Archives for posts with tag: advice

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HOW TO LIVE
by Charles Harper Webb

          “I don’t know how to live.” –Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who’ll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you’re able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren’t hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don’t be a drunk, or any kind of “aholic.” It’s bad
English, and bad news. Don’t berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you’ve earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don’t make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don’t thrive
on suffering. There’s nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you’re tone deaf, own Perlman’s “Meditation from Thais.”
Don’t look for hidden meanings in a cardinal’s song.
Don’t think TV characters talk to you; that’s crazy.

Don’t be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don’t say “Cheese.”

SOURCE: “How to Live” appears in Charles Harper Webb‘s collection Amplified Dog (Red Hen Press, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Brother Turtle VI” by Patricia Allingham Carlson. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charles Harper Webb was a rock guitarist for fifteen years and is now a licensed psychotherapist and professor at Cal State University, Long Beach. He has written five books of poetry, including Liver, which won the 1999 Felix Pollak Prize and Reading the Water, which won the S.F. Morse Poetry Prize and Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Shadow Ball (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).

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FLANNERY O’CONNOR TALKS ABOUT HER WRITING HABITS:

I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.”

Illustration: Tin House, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

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Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

ANTON CHEKHOV

Photo: Mrdorkesq, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Happy is so momentary — you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.”  

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE, American Artist (1887-1986)

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Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. DOCTOROW

Photo: BAZZAE73, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Caption: If you bring joy and enthusiasm to everything you do, people will think you’re crazy.

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by William Haefeli, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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“Happy is so momentary — you’re happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.”  

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE, American Artist (1887-1986)

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Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. DOCTOROW

Photo: BAZZAE73, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

ANTON CHEKHOV

Photo: Mrdorkesq, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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FLANNERY O’CONNOR TALKS ABOUT HER WRITING HABITS: “I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.” 

Illustration: Tin House, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED