[T]he old stories of human relationships with animals can't be discounted. They are not primitive; they are primal. They reflect insights that came from considerable and elaborate systems of knowledge, intellectual traditions and ways of living that were tried, tested and found true over many thousands of years and on all continents.But perhaps the truest story is with the animals themselves because we have found our exemplary ways through them, both in the older world and in the present time, both physically and spiritually. According to the traditions of the Seneca animal society, there were medicine animals in ancient times that entered into relationships with people. The animals themselves taught ceremonies that were to be performed in their names, saying they would provide help for humans if this relationship was kept. We have followed them, not only in the way the early European voyagers and prenavigators did, by following the migrations of whales in order to know their location, or by releasing birds from cages on their sailing vessels and following them towards land, but in ways more subtle and even more sustaining. In a discussion of the Wolf Dance of the Northwest, artists Bill Holm and William Reid said that 'It is often done by a woman or a group of women. The dance is supposed to come from the wolves. There are different versions of its origin and different songs, but the words say something like, 'Your name is widely known among the wolves. You are honored by the wolves.'In another recent account, a Northern Cheyenne ceremonialist said that after years spent recovering from removals and genocide, indigenous peoples are learning their lost songs back from the wolves who retained them during the grief-filled times, as thought the wolves, even though threatened in their own numbers, have had compassion for the people....It seems we have always found our way across unknown lands, physical and spiritual, with the assistance of the animals. Our cultures are shaped around them and we are judged by the ways in which we treat them. For us, the animals are understood to be our equals. They are still our teachers. They are our helpers and healers. They have been our guardians and we have been theirs. We have asked for and sometimes been given, if we've lived well enough, carefully enough, their extraordinary powers of endurance and vision, which we have added to our own knowledge, powers and gifts when we are not strong enough for the tasks required of us. We have deep obligations to them. Without other animals, we are made less.(from her essay First People)
Linda Hogan
The resurrection of the body - what do we really mean by this? ...Did not the mystics and sages of all times teach us that the positive meaning of death is precisely that it liberates us from the prison of the body, as they say, from this perennial dependency on the material, physical and bodily life - finally rendering our souls light, weightless, free, spiritual? We [must] consider more profoundly the meaning of the body... We must consider the role of the body in our, in my, life. On the one hand, of course it is entirely clear that all of our bodies are transitory and impermanent. Biologists have calculated that all the cells that compose our bodies are replaced every seven years. Thus, physiologically, every seven years we have a new body. Therefore, at the end of my life the body that is laid in the grave or consumed by fire is no longer the same body as all the preceding ones and in the final analysis each of our bodies is nothing other than our individual [being] in the world, as the form of my dependence on the world, on the one hand and of my life and of my activity on the other. In essence, my body is my relationship to the world, to others; it is my life as communion and as mutual relationship. Without exception, everything in the body, in the human organism, is created for this relationship, for this communion, for this coming out of oneself. It is not an accident, of course, that love, the highest form of communion, finds its incarnation in the body; the body is that which sees, hears, feels and thereby leads me out of the isolation of my *I*. But then, perhaps, we can say in response: the body is not the darkness of the soul, but rather the body is its freedom, for the body is the soul as love, the soul as communion, the soul as life, the soul as movement. And this is why, when the soul loses the body, when it is separated from the body, it loses life.?
