Nobody wants to do it - not real change, not soul change, not the painful molecular change required to truly become who you need to be. Nobody ever does real transformation for fun. Nobody ever does it on a dare. You do it only when your back is so far against the wall that you have no choice anymore.
Here's the thing: the unit of reverence in Europe is the family, which is why a child born today of unmarried parents in Sweden has a better chance of growing up in a house with both of his parents than a child born to a married couple in America. Here we revere the couple, there they revere the family.
I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the monkey mind. The thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. My mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined. You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.
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The Yogic sages say that all the pain of a human life is caused by words, as is all the joy. We create words to define our experience and those words bring attendant emotions that jerk us around like dogs on a leash. We get seduced by our own mantras (I'm a failure I'm lonely I'm a failure I'm lonely) and we become monuments to them. To stop talking for a while, then, is to attempt to strip away the power of words, to stop choking ourselves with words, to liberate ourselves from our suffocating mantras.
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When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.
There's a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint,'Dear saint-please, please, please...give me the grace to win the lottery.' This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue come to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust,'My son-please, please, please...buy a ticket.
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People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other's personalities. Who wouldn't? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that's not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner's faults honestly and say, 'I can work around that. I can make something out of it.'? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it's always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.
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I think it's wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that's how it should be. But I don't necessarily know that it's the wisest thing in the world to expect that it ends there, or that it should, 30 years down the road, still look as it did on the night of your first kiss.
My love affair with (him) had a wonderful element of romance to it, which I will always cherish. But it was not an infatuation, and here's how I can tell: because I did not demand that he become my Great Emancipator or my Source of All Life, nor did I immediately vanish into that man's chest cavity like a twisted, unrecognizable, parasitical homonculus. During our long period of courtship, I remained intact within my own personality, and I allowed myself to meet (him) for who he was.
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I have a lot of trouble forgiving myself for being so dumb... But yes, of course, the big generous compassionate view that you should take of yourself and of all events is: what a glorious circus train this has been, and what a wonderful messy parade, and all of those steps took me here, where I precisely need to be now, so God bless it.
In every possible instance Saint Paul begged Christians to restrain themselves to contain their carnal yearnings to live solitary and sexless lives on earth as it is in heaven. "But if they cannot contain " Paul finally conceded then "let them marry for it is better to marry than to burn." Which is perhaps the most begrudging endorsement of matrimony in human history.
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Astonishingly, at some point, a sputtering torch was thrust into her hands. Alma did not see who gave it to her. She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos-the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path. Nobody stopped her. She was a comet. She did not know that she was not flying.
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Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can't even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I'm aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention. If you don't have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert; they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.
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Unfenced by law, the unmarried lover can quit a bad relationship at any time. But you - the legally married person who wants to escape doomed love - may soon discover that a significant portion of your marriage contract belongs to the State, and that it sometimes takes a very long while for the State to grant you your leave.
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Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where all is correct. But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion." Nothing follows a regular course. Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will be more perilous.
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But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one's life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favourite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?
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Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.
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