Archive | Quoth the Raving

Valentine in Sundry Forms

Once upon a time I loathed this holiday and still think there’s more joy, communion, and revelation to be gleaned outside romantic love than capitalism suggests. But I am an enormous fan of intimacy and vulnerability, and have come to believe this is what St. Valentines is really about. David Whyte writes: “Heartbreak is an inescapable and beautiful question, not the cessation of hope but the closest embrace of what we have wanted or are about to lose.” It may seem odd to write about heartbreak today. To be alive to love is to be alive to loss, though, because love never goes away but it always changes form. The acceptance of that change—even as it hurts, especially as it hurts—teaches us how to embrace the essence of love. Today and every day, may your heart be embraced—especially where it’s been broken open.

Breathe Life In

As we move through this first week of a new year and await the results of the pivotal senate races in Georgia and Trump’s last-ditch coup attempt, I’m reminded that even when change feels too slow—or nonexistent!—it’s unfolding as it should.

In fact, change is the only true constant, and what we’re doing is impactful even when we feel isolated, ill, ineffective—thoroughly thoroughly irritated. All we ever have to do is our best, and sometimes all our best entails is breathing in, breathing out. As my teacher, the wonderful beat writer Hettie Jones, used to say: “Are you breathing, are you lucky enough?”

Sometimes breathing is miracle enough.

I don’t think I’d be feeling so sanguine if I hadn’t stumbled upon this exchange after I posted yesterday. Sanguine is actually a terrible pun, for it’s from Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s wondrous 2014 meditation on science, art, and time masquerading as a vampire film, of all things. In it, Tilda Swinton counsels depressive spouse Tom Hiddleston, who’s considering offing himself after centuries of ennui:

How can you have lived for so long and still not get it? This self-obsession is a waste of living. It could be spent surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship, and dancing.

Oh, how this struck a chord. Even at at my lowest, I’m so grateful for so much. For Grace, friends, lovers, teachers, healers, clients. For all the ways you’ve seen and supported me over these hard times. For shelter, sea, sunshine, seasons, happy synchronicities, art–especially art that inspires this gratitude.

We’ll abide, we always do, and in the meantime it’s okay to surrender to this sad stillness. The best part of us knows beautiful change lives behind it. Just: breathe.

The true definition of inspire? To breathe life in.

Sweet Stillness

And now the beautiful stillness between Christmas and New Years begins. In other years, it was a time of revelry, of endless parties and indulgence. Though my life has been too quiet in these last few months of injury and isolation, I confess I find the texture of this stillness to be different—to be magical, in fact. It reminds me of my favorite Annie Dillard quote: “We awake, if we ever awake at all, to mystery.” May this divine mystery find you.

Art: “Starry Night,” Matthew Wong.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy