“To laugh often and much to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
~ William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents
“After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground
where it will disappear — but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;
and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.”
~ Mary Oliver
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“Who are you to strive for perfection?
Perfection? The girl looks up.
She regards the armored goddess.
I have no interest in abstractions.
Accustomed to the mortal tendency to plead,
Athena is annoyed by the girl’s steady gaze.
You must learn humility, she says,
looking around the amphitheater,
wishing she hadn’t called an audience for this one.
I challenge you, Athena goes on, to a duel of wool.
We’ll see who weaves the truer image.
She smiled. I will strip you of your pride.
The girl Arachne sits by her loom.
Athena weaves a Monet in mint-green and white.
Arachne weaves a Rothko, thunder colors descending.
Athena weaves Paris on a moonlit night.
Arachne weaves Mexico City.
When Athena weaves the Beatles
Arachne pauses, but only to smile.
She weaves Miles Davis.
Enraged Athena weaves Cupid and Psyche
bodies finally entwined.
Bliss, she announces. True love.
Arachne weaves horrified Midas.
Human nature, she says.
The audience hushes.
So Athena calls the game,
changes girl into spider.
Arachne goes sideways
into a world seen through hexagonal eyes.
With new thread she goes on
Doing what she’s always done:
She weaves all points
Radiating out from one.”
~ Stacy Carlson, from The Gospel of Sloth