inspire me


“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen



“That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there, and you’re just going to live in it—versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”

~ Steve Jobs



“And I tell you this. My friends, there will always be someone seeking to use one part of your selves, and at the same time urging you to forget or destroy all of the other selves. And I warn you, this is death. Death to you as a woman, death to you as a poet, death to you as a human being. When the desire for definition, self or otherwise, comes out of a desire for limitation rather than a desire for expansion, no true face can emerge. Because any ratification from the outside can only augment my self-definition, not provide it. Nobody telling me I am worthy, or that a poem is good, can possibly match that sense within my self of worthiness, or of having done what I set out to do.”

~ Audre Lorde, I Am Your Sister




“What’s needed isn’t change, it is transformation. Change seeks different solutions to intractable problems. Transformation asks different questions so that we can see the problems in a new light.”

~ Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life




“I think that if a work of art is not particular then it cannot be universal. Universality comes out of going deeply into the moment. You need to have that particularity of the moment, and then you move beyond it.”

~ Azar Nafisi, in an interview with John P. Jacob



“We limit what is limitless. We condition what is unconditioned, and it makes us miserable.”

“No matter what other people say, when it really comes down to it, you’re the only one who can answer your own questions.”

“For me the spiritual path has always been learning how to die. That involves not just death at the end of this particular life, but all the falling apart that happens continually. The fear of death—which is also the fear of groundlessness, of insecurity, of not having it all together—seems to be the most fundamental thing that we have to work with. Because these endings happen all the time! Things are always ending and arising and ending. But we are strangely conditioned to feel that we’re supposed to experience just the birth part and not the death part.
We have so much fear of not being in control, of not being able to hold on to things. Yet the true nature of things is that you’re never in control. You’re never in control. You can never hold on to anything. That’s the nature of how things are. But it’s almost like it’s in the genes of being born human that you can’t accept that. You can buy it intellectually, but moment to moment it brings up a lot of panic and fear. So my own path has been training to relax with groundlessness and the panic that accompanies it. Training to allow all that to be there, training to die continually. That seems to be the essence of the lojong teachings—to stay in the space of uncertainty without trying to reconstruct a reference point.
We can stop looking for some idealized moment when everything is simple and secure. This second of experience, which could be painful or pleasurable, is our working basis. What makes all the difference is how we relate to it.”

~ Pema Chödrön, in an interview with bell hooks



“But genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will…”

~ Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays”



“I think it’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery, and of your own mystery.”

~ Joseph Campbell, in conversation with Bill Moyers



“Good and bad are only the products of an active and temporary selection, which must be renewed.”

~ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia




“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

~ Bill Nye, in a Reddit AMA



“Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.”

~ Ira Glass



“I often ask myself what makes a story work, and what makes it hold up as a story, and I have decided that it is probably some action, some gesture of a character that is unlike any other in the story, one which indicates where the real heart of the story lies. This would have to be an action or a gesture which was both totally right and totally unexpected; it would have to be one that was both in character and beyond character; it would have to suggest both the world and eternity. The action or gesture I’m talking about would have to be on the anagogical level, that is, the level which has to do with the Divine life and our participation in it. It would be a gesture that transcended any neat allegory that might have been intended or any pat moral categories a reader could make. It would be a gesture which somehow made contact with mystery.”

~ Flannery O’Connor, In a 1963 essay



“I am not a Buddhist. And the Buddha would not have minded this is in the least. He would have been happy to hear it. He was not, himself, a Buddhist. He was the thing Itself: an enlightened being. Just as Jesus Christ was not a Christian, but a Christ, an enlightened being. The challenge for me is not to be a follower of Something but to embody it; I am willing to try for that. And this is how I understand the meaning of both the Christ and the Buddha. When the Buddha, dying, entreated his followers to ‘be a lamp unto your self,’ I understood he was willing to free his followers even from his own teachings. He had done all he could do, taught them everything he had learned. Now, their own enlightenment was up to them. He was also warning them not to claim him as the sole route to their salvation, thereby robbing themselves of responsibility for their own choices, behavior and lives.”

~ Alice Walker




“…without moving into realms about which one knows nothing, there will never be any change.”

~ Angela Davis



“I have never renounced the expression of loneliness, of anguish, or of melancholia. But I like to change tones, to find all the sounds, to pursue all the colors, to look for the forces of life wherever they may be—in creation or destruction.”

~ Pablo Neruda, In an interview with Rita Guibert



“As in the case of archery, there can be no question but that these arts are ceremonies. More clearly than the teacher could express it in words, they tell the pupil that the right frame of mind for the artist is only reached when the preparing and the creating, the technical and the artistic, the material and the spiritual, the project and the object, flow together without a break.”

~ Eugen Herrigel, “Zen in the Art of Archery”




“In each of us, there is a little voice that knows exactly which way to go. And I learned very early to listen to it, even though it has caused so much grief and havoc, and I think that is the only answer.”

~ Alice Walker



“Fame is corrosive and useless…The essence of fame, I think, is corrosive to the human soul. I think it sets up a barrier between you and yourself.”

~ Frank Langella, in conversation with Charlie Rose



“Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.'”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.



“As a magician, I think everything is possible. And I think if something is done by one person, it can be done by others.”

“I think magic—whether I’m holding my breath or shuffling a deck of cards—is pretty simple: it’s practice, it’s training, and it’s experimenting, while pushing through the pain to the be the best that I can be.”

