I can still remember the afternoon, on my 15th birthday, when I opened up 'The Virgin and the Gypsy,' D.H. Lawrence's novella, in my tiny cell in boarding school, and whole worlds of possibility opened out that I had never guessed existed. The language was on fire and sang of liberation.
In Japan, I live in a little neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. I don't have a bicycle or a car or anything, so my only movement is within the boundaries of my feet. I feel there's a need for that kind of conscientious objection to the momentum of the world.
My Christmas present to myself each year is to see how much air travel can open up the world and take me to places as far from sheltered California and Japan as possible.
Contractions, 'U' for 'you' and the like are wonderful to make communication brief and efficient - but we wouldn't want all our talk to be only brief and efficient. Taking pauses out of language would be like taking the net away from a tennis game. Where would all the fun go?
If we do away with semi-colons, parentheses and much else, we will lose all music, nuance and subtlety in communication - and end up shouting at one another in block capitals.
It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, as it takes courage to do anything that's necessary, whether tending to a loved one on her deathbed or turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut.
American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those who have seen America only in their dreams.
In the past, I've visited remote places - North Korea, Ethiopia, Easter Island - partly as a way to visit remote states of mind: remote parts of myself that I wouldn't ordinarily explore.
Though I knew that poverty certainly didn't buy happiness, I wasn't convinced that money did, either.
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