in accordance with what has actually happened. In this way, he spends his first few years in a wonderfully creative way, discovering all sorts of things that are new to him, and this leads people to look back on childhood as a kind of lost paradise. As the child grows older, however, learning takes on a narrower meaning. In school, he learns by repetition to accumulate knowledge, so as to please the teacher and pass examinations. At work, he learns in a similar way, so as to make a living, or for some other utilitarian purpose, and not mainly for the love of the action of learning itself. So his ability to see something new and original gradually dies away. And without it there is evidently no ground from which anything can grow.
David Bohm (On Creativity (Routledge Classics))
First, with the establishment of a state and territorially defined state borders, “immigration” takes on an entirely new meaning. In a natural order, immigration is a person’s migration from one neighborhood-community into a different one (micro-migration). In contrast, under statist conditions immigration is immigration by “foreigners” from across state borders, and the decision whom to exclude or include, and under what conditions, rests not with a multitude of independent private property owners or neighborhoods of owners but with a single central (and centralizing) state-government as the ultimate sovereign of all domestic residents and their properties (macro-migration). If a domestic resident-owner invites a person and arranges for his access onto the resident-owner’s property but the government excludes this person from the state territory, it is a case of forced exclusion (a phenomenon that does not exist in a natural order). On the other hand, if the government admits a person while there is no domestic resident-owner who has invited this person onto his property, it is a case of forced integration (also nonexistent in a natural order, where all movement is invited).
Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Friendship is a difficult thing to define. Oscar here is my oldest friend. How would you define friendship, Oscar?" Oscar grunts slightly, as though the answer is obvious. "Friendship is about choice and chemistry. It cannot be defined." "But surely there's something more to it than that." "It is a willingness to overlook faults and to accept them. I would let a friend hurt me without striking back," he says, smiling. "But only once." De Souza laughs. "Bravo, Oscar, I can always rely on you to distill an argument down to its purest form. What do you think, Dayel?" The Indian rocks his head from side to side, proud that he has been asked to speak next. "Friendship is different for each person and it changes throughout our lives. At age six it is about holding hands with your best friend. At sixteen it is about the adventure ahead. At sixty it is about reminiscing." He holds up a finger. "You cannot define it with any one word, although honesty is perhaps the closest word-" "No, not honesty," Farhad interrupts. "On the contrary, we often have to protect our friends from what we truly think. It is like an unspoken agreement. We ignore each other's faults and keep our confidences. Friendship isn't about being honest. The truth is too sharp a weapon to wield around someone we trust and respect. Friendship is about self-awareness. We see ourselves through the eyes of our friends. They are like a mirror that allows us to judge how we are traveling." De Souza clears his throat now. I wonder if he is aware of the awe that he inspires in others. I suspect he is too intelligent and too human to do otherwise. "Friendship cannot be defined," he says sternly. "The moment we begin to give reasons for being friends with someone we begin to undermine the magic of the relationship. Nobody wants to know that they are loved for their money or their generosity or their beauty or their wit. Choose one motive and it allows a person to say, 'is that the only reason?'" The others laugh. De Souza joins in with them. This is a performance. He continues: "Trying to explain why we form particular friendships is like trying to tell someone why we like a certain kind of music or a particular food. We just do.
Michael Robotham (The Night Ferry)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. According to the science of biology, people were not ‘created’. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be ‘equal’. The idea of equality is inextricably intertwined with the idea of creation. The Americans got the idea of equality from Christianity, which argues that every person has a divinely created soul, and that all souls are equal before God. However, if we do not believe in the Christian myths about God, creation and souls, what does it mean that all people are ‘equal’? Evolution is based on difference, not on equality. Every person carries a somewhat different genetic code, and is exposed from birth to different environmental influences. This leads to the development of different qualities that carry with them different chances of survival. ‘Created equal’ should therefore be translated into ‘evolved differently’. Just as people were never created, neither, according to the science of biology, is there a ‘Creator’ who ‘endows’ them with anything. There is only a blind evolutionary process, devoid of any purpose, leading to the birth of individuals. ‘Endowed by their creator’ should be translated simply into ‘born’. Equally, there are no such things as rights in biology. There are only organs, abilities and characteristics. Birds fly not because they have a right to fly, but because they have wings. And it’s not true that these organs, abilities and characteristics are ‘unalienable’. Many of them undergo constant mutations, and may well be completely lost over time. The ostrich is a bird that lost its ability to fly. So ‘unalienable rights’ should be translated into ‘mutable characteristics’. And what are the characteristics that evolved in humans? ‘Life’, certainly. But ‘liberty’? There is no such thing in biology. Just like equality, rights and limited liability companies, liberty is something that people invented and that exists only in their imagination. From a biological viewpoint, it is meaningless to say that humans in democratic societies are free, whereas humans in dictatorships are unfree. And what about ‘happiness’? So far biological research has failed to come up with a clear definition of happiness or a way to measure it objectively. Most biological studies acknowledge only the existence of pleasure, which is more easily defined and measured. So ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ should be translated into ‘life and the pursuit of pleasure’. So here is that line from the American Declaration of Independence translated into biological terms: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved differently, that they are born with certain mutable characteristics, and that among these are life and the pursuit of pleasure.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Of course, my mother is her own person. Of course, she contains multitudes. She reacts in ways that surprise me, in part, simply because she isn't me. I forget this and relearn it anew because it's a lesson that doesn't, that can't stick. I knew her only as she is defined against me, in her role as my mother, so when I see her as herself, like when she gets catcalled on the street, there's dissonance. When she wants for me things that I don't want for myself--Christ, marriage, children--I am angry that she doesn't understand me, doesn't see me as my own, separate person, but that anger stems from the fact that I don't see her that way either. I want her to know what I want the same way I know it, intimately, immediately, I want her to get well because I want her to get well, and isn't that enough? My first thought, the year my brother died and my mother took to bed, was that I needed her to be mine again, a mother as I understood it. And when she didn't get up, when she lay there day in and day out, wasting away, I was reminded that I didn't know her, not wholly and completely. I would never know her.
