With great simplicity and unpretentious sincerity, both comprehensible and enchanting as much to this particular little girl as to any child or even any wakeful grownup at all, Riding addresses some of the most elemental questions of existence — how to live a life of creativity and integrity, why praise and prestige are corrosive objects of success, and above all what it means to be oneself. Riding explores the nature of knowledge and its essential seedbed of self-knowledge.
“A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself. Even twenty-five years if necessary, or even forever. And it wouldn’t matter if doing things got delayed, because nothing is really important but being oneself.”
There are many people who are not entirely themselves because as children they were not given time to think about themselves. And because they don’t know everything about themselves they can’t know everything about everything. But no one likes to admit that she doesn’t know everything about everything. And so these people try to make up for not knowing everything about everything by doing things.
People who for some reason find it impossible to think about themselves, and so really be themselves, try to make up for not thinking with doing. They try to pretend that doing is thinking.
~brain pickings/Laura Riding
what do you miss? what can’t be explained? how many times have you tried to stop the wind?
inquiry for today~ find a little space to daydream today…..what really calls your attention? draws you in? can you escape a little while to places that have no words- spaces of deep imagination and possibility?
Poor Ireland, forever indulging the projections of saps like me. Looming at one end of a field was a huge mound of rocks, like something you’d find at a construction site. In I walked, walls of rock stacked higher than my head on either side. In the center was a flat, 15 ton stone, balanced precariously across a framework of smaller stones. Every year on the first and last days of winter, the sun would pass just so through a slit in the rocks, the ray crawling up the back of the chamber until it met perfectly with a corresponding shadow. And every year on these dates, everyone would come here, slogging miles to do so, just to be together for it. Why? Because they were terrified. Winter meant profound, horrifying uncertainty. Will we go hungry? Will we stay warm? In the face of this doubt they would dance and feast and pray. Imagine that: feeling so uncertain about your future that you somehow drag this unimaginable weight down a mountain, somehow hoist it atop some other stones, somehow grasp astronomy and then, because nothing is assured in this life, you pray. You pray that things will be ok.
I’ve been back three weeks and I bring news of the human condition.None of us knows anything. Time works us over. We live largely in the dark, subject to forces beyond our measure or control. But there’s this, too: You can turn things around now and then. I’m writing this from a car in California, laptop balanced precariously on my lap, heading home from the beach. Amy’s driving, the kids are in the back jabbering about how cold the water was. Back at the house we’ll pack their lunches for tomorrow, then lie in bed, and I’ll try to explain about where I’ve been, though I might just say it’s “complicated,’ because it is. ~Chris Colin