Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly - once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.
"I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
“along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another: physical beauty. probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion”—toni morrison
My mother was the one who came up with the Eskimo idea. I put on a winter coat, made a fish out of paper, which I hung on the end of a stick, and wrapped my face up in a scarf. My hair was growing in, and I loved the way the top of the hood rubbed against it. By this time my hat had become part of me; I took it off only at home. Sometimes kids would make fun of me, run past me, knock my hat off, and call me Baldy. I hated this, but I assumed that one day my hair would grow in, and on that day the teasing would end.
We walked around the neighborhood with our pillowcase sacks, running into other groups of kids and comparing notes: the house three doors down gave whole candy bars, while the house next to that gave only cheap mints. I felt wonderful. It was only as the night wore on and the moon came out and the older kids, the big kids, went on their rounds that I began to realize why I felt so good. No one could see me clearly. No one could see my face.
…he has a life history of violence. He shot a woman several times with a .22 rifle in 1978, but she lived and he served less than a year. He was drunk then. The murder of the man in Pike County sent him away for life.
He is 76 now and limps on a cane because of a broken leg that never healed right. He works all day in the flower garden, where he has raked the dirt so smooth you can roll marbles on it.
So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
The room has begun to spin, and the boys ease me down onto the floor, where I rest on a round Feldenkrais mat, which feels like a soft, white buoy. I am quite woozy and sweating, and I hear something strange emanating from somewhere—I’m not sure where—a sing-songy, possibly computer-generated voice. A very pleasant, clipped voice. Sad Man, a life-sized papier-mache figure, is seated near the bed, his head bowed in a posture of sadness. Nolte pats Sad Man on the head as he passes. Books are strewn about—scientific journals, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, Better Sex Through Chemistry. From this angle I also see Nolte is filling up another syringe for himself, mixing a vitamin cocktail, holding it above his head, thumping it, squinting. Nolte pulls down his pajamas a bit on one side, exposing a few inches of skin, from his waist to his right cheek, a lean flank for a guy almost sixty.
After shooting up, he’s feeling a bit strange himself. He’s looking a little worried now, too. You sure you didn’t mix the wrong thing? I ask. “No,” he says, “I think I’m picking up your vibe. A kind of placebo effect.”
What is family? They were the people who claimed you. In good, in bad, in parts or in whole, they were the ones who showed up, who stayed in there, regardless. It wasn’t just about blood relations or shared chromosomes, but something wider, bigger. We had many families over time. Our family of origin, the family we created, and the groups you moved through while all of this was happening: friends, lovers, sometimes even strangers. None of them perfect, and we couldn’t expect them to be. You can’t make any one person your world. The trick was to take what each could give you and build your world from it.