Yaa Gyasi (Transcendent Kingdom)
Wisdom is really the key to wealth. With great wisdom, comes great wealth and success. Rather than pursuing wealth, pursue wisdom. The aggressive pursuit of wealth can lead to disappointment. Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, and being able to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. Wisdom is basically the practical application of knowledge. Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs. Become completely focused on one subject and study the subject for a long period of time. Don't skip around from one subject to the next. The problem is generally not money. Jesus taught that the problem was attachment to possessions and dependence on money rather than dependence on God. Those who love people, acquire wealth so they can give generously. After all, money feeds, shelters, and clothes people. They key is to work extremely hard for a short period of time (1-5 years), create abundant wealth, and then make money work hard for you through wise investments that yield a passive income for life. Don't let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you're crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you're lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you're greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn't understand. Failure is success if we learn from it. Continuing failure eventually leads to success. Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. Whenever you pursue a goal, it should be with complete focus. This means no interruptions. Only when one loves his career and is skilled at it can he truly succeed. Never rush into an investment without prior research and deliberation. With preferred shares, investors are guaranteed a dividend forever, while common stocks have variable dividends. Some regions with very low or no income taxes include the following: Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Panama, San Marino, Seychelles, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Curaçao, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Monaco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Kuwait, Oman, Andorra, Cayman Islands, Belize, Vanuatu, and Campione d'Italia. There is only one God who is infinite and supreme above all things. Do not replace that infinite one with finite idols. As frustrated as you may feel due to your life circumstances, do not vent it by cursing God or unnecessarily uttering his name. Greed leads to poverty. Greed inclines people to act impulsively in hopes of gaining more. The benefit of giving to the poor is so great that a beggar is actually doing the giver a favor by allowing the person to give. The more I give away, the more that comes back. Earn as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Invest as much as you can. Give as much as you can.
H.W. Charles (The Money Code: Become a Millionaire With the Ancient Jewish Code)
To say exactly what one means, even to one's own private satisfaction, is difficult. To say exactly what one means and to involve another person is harder still. Communication between you and me relies on assumptions, associations, commonalities and a kind of agreed shorthand, which no-one could precisely define but which everyone would admit exists. That is one reason why it is an effort to have a proper conversation in a foreign language. Even if I am quite fluent, even if I understand the dictionary definitions of words and phrases, I cannot rely on a shorthand with the other party, whose habit of mind is subtly different from my own. Nevertheless, all of us know of times when we have not been able to communicate in words a deep emotion and yet we know we have been understood. This can happen in the most foreign of foreign parts and it can happen in our own homes. It would seem that for most of us, most of the time, communication depends on more than words.
Jeanette Winterson (Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery)
BERENGER: And you consider all this natural? 

DUDARD: What could be more natural than a rhinoceros? 

 BERENGER: Yes, but for a man to turn into a rhinoceros is abnormal beyond question. 

DUDARD: Well, of course, that's a matter of opinion ... 

 BERENGER: It is beyond question, absolutely beyond question! 
DUDARD: You seem very sure of yourself. Who can say where the normal stops and the abnormal begins? Can you personally define these conceptions of normality and abnormality? Nobody has solved this problem yet, either medically or philosophically. You ought to know that. 

 BERENGER: The problem may not be resolved philosophically -- but in practice it's simple. They may prove there's no such thing as movement ... and then you start walking ... [he starts walking up and down the room] ... and you go on walking, and you say to yourself, like Galileo, 'E pur si muove' ... 

 DUDARD: You're getting things all mixed up! Don't confuse the issue. In Galileo's case it was the opposite: theoretic and scientific thought proving itself superior to mass opinion and dogmatism. 

 BERENGER: [quite lost] What does all that mean? Mass opinion, dogmatism -- they're just words! I may be mixing everything up in my head but you're losing yours. You don't know what's normal and what isn't any more. I couldn't care less about Galileo ... I don't give a damn about Galileo. 

 DUDARD: You brought him up in the first place and raised the whole question, saying that practice always had the last word. Maybe it does, but only when it proceeds from theory! The history of thought and science proves that. BERENGER: [more and more furious] It doesn't prove anything of the sort! It's all gibberish, utter lunacy! 

DUDARD: There again we need to define exactly what we mean by lunacy ... 

 BERENGER: Lunacy is lunacy and that's all there is to it! Everybody knows what lunacy is. And what about the rhinoceroses -- are they practice or are they theory?
