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Five Meaningful Quotes to Chew on
I gathered some words from my notebook, where I’m working on another piece that wrestles with some of their throughlines. My desire is that something here nourishes you.
We don’t pass time anymore, we spend it.
— Celeste Headlee, Do Nothing
I found this quote in Headlee’s book, Do Nothing, and I continue to return to it, turning the line over in my mouth, in my mind. How does thinking about time in a transactional manner shape our interaction with it? How does it influence how we think about our time and what we do with it?
The annihilation of slow time — What has it cost us? How has it shaped us?
— The Poet’s Notebook, 258
Slow time as a concept intrigues me. One way that I’ve been able to create slow time in my own life is to set a timer and focus on one thing. For example, in the morning I may set the timer to fifteen minutes of reading a book. Inevitably, that time seems eternal — and it’s not because I’m waiting for it to end. I love to read. Slow time, for me, also means eliminating rush and hustle when possible. What does slow time look like for you?
The vulnerability of the precious things in life is beautiful, because vulnerability is a sign of existence.
— Simone Weil
I asked myself when I read this why vulnerability is a sign of existence… and I think the answer lies in how vulnerability reminds us of mortality and, more specifically, of our own mortality. In some traditions, they say that you live on as long as someone is telling your story. In others, nothing exists beyond this plane we’re on now. I’m not certain yet where I land, but I love the idea of living on in story — and how that belief allows me to carry the dead forward with me while I’m still alive.
Yours is not to complete the work, but neither are you free to abstain from it.
— The Poet’s Notebook, 221
This passage helps me remember that I stand on the shoulders of many others. It also anchors me in humility — I won’t be able to fix it all, and I am not the keystone. And yet, I also cannot shirk the work or abdicate my responsibility. I hold this line close to heart when I consider (and do my small part to ameliorate) horrific systemic injustices, fleeing refugees, victims of intimate partner violence, and the many more heavy things in the world. For me, the phrase is also hopeful — there are others who will also be part of doing the work.
The still small voice whispering to us beyond our comforts and our wants, telling us who we needed to be all along.
We might not want to have to rise to meet the obligation to live in truth and connection and service. And yet… saying yes to it might be the only thing that saves us.
— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, 2/7/22 “Life is a Sacred Text” newsletter
Phew, that voice that whispers sure can be loud, can’t it? It can be hard, too, to differentiate between this voice and the inner critic.
I keep returning to these words in my notebook. No words to wrap them up or commentary to offer, beyond the fact that they are incredibly powerful for me, and I hope they provide you sustenance at some level.
Til next week.