Standardised Quotes

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Like most people, when I look back, the family house is held in time, or rather it is now outside of time, because it exists so clearly and it does not change, and it can only be entered through a door in the mind. I like it that pre-industrial societies, and religious cultures still, now, distinguish between two kinds of time - linear time, that is also cyclical because history repeats itself, even as it seems to progress, and real time, which is not subject to the clock or the calendar, and is where the soul used to live. This real time is reversible and redeemable. It is why, in religious rites of all kinds, something that happened once is re-enacted - Passover, Christmas, Easter, or, in the pagan record, Midsummer and the dying of the god. As we participate in the ritual, we step outside of linear time and enter real time. Time is only truly locked when we live in a mechanised world. Then we turn into clock-watchers and time-servers. Like the rest of life, time becomes uniform and standardised. When I left home at sixteen I bought a small rug. It was my roll-up world. Whatever room, whatever temporary place I had, I unrolled the rug. It was a map of myself. Invisible to others, but held in the rug, were all the places I had stayed - for a few weeks, for a few months. On the first night anywhere new I liked to lie in bed and look at the rug to remind myself that I had what I needed even though what I had was so little. Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won't help you. Why did I leave home when I was sixteen? It was one of those important choices that will change the rest of your life. When I look back it feels like I was at the borders of common sense, and the sensible thing to do would have been to keep quiet, keep going, learn to lie better and leave later. I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it. And here is the shock - when you risk it, when you do the right thing, when you arrive at the borders of common sense and cross into unknown territory, leaving behind you all the familiar smells and lights, then you do not experience great joy and huge energy. You are unhappy. Things get worse. It is a time of mourning. Loss. Fear. We bullet ourselves through with questions. And then we feel shot and wounded. And then all the cowards come out and say, 'See, I told you so.' In fact, they told you nothing.

Jeanette Winterson
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