08.29.2003 – 5:39 p.m.


“An artist generally has the attitude that he must stop everything and get to work, that work itself is something special, sacred, apart from life. On the contrary, a man should work as he breathes, as he sweeps the floor, easily and naturally, without thinking too much about the fact that he’s doing it. In fact, I can think of no better way of getting to work than drifting into it after sweeping the floor and cleaning up. An artist should always do his own chores.”

“If you have to urge a writing student to ‘gain experience with life,’ he is probably never going to be a writer. Any life will provide the material for writing, if it is attended to.
-Wallace Stegner

“Writers don’t write from experience, though many are resistant to admit that they don’t. I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.”
-Nikki Giovanni

“Self-realization is born and matures in a distinctive kind of awareness…. We shall … call it the perception of the miraculous. “Miraculous” here refers not only to extraordinary phenomena but also to the commonplace, for absolutely anything can evoke this special awareness provided that close enough attention is paid to it. … Perception of the miraculous … is simply a matter of paying full and close attention to the givens of life, i.e., to what is so ever-present that it is usually taken for granted.”
-Stark & Washburn (in The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, p 230)

I love that last quote. “Perception of the miraculous.” That’s what I want, and why I write. To pay that kind of attention to things, to every thing. It implies a sense of wonder, awe, compassion, appreciation, all things I want towards the world around me.

Quality of attention. Actually being present for your life, not forever wanting to be somewhere or somewhen else. Though it’s tempting sometimes, or at least easy. Clearly I’m attracted of late to quotes about making ordinary life extraordinary, about appreciating where you are; that confirm that it is in fact possible to have that perception of the miraculous in any life, no matter what role you fill at the time. Because I want to rejoice in my present life and to appreciate it more fully, now, while I’m living it. Fewer regrets later.


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