from “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” – Annie Dillard

“Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

Reading Toni Morrison’s 1973 Summer Essay “Cooking Out”

“The day moved then into its splendid parts: a ham, fried-potatoes, scrambled-egg, breakfast in the morning air; fried fish and pan-cooked biscuits on the hind side of noon, and by the time Mama — who had never heard of Gerber’s — was grinding a piece of supper ham with her own teeth to slip into the baby’s mouth, and the Blue Gums had unveiled their incredible peach cobbler, the first stars were glittering through the blue light of Turkeyfoot Lake.

We were all there. All of us, bound by something we could not name. Cooking, honey, cooking under the stars.”

Annie Dillard

“I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly. I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering, and like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild, glitt’ring eye and say, “Do you know that in the head of the caterpillar of the ordinary goat moth there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles?” The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life.” 

from Pilgrim At Tinker Creek 

sober creativity

Isbell: I went trick-or-treating with my daughter in a neighborhood close to our house. She was a ghost, and she wanted me to be a spider and her mom to be a skeleton. So I was dressed up in this big huge fuzzy goofy spider costume. And I made it a point, rather than stay at the street—we had my mother-in-law’s golf cart we were all riding around in—I went up to the door with her and rang the doorbell or knocked on the door. Her mom would go up, too, but her mom’s good at those kinds of things. I’m not. I’m not good at meeting strangers, even on Halloween night when you’re trick-or-treating with a toddler. But I did it. I got out of the golf cart at every house, and I walked up to the door with my daughter. Those kinds of things keep me sober. Making decisions on a daily basis to do things that I’m not comfortable with, and to allow myself to feel the discomfort of connecting with strangers. Because I think a lot of where my addiction came from was feeling like most everybody was a stranger to me.”

GQ, 9 Sober Musicians

Sophie Haigney

So the music at Logan walks the thin line between happy and sad, gesturing gently at both. It’s enough to make me cry anyway. In the baggage claim, waiting, I always listen and think of Dave. Here I am in Boston, this disappointing city with its underside of incredible tenderness. Here I am, next to a Dunkin’ Donuts Express at Logan Airport, which is also the largest art installation in New England.