Eugène Ionesco (Rhinoceros / The Chairs / The Lesson)
The popular concept–that we should each determine our own morality–is based on the belief that the spiritual realm is nothing at all like the rest of the world. Does anyone really believe that? For many years after each of the morning and evening Sunday services I remained in the auditorium for another hour to field questions. Hundreds of people stayed for the give-and-take discussions. One of the most frequent statements I heard was that 'Every person has to define right and wrong for him- or herself.' I always responded to the speakers by asking, 'Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behavior?' They would invariable say, 'Yes, of course.' Then I would ask, “Doesn’t that mean that you do believe there is some kind of moral reality that is "there" that is not defined by us, that must be abided by regardless of what a person feels or thinks?' Almost always, the response to that question was silence, either a thoughtful or a grumpy one.
Timothy J. Keller (The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)
Over the years I have developed and employed a variety of such coping mechanisms, mostly focusing around a philosophy I call, “Live Because.” “Live Because” is in contrast to what I’ve termed “Live Despite,” which is the idea that people can live rich, full lives in spite of their physical or emotional barriers. “Live Because” takes this a step further by suggesting that in many cases, patients can live a more fulfilling life with their illness than they could ever have done without it. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has transformed me from a frequently petty and self-absorbed person into the person I am today (still somewhat self-absorbed, but a lot less petty, and with a clearly defined purpose of alleviating whatever suffering I can). I am better because of my illness, and not just in spite of it. But this process was, and still is, a journey. Chronic illness is nearly always accompanied by depression, and the need to constantly remain one step ahead of my illness has left me fearful and exhausted. I could never go through this alone... A part of me will always be angry; such is the process of mourning the pieces of oneself that are lost to chronic disease. I have learned to accept the duality of being bitter and at peace; ignorant and enlightened... while still laying a foundation of hope for the possibility that I can still realize my personal dreams and ambitions, even if not in the exact ways I had expected.
Michael Bihovsky
...where there was nature and earth, life and water, I saw a desert landscape that was unending, resembling some sort of crater, so devoid of reason and light and spirit that the mind could not grasp it on any sort of conscious level and if you came close the mind would reel backward, unable to take it in. It was a vision so clear and real and vital to me that in its purity it was almost abstract. This was what I could understand, this was how I lived my life, what I constructed my movement around, how I dealt with the tangible. This was the geography around which my reality revolved: it did not occur to me, ever, that people were good or that a man was capable of change or that the world could be a better place through one's taking pleasure in a feeling or a look or a gesture, of receiving another person's love or kindness. Nothing was affirmative, the term "generosity of spirit" applied to nothing, was a cliche, was some kind of bad joke. Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire - meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence. God is not alive. Love cannot be trusted. Surface, surface, surface was all that anyone found meaning in... this was civilization as I saw it, colossal and jagged...
Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho)
But even while Rome is burning, there’s somehow time for shopping at IKEA. Social imperatives are a merciless bitch. Everyone is attempting to buy what no one can sell.  See, when I moved out of the house earlier this week, trawling my many personal belongings in large bins and boxes and fifty-gallon garbage bags, my first inclination was, of course, to purchase the things I still “needed” for my new place. You know, the basics: food, hygiene products, a shower curtain, towels, a bed, and umm … oh, I need a couch and a matching leather chair and a love seat and a lamp and a desk and desk chair and another lamp for over there, and oh yeah don’t forget the sideboard that matches the desk and a dresser for the bedroom and oh I need a coffeetable and a couple end tables and a TV-stand for the TV I still need to buy, and don’t these look nice, whadda you call ’em, throat pillows? Oh, throw pillows. Well that makes more sense. And now that I think about it I’m going to want my apartment to be “my style,” you know: my own motif, so I need certain decoratives to spruce up the decor, but wait, what is my style exactly, and do these stainless-steel picture frames embody that particular style? Does this replica Matisse sketch accurately capture my edgy-but-professional vibe? Exactly how “edgy” am I? What espresso maker defines me as a man? Does the fact that I’m even asking these questions mean I lack the dangling brass pendulum that’d make me a “man’s man”? How many plates/cups/bowls/spoons should a man own? I guess I need a diningroom table too, right? And a rug for the entryway and bathroom rugs (bath mats?) and what about that one thing, that thing that’s like a rug but longer? Yeah, a runner; I need one of those, and I’m also going to need…
Joshua Fields Millburn (Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists)
He is all my art to me now," said the painter gravely. "I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the world's history. The first is the appearance of a new medium for art, and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, sketch from him. Of course, I have done all that. But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. There is nothing that art cannot express, and I know that the work I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way—I wonder will you understand me?—his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. 'A dream of form in days of thought'—who is it who says that? I forget; but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad—for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty— his merely visible presence—ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body— how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me! You remember that landscape of mine, for which Agnew offered me such a huge price but which I would not part with? It is one of the best things I have ever done. And why is it so? Because, while I was painting it, Dorian Gray sat beside me. Some subtle influence passed from him to me, and for the first time in my life I saw in the plain woodland the wonder I had always looked for and always missed.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
In our relationships, weatherproofing typically plays itself out like this: You meet someone and all is well. You are attracted to his or her appearance, personality, intellect, sense of humor, or some combination of these traits. Initially, you not only approve of your differences with this person, you actually appreciate them. You might even be attracted to the person, in part because of how different you are. You have different opinions, preferences, tastes, and priorities. After a while, however, you begin to notice little quirks about your new partner (or friend, teacher, whoever), that you feel could be improved upon. You bring it to their attention. You might say, “You know, you sure have a tendency to be late.” Or, “I’ve noticed you don’t read very much.” The point is, you’ve begun what inevitably turns into a way of life—looking for and thinking about what you don’t like about someone, or something that isn’t quite right. Obviously, an occasional comment, constructive criticism, or helpful guidance isn’t cause for alarm. I have to say, however, that in the course of working with hundreds of couples over the years, I’ve met very few people who didn’t feel that they were weatherproofed at times by their partner. Occasional harmless comments have an insidious tendency to become a way of looking at life. When you are weatherproofing another human being, it says nothing about them—but it does define you as someone who needs to be critical. Whether you have a tendency to weatherproof your relationships, certain aspects of your life, or both, what you need to do is write off weatherproofing as a bad idea. As the habit creeps into your thinking, catch yourself and seal your lips. The less often you weatherproof your partner or your friends, the more you’ll notice how super your life really is.
Richard Carlson (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life)
This distorted lens may lead someone studying human sexuality to ask: “Where are you on a spectrum from straight to gay?” This question would miss a pattern we found in our data suggesting that people's arousal systems are not bundled by the gender of whatever it is that turns them on: 4.5% of men find the naked male form aversive but penises arousing, while 6.7% of women find the female form arousing, but vaginas aversive. Using simplified community identifications like the gay-straight spectrum to investigate how and why arousal patterns develop is akin to studying historic human migration patterns by distributing a research survey asking respondents to report their position on a spectrum from “white” to “person of color.” Yes, “person of color,” like the concept of “gay,” is a useful moniker to understand the life experiences of a person, but a person’s place on a “white” to “person of color” spectrum tells us little about their ethnicity, just as a person’s place on a scale of gay to straight tells us little about their underlying arousal patterns. The old way of looking at arousal limits our ability to describe sexuality to a grey scale. We miss that there is no such thing as attraction to just “females,” but rather a vast array of arousal systems that react to stimuli our society typically associates with “females” including things like vaginas, breasts, the female form, a gait associated with a wider hip bone, soft skin, a higher tone of voice, the gender identity of female, a person dressed in “female” clothing, and female gender roles. Arousal from any one of these things correlates with the others, but this correlation is lighter than a gay-straight spectrum would imply. Our data shows it is the norm for a person to derive arousal from only a few of these stimuli sets and not others. Given this reality, human sexuality is not well captured by a single sexual spectrum. Moreover, contextualizing sexuality as a contrast between these communities and a societal “default” can obscure otherwise-glaring data points. Because we contrast “default” female sexuality against “other” groups, such as the gay community and the BDSM community, it is natural to assume that a “typical” woman is most likely to be very turned on by the sight of male genitalia or the naked male form and that she will be generally disinterested in dominance displays (because being gay and/or into BDSM would be considered atypical, a typical woman must be defined as the opposite of these “other,” atypical groups). Our data shows this is simply not the case. The average female is more likely to be very turned on by seeing a person act dominant in a sexual context than she is to be aroused by either male genitalia or the naked male form. The average woman is not defined by male-focused sexual attraction, but rather dominance-focused sexual attraction. This is one of those things that would have been blindingly obvious to anyone who ran a simple survey of arousal pathways in the general American population, but has been overlooked because society has come to define “default” sexuality not by what actually turns people on, but rather in contrast to that which groups historically thought of as “other.
Simone Collins (The Pragmatist’s Guide to Sexuality: What Turns People On, Why, and What That Tells Us About Our Species (The Pragmatist's Guide))
Don’t strive to be a well-rounded leader. Instead, discover your zone and stay there. Then delegate everything else. Admitting a weakness is a sign of strength. Acknowledging weakness doesn’t make a leader less effective. Everybody in your organization benefits when you delegate responsibilities that fall outside your core competency. Thoughtful delegation will allow someone else in your organization to shine. Your weakness is someone’s opportunity. Leadership is not always about getting things done “right.” Leadership is about getting things done through other people. The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault. As a leader, gifted by God to do a few things well, it is not right for you to attempt to do everything. Upgrade your performance by playing to your strengths and delegating your weaknesses. There are many things I can do, but I have to narrow it down to the one thing I must do. The secret of concentration is elimination. Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing. My competence in these areas defines my success as a pastor. A sixty-hour workweek will not compensate for a poorly delivered sermon. People don’t show up on Sunday morning because I am a good pastor (leader, shepherd, counselor). In my world, it is my communication skills that make the difference. So that is where I focus my time. To develop a competent team, help the leaders in your organization discover their leadership competencies and delegate accordingly. Once you step outside your zone, don’t attempt to lead. Follow. The less you do, the more you will accomplish. Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed. Accepting the status quo is the equivalent of accepting a death sentence. Where there’s no progress, there’s no growth. If there’s no growth, there’s no life. Environments void of change are eventually void of life. So leaders find themselves in the precarious and often career-jeopardizing position of being the one to draw attention to the need for change. Consequently, courage is a nonnegotiable quality for the next generation leader. The leader is the one who has the courage to act on what he sees. A leader is someone who has the courage to say publicly what everybody else is whispering privately. It is not his insight that sets the leader apart from the crowd. It is his courage to act on what he sees, to speak up when everyone else is silent. Next generation leaders are those who would rather challenge what needs to change and pay the price than remain silent and die on the inside. The first person to step out in a new direction is viewed as the leader. And being the first to step out requires courage. In this way, courage establishes leadership. Leadership requires the courage to walk in the dark. The darkness is the uncertainty that always accompanies change. The mystery of whether or not a new enterprise will pan out. The reservation everyone initially feels when a new idea is introduced. The risk of being wrong. Many who lack the courage to forge ahead alone yearn for someone to take the first step, to go first, to show the way. It could be argued that the dark provides the optimal context for leadership. After all, if the pathway to the future were well lit, it would be crowded. Fear has kept many would-be leaders on the sidelines, while good opportunities paraded by. They didn’t lack insight. They lacked courage. Leaders are not always the first to see the need for change, but they are the first to act. Leadership is about moving boldly into the future in spite of uncertainty and risk. You can’t lead without taking risk. You won’t take risk without courage. Courage is essential to leadership.
Andy Stanley (Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future)
There was a muffled tap again, and I heard a familiar voice whisper faintly, “Kelsey, it’s me.” I unlocked the door and peeked out. Ren was standing there dressed in his white clothes, barefoot, with a triumphant grin on his face. I pulled him inside and hissed out thickly, “What are you doing here? It’s dangerous coming into town! You could have been seen, and they’d send hunters out after you!” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned. “I missed you.” My mouth quirked up in a half smile. “I missed you too.” He leaned a shoulder nonchalantly against the doorframe. “Does that mean you’ll let me stay here? I’ll sleep on the floor and leave before daylight. No one will see me. I promise.” I let out a deep breath. “Okay, but promise you’ll leave early. I don’t like you risking yourself like this.” “I promise.” He sat down on the bed, took my hand, and pulled me down to sit beside him. “I don’t like sleeping in the dark jungle by myself.” “I wouldn’t either.” He looked down at our entwined hands. “When I’m with you, I feel like a man again. When I’m out there all alone, I feel like a beast, an animal.” His eyes darted up to mine. I squeezed his hand. “I understand. It’s fine. Really.” He grinned. “You were hard to track, you know. Lucky for me you two decided to walk to dinner, so I could follow your scent right to your door.” Something on the nightstand caught his attention. Leaning around me, he reached over and picked up my open journal. I had drawn a new picture of a tiger-my tiger. My circus drawings were okay, but this latest one was more personal and full of life. Ren stared at it for a moment while a bright crimson flush colored my cheeks. He traced the tiger with his finger, and then whispered gently, "Someday, I'll give you a portrait of the real me." Setting the journal down carefully, he took both of my hands in his, turned to me with an intense expression, and said, "I don't want you to see only a tiger when you look at me. I want you to see me. The man." Reaching out, he almost touched my cheek but he stopped and withdrew his hand. "I've worn the tiger's face for far too many years. He's stolen my humanity." I nodded while he squeezed my hands and whispered quietly, "Kells, I don't want to be him anymore. I want to be me. I want to have a life." "I know," I said softly. I reached up to stroke his cheek. "Ren, I-" I froze in place as he pulled my hand slowly down to his lips and kissed my palm. My hand tingled. His blue eyes searched my face desperately, wanting, needing something from me. I wanted to say something to reassure him. I wanted to offer him comfort. I just couldn't frame the words. His supplication stirred me. I felt a deep bond with him, a strong connection. I wanted to help him, I wanted to be his friend, and I wanted...maybe something more. I tried to identify and categorize my reactions to him. What I felt for him seemed too complicated to define, but it soon became obvious to me that the strongest emotion I felt, the one that was stirring my heart, was...love.
Colleen Houck (Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga, #1))
Every age has its own collective neurosis, and every age needs its own psychotherapy to cope with it. The existential vacuum which is the mass neurosis of the present time can be described as a private and personal form of nihilism; for nihilism can be defined as the contention that being has no meaning. As for psychotherapy, however, it will never be able to cope with this state of affairs on a mass scale if it does not keep itself free from the impact and influence of the contemporary trends of a nihilistic philosophy; otherwise it represents a symptom of the mass neurosis rather than its possible cure. Psychotherapy would not only reflect a nihilistic philosophy but also, even though unwillingly and unwittingly, transmit to the patient what is actually a caricature rather than a true picture of man. First of all, there is a danger inherent in the teaching of man's "nothingbutness," the theory that man is nothing but the result of biological, psychological and sociological conditions, or the product of heredity and environment. such a view of man makes a neurotic believe what he is prone to believe anyway, namely, that he is the pawn and victim of outer influences or inner circumstances. This neurotic fatalism is fostered and strengthened by a psychotherapy which denies that man is free. To be sure, a human being is a finite thing and his freedom is restricted. It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions. As I once put it: "As a professor in two fields, neurology and psychiatry, I am fully aware of the extent to which man is subject to biological, psychological and sociological conditions. But in addition to being a professor in two fields I am a survivor of four camps-concentration camps, that is-and as such I also bear witness to the unexpected extent to which man is capable of defying and braving even the worst conditions conceivable.
