I feel that all you can do is give it your absolute best with whatever gifts the universe has given you. And if you make it in some way that other people can recognize, that's fine. But even if you don't quote-unquote make it, you're fine, if you've given it your whole heart and soul. You're totally in sync with your purpose and with the universe. And that's fine.
Storytelling, you know, has a real function. The process of the storytelling is itself a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning to them. They're taking the time to do this because your life could use some help, but they don't want to come over and just give advice. They want to give it to you in a form that becomes inseparable from your whole self. That's what stories do. Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why they heal you.
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Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is happening...Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.
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At one point I learned transcendental meditation. This was 30-something years ago. It took me back to the way that I naturally was as a child growing up way in the country, rarely seeing people. I was in that state of oneness with creation and it was as if I didn't exist except as a part of everything.
I'm not [a Buddhist]. The whole point of anything that is really, truly valuable to your soul, and your own growth, is not to attach to a teacher, but rather to find out what the real deal is in the world itself. You become your own guide. The teachings can help you, but really, we're all here with the opportunity the reality of hereness. We all have that. I trust that...I'm just not interested in labels. I find all of them constrictive. They're hard to wear. And they're hard to wear because we're always - hopefully - growing.
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The earth is for joy, and dancing is a big part of that. And you dance with nature. Nature is always dancing. If you're not harassing it and killing it and mutilating it, nature is dancing. That's what the leaves are doing when the wind blows through them. We live in a magical wonderful universe. And just spoil it while thinking we can at some point go to heaven or some other planet.
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Storytelling is how we survive, when there's no feed, the story feeds something, it feeds the spirit, the imagination. I can't imagine life without stories, stories from my parents, my culture. Stories from other people's parents, their culture. That's how we learn from each other, it's the best way. That's why literature is so important, it connects us heart to heart.
Expect nothing. Live frugally On surprise. become a stranger To need of pity Or, if compassion be freely Given out Take only enough Stop short of urge to plead Then purge away the need. Wish for nothing larger Than your own small heart Or greater than a star; Tame wild disappointment With caress unmoved and cold Make of it a parka For your soul. Discover the reason why So tiny human midget Exists at all So scared unwise But expect nothing. Live frugally On surprise.
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Man corrupt everything, say Shug. He on your box of grits, in your head, and all over the radio. He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain't. Whenever you trying to pray, and man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to git lost, say Shug. Conjure up the flowers, wind, water, a big rock.
Listen, God love everything you love - and a mess of stuff you don't. But more than anything else, God love admiration. You saying God vain? I ast. Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. What it do when it pissed off? I ast. Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.
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You telling me God love you, and you ain't never done nothing for him? I mean, not go to church, sing in the choir, feed the preacher and all like that? But if God love me, Celie, I don't have to do all that. Unless I want to. There's a lot of other things I can do that I speck God likes. Like what? I ast. Oh, she say. I can lay back and just admire stuff. Be happy. Have a good time. Well, this sounds like blasphemy sure nuff. She say, Celie, tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for him to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God.
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Here's the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don't know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like shit. It? I ast. Yeah, It. God ain't a he or a she, but a It. But what do it look like? I ast. Don't look like nothing, she say. It ain't a picture show. It ain't something you can look at apart from anything else, including yourself. I believe God is everything, say Shug. Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you've found It. Shug a beautiful something, let me tell you. She frown a little, look out cross the yard, lean back in her chair, look like a big rose. She say, My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and I cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can't miss it. It sort of like you know what, she say, grinning and rubbing high up on my thigh. Shug! I say. Oh, she say. God love all them feelings. That's some of the best stuff God did. And when you know God loves 'em you enjoys 'em a lot more. You can just relax, go with everything that's going, and praise God by liking what you like. God don't think it dirty? I ast. Naw, she say. God made it. Listen, God love everything you love? and a mess of stuff you don't. But more than anything else, God love admiration. You saying God vain? I ast. Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. What it do when it pissed off? I ast. Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back. Yeah? I say. Yeah, she say. It always making little surprises and springing them on us when us least expect. You mean it want to be loved, just like the bible say. Yes, Celie, she say. Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk? Well, us talk and talk bout God, but I'm still adrift. Trying to chase that old white man out of my head. I been so busy thinking bout him I never truly notice nothing God make. Not a blade of corn (how it do that?) not the color purple (where it come from?). Not the little wildflowers. Nothing. Now that my eyes opening, I feels like a fool. Next to any little scrub of a bush in my yard, Mr. ____s evil sort of shrink. But not altogether. Still, it is like Shug say, You have to git man off your eyeball, before you can see anything a'tall. Man corrupt everything, say Shug. He on your box of grits, in your head, and all over the radio. He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God. But he ain't. Whenever you trying to pray, and man plop himself on the other end of it, tell him to git lost, say Shug. Conjure up flowers, wind, water, a big rock. But this hard work, let me tell you. He been there so long, he don't want to budge. He threaten lightening, floods and earthquakes. Us fight. I hardly pray at all. Every time I conjure up a rock, I throw it. Amen
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On Stripping Bark from Myself (for Jane, who said trees die from it) Because women are expected to keep silent about their close escapes I will not keep silent and if I am destroyed (naked tree!) someone will please mark the spot where I fall and know I could not live silent in my own lies hearing their 'how nice she is!' whose adoration of the retouched image I so despise. No. I am finished with living for what my mother believes for what my brother and father defend for what my lover elevates for what my sister, blushing, denies or rushes to embrace. I find my own small person a standing self against the world an equality of wills I finally understand. Besides: My struggle was always against an inner darkness: I carry within myself the only known keys to my death - to unlock life, or close it shut forever. A woman who loves wood grains, the color yellow and the sun, I am happy to fight all outside murderers as I see I must.
