Margaret Atwood, “Mushrooms,” from Notes Towards a Poem That Can Never Be Written
“Here is the handful
of shadow I have brought back to you:
this decay, this hope, this mouthful
of dirt, this poetry.”
“God is cruel. Sometimes he makes you live.”
We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. The only problem is that there is also so much other stuff, typically fixations with how people perceive us, how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy, and with keeping our weight down. So the real issue is how do we gently stop being who we aren’t? How do we relieve ourselves of the false fronts of people-pleasing and affectation, the obsessive need for power and security, the backpack of old pain, and the psychic Spanx that keeps us smaller and contained?
Here’s how I became myself: mess, failure, mistakes, disappointments, and extensive reading; limbo, indecision, setbacks, addiction, public embarrassment, and endless conversations with my best women friends; the loss of people without whom I could not live, the loss of pets that left me reeling, dizzying betrayals but much greater loyalty, and overall, choosing as my motto William Blake’s line that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love.
“When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
Birthday, Andrea Gibson (via prewars
“I suppose I love this life,
in spite of my clenched fist.
I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree,
and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers,
and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath
the first time his fingers touched the keys
the same way a soldier holds his breath
the first time his finger clicks the trigger.
We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.”
- Snow White Sorrow (via ingeniosa
“Stare at the dark too long and you will eventually see what isn’t there”
“Ah! the anguish, the vile rage, the despair
Of not being able to express
With a shout, an extreme and bitter shout,
The bleeding of my heart!”
“Your mother did not raise you with a wolf in your chest so you could howl over losing a man.”
“No matter how much you feed the wolf, he keeps looking at the forest”
“Smooth and smiling faces everywhere, but ruin in their eyes.”