November is here. Winter peeks out from around the corner, rubbing his hands in a twisted anticipation. Snow collects on the grass. Melts. Collects again. This is the season of the great tease. Digging out the winter bins for mismatched mittens. Leaving the mittens somwhere once its gotten too warm to wear them by midday. The earth is too wet for Uggs and too cold for rubber boots. The agonizing wardrobe choices choices. Wear the sweater or take the sweater off?
Days are growing shorter as the darkness expands.
This week we remember the deaths of many soldiers. Great and heavy offerings on the altars of peace. This week a relative is taken by cancer. This week the balance sheet is dipping into fearsome red. This morning I’m fighting a cold. Or flu. Or funk.
Every season matters. ‘There is a time for everything’ as we are reminded by Ecclessiastes and by Simon and Garfunkel.
Here, in the gathering dark, can I share some sparks of hope? Can we build a fire to warm ourselves with wise words as our kindling?
Here are eleven little lights for this eleventh month. Eleven quotes from eleven creative voices. May each bring you hope this morning.
ONE, on the beauty of imperfection.
"Don’t you know that every perfect life would mean the end to art?”
TWO, on perspective.
"You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you."
THREE, on surrender.
“See, the world is full of things more powerful than us. But if you know how to catch a ride, you can go places,”
FOUR, on allowing yourself to be loved.
"Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason."
FIVE, on failure.
"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one."
SIX, on screwing up.
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
SEVEN, on smiling.
“Life is a mirror: if you frown at it, it frowns back; if you smile, it returns the greeting.”
EIGHT, on being unoriginal.
"Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
NINE, on being vulnerable.
"Anyone in pursuit of art is responding to a desire to make visible that which is not, to offer the unknown self to others."
TEN, on the dirth of happy endings.
“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.”
ELEVEN, on blazing new paths.
Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.