Answers in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

[Image: xkcd #936, on password strength. Click image to enlarge; see xkcd itself for the full six panels and the punchline.]

From whiskey river:

This accidental
meeting of possibilities
calls itself I.

I ask: what am I doing here?
And, at once, this I
becomes unreal.

(Dag Hammarskjöld [source])

…and:

Ch’ui the draftsman
Could draw more perfect circles freehand
Than with a compass.

His fingers brought forth
Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
Was meanwhile free and without concern
With what he was doing.

No application was needed
His mind was perfectly simple
And knew no obstacle.

So, when the shoe fits
The foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits
The belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
“For” and “against” are forgotten.

No drives, no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs
Are under control.
You are a free man.

Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.

(Chuang Tzu [source])

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Getting Through the Day (and Knowing It)

[Image: xkcd.com #324. The image’s title attribute there says, “Sometimes the best fun looks like boredom.” (Click image to enlarge.)]

From whiskey river:

Questions Before Dark

Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?

(Jeanne Lohmann, from The Light of Invisible Bodies)

and:

There is nothing more alone than being in a car at night in the rain. I was in the car. And I was glad of it. Between one point on the map and another point on the map, there was the being alone in the car in the rain. They say you are not you except in terms of relation to other people. If there weren’t any other people there wouldn’t be any you because what you do, which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people. That is a very comforting thought when you are in the car in the rain at night alone, for then you aren’t you, and not being you or anything, you can really lie back and get some rest. It is a vacation from being you. There is only the flow of the motor under your foot spinning that frail thread of sound out of its metal gut like a spider, that filament, that nexus, which isn’t really there, between the you which you have just left in one place and the you which you will be when you get to the other place.

(Robert Penn Warren, from All the King’s Men [source])

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The Shape of What You Live

[Image: “Angular Momentum,” from xkcd.com. The tooltip/”hover title” at the original page says: “With reasonable assumptions about latitude and body shape, how much time might she gain them? Note: whatever the answer, sunrise always comes too soon. (Also, is it worth it if she throws up?)”]

From whiskey river:

Remembering

And you wait. You wait for the one thing
that will change your life,
make it more than it is—
something wonderful, exceptional,
stones awakening, depths opening to you.

In the dusky bookstalls
old books glimmer gold and brown.
You think of lands you journeyed through,
of paintings and a dress once worn
by a woman you never found again.

And suddenly you know: that was enough.
You rise and there appears before you
in all its longings and hesitations
the shape of what you lived.

(Rainer Maria Rilke [source])

and:

You’re really just an ongoing set of events: boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, one after the other. The awareness is keeping up with those events, seeing your life unfolding as it is, not your ideas of it, not your pictures of it. See what I mean?

(Charlotte Joko Beck [source])

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After “The End”…

No, alas — not here to report anything like the conclusion of Seems to Fit. Just sharing a tidbit from the irrepressible xkcd webcomic. The first three panels of today’s contribution to the collective wisdom are above; click the image to see the final panel.

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The Blogger as Essayist (and Lens)

E.B. White, bemused to find himself hereReal post for the day imminent. In the meantime, I think this quotation deserves a post of its own:

The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each excursion of the essayist, each new “attempt,” differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays. There are as many kinds of essays as there are human attitudes or poses, as many essay flavors as there are Howard Johnson ice creams. The essayist arises in the morning and, if he has work to do, selects his garb from an unusually extensive wardrobe: he can pull on any sort of shirt, be any sort of person — philosopher, scold, jester, raconteur, confidant, pundit, devil’s advocate, enthusiast.

[…]

I think some people find the essay the last resort of the egoist, a much too self-conscious and self-serving form for their taste; they feel that it is presumptuous of a writer to assume that his little excursions or his small observations will interest the reader. There is some justice in their complaint. I have always been aware that I am by nature self-absorbed and egoistical; to write of myself to the extent I have done indicates a too great attention to my own life, not enough to the lives of others.

That’s E.B. White, talking to me (and maybe you) across the decades — about blogging.

And if White’s not talking to you, maybe the inimitable xkcd is:

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