by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.
“Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.
So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
Read the full article: The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think by Johann Hari.
“It’s always that way with periods of crisis: people you expect and want to be there for you are incapable and/or unwilling, and others you never imagined would be there for you show up with exactly what you need, exactly how you need it. And there is almost no way, alas, no way at all, to predict which people will be which.”
–Elisa Albert, After Birth
“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently, and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds.”
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’, born from the Darwinian theory of natural selection. UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner adds nuance to this concept by delving deeper into Darwin’s idea that sympathy is one of the strongest human instincts — sometimes stronger than self-interest.
“Why mention roses in a world where aeroplanes full of people fall out of the sky and shoppers are crushed by accident while they walk with each other under Christmas lights – a world where children are preyed upon and where human beings will shoot, or bomb, or torture, or kidnap other human beings, will act within the grip of philosophies turned toxic by terrible certainties – certainties which deny reality and must therefore be overmastering and cruel? …
… Because I believe in what we might call unnecessary beauty, in art. And an artist would say that, but then again, individuals and groups who have sought to control, or extinguish populations, to marginalise or demonise this or that type of human being – they seem to believe in the power of art even more than I do. They ardently seek out and restrict those intimate, idiosyncratic joys we find in the songs we sing, the stories that travel with us, the verses that sustain us, the paintings and drawings and sculptures, windows and buildings, voices and performances, images that lift us and give us dignity – the things that show us the light in our world and in ourselves, the things that show us individual human beings have the power to create wonders which outlast them and which transcend every classification of gender, race, religion, nationality, age.”
“By slowing down at the right moments, people find that they do everything better: They eat better; they make love better; they exercise better; they work better; they live better.” –Carl Honoré