Tag Archives: inspiration

The Way Story Lives in Us

There is no mystery greater than our own mystery. We are, to ourselves, unknown. And yet we do know. The thought we cannot quite think is nevertheless somehow a thought, and it lives in us without our being able to think it. We are a mystery, but we are a living mystery. The most alive thing about us is what we are when thought breaks off and our mind can go no further—for that is where our yearning begins, our inconsolable yearning, and the loneliness that begets compassion, the forlornness that prepares the heart for love.                                                                      A. Powell Davies

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I posted this quote recently here in this spot.  I posted it as I do all my quotes, because it captured my heart when I read it, so I wanted to pass it on.  But on the day it sprang to new life on my website, I found myself pausing over it again.  Not just admiring the words, the thought.  Not just wanting to pass them on as “true.”  But wanting to name the truth in my own life.

No mystery greater than our own mystery.

Every piece of fiction I have ever written has come out of “a thought [I] cannot quite think.”

I start with an idea that captures my imagination.  There has to be struggle embedded in the idea.  There is no story, at least in the traditional western sense of story, without struggle.  But I start with something I pluck from the air or from a newspaper story or from something that happened to me when I was a kid just because it seems interesting.  And if the idea is truly interesting to me, other ideas begin to fly to it, like iron filings to a magnet.  It builds.  And builds.

I never ask myself why I’m thinking of writing this particular story.  Asking why would be a bit like slicing open a cat to see what makes her purr.  I just keep turning the idea in my mind.  And if it truly belongs to me—it keeps growing.

But I still don’t know what makes it my story.  I just sit down and write it.

Sometimes I don’t know why I wrote this particular story until reviewers and readers begin to talk to me about it, to tell me what my words mean to them.  And then, at last, I can say . . . “Oh!  Of course!”  Sometimes I begin to understand as I reach my story’s conclusion.  (And interestingly enough, I always know where my story will end before I write the first word, but still it’s the writing of it that reveals its truth to me.)

My story becomes “the thought that lives in [me] without [my] being able to think it.”  Which is precisely why I am compelled to bring it into the world as a story.

I wonder sometimes, have always wondered, whether someday I will no longer need to cloak my unknown self in story.  Is it possible to become so transparent to myself that I won’t be compelled to search out my own mystery this way?

But then A. Powell Davis also said, “The most alive thing about us is what we are when thought breaks off and our mind can go no further—for that is where our yearning begins, our inconsolable yearning, and the loneliness that begets compassion, the forlornness that prepares the heart for love.”

“That is where our yearning begins, our inconsolable yearning.”

“And the loneliness that begets compassion, the forlornness that prepares the heart for love.”

Where have I ever heard a deeper, truer expression of the way story lives in us?

A work in progress

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In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters.

Steven King

There is no need to be afraid of death

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There is no need to be afraid of death. It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a façade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are. Every individual human being born on this earth has the capacity to become a unique and special person unlike any who has ever existed before or will ever exist again… When you live as if you’ll live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do. You live your life in preparation for tomorrow or in remembrance of yesterday, and meanwhile, each day is lost. In contrast, when you fully understand that each day you awaken could be the last you have, you take the time that day to grow, to become more of who you really are, to reach out to other human beings.
                                                                                                 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Happiness and Freedom

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Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learn to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

Epictetus, 55 – 135

The Thing is to Love Life

The thing is

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it,

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it…

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you again.

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Ellen Bass