“So tell yourself the good stories”

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“I’ve maintained pretty constantly that there’s suffering in life. We all experience hardships and struggle. Things hurt, but we have the capacity to carry many truths at once: ‘This is hard’ and ‘I still can find joy in my life.’ That kind of living has nothing to do with ’12 Steps to a Fill-in-the-Blank Life.’ It has to do with millions and millions of steps.”

Cheryl Strayed in an interview with Sarah Seltzer.

Photo: Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian

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“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

“To be given a mind and a heart”

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Photo by Mariana Cook/Penguin Press

Messenger
by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Zadie Smith on Reading

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“But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.”

-Zadie Smith in an interview on KCRW’s Bookworm. Photo by Dominique Nabokov.

Maria Popova, Living by Kindness

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“Principles I live by are: kindness. Openheartedness. Curiosity and a capacity for wonder. Not only a tolerance for but an embrace of the unknown, the uncomfortable, the uncontrollable. An active practice of awe and gratefulness – of both absorbing the light of the world and reflecting it back with luminous generosity. More kindness.”

-Maria Popova in an interview with The Legacy Project. Photo by Alissa Walker.