Parker J. Palmer · 117 pages
Rating: (6.7K votes)
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”
“Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
“Each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up.”
“Eventually, I developed my own image of teh "befriending" impulse behind my depression. Imagine that from early in my life, a friendly figure, standing a block away, was trying to get my attention by shouting my name, wanting to teach me some hard but healing truths about myself. But I-- fearful of what I might hear or arrogantly trying to live wihtout help or simply too busy with my ideas and ego and ethics to bother-- ignored teh shouts and walked away.
So this figure, still with friendly intent, came closer and shouted more loudly, but AI kept walking. Ever closer it came, close enough to tap me on the shoulder, but I walked on. Frustrated by my unresponsiveness, the figure threw stones at my back, then struck me with a stick, still wanting simply to get my attention. But despite teh pain, I kept walking away.
Over teh years, teh befriending intent of this figure never disapppeared but became obscured by the frustration cuased by my refusal to turn around. Since shouts and taps, stones and sticks had failed to do the trick, there was only one thing left: drop the nuclear bomb called depression on me, not with the intent to kill but as a last-ditch effort to get me to turn and ask the simple question, "What do you want?" When I was finally able to make the turn-- and start to absorb and act on the self-knowledge that then became available to me-- I began to get well.
The figure calling to me all those years was, I believe, what Thomas Merton calls "true self." This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us (or deflate us, another from of self-distortion), not the intellectual self that wants to hover above the mess of life in clear but ungrounded ideas, not the ethical self that wants to live by some abstract moral code. It is the self-planted in us by the God who made us in God's own image-- the self that wants nothing more, or less, than for us to be who we were created to be.
True self is true friend. One ignores or rejects such friendship only at one's peril.”
“The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.”
“In my own life, as winters turn into spring, I find it not only hard to cope with mud but also hard to credit the small harbingers of larger life to come, hard to hope until the outcome is secure. Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility; for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger's act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.”
“We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives.”
“We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring its mystery never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs.”
“As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots.”
“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already posses.”
“Vocation at its deepest level is, "This is something I can't not do, for reasons I'm unable to explain to anyone else and don't fully understand myself but that are nonetheless compelling.”
“embracing one's wholeness makes life more demanding--because once you do that, you must live your whole life. One of the most painful discoveries I made in the midst of the dark woods of depression was that a part of me wanted to stay depressed. As long as I clung to this living death, life became easier; little was expected of me, certainly not serving others.”
“Our strongest gifts are usually those we are barely aware of possessing. They are a part of our God-given nature, with us from the moment we drew first breath, and we are no more conscious of having them them than we are of breathing.”
“It took me a long time to understand that although everyone needs to be loved, I cannot be the source of that gift to everyone who asks me for it. There are some relationships which I am capable of love and others in which I am not. To pretend otherwise, to put out promissory notes I am unable to honor, is to damage my own integrity and that of the person in need - all in the name of love.”
“But if I am to let my life speak things I want to hear, things I would gladly tell others, I must also let it speak things I do not want to hear and would never tell anyone else! My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow. An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for 'wholeness' is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.”
“We listen for guidance everywhere except from within.”
“every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need.”
“Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about-quite apart from what I would like it to be about-or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions.”
“If we lived close to nature in an agricultural society, the seasons as metaphor and fact would continually frame our lives. But the master metaphor of our era does not come from agriculture - it comes from manufacturing. We do not believe that we 'grow' our lives - we believe that we 'make' them. Just listen to how we use the word in everyday speech: we make time, make friends, make meaning, make money, make a living, make love.”
“There is as much guidance in what does not and cannot happen in my life as there is in what can and does -- maybe more.”
“Our problem as Americans -- at least, among my race and gender -- is that we resist the very idea of limits, regarding limits of all sorts as temporary and regrettable impositions on our lives.”
“The punishment imposed on us for claiming true self can never be worse than the punishment we impose on ourselves by failing to make that claim.”
“The underground is a dangerous but potentially life-giving place to which depression takes us; a place where we come to understand that the self is not set apart or special or superior but is a common mix of good and evil, darkness and
light; a place where we can finally embrace the humanity we share with others. That is the best image I can offer not only of the underground but also of the field of forces surrounding the experience of God.”
“The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality.”
“The human self also has a nature, limits as well as potentials. If you seek vocation without understanding the material you are working with, what you build with your life will be ungainly and may well put lives in peril, your own and some of those around you. 'Faking it' in the service of high values is no virtue and has nothing to do with vocation. It is an ignorant, sometimes arrogant, attempt to override one's nature, and it will always fail.”
“Seasons is a wise metaphor for the movement of life, I think. It suggests that life is neither a battlefield nor a game of chance but something infinitely richer, more promising, more real. The notion that our lives are like the eternal cycle of the seasons does not deny the struggle or the joy, the loss or the gain, the darkness or the light, but encourages us to embrace it all-and to find in all of it opportunities for growth.
If we lived close to nature in an agricultural society, the seasons as metaphor and fact would continually frame our lives. But the master metaphor of our era does not come from
agriculture-it comes from manufacturing. We do not believe that we "grow" our lives-we believe that we "make" them. Just listen to how we use the word in everyday speech: we make time, make friends, snake meaning, make money, make a living, make love.
I once heard Alan Watts observe that a Chinese child will ask, "How does a baby grow?" But an American child will ask, "How do you make a baby?" From an early age, we absorb our culture's arrogant conviction that we manufacture everything, reducing the world to mere "raw material" that lacks all value until we impose our designs and labor on it.”
“When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless—a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for. That kind of giving is not only loveless but faithless, based on the arrogant and mistaken notion that God has no way of channeling love to the other except through me. Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.”
“One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess-the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.”
“When we so fear the dark that we demand light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows ever more terrifying as we try to hold it off.”
“Aunt B walked out onto the helipad wearing loose yoga pants. “I’m just here to stretch. Kate, want to help?”
Thirty seconds later, as I was flying through the air, I decided that this wasn’t the best idea.”
“I wasn't really going to go. I ain't so heartless I'm gonna let someone be struck down with pain on account of me. Even if that someone is a murderer and a liar. Hell, murderers and liars used to sing me to sleep.”
“It's an odd thing- the softer and more easily hurt a woman is the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done.”
“she speeds up, swinging her arms and huffing, her scarf flying in the wind behind her. “Al!” she screeches. Al sinks to the floor of the car, the upper half of his body folded over the seat. “Shit! My wife!” “Your wife? Your dead wife?” “She’s not exactly dead,”
“When Courtney appeared from the hallway, a whisper of a smile emerged on her eerily familiar face; Spencer’s legs dissolved into Jell-O. Aria let out a small squeak.”
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