Solitude and Surprise. Gotta Have Both.

A solitary figure walking through an empty landscape. That feels like a good description of what this month has felt like to me.
(My daughter Kellin, walking the beach at Duxbury a few years ago)

Years of solitude had taught him that, in one’s memory, all days tend to be the same, but that there is not a day, not even in jail or in the hospital, which does not bring surprises, which is not a translucent network of minimal surprises.

Jorge Luis Borges


The invisible, although it keeps itself hidden, makes itself felt. I cannot see the people I love as I write this, but I can sense their pull, and I act as I do because of their existence. Taken literally, that is how the cosmos works. An invisible mass alters the orbit of a comet; dark energy affects the acceleration of a supernova; the earth’s magnetic field tugs on birds, butterflies, sea turtles, and the compasses of mariners. The whole realm of the visible is compelled by the invisible. Our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, our universe: all of it, all of us, are pushed, pulled, spun, shifted, set in motion, and held together by what we cannot see.

Kathryn Schulz


What we overlook is that underneath the ground of our beliefs, opinions, and concepts is a boundless sea of uncertainty. The concepts we cling to are like tiny boats tossed about in the middle of the vast ocean. We stand on our beliefs and ideas thinking they’re solid, but in fact, they (and we) are on shifting seas.

Steve Hagen


An image is a stop the mind makes between uncertainties.

Djuna Barnes


The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.

Ursula K. Le Guin


Art’s true power comes from its ability to surprise, to turn down unexpected paths, sometimes despite the protests of the artist creating the work. These moments of revelation, which can be charged with fear and exultation, are the lynchpins of all artistic experience and the source of its value. The only path I have found to these moments of inspiration is the hard work of putting the first mark down, then the next.

Stan Berning


I’m heads down in the studio this month. These quotes expose—and relish—the importance of surprise, the unknown and the power of uncertainty. Helpful reminders all to staying open and humble.

I hope to be more fluent with my own words next month. That’s the idea anyway!

8 Replies to “Solitude and Surprise. Gotta Have Both.”

  1. I love these quotes, none of which I knew. Absolute truth. Uncertainty is necessary but it’s also, for me at least, so uncomfortable so much of the time. xox

  2. Di Pittsburgh says:

    Deb, yesterday I decided to consciously send my loving thoughts to loved ones further away than my desires find acceptable. It is built into my cells, I am the stuff of stars, a cosmic transmitter.

  3. Br David Steindl-Rast writes about hope as being open to surprise (in his book about Gratitude). According to a web interview of Br David, “surprise” is another name for the Nameless One (God).

    1. James – that’s wonderful. It made me think of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s words defining the hallmarks of Reality as “the unexpected and uninvited.”

    2. The Nameless One. That is so useful. Thank you James.

  4. Beautiful post dear D. I especially love the quotes from Schulz (The whole realm of the visible is compelled by the invisible) and Le Guin.
    We are in perfect synch. Thank you.

    1. I treasure our in synch-ness dear Louisa.

  5. wonderful thoughts as I stare ahead into the unknown and get ready to take the plunge. thank you, my friend.

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