What happens when you begin to feel uneasy, unsettled, queasy? Notice the panic where you instantly grab for something. That grabbing is based on hope. No grabbing is called hopelessness.
So what does it mean to admit that we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about it? That’s the compassionate thing to do. We can actually know the nature of intense dislike, shame, and embarrassment without believing there is something wrong. We can drop the fundamental hope that there is a better “me” who will one day emerge. It’s better to look straight at our hopes and fears - then some kind of basic sanity arises.
Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with ourselves, to return to the bare bones no matter what’s going on. If we totally experience hopelessness, then we give up all alternatives to the present moment, and we can have a joyful, honest, direct relationship with our lives.
— Pema Chodron
Do you think I’m emotionally crippled for life? Do you think we’re a one million army of emotionally crippled people, wretches who wander around, shouting at each other, using words we do not understand and that alone makes us even more scared? I don’t know. There is an invocation for us who don’t believe. Sometimes I say it to myself quietly. I wish that someone or something will strike me, so I can become real. I repeat over and over, may I some day become real. To hear a human voice and trust that it comes from a human who is made like me… to touch a pair of lips and at the same time know that it’s a pair of lips. To feel. To trust the feeling. I long for that.
— Ingmar Bergman, Face to Face
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face she inquired, “How heavy is this glass of water?” The answers called out ranged from 8oz to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If i hold it for a minute, its not a problem. If i hold it for an hour, i’ll have an ache in my arm. If i hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer i hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stress and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them for a big longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed - incapable of doing anything.” Always remember to put the glass down.
— Best thing I’ve heard all day.
one of those days.
Well, I think what happens at certain points in my poems is that language takes over, and I follow it. It just sounds right. And I trust the implication of what I’m saying, even though I’m not absolutely sure what it is that I’m saying. I’m just willing to let it be. Because if I were absolutely sure of whatever it was that I said in my poems, if I were sure, and could verify it and check it out and feel, yes, I’ve said what I intended, I don’t think the poem would be smarter than I am. I think the poem would be, finally, a reducible item. It’s this “beyondness,” that depth that you reach in a poem, that keeps you returning to it. And you wonder, The poem seemed so natural at the beginning, how did you get where you ended up? What happened? I mean, I like that, I like it in other people’s poems when it happens. I like to be mystified. Because it’s really that place which is unreachable, or mysterious, at which the poem becomes ours, finally, becomes the possession of the reader. I mean, in the act of figuring it out, of pursuing meaning, the reader is absorbing the poem, even though there’s an absence in the poem. But he just has to live with that. And eventually, it becomes essential that it exists in the poem, so that something beyond his understanding, or beyond his experience, or something that doesn’t quite match up with his experience, becomes more and more his. He comes into possession of a mystery, you know—which is something that we don’t allow ourselves in our lives.
— Mark Strand