The Secret of Life

Image by Jacky Winter via stock.xchng
Image by Nick Bradsworth via stock.xchng

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” ― Elie Wiesel

This is what I love about writing. Writers are so greedy for life, they live it three times: the first time in the flesh, the second on paper, and the third when they read what they wrote.

Writing is not only a greedy practice but a generous one. Beyond the third life of words, there ripples a wave of life as other readers take part in your original in-the-flesh moment. The writer’s magnanimity allows for this reliving.

You can’t be indifferent and be a writer. By living (and reliving) this life of words, the writer takes a stand against indifference. Each scribble is claiming, “This matters, and that matters, too.” It matters so much that I’m going to live it over and over again. It matters so much, I hope you live it with me.


I woke up on a morning recently when it was still the deep gray of pre-dawn. A nameless bird sang a tuneless melody of five tones: first three the same, followed by two that were both different, ending on the highest note. And then the bird would repeat it, over and over.

I lay there listening, not trying to understand. What’s to understand, except that this is a life and a song? This is not work, it is sabbath. The secret of life is in those sabbath moments of not having to be useful or successful or right or ever planning how not to be thirsty or afraid. It is in being fully alive – and not indifferent – to what is there before me.

I believe the poet e. e. cummings was on to something when he wrote poem number 53 that opens, “may my heart always be open to little / birds who are the secrets of living.”

This post originally appeared in full on Anita Mathias’ excellent blog, Dreaming Beneath the Spires. Read the rest over here…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s