Alexander Schmemann
I couldn’t talk about it, about them—not yet. So I breathed Later and hooked my feet around his legs, drawing him closer. I placed my hands on his chest, feeling the heart beating beneath. This—I needed this right now. It wouldn’t wash away what I’d done, but … I needed him near, needed to smell and taste him, remind myself that he was real—this was real.Later, he echoed and leaned down to kiss me.It was soft, tentative—nothing like the wild, hard kisses we’d shared in the hall of throne room. He brushed his lips against mine again. I didn’t want apologies, didn’t want sympathy or coddling. I gripped the front of his tunic, tugging him closer as I opened my mouth to him.He let out a low growl and the sound of it sent a wildfire blazing through me, pooling and burning in my core. I let it burn through that hole in my chest, my soul. Let it raze through the wave of black that was starting to press around me, let it consume the phantom blood I could still feel on my hands. I gave myself to that fire, to him, as his hands roved across me, unbuttoning as he went.I pulled back, breaking the kiss to look into his face. His eyes were bright—hungry—but his hands had stopped their exploring and rested firmly on my hips. With a predator’s stillness, he waited and watched as I traced the contours of his face, as I kissed every place I touched.His ragged breathing was the only sound—and his hands soon began roaming across my back and sides, caressing and teasing and baring me to him. When my traveling fingers reached his mouth, he bit down on one, sucking it into his mouth. It didn’t hurt, but the bite was hard enough for me to meet his eyes again. To realize that he was done waiting—and so was I.He eased me onto the bed, murmuring my name against my neck, the shell of my ear, the tips of my fingers. I urged him—faster, harder. His mouth explored the curve of my breast, the inside of my thigh.A kiss for each day we’d spent apart, a kiss for every wound and terror, a kiss for the ink etched into my flesh and for all the days we would be together after this. Days, perhaps, that I no longer deserved. But I gave myself again to that fire, threw myself into it, into him and let myself burn.
Sarah J. Maas
There are some people about whom it is difficult to say anything which would describe them immediately and fully in their most typical and characteristic aspects; these are the people who are usually called ordinary and accounted as the majority and who actually do make up the great majority of society. In their novels and stories writers most often try to choose and present vividly and artistically social types which are extremely seldom encountered in real life and which are nevertheless more real than real life itself. Podkolyosin, viewed as a type, in perhaps exaggerated, but he is hardly unknown. How many clever people having learned from Gogol about Podkolyosin at once discover that great numbers of their friends bear a terrific resemblance to Podkolyosin. They knew before Gogol that their friends were like Podkolyosin, except they did not know yet that that was their name...Nevertheless the question remains before us: what is the novelist to do with the absolutely ordinary people and how can he present them to readers so that they are at all interesting? To leave them out of a story completely is not possible, because ordinary people are at every moment, by and large, the necessary links in the chain of human affairs; leaving them out, therefore, means to destroy credibility. To fill a novel entirely with types or, simply for the sake of interest, strange and unheard-of people, would be improbable and most likely not even interesting. In our opinion the writer must try to find interesting and informative touches even among commonplace people. When, for example, the very nature of certain ordinary persons consists precisely of their perpetual and unvarying ordinariness, or, better still, when in spite of their most strenuous efforts to life themselves out of the rut of ordinariness and routine, then such persons acquire a certain character of their own-the typical character of mediocrity which refuses to remain what it is and desires at all costs to become original and independent, without having the slightest capacity for independence.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
It is very easy to grow tired at collecting; the period of a low tide is about all men can endure. At first the rocks are bright and every moving animal makes his mark on the attention. The picture is wide and colored and beautiful. But after an hour and a half the attention centers weary, the color fades and the field is likely to narrow to an individual animal. Here one may observe his own world narrowed down until interest and, with it, observation, flicker and go out. And what if with age this weariness becomes permanent and observation dim out and not recover? Can this be what happens to so many men of science? Enthusiasm, interest, sharpness, dulled with a weariness until finally they retire into easy didacticism? With this weariness, this stultification of attention centers, perhaps there comes the pained and sad memory of what the old excitement was like and regret might turn to envy of the men who still have it. Then out of the shell of didacticism, such a used-up man might attack the unwearied and he would have in his hands proper weapons of attack. It does seem certain that to a wearied man an error in a mass of correct data wipes out all the correctness and is a focus for attack; whereas the unwearied man, in his energy and receptivity, might consider the little dross of error a by-product of his effort. These two may balance and produce a purer thing than either in the end. These two may be the stresses which hold up the structure, but it is a sad thing to see the interest in interested men thin out and weaken and die. We have known so many professors who once carried their listeners high on their single enthusiasm and have seen these same men finally settle back comfortably into lectures prepared years before and never vary them again. Perhaps this is the same narrowing we observe in relation to ourselves and the tide pool—a man looking at reality brings his own limitations to the world. If he has strength and energy of mind the tide pool stretches both ways, digs back to electrons and leaps space into the universe and fights out of the moment into non-conceptual time. Then ecology has a synonym which is ALL.
