Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Standing On The Edge

"To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility." - Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum (born Martha Craven on May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher with a particular interest in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, political philosophy and ethics. Nussbaum, though not a lawyer, is currently Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, a chair that includes appointments in the Philosophy Department, the Law School, and the Divinity School. She also holds Associate appointments in Classics and Political Science, is a member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She previously taught at Harvard and Brown where she held the rank of university professor.

"Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe." - Winston Churchill

"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down." - Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published two novels, poetry, essays, prose, literary criticism, and a memoir.

The view from where we stood.

Standing On The Edge

I would find this place
somewhere in my heart's return,
somewhere near your gate
in the autumn light,
in the words we should have said,
in the prayers, songs
and music we could have played
had we known in time.

October 15, 2009 12:39 PM


  1. Love the quotes and the poem.

    "...trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed;..."

    I need this right now. Thank you.

  2. You just never know where the voice of God may arise. Listen ferociously. If you hear then be generous because the speakers rarely knows how they are used as messengers. Sometimes they will speak hoping to be used and grateful that they were if they were, but they seldom know if it happened this time or not.

    Thank you.

  3. "...trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed;..."

    This is exactly where I am today. This is always work. It is not easy for me.

    Your poem is very beautiful and forgiving, but surprises me, as it suggests a kind of regret, a place I don't think you reside in, a kind of would have done things differently. Is this you, or you expressing a different writing voice, perhaps? Maybe I read it wrong. It is lovely either way.

    That is the best picture of Churchill I've ever seen.


  4. Erin, do you mean am I this way now? Or is it possible that I was the way the poem reads as a younger man? Or perhaps even in a former life? I tell you that my personal myth involves carrying a monumental regret of this kind, of dropping the ball, so to speak, at an utterly critical moment, and it cost lives and a whole country, and without question it was my burden to carry. So yes, you are right, that it is not my current self that sources this poem, but it may be genuinely my own in these other ways even so.

    Another strong belief is that I gather character over time. That is in part my purpose here. Whatever it is that I shed must be decidedly not mine to keep. I am not wise enough alone to decide such matters concerning what to shed. I have to call on you and other trusted friends, and as well on God.

    So I keep my griefs as well as my joys, you see, and am sure that joys that cannot withstand the presence of genuine grief are not real.

  5. Churchill as a younger man, before he was the personification of the British Bulldog. He was nearly perfectly that during WWII. He was nearly perfect as a manifestation of John Bull.

  6. "I tell you that my personal myth involves carrying a monumental regret of this kind, of dropping the ball, so to speak, at an utterly critical moment, and it cost lives and a whole country."

    That is quite a burden to carry. No, I didn't know you carried regret. But perhaps it comes in different shapes, certainly different sizes, and it is something different for you than I can imagine. Of course, this is the way.


  7. Well, Erin, it is a myth, which means a way of explaining the present without actually imposing on it. I have a remnant feeling, not the full weight. I tend to go dark and the myth dignifies the trouble. I need a way to explain the tendency because I do not have a life so terrible that it causes the tendency. I am more bewildered at my state of being than burdened with pain and regret. Yet I see where my bewilderment goes, hence the myth makes sense to me.

    Again, I think it far better to accomodate these feelings than to deny them. In my experience I have never been effective at wishing dark stuff away. This may be possible for some but not for me and some others I know.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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