Feb. 28, 2009

What I Believe

by Michael Blumenthal

I believe there is no justice,
but that cottongrass and bunchberry
grow on the mountain.

I believe that a scorpion's sting
will kill a man,
but that his wife will remarry.

I believe that, the older we get,
the weaker the body,
but the stronger the soul.

I believe that if you roll over at night
in an empty bed,
the air consoles you.

I believe that no one is spared
the darkness,
and no one gets all of it.

I believe we all drown eventually
in a sea of our making,
but that the land belongs to someone else.

I believe in destiny.
And I believe in free will.

I believe that, when all
the clocks break,
time goes on without them.

And I believe that whatever
pulls us under,
will do so gently.

so as not to disturb anyone,
so as not to interfere
with what we believe in.

"What I Believe" by Michael Blumenthal, from Days We Would Rather Know. © Pleasure Boat Studio, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Stephen Spender, (books by this author) born in London, England (1909). He's the author of many volumes of poetry and a collection of essays about his disillusionment with Communism, called The God That Failed (1949). When he turned 70, he wrote, "I'm struggling at the end to get out of the valley of hectoring youth, journalistic middle age, imposture, moneymaking, public relations, bad writing, mental confusion."

It's the birthday of the essayist Michel de Montaigne, (books by this author) born near Bordeaux, France (1533). He became a lawyer, but when his father died and left Michel the family estate, he took over the property and retired from the law. He spent the next 10 years in relative seclusion in his tower, ignoring his family and society. His best friend had recently died, the man he would have written letters to, so instead of letters, Montaigne wrote down thoughts to an imaginary reader. He wrote about all kinds of things: liars, smell, prayer, cannibals, and thumbs. He mixed anecdotes with academic thoughts. And he called his short pieces "essays" because he considered the pieces small attempts at addressing big ideas, and the French verb "essai" means "attempt."

It's the birthday of Linus Pauling, born in Portland, Oregon (1901). As a kid, he stole chemicals from an abandoned iron and steel smelter and conducted experiments. He researched chemical bonds and demonstrated that properties like color, texture, and hardness are a result of a chemical's molecular structure. In 1954, he won a Nobel Prize in chemistry. Pauling used his status as a scientist to speak out against nuclear weapons. He gave lectures, wrote articles, lobbied the United Nations, and he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

It's the birthday of Daniel Handler, (books by this author) born on this day in San Francisco (1970). He's most famous for his best-selling series of macabre children's books, A Series of Unfortunate Events, which he wrote under the pen name Lemony Snicket. The books follow the adventures of the orphaned Baudelaire children — Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Their parents die in a fire, and after that, things keep getting worse and worse. There are 13 novels in A Series of Unfortunate Events, including The Bad Beginning (1999), The Carnivorous Carnival (2002), and The Penultimate Peril (2005).

Daniel Handler said, "A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
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  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
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  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
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  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
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