And so these refined parents subjected their five-year-old girl to all kinds of torture. They beat her, kicked her, flogged her, for no reason that they themselves knew of. The child’s whole body was covered in bruises. Eventually they devised a new refinement. Under the pretext that the child dirtied her bed (as though a five-year-old deep in her angelic sleep could be punished for that), they forced her to eat excrement, smearing it all over her face. And it was the mother that did it! And that woman would lock her daughter up in the outhouse until morning and she did so even on the coldest nights, when it was freezing. Just imagine the woman being able to sleep with the child’s cries coming from that outhouse! Imagine that little creature, unable to even understand what is happening to her, beating her sore little chest with her tiny fist, weeping hot, unresentful, meek tears, and begging ‘gentle Jesus’ to help her…
…let’s assume that you were called upon to build the edifice of human destiny so that men would finally be happy and would find peace and tranquility. If you knew that, only to attain this, you would have to torture just one single creature, let’s say the little girl who beat her chest so desperately in the outhouse, and that on her unavenged tears you could build that edifice, would you agree to do it?
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov
For a long while now I’ve suspected that connection with another person, real connection, simply isn’t possible. I’m curious if you disagree, although I suspect you feel as I do in this, as you do in so many other things.
So tell me; is it possible to truly know another person?
Is it even a worthwhile pursuit?
Yours is the only opinion I’ll trust, the only point of view that holds even the faintest interest. I find my diversions, as I always do, but the days are long in this grey place.
I dearly hope you’ll write soon.
Ever yours, Jamie Moriarty
(from Elementary, Season 2, Episode 3)
Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander. Participate.
Respect your partnership with providence.
Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed
such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?
Heed the answer and get to work.
When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
Epictetus, around 130 CE (interpretation by Sharon Lebell)