Viktor E. Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning)
The situation is established not only to provoke defensiveness but to sidetrack the reformer into answering the wrong questions.... In this, the pattern of discourse resembles that of dinnertime conversations about feminism in the early 1970s. Questions of definition often predominate. Whereas feminists were parlaying questions which trivialized feminism such as "Are you one of those bra burners?" vegetarians must define themselves against the trivializations of "Are you one of those health nuts?" or "Are you one of those animal lovers?" While feminists encountered the response that "men need liberation too," vegetarians are greeted by the postulate that "plants have life too." Or to make the issue appear more ridiculous, the position is forwarded this way: "But what of the lettuce and tomato you are eating; they have feelings too!" The attempt to create defensiveness through trivialization is the first conversational gambit which greets threatening reforms. This pre-establishes the perimeters of discourse. One must explain that no bras were burned at the Miss America pageant, or the symbolic nature of the action of that time, or that this question fails to regard with seriousness questions such as equal pay for equal work. Similarly, a vegetarian, thinking that answering these questions will provide enlightenment, may patiently explain that if plants have life, then why not be responsible solely for the plants one eats at the table rather than for the larger quantities of plants consumed by the herbivorous animals before they become meat? In each case a more radical answer could be forwarded: "Men need first to acknowledge how they benefit from male dominance," "Can anyone really argue that the suffering of this lettuce equals that of a sentient cow who must be bled out before being butchered?" But if the feminist or vegetarian responds this way they will be put back on the defensive by the accusation that they are being aggressive. What to a vegetarian or a feminist is of political, personal, existential, and ethical importance, becomes for others only an entertainment during dinnertime.
Carol J. Adams (The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory)
To understand, I destroyed myself. To understand is to forget about loving. I know nothing more simultaneously false and telling than the statement by Leonardo da Vinci that we cannot love or hate something until we’ve understood it. Solitude devastates me; company oppresses me. The presence of another person derails my thoughts; I dream of the other’s presence with a strange absent-mindedness that no amount of my analytical scrutiny can define. Isolation has carved me in its image and likeness. The presence of another person – of any person whatsoever – instantly slows down my thinking, and while for a normal man contact with others is a stimulus to spoken expression and wit, for me it is a counterstimulus, if this compound word be linguistically permissible. When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak, and after half an hour I just feel tired. Yes, talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial, and in them intelligence gleams like an image in a mirror. The mere thought of having to enter into contact with someone else makes me nervous. A simple invitation to have dinner with a friend produces an anguish in me that’s hard to define. The idea of any social obligation whatsoever – attending a funeral, dealing with someone about an office matter, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don’t know – the very idea disturbs my thoughts for an entire day, and sometimes I even start worrying the night before, so that I sleep badly. When it takes place, the dreaded encounter is utterly insignificant, justifying none of my anxiety, but the next time is no different: I never learn to learn. ‘My habits are of solitude, not of men.’ I don’t know if it was Rousseau or Senancour who said this. But it was some mind of my species, it being perhaps too much to say of my race.
Fernando Pessoa
A society that fails to value communality — our need to belong, to care for one another, and to feel caring energy flowing toward us — is a society facing away from the essence of what it means to be human. Pathology cannot but ensue. To say so is not a moral assertion but an objective assessment. "When people start to lose a sense of meaning and get disconnected, that's where disease comes from, that's where breakdown in our health — mental, physical, social health — occurs," the psychiatrist and neuroscientist Bruce Perry told me. If a gene or virus were found that caused the same impacts on the population's well-being as disconnection does, news of it would bellow from front-page headlines. Because it transpires on so many levels and so pervasively, we almost take it for granted; it is the water we swim in. We are steeped in the normalized myth that we are, each of us, mere individuals striving to attain private goals. The more we define ourselves that way, the more estranged we become from vital aspects of who we are and what we need to be healthy. Among psychologists there is a wide-ranging consensus about what our core needs consist of. These have been variously listed as: - belonging, relatedness, or connectedness; - autonomy: a sense of control in one's life; - mastery or competence; - genuine self-esteem, not dependent on achievement, attainment, acquisition, or valuation by others; - trust: a sense of having the personal and social resources needed to sustain one through life; - purpose, meaning, transcendence: knowing oneself as part of something larger than isolated, self-centered concerns, whether that something is overtly spiritual or simply universal/humanistic, or, given our evolutionary origins, Nature. "The statement that the physical and mental life of man, and nature, are interdependent means simply that nature is interdependent with itself, for man is a part of nature." So wrote a twenty-six-year-old Karl Marx in 1844. None of this tells you anything you don't already know or intuit. You can check your own experience: What's it like when each of the above needs is met? What happens in your mind and body when it's lacking, denied, or withdrawn?
Gabor Maté (The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture)
On a relatively unfrequented, stony beach there is a great rock which juts out over the sea. After a climb, an ascent from one jagged foothold to another, a natural shelf is reached where one person can stretch at length, and stare down into the tide rising and falling below, or beyond to the bay, where sails catch light, then shadow, then light, as they tack far out near the horizon. The sun has burned these rocks, and the great continuous ebb and flow of the tide has crumbled the boulders, battered them, worn them down to the smooth sun-scalded stones on the beach which rattle and shift underfoot as one walks over them. A serene sense of the slow inevitability of the gradual changes in the earth’s crust comes over me; a consuming love, not of a god, but of the clean unbroken sense that the rocks, which are nameless, the waves which are nameless, the ragged grass, which is nameless, are all defined momentarily through the consciousness of the being who observes them. With the sun burning into rock and flesh, and the wind ruffling grass and hair, there is an awareness that the blind immense unconscious impersonal and neutral forces will endure, and that the fragile, miraculously knit organism which interprets them, endows them with meaning, will move about for a little, then falter, fail, and decompose at last into the anonomous [sic] soil, voiceless, faceless, without identity. From this experience I emerged whole and clean, bitten to the bone by sun, washed pure by the icy sharpness of salt water, dried and bleached to the smooth tranquillity that comes from dwelling among primal things. From this experience also, a faith arises to carry back to a human world of small lusts and deceitful pettiness. A faith, naïve and child like perhaps, born as it is from the infinite simplicity of nature. It is a feeling that no matter what the ideas or conduct of others, there is a unique rightness and beauty to life which can be shared in openness, in wind and sunlight, with a fellow human being who believes in the same basic principles.
