Anyone who teaches knows that you don't really experience a text until you've taught it, in loving detail, with an intelligent and responsive class.
One could sit still and look at life from the air; that was it. And I was conscious again of the fundamental magic of flying, a miracle that has nothing to do with any of its practical purposes - speed, accessibility, and convenience - and will not change as they change. Looking down from the air that morning, I felt that stillness rested like a light over the earth. What motion there was took on a slow grace, like slow-motion pictures which catch the moment of outstretched beauty that one cannot see in life itself, so swiftly does it move.And if flying, like a glass-bottomed bucket, can give you that vision, that seeing eye, which peers down to the still world below the choppy waves - it will always remain magic.
The life of an aviator seemed to me ideal. It involved skill. It brought adventure. It made use of the latest developments of science. Mechanical engineers were fettered to factories and drafting boards while pilots have the freedom of wind with the expanse of sky. There were times in an aeroplane when it seemed I had escaped mortality to look down on earth like a God.
Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.I began to feel that I lived on a higher plane than the skeptics of the ground; one that was richer because of its very association with the element of danger they dreaded, because it was freer of the earth to which they were bound. In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods of which they could know nothing. Who valued life more highly, the aviators who spent it on the art they loved, or these misers who doled it out like pennies through their antlike days? I decided that if I could fly for ten years before I was killed in a crash, it would be a worthwhile trade for an ordinary life time.
When winds are raging o'er the upper oceanAnd billows wild contend with angry roar,'Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotionThat peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.Far, far beneath, the noise of tempests diethAnd silver waves chime ever peacefully,And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flyethDisturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
I think it's probably honest to say that there's a certain powerful stillness that I remember admiring tremendously as I grew up. And that would be Spencer Tracy... and Bogart and that particular approach to the work. The stillness, the economy, the grace of that work, so they would have been then, my heroes on the screen.
Nothing seems to matter quite as much. I no longer think about death in the concentrated way I once did. I don't knowÂ… you get so old and you sort of give up in some way. You've had your period of angst, your period of religious desperation, and you've arrived at a philosophical position where you don't need, or you can't bear, to look at it.
My father was a scared man. And he communicated his anxiety to me, so that perhaps more than most writers I wanted to make a practical go of it. And my career was eminently practical. I fastened on to this magazine, the New Yorker, that seemed to me to be the top of its class and I tried to get into it, and I did get into it. It was kind of calculating. Kind of crass.But I framed it to myself as a kind of altruistic ambition. Most jobs in the world were competitive, you had to push someone aside, but writing and art I thought weren't like that. You brought something new into the world without displacing anything else. To entertain people, or to hold out a standard of beauty or to even inform them seemed so self-evidently out of what my father called the rat race. Dog eat dog, in his phrase. He had a despairing picture of the capitalist world, as losers in that system tend to do.
Lawrence had done it in a way, and Joyce. But I think it's an important thing to do now and then, to describe the sex act as our descent, or adventure, into a primordial or strange world, having very little to do with how we look in suits or what our educations have been. It's a well of darkness, as it were, that leaves you refreshed.
All personal breakthroughs being with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it's costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting a new, empowering belief.
Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your own family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine. Do as you would be done by. If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out -- either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time. Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don't think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.
Perhaps, on the whole, embarrassment and perplexity are a kind of natural accompaniment to life and movement; and it is better to be driven out of your senses with thinking which of two things you ought to do than to do nothing whatever, and be utterly uninteresting to all the world.
Humans have the ability to shift perspective. We can experience the world through our senses. Or we can remove ourselves from our senses and experience the world even less directly. We can think about our life, rather than thinking in our life. We can think about what we think about our life, and we can think about what we think about that. We can shift perceptual positions many times over.