Against these forces -- an earth rotating, a sun lowering its angle in the sky, winds filling with rain and the geese arriving -- time is just a made-up thing, and recedes in importance, and should.

and closed

don’t see what this has to do with us.” I say back, “Does everything have to be about you? Can you not project yourself outside yourself? Can you not take on another’s life for your own benefit?

First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.

...good counsel: generosity, longevity, acceptance, relinquishment, letting the world come to me -- and, with these things to make a life.

He needed me to do what sons do for their fathers: bear witness that they’re substantial, that they’re not hollow, not ringing absences. That they count for something when little else seems to.

He was like my father. They each wanted me to be their audience, to hear the things they needed to express.

How amazingly far normalcy extends; how you can keep it in sight as if you were on a raft sliding out to sea, the stitch of land growing smaller and smaller. Or in a balloon swept up on a column of prairie air, the ground widening and flattening, growing less and less distinct below you. You notice it, or you don't notice it. But you're already too far away and all is lost.

I had more positive views. Which made me feel that although I hadn't been taught to assimilate, a person perhaps assimilated without knowing it. I was doing it now. You did it alone, and not with other or for them. And assimilating possibly wasn't so hard and risky and didn't need to be permanent. This state of mind conferred another freedom on me and was like starting life over, or as I've already said, becoming someone else -- but someone who was not stalled but moving, which was the nature of things in the world. I could like it or hate it, but the world would change around me no matter how I felt.

I'm intrigued by how ordinary behavior exists so close beside its opposite.

In their faces--plenty of them were handsome, but ruined--I've seen the remnants of who they almost succeeded in being but failed to be, before becoming themselves.

It's been my habit of mind, over these years, to understand that every situation in which human beings are involved can be turned on its head. Everything someone assures me to be true might not be. Every pillar of belief the world rests on may or may not be about to explode. Most things don't stay the way they are very long. Knowing this, however, has not made me cynical. Cynical means believing that good isn't possible; and I know for a fact that good is. I simply take nothing for granted and try to be ready for the change that's soon to come.

It's hard to go through life without killing someone.

It’s odd how a piece of ground can hold so little of its meaning; though that’s lucky, since for it to do so would make places sacred but impenetrable, whereas they’re otherwise neither.

It was as if I'd already left some time before and was just catching up with myself.

It was as if they'd discovered something that had once been there but had gotten hidden or misunderstood or forgotten over time, and they were charmed by it once more, and by one another. Which seems only right and expectable for married people. They caught a glimpse of the person they fell in love with, and who sustained life. For some, that vision must never dim - as is true of me. But it was odd that our parents should catch their glimpse, and have frustration, anxiety and worry pass away like clouds dispersing after a storm, refind their best selves, but for that glimpse to happen just before landing our family in ruin.

Life's passed along to us empty. We have to make up the happiness part.

Loneliness, I've read, is like being in a long line, waiting to reach the front where it's promised something good will happen. Only the line never moves, and other people are always coming in ahead of you, and the front, the place where you want to be, is always farther and farther away until you no longer believe it has anything to offer you.

Most things don't stay the way they are very long.

Most things dopn't stay the way they are very long.

My parents...were people running from the past, who didn't look back at much if they could help it, and whose whole life always lay somewhere in the offing.

Probably many people’s vision of “thinking something through” is of this nature: you do precisely what you
want to do—if you can.

She ordered a martini and encouraged me to, but said she couldn't drink it with her medication. She just liked seeing it in front of her, like the old days, all set to do its little magic.

She was an artist. She held opposites in her mind.

The longer they stayed on, and the better they knew each other, the better she at least could see their mistake, and the more misguided their lives became—like a long proof in mathematics in which the first calculation is wrong, following which all other calculations move you further away from how things were when they made sense.

Things happen when people are not where they belong, and the world moves forward and back by that principle.

Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together. encounter me now at age sixty-six is to be unable to imagine me at fifteen...

What I know is, you have a better chance in life-of surviving it-if you tolerate loss well;manage not to be a cynic through it all;...
to connect the unequal things into a whole that preserves the good,even if the good is not simple to find. We try, as my sister said. We try.

You're only good if you can do bad and decide not to.