Sylvia Plath (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
A cult is a group of people who share an obsessive devotion to a person or idea. The cults described in this book use violent tactics to recruit, indoctrinate, and keep members. Ritual abuse is defined as the emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive acts performed by violent cults. Most violent cults do not openly express their beliefs and practices, and they tend to live separately in noncommunal environments to avoid detection. Some victims of ritual abuse are children abused outside the home by nonfamily members, in public settings such as day care. Other victims are children and teenagers who are forced by their parents to witness and participate in violent rituals. Adult ritual abuse victims often include these grown children who were forced from childhood to be a member of the group. Other adult and teenage victims are people who unknowingly joined social groups or organizations that slowly manipulated and blackmailed them into becoming permanent members of the group. All cases of ritual abuse, no matter what the age of the victim, involve intense physical and emotional trauma. Violent cults may sacrifice humans and animals as part of religious rituals. They use torture to silence victims and other unwilling participants. Ritual abuse victims say they are degraded and humiliated and are often forced to torture, kill, and sexually violate other helpless victims. The purpose of the ritual abuse is usually indoctrination. The cults intend to destroy these victims' free will by undermining their sense of safety in the world and by forcing them to hurt others. In the last ten years, a number of people have been convicted on sexual abuse charges in cases where the abused children had reported elements of ritual child abuse. These children described being raped by groups of adults who wore costumes or masks and said they were forced to witness religious-type rituals in which animals and humans were tortured or killed. In one case, the defense introduced in court photographs of the children being abused by the defendants[.1] In another case, the police found tunnels etched with crosses and pentacles along with stone altars and candles in a cemetery where abuse had been reported. The defendants in this case pleaded guilty to charges of incest, cruelty, and indecent assault.[2] Ritual abuse allegations have been made in England, the United States, and Canada.[3] Many myths abound concerning the parents and children who report ritual abuse. Some people suggest that the tales of ritual abuse are "mass hysteria." They say the parents of these children who report ritual abuse are often overly zealous Christians on a "witch-hunt" to persecute satanists. These skeptics say the parents are fearful of satanism, and they use their knowledge of the Black Mass (a historically well-known, sexualized ritual in which animals and humans are sacrificed) to brainwash their children into saying they were abused by satanists.[4] In 1992 I conducted a study to separate fact from fiction in regard to the disclosures of children who report ritual abuse.[5] The study was conducted through Believe the Children, a national organization that provides support and educational sources for ritual abuse survivors and their families.
Margaret Smith (Ritual Abuse: What It Is, Why It Happens, and How to Help)
How to Survive Racism in an Organization that Claims to be Antiracist: 10. Ask why they want you. Get as much clarity as possible on what the organization has read about you, what they understand about you, what they assume are your gifts and strengths. What does the organization hope you will bring to the table? Do those answers align with your reasons for wanting to be at the table? 9. Define your terms. You and the organization may have different definitions of words like "justice", "diveristy", or "antiracism". Ask for definitions, examples, or success stories to give you a better idea of how the organization understands and embodies these words. Also ask about who is in charge and who is held accountable for these efforts. Then ask yourself if you can work within the structure. 8. Hold the organization to the highest vision they committed to for as long as you can. Be ready to move if the leaders aren't prepared to pursue their own stated vision. 7. Find your people. If you are going to push back against the system or push leadership forward, it's wise not to do so alone. Build or join an antiracist cohort within the organization. 6. Have mentors and counselors on standby. Don't just choose a really good friend or a parent when seeking advice. It's important to have on or two mentors who can give advice based on their personal knowledge of the organization and its leaders. You want someone who can help you navigate the particular politics of your organization. 5. Practice self-care. Remember that you are a whole person, not a mule to carry the racial sins of the organization. Fall in love, take your children to the park, don't miss doctors' visits, read for pleasure, dance with abandon, have lots of good sex, be gentle with yourself. 4. Find donors who will contribute to the cause. Who's willing to keep the class funded, the diversity positions going, the social justice center operating? It's important for the organization to know the members of your cohort aren't the only ones who care. Demonstrate that there are stakeholders, congregations members, and donors who want to see real change. 3. Know your rights. There are some racist things that are just mean, but others are against the law. Know the difference, and keep records of it all. 2. Speak. Of course, context matters. You must be strategic about when, how, to whom, and about which situations you decide to call out. But speak. Find your voice and use it. 1. Remember: You are a creative being who is capable of making change. But it is not your responsibility to transform an entire organization.
