Below are some words that have inspired me over the years. Send me your own inspiration and I'll add it here.
Each time out should be a swing for the fences. Don't do base-running drills. You can do those on your own time. –
This is what fiction does sometimes. It makes you the outlaw. It makes you question your assumptions about yourself. It makes you question your boundaries and tests what you might and might not do, your pieties, your hypocrisies, your simple repetition of phrases that make you feel safe and good, in the moral know, in the political know. People are full of contradictions. That, to me, is the central truth we learn our whole lives long. Bad people do good things. Good people do bad things. If you want to fuel the plots of your stories, to make your characters believable and intriguing, make them contradictory. Reveal who they think they aren't. Show us their fatal flaws. –
Still, I would leap too Into the light, If I had a chance. It is everything, the wet green stalk of the field On the other side of the road. They crouch there, too, faltering in terror And take strange wing. Many Of the dead never moved, but many Of the dead are alive forever in the split second Auto headlights more sudden Than their drivers know. The drivers burrow backward into dank pools Where nothing begets Nothing.
Across the road, tadpoles are dancing On the quarter thumbnail Of the moon. They can't see, Not yet. –
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers. –RAINER MARIA RILKE
I long to embrace, to include in my own short life, all that is accessible to (wo)man. –ANTON CHEKOV (basically)
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. –MARK TWAIN
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive. –MARTHA GRAHAM (to AGNES DEMILLE)
The point is to be as honest as possible in every sentence. I wanted to write a work that was completely exposed. I didn't want to hide anything. I wanted to break down for myself the boundary between living and writing as much as I could. –
we are running
running and time is clocking us from the edge like an only daughter.
our mothers stream before us, cradling their breasts in their hands.
oh pray that what we want is worth this running, pray that what we're running toward
is what we want. –
Lord, the motor under me is running hot, Lord, there are twenty-eight people and lots of luggage in the truck. Underneath are my bad tires. The brakes are unreliable. Unfortunately I have no money, and parts are difficult to get.
Lord, I did not overload the truck. Lord, "Jesus is mine" Is written on the vehicle. Without him I would not drive a single mile. The people in the back are relying on me. They trust me because they see the words: "Jesus is mine." Lord, I trust you! First comes the straight road with little danger. I can keep my eyes on the women, children, and chickens in the village. But soon the road begins to turn, it goes up and down, it jumps and dances, this death-road to Kumasi. Tractors carrying mahogany trunks drive as if there were no right or left. Lord there is the temptation to take more people than we should. Let's overcome it! The road to Accra is another problem. Truck drivers try to beat the record, although the road is poor and has many holes and there are many curves before we come to the hills. And finally to Akwasim. Passing large churches in every village, I am reminded of you, and in reverence I take off my hat. Now downhill in second gear. –TRADITIONAL PRAYER FROM GHANA
A Partial History of My Stupidity
Traffic was heavy coming off the bridge and I took the road to the right, the wrong one, and got stuck in the car for hours.
Most nights I rushed out into the evening without paying attention to the trees, whose names I didn't know, or the birds, which flew heedlessly on.
I couldn't relinquish my desires or accept them, and so I strolled along like a tiger that wanted to spring, but was still afraid of the wildness within.
The iron bars seemed invisible to others, but I carried a cage around inside me.
I cared too much what other people thought and made remarks I shouldn't have made. I was silent when I should have spoken.
Forgive me, philosophers, I read the Stoics but never understood them.
I felt that I was living the wrong life, spiritually speaking, while halfway around the world thousands of people were being slaughtered, some of them by my countrymen.
So I walked on--distracted, lost in thought-- and forgot to attend to those who suffered far away, nearby.
Forgive me, faith, for never having any.
I did not believe in God, who eluded me. –EDWARD HIRSCH (published in The New Yorker, June 19, 2006)
Cheney Orr: photographer, took many of the photos on this site.
The African Library Project partners with volunteers in African communities to create small libraries for African schools and villages. The project was started by Californian Chris Bradshaw and her family.
Dagoretti4kids is an inspirational Nairobi organization working with street kids, and run largely by the amazing James Njoroge. Its partner organization in the U.S. is Harambi for Kids Foundation, Inc. in Canton, CT.
Kevin Carter : the photojournalist to whom The Distance Between Us is dedicated.
Hima Granqvist : the ethnologist to whom Staircase of a Thousand Steps is dedicated.