“The way to get there is the all-important, all-absorbing problem… Your only guide, too, is your sureness about your subject…you work all your life to find your way, through all the obstructions and the false appearances and the upsets you may have brought on yourself, to reach a meaning—using inventions of your imagination, perhaps helped out by your dreams and bits of good luck. And finally…you have to assume that what you are working in aid of is life, not death.
But you would make the trip anyway—wouldn’t you?—just on hope.”
— Eudora Welty in 1974, from The Eye of the Story
“People who cannot escape thinking of themselves as white are poorly equipped, if equipped at all, to consider the meaning of black: people who know so little about themselves can face very little in another: and one dare hope for nothing from friends like these.” — James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work
Happy birthday, Tal!
I would tell you about the spring if I thought it might persuade you even now to return, but every bud and bird would only afflict you and make you sad where you are, so not one word of the robins, and not one word of the bloom, lest it make the city darker, and your own home more dear.
But nothing forgets you, Emily, not a blossom, not a bee; for in the merriest flower there is a pensive air, and in the bonniest bee a sorrow—they know that you are gone, they know how well you loved them, and in their little faces is sadness, and in their mild eyes, tears. But another spring, dear friend, you must and shall be here, and nobody can take you away, for I will hide you and keep you—and who would think of taking you if I hold you tight in my arms?
In memory of P.J.S. on her fifty-seventh birthday.