Untamed Lands and Wild Adventures

My liberation would not come from doing every task well, but seeing each task as attainable.  Realizing that the land, the storyline or plot, had no particular interest in how I worked it out.
... Young women needed untamed lands and wild adventures.

Temperance Creek
Pamela Royes


Heart Like a Bird

My heart rose like a bird at once.  It always did incurably, except in rain, as soon as I felt I had fallen off the map.

Travels With Myself and Another
Martha Gellhorn

Lives of Others

It was extraordinary, I mused, how wrong people invariably were about the lives of others.

The Land that Never Was
Alyse Simpson


Before Your Eyes Close Forever

Open your eyes ... and see what you can with them before they close forever.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr


Politics as First Rate Theater

Laura decided there was an amazing similarity between a political rally, the circus, and a camp meeting.  From the stump and the pulpit and the center ring came the promise of holy crusades in which the meek would inherit the earth.  "It's wonderful," Laura said to Mr. Wright.  "I love it. It's all so familiar.  Like Ive been here before."

"First rate theater, " the editor said.  "It would be second-rate except it's so human.

Hill Country
Janice Woods Windle


Straining Bones

Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer

Wisdom or Cowardice

Thin-lipped Wisdom spoke at her from the worn chair, hinted at prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the name of common sense.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde


All Life is a Matter of Possiblity

I wondered for the first time where I myself would go next, and , if I went there, if that path might branch as elm trees do and as rivers do and go elsewhere.  Would I ever come back to the place where I started?  What portion of my lot would be choice and what part accident?

I realized that my life itself was then all a matter of possibility.  Who knew where I would go next or with whom, or with whom I would meet? Yet some one thing would happen and not another.

I would have liked for the moaning of the wind to be louder; I would have liked for the rain to drum more furiously.  I wanted to be closer to those living elements.

Who does not like to fall asleep with the rain beating on the roof and the wind rubbing the outer walls, while oneself is dry and warm in comfortable bed?

How strange that sometimes things as well as people deserve some formal farewell.

Assembled from Ahabs Wife, or the Star Gazer
Sena Jeter Naslud


Aptitude of Stillness

The civilized people have lost the aptitude of stillness, and must take lessons in silence from the wild before they are accepted by it... In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.

Out of Africa
Isak Dinesen
Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen)


So Pushed as to Rupture!

The ungainly man ... came into view, with as much rapidity as he could excite his meager beast to endure without coming to an open rupture.

When their foes... were within a few rods, the rifle of Hawkeye slowy rose... and pured out it's fatal contents.

Life is an obligation which friends often owe each other in the wilderness.

James Fenimore Cooper
The Last of the Mohicans

Students and Hospitals

The train I took from the airport gradually filled with students.  They all seemed to be wearing T-shirts with messages on them.  Signaling each other like fireflies.

Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book


Cast-iron Conciences & Copper Bellies

The last time I was on the border I discovered one Pablo Ranes, whose dishes smoked with the concentrated essence of hell-fire. I returned to his abode of digestional-damnation until my once powerful constitution was but a shell of itself. I aided Pablo's atrocities with some wine bottled in Spain that kicked like an army mule, and eventually came to the conclusion that the border is a place only for men with cast-iron consciences and copper bellies.

1932 - Robert E. Howard in a letter to H.P. Lovecraft


You are the Universe and the Universe is You

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. 

I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.  This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.

... and when you get with it you suddenly realize its doing you.  Now whats the difference between you and it?  Self and other... You're doing it and it's doing you.  It's all one.

You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.

You are actually--if this is the way things started, if there was a big bang in the beginning-- you're not something that's a result of the big bang. You're not something that is a sort of puppet on the end of the process. You are still the process. You are the big bang, the original force of the universe, coming on as whoever you are. When I meet you, I see not just what you define yourself as--Mr so-and- so, Ms so-and-so, Mrs so-and-so--I see every one of you as the primordial energy of the universe coming on at me in this particular way. I know I'm that, too. But we've learned to define ourselves as separate from it.

Amalgamation of Alan Watts



“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

Alan Watts



The Yielding of Mountains

"It is not remarkable that Everest did not yield to the first few attempts; ... for that is not the way of great mountains.  .. The Mountain still holds the master card, that it will grant success only in it's own good time."  Eric Shipton Upon that Mountain

All told, I'd spend less than five minutes on the roof of the world.

As quoted by and written in
Into Thin Air
Jon Krakauer


Between the Lines

Prisms ... prove that even the whitest daylight lives packed with secret wild colors.

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
Allan Gurganus


But War Has Not Retired From Me

The colonel in charge of the battery wore his nut-brown uniform as if he had a grudge against it ... This fight was loud and ugly and waged by men who burped and drank and leered at your mother.  These are our heroes, I told you there, standing on the levee watching the cannon rock back in its carriage. ... I have retired from war but it has not retired from me.

A Separate Country
Robert Hicks

Coffee in the Mountains

"Coffee in the Mountains."

I read that phrase on a website recently and it just clicked with me. I wanted to save it.


Traveling Well

This blazing freedom to come and go on a whim and a wing.  For her it was a kind of hallucinogen. The drug must be administered haphazardly if it is to lead to a sense of the strangeness of the new place that breaks down all the carefully assembled bits and pieces that make up the person you thought you were.  In order to travel well, it is essential to be able to get seriously lost.  

She did this brilliantly. 

My Mother's Lovers
Christopher Hope


On Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

This Side of Paradise
F. Scott Fitzgerald



It's said that you can never go home again and it's true enough, of course.  But the opposite is also true.  You must go back, and you always go back, and you can never stop going back, no matter how hard you try.

Gregory Burns


What Folks Think They Want

I had learned that much from taking out curious visitors.  They wanted to find treasure upon beach, they wanted to see monsters, but they did not want to think about how and when those monsters lived.  It challenged their idea of the world too much. - pgs 281-282

Remarkable Creatures
Tracy Chevalier


Eccentric, Languid Thoughts

"When people encountered them years later ... there was an aura about them.  You could not put your finger on it, but you knew these women shared secret lagoons of knowledge.  Secret codes and lore and lingo stretching back into that fluid time before air conditioning dried up the rich, heavy humidity that used to hang over the porches... drenching cotton blouses, beads of sweat tickling the skin, slowing people down so the world entered them in an unhurried way.  A thick stew of life that seeped into the very blood of people, so that eccentric, languid thoughts simmered inside.  Thoughts that would not come again after porches were enclosed, after the climate was controlled, after all windows were shut tight, and the sounds of the neighborhood were drowned out by the noise of the television set.


But Sidda was tired of being vigilant, alert, sharp.  She longed for porch friendship, ... the unplanned improvisational laziness.  She wanted to soak the words time management out of her lexicon.  She wanted to hand over, to yield, to let herself float down into the uncharted beautiful fertile, musky swamp of life, where creativity and eroticism and deep intelligence dwell."

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood 
Rebecca Wells


Reality and Life

Indeed, it is not all, and what more can be desired? A little garden to walk and immensity to reflect upon... Sometimes in the midst of his work... his reason... would revolt. All that had happened to him would appear impossible. He would say to himself: "It is a dream."

Les Miserables 
Victor Hugo


Things That Are Beyond Forgetable

We all knew what horse he would ride ... No man who sat him once could ever forget him.  Now when the trail is a lost occupation, and reverie and reminiscence carry the mind back to that day, there are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be.  pg. 81

The Log of a Cowboy 
Andy Adams