We Are Verbs

David Price
4 min readJul 12, 2023
From Margaret Keelan

We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing — an actor, a writer — I am a person who does things — I write, I act — and you never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.

— Stephen Fry

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By bad company I don’t mean only bad, vicious or destructive people… I am referring above all to the company of amorphous people, people whose souls are dead, even though their bodies are alive; people whose thoughts and conversation are trivial; who gossip instead of talking, and who express clichés instead of thinking.

— Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

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…western mystics have written works like “The Cloud of Unknowing” or “Dark Night of the Soul,” not to depress us, but to help us let go of the confusion that gives us a false sense of separation and permanence.

Awakening can initially feel like a great loss.

In the book of Job, after everything has been stripped from him, Job settles into the insight, “Naked I came into the world and naked I shall return.” Such negative imagery can be a reminder that our life does not consist in possessions, achievements, or even beliefs. Negative religious imagery strips away everything we are holding onto that is giving us a false sense of permanence and separate existence.

The stories of religion should “rob” us of everything that isn’t really our true selves. Such images invite us to plunge into the river that is life…

— Jim Rigby

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Life keeps flowing through us as we keep trying to freeze it in place with our minds. We don’t actually like the way things keep changing in spite of all our methods of fixing it in place. Concepts and the language that supports them always give way to the evolution and devolution of living experience whether we wish it or not. Which of course doesn’t stop us from trying to catch it on the fly and freeze it in place. We just want to settle into a dependable routine, against all odds.

Meeting the unpredictable is unpleasant because it requires us to stay alert and creative. Life is demanding our aliveness on all levels and we just don’t want to do it. We want to be nouns and be known as…

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David Price

I write about creativity, loving, language learning and psycho/spirituality. I’m a longtime painter and reader.