“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. The people will appreciate your leadership”.
“A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
"It always seems impossible, until it’s done.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
On character and living life
“There is no passion to be found in playing small – settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
On freedom and love
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Today I dipped my toes into a facebook discussion about Lang Leav’s poetry, in which there were two large camps: Supporters of Readership/Literacy and Strong Dislikers. I don’t usually get involved in forum-like things because they tend to quickly become personal and it’s a huge time/emotion-sink but I felt I needed to defend Leav because:
1) I like her poetry in itself - it’s succinct, observant, and manages to balance being personal (cathartic) and being relatable (simple, accessible language; commonplace scenarios/feelings). I also think the arrangement of poems in Love and Misadventure is nicely done.
And while I don’t necessarily like every Lang Leav poem, I have not, and don’t expect ever to, like all poems from a single oeuvre.
2) I’m not a fan of elitism, especially when it comes to reading. I read pretty much every damn thing. And I am of the camp that believes something is good if someone likes it. How do you measure quality? (Don’t tell me literary prizes.) I think it boils down to a matter of taste.
And taste can change. Just as how I now appreciate George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series when I just didn’t get it a couple of years ago (it did take some cajoling by the now-husband, and I’m glad we both stuck with getting me to read it, frequent character deaths and all). Hardcore fantasy (magicians, elves…) remains a genre I largely don’t enjoy.
There were some calls for people to start off with “better” poets. But people will be exposed to different things at different times, and they will read what they goddamn please.
3) Leav has a cult following, which is a huge win for poetry! As a poet myself I cannot be gladder that these fans are reading poems. More readership means more literacy means endless possibilities, for reader exposure to other material, the creation of new content, and the way existing artists interact with their audiences (John Green is another excellent tumblr example).
4) It’s important that we encourage new writers. It takes a lot to put your work out there. I think this webcomic beautifully illustrates how encouragement helps ensure that artists continue creating. The “quality” of that output is immaterial. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. But it’s important that it exists.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes Aww!”—Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Something I think about a lot is the idea that whenever we travel somewhere, we like to think we become someone new. That when we arrive somewhere, whether that’s San Francisco, New York City, or somewhere for a vacation, we’re going to show up and become different just because of this new proximity. The old you is always in the suitcase, and wherever you go, there will still be an old you there. Old Florida/white-trash me is always going to be wondering where I can find a Subway sandwich because the menu here is confusing. The largest part of me is the part that has been with me my entire life, so the part that has been with me for two days in this new location doesn’t really mean anything.
People aren’t transformed by locations, unless they’re a fruity artist. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us are looking through the lens of the life we’ve always had, and from a distance, it looks transformative. San Francisco and New York look like the land of Oz or Disney World, but when we arrive there, we still have to go do stuff; we still have to show up on time for things. There are constraints to all of those places that we don’t see until we get a little bit closer.
Eventually, we find a place that feels like home and learn to love it, but there’s no place where someone just waves a magic wand to make us become the people we want to be.
A compliment shouldn’t come with a request. I remember standing at a urinal in a bathroom next to Tom Hulce in the late 80s. I turned to him and said the same thing I’ve said to every celebrity I’ve ever met: “I enjoy your work.” He said thank you, and then I walked away (laughing). I once ran into Jeffrey Jones—the guy from Deadwood and Ferris Bueller—on the street in San Francisco. I said the same thing: “I really enjoy your work.” Again: he said, “Thank you,” and I walked away. I’m guessing that’s exactly the amount of interaction that Jeffrey Jones wants to have with somebody. He wants to be appreciated, but he doesn’t want me to ask, “Hey, do you want to go get a drink (laughing)?” because then he’d be a dick for saying no.
Somebody once told me—I don’t know if this is true, but it should be—that when you see people in their 60s or 70s with really weird hair, it’s because most people tend to keep whatever hairstyle they were wearing from the time they were happiest in life. So when you see an old lady wearing a beehive, it’s because it’s from a time when she was most happy.
I think that’s true about music as well.
Your legacy is not going to matter when you’re dead. When you’re dead, who cares? You’re gone. A person wants to have a legacy because, as their life drifts away, they can know that people will like them. It’s consolation for the last moments of life: that’s what legacy really means.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”—Robert A. Heinlein
When the body remains still and the mind is forced to do something repetitive, the human inside us rebels.
The average job now is done by someone who is stationary in front of some kind of screen. Someone who has just one overriding interest is tunnel-visioned, a bore, but also a specialist, an expert. Welcome to the monopathic world, a place where only the single-minded can thrive. Of course, the rest of us are very adept at pretending to be specialists. We doctor our CVs to make it look as if all we ever wanted to do was sell mobile homes or Nespresso machines. It’s common sense, isn’t it, to try to create the impression that we are entirely focused on the job we want? And wasn’t it ever thus?
In fact, it wasn’t. Classically, a polymath was someone who ‘had learnt much’, conquering many different subject areas. As the 15th-century polymath Leon Battista Alberti — an architect, painter, horseman, archer and inventor — wrote: ‘a man can do all things if he will’. During the Renaissance, polymathy became part of the idea of the ‘perfected man’, the manifold master of intellectual, artistic and physical pursuits. Leonardo da Vinci was said to be as proud of his ability to bend iron bars with his hands as he was of the Mona Lisa.
Twigger argues, and we’d agree, that the best ideas come from a cross-pollination of seemingly unrelated fields. Sometimes we think we need to specialize to survive, but maybe the future will better reward “Expert Generalists.”