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The world is changing, I said. It is no longer a world just for boys and men. Our women are respected here, said the father. We would never let them tramp the world as American women do. There is always someone to look after the Olinka woman. A father. An uncle. A brother or nephew. Do not be offended, Sister Nettie, but our people pity women such as you who are cast out, we know not from where, into a world unknown to you, where you must struggle all alone, for yourself. So I am an object of pity and contempt, I thought, to men and women alike. Furthermore, said Tashi's father, we are not simpletons. We understand that there are places in the world where women live differently from the way our women do, but we do not approve of this different way for our children. But life is changing, even in Olinka, I said. We are here. He spat on the ground. What are you? Three grownups and two children. In the rainy season some of you will probably die. You people do not last long in our climate. If you do not die, you will be weakened by illness. Oh, yes. We have seen it all before. You Christians come here, try hard to change us, get sick and go back to England, or wherever you come from. Only the trader on the coast remains, and even he is not the same white man, year in and year out. We know because we send him women. Tashi is very intelligent, I said. She could be a teacher. A nurse. She could help the people in the village. There is no place here for a woman to do those things, he said. Then we should leave, I said. Sister Corrine and I. No, no, he said. Teach only the boys? I asked. Yes, he said, as if my question was agreement. There is a way that the men speak to women that reminds me too much of Pa. They listen just long enough to issue instructions. They don't even look at women when women are speaking. They look at the ground and bend their heads toward the ground. The women also do not 'look in a man's face' as they say. To 'look in a man's face' is a brazen thing to do. They look instead at his feet or his knees.
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What she showed me was, Yes, I am Grandmother as she is; there is no separation, really, between us. And that, on this planet, Grandmother Earth, there is no higher authority. That our inseparability is why the planet will be steered to safety by Grandmother/Grandmothers or it will not be steered to safety at all.
When it is all too much; when the news is so bad meditation itself feels useless, and a single life feels too small a stone to offer on the altar of Peace, find a Human Sunrise. Find those people who are committed to changing our scary reality. Human sunrises are happening all over the earth, at every moment. People gathering, people working to change the intolerable, people coming in their robes and sandals or in their rags and bare feet, and they are singing, or not, and they are chanting, or not. But they are working to bring peace, light, compassion, to the infinitely frightening downhill slide of Human life.
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I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.
You are all talking a bit too much, said Armando, who had cautioned them from the beginning to stay out of popular culture and in their own interior worlds. When you are caught up in the world that you did not design as support for your life and the life of earth and people, it is like being caught in someone else's dream or nightmare. Many people exist in their lives in this way. I say exist because it is not really living. It is akin to being suspended in a dream one is having at night, a dream over which one has no control. You are going here and there, seeing this and that person; you do not know or care about them usually, they are just there, on your interior screen. Humankind will not survive if we continue in this way, most of us living lives in which our own life is not the center.
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The savage rushing of the river seemed to be inside her head, inside her body. Even when the oarswomen, their guides, were speaking to her, she had the impression she couldn't quite hear them because of the roar. Not of the river that did indeed roar, just behind them, close to the simple shelter they'd made for her, but because of an internal roar as of the sound of a massive accumulation of words, spoken all at once, but collected over a lifetime, now trying to leave her body. As they rose to her lips, and in response to the question: Do you want to go home? she leaned over a patch of yellow grass near her elbow and threw up. All the words from decades of her life filled her throat. Words she had said or had imagined saying or had swallowed before saying to her father, dead these many years. All the words to her mother. To her husbands. Children. Lovers. The words shouted back at the television set, spreading its virus of mental confusion. Once begun, the retching went on and on. She would stop, gasping for breath, rest a minute, and be off again. Draining her body of precious fluid... Soon, exhausted, she was done. No, she had said weakly, I don't want to go home. I'll be all right now.
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Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.
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The more powerful the powerful appear the more invisible they become, said Armando. This used to work differently than now. In the old days it was said that the powerful merged with the divine and the divine was all that one saw. But now the powerful have merged with the shadow, really with death, and when you encounter them they are really hard to see.
Naw, I say. Mr ____, can tell you, I don't like it at all. What is it to like? He git up on you, heist your nightgown round your waist, plunge in. Most times I pretend I ain't there. He never know the difference. Never ast me how I feel, nothing. Just do his business, get off, go to sleep. She start to laugh. Do his business, she say. Do his business. Why, Miss Celie. You make it sound like he going to the toilet on you. That's what it feel like, I say. She stop laughing.
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