~ David Blaine



“Happiness and suffering, they support each other. They ‘inter-are’. To be is to ‘inter-be’. It’s like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. …Suffering is the kind of mud that we must be able to use in order to grow the flower of understanding and love.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey



“The painting, the clowning, the showmanship, the technique – everything is only one manner for express the total personality of Dali.”


“I cannot understand why human beings should be so little individualized. Why they should behave with such great collective uniformity.”

~ Salvador Dalí, in conversation with Mike Wallace



“In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.”

~ Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”




“All journeys are extraordinary.”


“The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.”

~ James Baldwin, “The Price of the Ticket”



“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

~ Steve Jobs, In his commencement address to Stanford University



“The stirring of the nest is different from the building of the nest. The building of the nest is a protection to the egg. But when the eagle stirs her nest, it only happens when the eaglets have grown too big to live in something so small.
Are you too big to be living in something so small?”


“Don’t die in your nest. Don’t die where you got started.”

~ T.D. Jakes



“In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.”


“…the seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.”

~ David Bayles and Ted Orland, “Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking”




“In times of experimentation, when language is handled by incompetent people, the result is pure nothing—pure vagueness within uncertainty! So, when you compose, I prefer you to be mistaken, if you must, to appear natural and free rather than to appear other than what you really are… One can have good reasons or bad reasons for experimenting. If you search to hide your inadequacy, you are wrong. But if you want to say what you are, you owe it to yourselves. That’s why it’s essential for a teacher at first to let his pupil play or write as he wishes, and then to be ruthless on questions of discipline.”

~ Nadia Boulanger, From Bruno Monsaingeon’s documentary “Nadia Boulanger: Mademoiselle”



“The greatest inventions in the world had hundreds of failures before the answers were found.”

~ Michael Jordan, “I Can’t Accept Not Trying”




“…keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your whole development; you couldn’t disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to questions that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet”




“The problem is that buried among the things that we hate is a class of products that are in that category only because they are weird. They make us nervous. They are sufficiently different that it takes us some time to understand that we actually like them.”

~ Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”




“The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.”

~ Seth Godin, “Manage Your Day-to-Day”


“Conditions to produce one’s craft are rarely ideal, and waiting for everything to be perfect is almost always an exercise in procrastination.”

~ Erin Rooney Doland, “Manage Your Day-to-Day”




“…nothing is ordinary when submitted to a silent and sustained scrutiny.”

~ Julio Cortázar, “Around the Day in Eighty Worlds”




“Crashes are hell, but in the end they’re good for us. A crash means we have failed. We gave it everything we had and we came up short. A crash does not mean we are losers. A crash means we have to grow.”

~ Steven Pressfield, “Do The Work!”




“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

~ Marianne Williamson, “A Return to Love”




“How do you deal with competition?

Is it a useful fuel to you?

Does it spur you on to work harder?

Does your work get better as a result?

Do you have something to prove?

Do you have an axe to grind?

What three things would you change about your work if you no longer had to compete with anybody?

Why can’t you make those changes anyway?”

~ Stefan G. Bucher, “344 Questions”




“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.”

~ Lao-tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell, “Tao Te Ching”




“I’ve seen so many young people take the ‘Gotta do the drugs and booze thing to make me a better artist’ route over the years. A choice that wasn’t smart, original, effective, healthy, or ended happily…Of course, the older you get, the more casualties of this foolishness you meet…So the bars of West Hollywood, London, and New York are awash with people throwing their lives away in the desperate hope of finding a shortcut, any shortcut. And a lot of them aren’t even young anymore, their B-plans having been washed away by beer and vodka years ago. Meanwhile the competition is at home, working their asses off.”

~ Hugh MacLeod, “Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity”




“It’s vital to establish some rituals–automatic but decisive patterns of behavior–at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.”

~ Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit”




“If you think about it, it’s precisely because people are different from others that they’re able to create their own independent selves…It’s precisely my ability to detect some aspects of a scene that other people can’t, to feel differently than others and choose words that differ from theirs, that’s allowed me to write stories that are mine alone.”


“In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him.”

~ Haruki Murakami, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”




“In the end, a deadline is always the best cure for creative block. Some projects just don’t get solved until your survival mechanisms kick in. I sometimes artificially induce this feeling of panic on longer projects by making public commitments to people about presenting work on a particular day.”

~ Ben Barry, “Break Through!”


“…it’s easy to undercut ourselves and forget how talented and imaginative we are as artists and designers. I find putting yourself in workhorse mode–simply just keeping at it until you strike your own gold–can be the most rewarding way out of a creative rut.”

~ Chuck Anderson, “Break Through!”




“An idea is a thought. It’s a thought that holds more than you think it does when you receive it…You fall in love with the first idea, that little tiny piece. And once you’ve got it, the rest will come in time.”

“Sometimes accidents happen that aren’t happy, but you have to work with those as well. You adapt. You throw out this thing, and throw out that thing, and throw out another thing. But if you pay attention to the original idea–stay true to that–it’s surprising how, at the end, even the things that were accidents are honest. They’re true to the idea.”

~ David Lynch, “Catching the Big Fish”




“Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be–an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words–was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be alright. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”

~ Neil Gaiman, In his keynote address to the University of the Arts



#25: Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

#29: You’re a Genius all the time

~ Jack Kerouac, “You’re a Genius All the Time”




~ Austin Kleon, “Steal Like An Artist”




“…it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love. With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.”

~ David Foster Wallace, in conversation with Larry McCaffery



“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stick-up man. Resistance has no conscience. It understands nothing but power. Resistance cannot be negotiated with. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”

~ Steven Pressfield, “War of Art”