The Rich

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

A man gets older, he said

via Pexels

A man gets older, he said, he finds they’s lots of things he can do jest as well without and so he don’t have to worry about this and that the way a young feller will. I worked near all my life and never had nothin. Seems like a old man’d be allowed his rest but then he comes to find they’s things you have to do on account of nobody else wants to attend to em… Most ever man loves peace, he said, and none better than a old man.”

Cormac McCarthy, The Orchard Keeper

Old Men with Faces Like Lost Battles

Man’s face in grayscale via PickRepo

Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town. Once, very long ago, it was the choice residential district of the city, and there are still standing a few of the jigsaw Gothic mansions with wide porches and walls covered with round-end shingles and full corner bay windows with spindle turrets. They are all rooming houses now, their parquetry floors are scratched and worn through the once glossy finish and the wide sweeping staircases are dark with time and with cheap varnish laid on over generations of dirt. In the tall rooms haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide cool front porches, reaching their cracked shoes into the sun, and staring at nothing, sit the old men with faces like lost battles.

The High Window by Raymond Chandler

I would like to write down what happened

I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen. I need to bear witness to an uncertain event. I feel it roaring inside me – this thing that may not have taken place. I don’t even know what name to put on it. I think you might call it a crime of the flesh, but the flesh is long fallen away and I am not sure what hurt may linger in the bones.

First line of The Gathering, by Anne Enright

Antifragile

If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. This, simply, as a rule, tells you why things that have been around for a long time are not “aging” like persons, but “aging” in reverse. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy. This is an indicator of some robustness. The robustness of an item is proportional to its life!

Nassim Taleb, Antifragile

What seemed delicacy

What seemed delicacy in him was usually a way of avoiding trouble; what seemed like sympathy was the instinct to prevent trouble before it started. It was hard to see what growing older would mean to such a person. His emotions, from lack of exercise, had disappeared almost altogether. Adaptability and curiosity, he had found, did just as well.

Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

Disasters

All natural disasters are comforting because they reaffirm our impotence, in which, otherwise, we might stop believing. At times it is strangely sedative to know the extent of your own powerlessness.

Erica Jong

We were the people

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

When I finally walked

When I finally walked into Adolf Hitler’s salon in the Kaiserhof Hotel, I was convinced that I was meeting the future dictator of Germany,” [Dorothy Parker wrote]. “In something less than fifty seconds I was quite sure that I was not. … He is formless, almost faceless: a man whose countenance is a caricature; a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequential and voluble, ill-poised, insecure—the very prototype of the Little Man.

Dorothy Parker

Rivers

Everyone lives downstream. Even those idealists who live with their heads in the clouds live downstream . . . moreso those whose heads are buried in the sand.

 Duane Short

Rivers are the primal highways of life. From the crack of time, they had borne men’s dreams, and in their lovely rush to elsewhere, fed our wanderlust, mimicked our arteries, and charmed our imaginations in a way the static pond or vast and savage ocean never could.

Tom Robbins

Who owns Cross Creek? The redbirds, I think, more than I, for they will have their nests even in the face of delinquent mortgages. And after I am dead, who am childless, the human ownership of grove and field and hammock is hypothetical. But a long line of redbirds and whippoorwills and blue-jays and ground doves will descend from the present owners of nests in the orange trees, and their claim will be less subject to dispute than that of any human heirs. Houses are individual and can be owned, like nests, and fought for. But what of the land? It seems to me that the Earth may be borrowed but not bought. It may be used, but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers it seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters. Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.’

Lyndon B. Johnson

Politics is downstream from culture.

Ben Domenech

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

William Shakespeare

Mother Nature is our wild world. A wild, winding river is her autograph.

Duane Short

River, take me along
In your sunshine,
Sing me your song
Ever moving and winding and free
You rolling old river,
You changing old river,
Let’s you and me river
Run down to the sea.

Bill Staines

I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shatter to foam again. I was fascinated by how it sped by and yet was always there; its roar shook both the earth and me.

Wallace Stegner

Philosophy

Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Road Trips

Road trips are the equivalent of human wings. Ask me to go on one, anywhere. We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history and stories, feel the ground and capture the spirit. Then we’ll turn it into our own story that will live inside our history to carry with us, always. Because stories are more important than things.

Victoria Erickson

The Windy City

Excerpt from The Windy City, a poem by Carl Sandburg, published in a book titled Slabs of the Sunburnt West:

It is easy to come here a stranger and show the whole
works, write a book, fix it all up–it is easy to come
and go away a muddle-headed pig, a bum and a
bag of wind.

Go to it and remember this city fished from its
depths a text: “independent as a hog on ice.”
Venice is a dream of soft waters, Vienna and Bagdad
recollections of dark spears and wild turbans; Paris
is a thought in Monet gray on scabbards, fabrics,
façades; London is a fact in a fog filled with the
moaning of transatlantic whistles; Berlin sits amid
white scrubbed quadrangles and torn arithmetics and
testaments; Moscow brandishes a flag and repeats a
dance figure of a man who walks like a bear.
Chicago fished from its depths a text: Independent
as a hog on ice.

Link to the rest at Slabs of the Sunburnt West

And, a better known Sandburg poem about Chicago.

Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,
   Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
   Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
   Stormy, husky, brawling,
   City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
   Bareheaded,
   Shoveling,
   Wrecking,
   Planning,
   Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
                   Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

I’m a believer

I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art

Toni Morrison