Austin Channing Brown (I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness)
of the problem was that Chaos got a little creation-happy. It thought to its misty, gloomy self: Hey, Earth and Sky. That was fun! I wonder what else I can make. Soon it created all sorts of other problems—and by that I mean gods. Water collected out of the mist of Chaos, pooled in the deepest parts of the earth, and formed the first seas, which naturally developed a consciousness—the god Pontus. Then Chaos really went nuts and thought: I know! How about a dome like the sky, but at the bottom of the earth! That would be awesome! So another dome came into being beneath the earth, but it was dark and murky and generally not very nice, since it was always hidden from the light of the sky. This was Tartarus, the Pit of Evil; and as you can guess from the name, when he developed a godly personality, he didn't win any popularity contests. The problem was, both Pontus and Tartarus liked Gaea, which put some pressure on her relationship with Ouranos. A bunch of other primordial gods popped up, but if I tried to name them all we’d be here for weeks. Chaos and Tartarus had a kid together (don’t ask how; I don’t know) called Nyx, who was the embodiment of night. Then Nyx, somehow all by herself, had a daughter named Hemera, who was Day. Those two never got along because they were as different as…well, you know. According to some stories, Chaos also created Eros, the god of procreation... in other words, mommy gods and daddy gods having lots of little baby gods. Other stories claim Eros was the son of Aphrodite. We’ll get to her later. I don’t know which version is true, but I do know Gaea and Ouranos started having kids—with very mixed results. First, they had a batch of twelve—six girls and six boys called the Titans. These kids looked human, but they were much taller and more powerful. You’d figure twelve kids would be enough for anybody, right? I mean, with a family that big, you’ve basically got your own reality TV show. Plus, once the Titans were born, things started to go sour with Ouranos and Gaea’s marriage. Ouranos spent a lot more time hanging out in the sky. He didn't visit. He didn't help with the kids. Gaea got resentful. The two of them started fighting. As the kids grew older, Ouranos would yell at them and basically act like a horrible dad. A few times, Gaea and Ouranos tried to patch things up. Gaea decided maybe if they had another set of kids, it would bring them closer…. I know, right? Bad idea. She gave birth to triplets. The problem: these new kids defined the word UGLY. They were as big and strong as Titans, except hulking and brutish and in desperate need of a body wax. Worst of all, each kid had a single eye in the middle of his forehead. Talk about a face only a mother could love. Well, Gaea loved these guys. She named them the Elder Cyclopes, and eventually they would spawn a whole race of other, lesser Cyclopes. But that was much later. When Ouranos saw the Cyclops triplets, he freaked. “These cannot be my kids! They don’t even look like me!” “They are your children, you deadbeat!” Gaea screamed back. “Don’t you dare leave me to raise them on my own!
Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson's Greek Gods)
You seem disappointed that I am not more responsive to your interest in "spiritual direction". Actually, I am more than a little ambivalent about the term, particularly in the ways it is being used so loosely without any sense of knowledge of the church's traditions in these matters. If by spiritual direction you mean entering into a friendship with another person in which an awareness and responsiveness to God's Spirit in the everydayness of your life is cultivated, fine. Then why call in an awkward term like "spiritual direction"? Why not just "friend"? Spiritual direction strikes me as pretentious in these circumstances, as if there were some expertise that can be acquired more or less on its own and then dispensed on demand. The other reason for my lack of enthusiasm is my well-founded fear of professionalism in any and all matters of the Christian life. Or maybe the right label for my fear is "functionalism". The moment an aspect of Christian living (human life, for that matter) is defined as a role, it is distorted, debased - and eventually destroyed. We are brothers and sisters with one another, friends and lovers, saints and sinners. The irony here is that the rise of interest in spiritual direction almost certainly comes from the proliferation of role-defined activism in our culture. We are sick and tired of being slotted into a function and then manipulated with Scripture and prayer to do what someone has decided (often with the help of some psychological testing) that we should be doing to bring glory to some religious enterprise or other. And so when people begin to show up who are interested in us just as we are - our souls - we are ready to be paid attention to in this prayerful, listening, non-manipulative, nonfunctional way. Spiritual direction. But then it begins to develop a culture and language and hierarchy all its own. It becomes first a special interest, and then a specialization. That is what seems to be happening in the circles you are frequenting. I seriously doubt that it is a healthy (holy) line to be pursuing. Instead, why don't you look over the congregation on Sundays and pick someone who appears to be mature and congenial. Ask her or him if you can meet together every month or so - you feel the need to talk about your life in the company of someone who believes that Jesus is present and active in everything you are doing. Reassure the person that he or she doesn't have to say anything "wise". You only want them to be there for you to listen and be prayerful in the listening. After three or four such meetings, write to me what has transpired, and we'll discuss it further. I've had a number of men and women who have served me in this way over the years - none carried the title "spiritual director", although that is what they have been. Some had never heard of such a term. When I moved to Canada a few years ago and had to leave a long-term relationship of this sort, I looked around for someone whom I could be with in this way. I picked a man whom I knew to be a person of integrity and prayer, with seasoned Christian wisdom in his bones. I anticipated that he would disqualify himself. So I pre-composed my rebuttal: "All I want you to do is two things: show up and shut up. Can you do that? Meet with me every six weeks or so, and just be there - an honest, prayerful presence with no responsibility to be anything other than what you have become in your obedient lifetime." And it worked. If that is what you mean by "spiritual director," okay. But I still prefer "friend". You can see now from my comments that my gut feeling is that the most mature and reliable Christian guidance and understanding comes out of the most immediate and local of settings. The ordinary way. We have to break this cultural habit of sending out for an expert every time we feel we need some assistance. Wisdom is not a matter of expertise. The peace of the Lord, Eugene
Eugene H. Peterson (The Wisdom of Each Other (Growing Deeper))