Words and Pictures: Thoughts for the Weeks of June 7 and 14, 2009

BLOG Words and Pictures: Thoughts for the Weeks of June 7 and 14, 2009

Taking a bit of a hiatus from links of the week. In its place, here are some remarkable words and pictures that you have pointed me to over the past fortnight. Hope you find them inspirational.


It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.


chimp tigers
Photo of chimp in South Carolina looking after tigers orphaned by Hurricane Hannah. Unfortunately this animal rescue organization makes the animals pay for their keep by putting them in movies, commercials etc. Thanks to Miranda for the link.


    When the mind is clear
    and the surface of the now still,
    now swaying water

    slaps against
    the rolling kayak,

    I find myself near darkness,
    paddling again to Yellow Island.

    Every spring wildflowers
    cover the grey rocks.

    Every year the sea breeze
    ruffles the cold and lovely pearls
    hidden in the center of the flowers

    as if remembering them
    by touch alone.

    A calm and lonely, trembling beauty
    that frightened me in youth.

    Now their loneliness
    feels familiar, one small thing
    I’ve learned these years,

    how to be alone,
    and at the edge of aloneness
    how to be found by the world.

    Innocence is what we allow
    to be gifted back to us
    once we’ve given ourselves away.

    There is one world only,
    the one to which we gave ourselves
    utterly, and to which one day

    we are blessed to return.

             – David Whyte (thanks to Melinda for the link)

dog fireman
An urban myth photo. The story is that the dog in the picture was thanking the fireman for rescuing her and her puppies, but it seems the truth is that the dog escaped the fire by herself, and there were no puppies at that time. Still a good photo, and bravo/brava to firefighters for their respect for all life threatened by fires. Thanks to Tiffany for the link.

I think that if the land starts speaking to me in a human language I will have to move to a boat on the sea…After a dozen years on this farm, I can name most of the plants and nearly all the birds. But what’s the word for the wake the pileated woodpecker leaves as it dips, flying across the pasture? How can I imagine that land speaks in a language when I’m surrounded by animals whose wordless attention is at least as great as mine?

Advice to friends. Advice to fellow mothers in the same boat. “How do you do it all?” Crack a joke. Make it seem easy. Make everything seem easy. Make life seem easy and parenthood and marriage and freelancing for pennies, writing a novel and smiling after a rejection, keeping the faith after two, reminding oneself that four years of work counted for a lot, counted for everything. Make the bed. Make it nice. Make the people laugh when you sit down to write and if you can’t make them laugh make them cry. Make them want to hug you or hold you or punch you in the face. Make them want to kill you or fuck you or be your friend. Make them change. Make them happy. Make the baby smile. Make him laugh. Make him dinner. Make him proud.

Hold the phone, someone is on the other line. She says its important. People are dying. Children. Friends. Press mute because there is nothing you can say. Press off because you’re running out of minutes. Running out of time. Soon he’ll be grown up and you’ll regret the time you spent pushing him away for one more paragraph in the manuscript no one will ever read. Put down the book, the computer, the ideas. Remember who you are now. Wait. Remember who you were. Wait. Remember what’s important. Make a list. Ten things, no twenty. Twenty thousand things you want to do before you die but what if tomorrow never comes? No one will remember. No one will know. No one will laugh or cry or make the bed. No one will have a clue which songs to sing to the baby. No one will be there for the children. No one will finish the first draft of the novel. No one will publish the one that’s been finished for months. No one will remember the thought you had last night, that great idea you forgot to write down.

home project
Excerpt from the remarkable free-online film Home. Thanks to 6 readers for pointing me to this film.

A lot of readers complain when I wax poetical about the charms of some obscure grasshopper instead of spraying the aerosol whupass on Saudi Arabian misogyny or condemning the actions of lunatics who murder abortion providers, but I tell you: the perceivement of grasshoppers is at least as important as those other things. And not just from some la-la-la eccentric amateur naturalist perspective, either. Grasshoppers — and every other non-human being — once appreciated, are more easily identified as members of the casualty class of human domination culture.

lucy and the waterfox david robinson
Drawing from the wise ‘children’s’ book Lucy and the Waterfox by David Robinson

If you need a relationship to be happy, you’re not free. If you need to be alone to feel free, you’re not free. Took me all year to realize.

Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.

–  Jung

cartography of water by judith meskill
Cartography of Water, by Judith Meskill

For every poet it is always morning in the world. History a forgotten, insomniac night; History and elemental awe are always our early beginning, because the fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world, in spite of History.

Derek Walcott (thanks to Sheri Herndon for the link)

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

– ee cummings

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4 Responses to Words and Pictures: Thoughts for the Weeks of June 7 and 14, 2009

  1. RJL says:

    A lovely collection. Thanks for making my Sunday morning.

  2. joan says:

    less brain, more heart! it feels good.

  3. Ria Baeck says:

    Thanks a lot!Ria

  4. Paris says:

    Maybe yes, maybe noWords are as vainAs dust under rainLife is flowingMinds are blooming

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