Monday, October 24, 2011

Norman Rush

The main effort of arranging your life should be to progressively reduce the amount of time required to decently maintain yourself so that you can have all the time you want for reading.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Everything is hard when you're carrying a bag of dog poop.

Friday, October 21, 2011

David Treuer

If these words are lost," he wrote in a 2008 essay for the Los Angeles Times, "much will happen, but also very little will happen. We will be able to go to Starbucks and GameStop and Wal-Mart and the Home Depot as before. We will tie our shoes the same way and brush our teeth and use Crest Whitestrips. Some of us will still do our taxes. Some of us still won't. The mechanics of life as it is lived by modern Ojibwes will remain, for the most part, unchanged. The language we lose, when we lose it, is replaced by other languages. And yet, I think, more will be lost than simply a bouquet of discrete understandings ... I think what I am trying to say is that we will lose beauty — the beauty of the particular, the beauty of the past and the intricacies of a language tailored for our space in the world.

--David Treuer, Ojibwe novelist, on working to record and preserve the Ojibwe language

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meghan O'Rourke

After a loss, you have to learn to believe the dead one is dead. It doesn't come naturally.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mary Pipher

I read of a Buddhist teacher who developed Alzheimer's. He had retired from teaching because his memory was unreliable, but he made one exception for a reunion of his former students. When he walked onto the stage, he forgot everything, even where he was and why. However, he was a skilled Buddhist and he simply began sharing his feelings with the crowd. He said, "I am anxious. I feel stupid. I feel scared and dumb. I am worried that I am wasting everyone's time. I am fearful. I am embarrassing myself." After a few minutes of this, he remembered his talk and proceeded without apology. The students were deeply moved, not only by his wise teachings, but also by how he handled his failings.

There is a Buddhist saying, "No resistance, no demons."

p197 in Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

Theoretically, I wanted to meditate, but I found actually doing it extraordinarily difficult. As a therapist, I knew that we all want progress, but we resist change. I was a vivid example of this maxim. Figuring out my taxes and going to the dentist were easier than meditating. Even as I told myself meditation was a top priority, I worked to avoid that forty-five minutes alone with my mind. (p182)

from Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

Religions are metaphorical systems that give us bigger containers in which to hold our lives. A spiritual life allows us to move beyond the ego into something more universal. Religious experience carries us outside of clock time into eternal time. We open ourselves into something more complete and beautiful. This bigger vista is perhaps the most magnificent aspect of a religious experience. . . . Religion can give us skills for climbing up onto a ledge above our suffering and looking down at it with a kind and open mind. (p176)

from Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World