Words I Needed Last Week 11/15

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion.

I’ve started the past few mornings with Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” over black coffee, after writing my morning pages, a life-changing assignment from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” I’ll pluck a gel pen from the plastic bucket I keep in the kitchen's corner and set forth: dreaming, confessing, questioning, and answering on the page. Sometimes forgetting what I wrote, yet still feeling unburdened, weightless. 

I’ve ended the past few evenings with Sarah M. Brooms “The Yellow House,” left speechless by the gargantuan labor of love every sentence offers. Reminding me of how I, too, aspire to resurrect and chronicle my family's history. It’s amazing how, unknowingly, your art is someone’s proof it’s possible.  

This week’s words are a reflection of all the bits and pieces I’ve been fortunate enough to consume and savor. I hope you enjoy.

“It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their own souls’ before they die. ‘Nothing is more rare in any man,” says Emerson, ‘than an act of his own.’ It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

“To regret one's own experience is to arrest one's own development. To deny one’s own experience is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”

“Truth in art is the unity of a thing with itself: the outward rendered expressive of the inward: the soul made incarnate: the boy instinct with spirit.”

“My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom. Failure, disgrace, poverty, sorrow, despair, suffering, tears even, the broken words that come from lips in pain, remorse that makes one walk on thorns, conscience that condemns, self-abasement that punishes, the misery that puts ashes on its head, the anguish that chooses sack-cloth for its raiment and into its own drink puts gall:—all these were things of which I was afraid. And as I had determined to know nothing of them, I was forced to taste each of them in turn, to feed on them, to have for a season, indeed, no other food at all. 

—Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis,” 1905.               

“One important reason to travel the world is so you know how to speak about things. So that there exists in one’s mind a system of comparison so that one can realize, finally, and most importantly, that it is true: no one thing exists unto itself…”

“We are all born into histories, worlds existing before us. The same is true of places. No place is without history.”

—Sarah M. Brook, “The Yellow House,” 2019.

“I am learning to see. I don't know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn't stop where it once used to. I have an interior that I never knew of... What's the use of telling someone that I am changing? If I'm changing, I am no longer who I was; and if I am something else, it's obvious that I have no acquaintances. And I can't possibly write to strangers.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,” 1910.

“Many blocked people are actually very powerful and creative personalities who have been made to feel guilty about their own strengths and gifts. Without being acknowledged, they are often used as batteries by their families and friends, who feel free to both use their creative energies and disparage them. When these artists strive to break free of their dysfunctional systems, they are urged to be sensible when such advice is not appropriate for them.”

“Ask yourself bluntly what next steps are you evading. What dreams are you discounting as impossible given your resources? What payoff are you getting for remaining stuck at this point in your expansion?...experiment with this two-step process: ask for answers in the evening, listen for answers in the morning. Be open to all help.

— Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way,” 1992 

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.