This newsletter, about the power, craft, and people of storytelling, is crowdsourced from our 260+ book club members.
If you find or create an article, quote, or passage worth sharing with other storytellers, send me an email, and I will archive your submission for future use.
Let’s get to it! :)
“I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.”
“It is not the scientist’s job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be used.”
—J. Robert Oppenheimer
“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.”
“Imagine you’re a fish, swimming in a pond. You can move forward and back, side to side, but never up out of the water. If someone were standing beside the pond, watching you, you’d have no idea they were there. To you, that little pond is an entire universe. Now imagine that someone reaches down and lifts you out of the pond. You see that what you thought was the entire world is only a small pool. You see other ponds. Trees. The sky above. You realize you’re a part of a much larger and more mysterious reality than you had ever dreamed of.”
“You suck at something. It bothers you, so you work hard at it & many years, through lots of pain and failure…
What is this dissatisfaction you feel, you who have bitten so deeply into the fruit of life? Who are you to feel unease, when everything is easier for you than for others? Is this a burden or a blessing, a boon, or bane? Why won’t it leave you alone? What does it want of you?
After a great deal of wandering, you find the ruins of an old, abandoned city, derelict and forgotten. Curious, you make your way to the center, towards a great tower, kindred and beckoning. Perhaps it was a church to the gods, you wonder, or maybe a throne room for the kings. Gently you push open the giant stone doors, which creak and groan with the weight of centuries. Spread before you are not jewels, or riches or gold, but a vast, endless sea... of books. Books of all shapes and sizes, lovingly bound, meticulously kept. It’s a library!
Excited, you grab one book and another. You devour tome after tome, astounded by the souls of these kind strangers you have never met and will never know. Somehow they seem to know you by heart, in a way nobody else ever has, in a way you have yearned to be known all your life. As days turn into weeks and months into years, it becomes clear to you what you must do with your life.
You pick out an empty book... and you begin to write.”
As fragile human beings, our survival depends on our ability to accurately label the good and the bad, as Seneca did so above. Of course, we can, as Oppenheimer did, opt out of this discussion altogether. But as one of our members said of the George Orwell quote, if we do participate in this discussion, we can only do so within the limitations of language.
Every time we realize that we are a part of a much larger and more mysterious reality than we had ever dreamed of, our vocabulary expands. Every time our vocabulary expands, we realize how minuscule it was before. Every time we realize how minuscule it was before, we become less and less likely to label things “good” or “bad” — because these concepts are subjective. Objectively speaking, there is only life or death, creation or destruction, action or inaction. We, humans, lie somewhere in the messy middle, and it is up to us to act, to create, and to live, regardless of how well we do so.
In conclusion, I want to remix a famous quote from the Persian poet, Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a [library]. I will meet you there.”
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