Disappearing Acts

“The magician seemed to promise that something torn to bits might be mended without a seam, that what had vanished might reappear, that a scattered handful of doves or dust might be reunited by a word, that a paper rose consumed by fire could be made to bloom from a pile of ash. But everyone knew this was only an illusion. The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place.”

-Michael Chabon in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Tribe Gifts Us with Meaning

“(This book)…is about why-for many people-war feels better than peace and hardship can turn out to be a great blessing and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it, what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.”

-Sebastian Junger in Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Made to Measure

“(What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves- our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies. Now that I’ve been one myself, I know.)”

-from The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Self-Fulfilling Rat Race

“But these were days of self-fulfillment, where settling for something that was not quite your first choice of a life seemed weak-willed and ignoble. Somewhere, surrendering to what seemed to be your fate had changed from being dignified to being a sign of your own cowardice. There were times when the pressure to achieve happiness felt almost oppressive, as if happiness were something that everyone should and could attain, and that any sort of compromise in its pursuit was somehow your fault.”

-Hanya Yanagihara in A Little Life, p 41

21st Century Pilgrimage

“He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others. As a passer-by, he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk, and he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went. He had neglected so many things, that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past.”

-From The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, p 107