whatever leads to joy, they always answer

will schwalbe:

…a friend told me I had to read a collection of poetry called What the Living Do. It’s an extraordinary cycle of poems, published in 1998, by the American poet Marie Howe, related to the illness and death of a younger brother from AIDS.

One of the poems is called “My Dead Friends.”


I have begun,

when I’m weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion

and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child

in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling—whatever leads

to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were—

it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.

Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I’ll do.


the wildest thing i know

mary oliver:

This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

what is good news?

Kurt Vonnegut:

The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.

it is

Alain de Botton: 

My goal is a more emotionally literate, happier society, but one that doesn’t in any way overlook the fact that life is tragic in structure.

bad language is a moral issue

harold evans:

The fog that envelops English is not just a question of good taste, style, and aesthetics. It is a moral issue… I hate the fact that people are not allowed to see things which are to their benefit but are obscured by language, whether for profit-mongering or any other reason.

nine years of your life

Roman Krznaric:

…assuming your viewing habits are somewhere near average, if you live to seventy-five, you will have spent around nine years of your life watching television.

how do you know you found your person?

Two years later we were together, and we belonged to each other for 17 years. He died four years ago. His last week in the hospital, he held my hand and said, “You’re my person.