Sunday, November 15, 2015


Conversation before we went out for dinner on Saturday evening.

N: Are you ready?
D: Yes, I'm not changing my clothes - let's go.
N: Are you going to put your sweater on the right way?
D: What do you mean?
N: Your sweater has been on inside out all day. Maybe you should fix that before we go.
D: All day? Why didn't you tell me before?
N: I don't know. I guess it didn't matter before.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Elizabeth Gilbert

Whatever you do, try not to dwell too long on your failures. You don't need to conduct autopsies on your disasters...Move on. Whatever else happens, stay busy. Find something to do--anything, even a different sort of creative work altogther--just to take your mind off your anxiety and pressure. (I always lean on this wise advice, from the seventeenth-century English scholar Robert Burton, on how to survive melancholy: "Be not solitary, be not idle.")

Go walk the dog, go pick up every bit of trash on the street outside your home, go walk the dog again, go bake a peach cobbler, go paint some pebbles with brightly colored nail polish and put them in a pile. You might think it's procrastination, but--with the right intention--it isn't; it's motion. And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.

So wave your arms around. Make something. Do something. Do anything.

--in Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert

It makes me sad when I fail. It disappoints me. Disappointment can make me feel disgusted with myself, or surly toward others. By this point in my life, though, I've learned how to navigate my own disappointment without plummeting too far into death spirals of shame, rage, or inertia. That's because I have come to understand what part of me is suffering when I fail: it's just my ego. It's that simple.

An unchecked ego is what the Buddhists call "a hungry ghost" -- forever famished, eternally howling with need and greed.

My saving grace is this: I know that I am not only an ego; I am also a soul. And I know that my soul doesn't care a whit about reward or failure. My soul is not guided by dreams of praise or fears of criticism. My soul doesn't even have language for such notions. My soul, when I tend to it, is a far more expansive and fascinating source of guidance than my ego will ever be, because my soul desires only one thing: wonder. And since creativity is my most efficient pathway to wonder, I take refuge there, and it feeds my soul, and it quiets the hungry ghost, thereby saving me from the most dangerous aspect of myself.

So whenever that brittle voice is dissatisfaction emerges within me, I can say, "Ah, my ego! There you are, old friend!" It's the same when I'm being criticized and I notice myself reacting with outrage, heartache, or defensiveness. It's just my ego, flaring up and testing its power...I try not to take [it] too seriously because I know that it's merely my ego that has been wounded--never my soul.

At such times, I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, "And what is it that you want, dear one?" The answer is always the same: "More wonder, please."

--in Big Magic 

Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently read a fabulous blog by a writer named Mark Manson, who said that the secret to finding your purpose in life is to answer this question in total honesty: "What's your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?"

What Manson means is that every single pursuit--no matter how wonderful and exciting and glamorous it may initially seem--comes with its own brand of shit sandwich, its own lousy side effects. As Manson writes with profound wisdom, "Everything sucks, some of the time." You just have to decide what sort of suckage you're willing to deal with. So the question is not so much "What are you passionate about?" The question is "What are you passionate enough about that you can endure the most disagreeable aspects of the work?"

--in Big Magic (2015)

Friday, November 6, 2015

R.A. Dickey

Ultimately the thing that helped me find some healing [was when] I learned that life was not about turning the page, or getting to the other side of something. It's about holding what is broken about the world and holding what is joyful about the world, and being able to take a step forward with both. That is living well in the moment. And that's what I've tried to make a discipline of.

--R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and is known for his knuckleball.