I feel compelled not to pass on a vision of bleakness, destruction or cynicism. I want to tell the truth as I see it, but I also have to believe that individuals - my kids, your kids, whoever - can do something about it, and I want to show the ways in which they can do something about it.
John Edgar Wideman
The church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were both intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, and so did the brothels.
We are children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.
The average cooking in the average hotel for the average Englishman explains to a large extent the English bleakness and taciturnity. Nobody can beam and warble while chewing pressed beef smeared with diabolical mustard. Nobody can exult aloud while ungluing from his teeth a quivering tapioca pudding.
Each of us is alone in the world. It takes great courage to meet the full force of your aloneness. ... When you face your aloneness, something begins to happen. Gradually, the sense of bleakness changes into a sense of true belonging. This is a slow and open-ended transition but it is utterly vital in order to come into rhythm with your own individuality.
Courage to me means ploughing through that dull gray mist that comes down on life-not only overriding people and circumstances but overriding the bleakness of living. A sort of insistence on the value of life and the worth of transient things...My courage is faith-faith in the eternal resilience of me-that joy'll come back, and hope and spontaneity. And I feel that till it does, I've got to keep my lips shut and my chin high, and my eyes wide
F. Scott Fitzgerald
You know my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.
Martin Luther King
And just for a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, wiht a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. - Sal Paradise
I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one's life, change the nature and direction of one's work, and give final meaning and color to one's loves and friendships.
Kay Redfield Jamison
Walk openly, Marian used to say. Love even the threat and the pain, feel yourself fully alive, cast a bold shadow, accept, accept. What we call evil is only a groping towards good, part of the trial and error by which we move toward the perfected consciousness... God is kind? Life is good? Nature never did betray the heart that loved her? Why the reward she received for living intensely and generously and trying to die with dignity? Why the horror at the bridge her last clear sight of earth?... I do not accept, I am not reconciled. But one thing she did. She taught me the stupidity of the attempt to withdraw and be free of trouble and harm... She said, 'You wondered what was in whale's milk. Now you know. Think of the force down there, just telling things to get born, just to be!' I had had no answer for her then. Now I might have one. Yes, think of it, I might say. And think how random and indiscriminate it is, think how helplessly we must submit, think how impossible it is to control or direct it. Think how often beauty and delicacy and grace are choked out by weeds. Think how endless and dubious is the progress from weed to flower. Even alive, she never convinced me with her advocacy of biological perfectionism. She never persuaded me to ignore, or look upon as merely hard pleasures, the evil that I felt in every blight and smut and pest in my garden- that I felt, for that matter, squatting like a toad on my own heart. Think of the force of life, yes, but think of the component of darkness in it. One of the things that's in whale's milk is the promise of pain and death. And so? Admitting what is so obvious, what then? Would I wipe Marion Catlin out of my unperfected consciousness if I could? Would I forgo the pleasure of her company to escape the bleakness of her loss? Would I go back to my own formula, which was twilight sleep, to evade the pain she brought with her? Not for a moment. And so even in the gnashing of my teeth, I acknowledge my conversion. It turns out to be for me as I once told her it would be for her daughter. I shall be richer all my life for this sorrow.
As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Corinthians 6:10). Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her. Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine's kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark's, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him. "But we can never be united, " said Sorrow wistfully. "No, never." And Joy's eyes shadowed as he spoke. "My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays." "My path, " said Sorrow, turning slowly away, "leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs-the love song of the night-shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell." Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him. "I see Him as the King of Joy, " whispered Sorrow, "for on His Head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever." "Nay, Sorrow, " said Joy softly, "but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known." "Then we are one in Him, " they cried in gladness, "for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow." Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, "as sorrowful yet always rejoicing." Should Sorrow lay her hand upon thy shoulder, And walk with thee in silence on life's way, While Joy, thy bright companion once, grown colder, Becomes to thee more distant day by day? Shrink not from the companionship of Sorrow, She is the messenger of God to thee; And thou wilt thank Him in His great tomorrow For what thou knowest not now, thou then shalt see; She is God's angel, clad in weeds of night, With 'whom we walk by faith and not by sight.
Mrs. Charles E. Cowman