This Exalted State

You know when you’re saying goodby to someone at the airport that you love and you get all soft. And you get, ‘Oh my God I hardly know you.’ What if that’s the truth, if that mode times ten is the mode we should exist in all the time? Then on another day you’re just yourself. There’s big gap between those two people. So, how much time do I spend in that regular old habitual stupid mindset of taking everything for granted, as opposed to this exalted state of being super-tenderized to the people you care about. And I’m guessing that, if there’s a heaven, it’s that at the airport times ten or twenty, or a thousand.

–George Saunders, interviewed by Max Linsky on Longform (found via Sampler)
Thanks to In A Spacious Place for typing up this quote


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They’re Treating It As If Their Whole Life Were At Stake

MS. TIPPETT: So, if I ask you to think about yourself in church all those years ago in west Texas, the church you grew up in, which was just given to you like the air you breathed, and then when you’re in church now, what’s going on that’s different? How is that experience different?

MR. WIMAN: Well, it’s utterly different. I think it’s a weaker experience now. I mean, I’m just too conscious. I’m unable to let — I wish I were able to let myself go in ways that those people did in my childhood and still do when I go to my mother’s church now. It’s one of those big mega-churches. You know, I don’t agree with their theology and I don’t like a lot of the ways that they commercialize their services, but it is an incredibly diverse church and the people are intensely involved. They’re treating it as if their whole life were at stake. The churches I go to, liberal Protestant churches, it seems pretty casual. I wish there was some credible middle ground. I wish there was some way of harnessing the intensity that I felt in my childhood in more sophisticated ways.

— Christian Wiman, interviewed by Krista Tippett for On Being

There’s Still A Sureness In You

But for me, philosophically, stress is a perverted relationship to time. So that rather than being a subject of your own time, you have become its target and victim, and time has become routine. So at the end of the day, you probably haven’t had a true moment for yourself. And you know, to relax in and to just be…And what I love in this regard is my old friend Meister Eckhart, 14th-century mystic…one day I read in him and he said, “There is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” And I really thought that was amazing, and if you cash it out, what it means is that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.

— John O’Donohue, interviewed by Krista Tippett for On Being

Codex Calixtinus “Venite omnes Cristicole”

Laurie Brown, host of The Signal on CBC Radio 2
Choosing silence as her preferred final listening experience, Brown says: “Hearing is the last of the senses to leave us when we are dying. I’ve decided I don’t want to be listening to music. I’ve had plenty of music in my life and it has meant the world to me, but I only get to die once and I want to tune into that experience as fully as I am able.”


Ms. Halifax: Well, just imagine a ritual process for the whole culture that goes on over seven years. You know, we’re such, as you said, a time-driven, time-bullied culture. But also what ritual does is it invokes in us a sense of timelessness. It drops us into the past, it brings up the present, also projects into the future, but it is also deeper than chronological time. And that’s, you know, the experience, the direct experience, I had in being with the Dogon, that time disappeared when the sacred was unfolding in that culture.

— Joan Halifax Roshi, interviewed by Krista Tippett at On Being


Ms. Brown: To me, vulnerability is courage. It’s about the willingness to show up and be seen in our lives.

Ms. Tippett: Right. And one point you make also is — this is really important for me to hear. These people who live vulnerably in this healthy way don’t find it comfortable, right? I mean, there’s some place you say that part of the way to become this way is to practice being uncomfortable, right? So there’s nothing flowery about this. You’re not saying, oh, it’s fun, you’ll get to like it, and you’re not saying it will go well all the time.

Ms. Brown: You know, one of the most interesting things I’ve found in doing this work is, you know, something the wholehearted share in common is this real profound sense of hopefulness. And as I got into the literature on hope, very specifically C.R. Snyder’s work from the University of Kansas at Lawrence, that hope is a function of struggle.

Hope is not an emotion, but hope is a cognitive, behavioural process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam.

When I meet you, vulnerability is the very first thing I try to find in you and it’s the very last thing I want to show you in me.

— Brené Brown interviewed by Krista Tippett at On Being


Mr. McCullough: You can’t get organisms that are willing to hang in there with each other through thick and thin and make good things happen despite the roadblocks and the bumps along the way if they aren’t willing to tolerate each other’s mistakes. Sometimes, if we’re cooperatively hunting — let’s say we’re some sort of animal that works together to hunt — sometimes, I’m going to let you down. And maybe it’s not even intentional, but I’m going to get distracted and I’m going to make a mistake. And if you take each of those mistakes as the last word about my cooperative disposition, you might just give up and so no cooperation gets done.

So, really, our ability — and across the animal kingdom many animals’ ability to cooperate with each other and make things happen that they can’t do on their own — is undergirded by an ability to forgive each other for occasional defections and mistakes.

I really think we can’t lose sight of the value of kind of getting in each other’s business a little bit and getting in each other’s lives a little bit and being willing to try to make things a little bit uncomfortable and a little bit messy in the service of making them better.

–Michael McCullough, interviewed by Krista Tippett at On Being