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Sometimes my awareness of my own competence alarmed me. How would I remain attached to the world if not by need? I didn’t appear to need anyone: I could do it all myself. I was both halves: did that mean I was whole? In a sense I was living at the high point of feminist possibility: there was no blueprint beyond “having it all.” The richness of that phrase, its suggestion of an unabashed splendour, was apposite. To have both motherhood and work was to have two lives instead of one, was a stunning refinement of historical female experience, and to the people who have complained that having it all means doing it all I would have said, yes, of course it does. You don’t get “all” for nothing. “Having it all,” like any form of success, requires hard work. But the hero is solitary, forever searching out the holy grail, her belief that she is exceptional perhaps only a disguise for the fact that she  is essentially alone.

–Rachel Cusk, from Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation (p. 23)

Love Still As Once You Loved, Deeply And Without Patience

Be still, my soul, and steadfast.
Earth and heaven both are still watching
though time is draining from the clock
and your walk, that was confident and quick,
has become slow.

So, be slow if you must, but let
the heart still play its true part.
Love still as once you loved, deeply
and without patience. Let God and the world
know you are grateful. That the gift has been given.

–Mary Oliver, “The Gift” from Felicity

To Be Truly Alive

“I wonder now about Demeter and Persephone. Maybe Persephone was glad to run off with the king of death to his underground realm, maybe it was the only way she could break away from her mother, maybe Demeter was a bad parent the way Lear was a bad parent, denying nature, including the nature of children to leave their parents. Maybe Persephone thought Hades was the infinitely cool older man who held the knowledge she sought, maybe she loved the darkness, the six months of winter, the sharp taste of pomegranates, the freedom from her mother, maybe she knew that to be truly alive death had to be part of the picture just as winter must. It was as the queen of hell that she became an adult and came into power. Hades’s realm is called the underworld, and so are the urban realms of everything outside the law. And as in Hopi creation myths, where humans and other beings emerge from underground, so it’s from the underground that culture emerges in this civilization.”

― Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

What’s Wrong With Maybe?

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs;
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn’t believe what once or
twice I have seen. I’ll just
tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
ever, possibly, see one.

–Mary Oliver, “The World I live In,” from Felicity