John Steinbeck
I’m going to say this once here and then—because it is obvious—I will not repeat it in the course of this book: not all boys engage in such behavior, not by a long shot and many young men are girls’ staunchest allies. However, every girl I spoke with, every single girl—regardless of her class, ethnicity, or sexual orientation; regardless of what she wore, regardless of her appearance—had been harassed in middle school, high school, college, or, often, all three. Who, then, is truly at risk of being distracted at school? At best, blaming girls’ clothing for the thoughts and actions of boys is counterproductive. At worst, it’s a short step from there to she was asking for it. Yet, I also can’t help but feel that girls such as Camila, who favors what she called more so-called provocative clothing, are missing something. Taking up the right to bare arms (and legs and cleavage and midriffs) as a feminist rallying cry strikes me as suspiciously Orwellian. I recall the simple litmus test for sexism proposed by British feminist Caitlin Moran, one that Camila unconsciously referenced: Are the guys doing it, too? If they aren’t, Moran wrote, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit.’ So while only girls get catcalled, it’s also true that only girls’ fashions urge body consciousness at the very youngest ages. Target offers bikinis for infants. The Gap hawks skinny jeans for toddlers. Preschoolers worship Disney princesses, characters whose eyes are larger than their waists. No one is trying to convince eleven-year-old boys to wear itty-bitty booty shorts or bare their bellies in the middle of winter. As concerned as I am about the policing of girls’ sexuality through clothing, I also worry about the incessant drumbeat of self-objectification: the pressure on young women to reduce their worth to their bodies and to see those bodies as a collection of parts that exist for others’ pleasure; to continuously monitor their appearance; to perform rather than to feel sensuality. I recall a conversation I had with Deborah Tolman, a professor at Hunter College and perhaps the foremost expert on teenage girls’ sexual desire. In her work, she said, girls had begun responding to questions about how their bodies feel—questions about sexuality or arousal—by describing how they think they look. I have to remind them that looking good is not a feeling.
Peggy Orenstein
Those who live in retirement, whose lives have fallen amid the seclusion of schools or of other walled-in and guarded dwellings, are liable to be suddenly and for a long while dropped out of the memory of their friends, the denizens of a freer world. Unaccountably, perhaps and close upon some space of unusually frequent intercourse—some congeries of rather exciting little circumstances, whose natural sequel would rather seem to be the quickening than the suspension of communication—there falls a stilly pause, a wordless silence, a long blank of oblivion. Unbroken always is this blank; alike entire and unexplained. The letter, the message once frequent, are cut off; the visit, formerly periodical, ceases to occur; the book, paper, or other token that indicated remembrance, comes no more.Always there are excellent reasons for these lapses, if the hermit but knew them. Though he is stagnant in his cell, his connections without are whirling in the very vortex of life. That void interval which passes for him so slowly that the very clocks seem at a stand and the wingless hours plod by in the likeness of tired tramps prone to rest at milestones—that same interval, perhaps, teems with events and pants with hurry for his friends.The hermit—if he be a sensible hermit—will swallow his own thoughts and lock up his own emotions during these weeks of inward winter. He will know that Destiny designed him to imitate, on occasion, the dormouse and he will be conformable: make a tidy ball of himself, creep into a hole of life's wall and submit decently to the drift which blows in and soon blocks him up, preserving him in ice for the season.Let him say, It is quite right: it ought to be so, since so it is. And, perhaps, one day his snow-sepulchre will open, spring's softness will return, the sun and south-wind will reach him; the budding of hedges and carolling of birds and singing of liberated streams will call him to kindly resurrection. Perhaps this may be the case, perhaps not: the frost may get into his heart and never thaw more; when spring comes, a crow or a pie may pick out of the wall only his dormouse-bones. Well, even in that case, all will be right: it is to be supposed he knew from the first he was mortal and must one day go the way of all flesh, As well soon as syne.
Charlotte Brontë