“Nobody who says, ‘I told you so’ has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night
“The great connective, the thread that binds the patchwork fabric of stories. And then this happen. And then that. One thing after another, until the end of the story. And then it stops. And then everything stays the same forever and ever, because a story once told is unchanging, everlasting. Imprisoned in amber.
“As if like was like that …”
― Richard Grant, Rumors of Spring
“What exactly are you here for?”
“To see with eyes unclouded by hate.”
― Hayao Miyazaki, Princess Mononoke
“Well, what is it?” I cried. “What is his crime?”
“Cruelty,” whispered Snout.
I felt my stomach tighten. “Cruelty?” I asked, wondering if I had heard right.
“In the civilized galaxy, cruelty is the greatest of all crimes,” said Madame Pong. “Of course, life always involves some suffering, and there are times when painful things must be done for life to continue. But an intelligent being who takes pleasure in causing pain to others–well, such an individual is considered dangerously bent.”
“You must understand,” said Tar Gibbons, “that empathy is the heart of civilization.”
“The ability to understand what another feels,” said Snout. “It is the trait that lifts us above the animals.”
― Bruce Coville, Aliens Ate My Homework
“Into the woods,
It’s always when
You think at last
You’re through, and then
Into the woods you go again
To take another journey.”
―Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
“And for adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, we have excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words which adults no longer use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism. These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence, and the words are:
Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.”
―Jane Yolen, Touch Magic: Fantasy, Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood
“This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore
“Now you’re on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you’re not alone
No one is alone
No one is alone …
You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger
No one acts alone.”
―Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
“There’s lots of kinds of chains. You can’t see most of them, the ones that bind folks together. But people build them, link by link. Sometimes the links are weak, snap like this one did. That’s another funny thing, now that I think of it. Sometimes when you mend a chain, the place where you fix it is strongest of all.”
― Bruce Coville, Into the Land of the Unicorns
“This is our world. Aye, there’s more than enough of darkness in it. But over everything there’s all this joy, Kit. There’s all this lovely, lovely light.”
― David Almond, Kit’s Wilderness
“The Falling of the Rain” gets a bad rap (for all that it’s not like anything else of his and very not Long Island), and “Only the Good Die Young” an over-generous one (good-kid me used to hate that song, and adult me still thinks Andrew Marvell did it better hundreds of years earlier), but he’s dead right putting “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” at number one, as well as ranking the post-apocalyptic “Miami 2017” in the top ten.
There are so many voices we hear as writers/readers/humans as we journey through our lives that it’s easy to get focused on what we’re not, instead of what we are. But deep down, there’s another voice, one that knows the path that’s our own, that’s always known:
We heard Alex Wong open for Vienna Teng at the Musical Instrument Museum up in Phoenix a couple weeks ago, and this is one of several songs I’ve been listening to obsessively ever since. Teng’s new “Level Up” had already been blowing me away and waking me up for some weeks now. A Kickstarter-supported video for “Level Up” should be out in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I was also struck by a recent post by Teng on ways to support artists, especially this:
3. You can cultivate your own best self. Listen deeply. Read widely. Learn how to speak so that you’re heard. Embrace the clumsy phase of acquiring any new skill. Work on that tricky combo move of reason, compassion, and wonder. Act bravely, because it gives other people permission to do the same. The more we all work on this stuff, the more exciting the world gets.
Because when any one of us listens and acts and finds the path, it isn’t just about that one–it ripples out and supports all of us on our journeys.