Someone said to me, “Planting tomatoes and lettuce may be the gateway to everything, but not everyone can write books and stories and poems as well as you do. Please don’t waste your time with manual work!” I have not wasted any of my time. Planting a seed, washing a dish, cutting the grass are as eternal, as beautiful, as writing a poem! I do not understand how a poem can be better than a peppermint plant. Planting seeds gives me as much pleasure as writing a poem. For me, a head of lettuce or a peppermint plant has as much everlasting effect in time and space as a poem.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
“For one human being to love another is the most difficult task. It’s the work for which all other work is mere preparation.” — Rilke
“Some day after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love; and then for a second time in the history of the world, humans will have discovered fire.” — Teillard de Chardin
“Everything I understand, I understand only because I love.” — Leo Tolstoy
“If you do not love too much, you do not love enough.” — Pascal
“Until you have loved, you cannot become yourself.” — Emily Dickinson
“The issue is not simply one of needing to save the world, but also of needing to solve the problem of the loss of soul throughout the modern world. Part of what has been lost in the reckless rushing of modernity is the sense that each life has an authentic interior that shelters important emotions as well as inherent purpose, and that the dignity of existence includes a necessary instinct to unfold the unique story woven inside each living soul.”
— Michael Meade
Loving your life, your work, your partner, your children, your home, your purpose gives meaning to your days. Living like that has beauty, inspiration, but it’s not as common as it might be. We live in what Michael Meade calls the “reckless rushing of modernity.”
Born in 1940, I grew up in a slower world, but it was already too fast for me. Even living in the country I felt the world’s expectations from an early age. In any case, all the artists and writers I admired lived in cities, so of course I had to try living like that but I kept longing for the countryside. I also wanted to live in the past, not a world built around the automobile. Something kept drawing me to old and slow.
Finding your real life can be fraught. We’re not necessarily aware of what is indispensable to us. Even if we’ve identified what we can live without and what we can’t, we need to learn how not to sacrifice what we love. We give in too easily. We’re used to a continual pressure from our culture to spend our life force on things we really don’t care about.
The siren song of our culture is money. I have trouble imagining a soul truly in love with money. That seems more like the job of ego. In any case, the distractions provided by our society work like Medusa with her paralyzing gaze. Creative people learn to fend off the world’s distractions so they don’t lose touch with themselves.
If you haven’t been forcibly diverted from yourself as a child, you learn to respect and appreciate how you’re made and to nurture it. When you like yourself you can live freely as yourself. For someone who is eccentric in that they insist upon being themselves, it’s an essential part of creativity.
It’s a healthy self love