How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.— Annie Dillard
The most jaw-dropping Annie Dillard quotes that are little-known but priceless
An Inuit hunter asked the local missionary priest: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell? No, said the priest, not if you did not know. Then why, asked the Inuit earnestly, did you tell me?
No one escapes the wilderness on the way to the promised land.
It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church;
we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.
She reads books as one would breathe air to fill up and live
A schedule defends from chaos and whim.
It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
Theirs is the mystery of continuous creation and all that providence implies: the uncertainty of vision, the horror of the fixed, the dissolution of the present, the intricacy of beauty, the pressure of fecundity, the elusiveness of the free, and the flawed nature of perfection.
As a life's work, I would remember everything - everything, against loss.
I would go through life like a plankton net.
Experiencing the present purely is being empty and hollow;
you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.
Crystals grew inside rock like arithmetic flowers.
They lengthened and spread, added plane to plane in an awed and perfect obedience to an absolute geometry that even stones - maybe only the stones - understood.
If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair.
.. or go into business. You’ve got to jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down.
Then why did you tell me?
The secret is not to write about what you love best, but about what you, alone, love at all.
Every live thing is a survivor on a kind of extended emergency bivouac.
We are here to abet creation and to witness to it, to notice each other's beautiful face and complex nature so that creation need not play to an empty house.
I couldn't unpeach the peaches.
Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth.
A piece of protein could be a snail, a sea lion, or a systems analyst, but it had to start somewhere. This is not science; it is merely metaphor. And the landscape in which the protein "starts" shapes its end as surely as bowls shape water.
Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
The silence is all there is. It is the alpha and the omega, it is God's brooding over the face of the waters; it is the blinded note of the ten thousand things, the whine of wings. You take a step in the right direction to pray to this silence, and even to address the prayer to "World." Distinctions blur. Quit your tents. Pray without ceasing.
Write about winter in the summer. Describe Norway as Ibsen did, from a desk in Italy; describe Dublin as James Joyce did, from a desk in Paris. Willa Cather wrote her prairie novels in New York City; Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn in Hartford, Connecticut. Recently, scholars learned that Walt Whitman rarely left his room.
Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.
You can't test courage cautiously.
Whenever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God's speaking from the whirlwind, nature's old song, and dance.
The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out.
She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
[Insects] are not only cold-blooded, and green- and yellow-blooded, but are also cased in a clacking horn. They have rigid eyes and brains strung down their backs. But they make up the bulk of our comrades-at-life, so I look to them for a glimmer of companionship.
The life of sensation is the life of greed;
it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less.
What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.
Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.
I still try to keep my eyes open. I'm always on the lookout for antlion traps in sandy soil, monarch pupae near milkweed, skipper larvae in locust leaves. These things are utterly common, and I've not seen one
Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation's short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.
It should surprise no one that the life of the writer - such as it is - is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world.
One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now.
The real and proper question is: why is it beautiful?
We live in all we seek. The hidden shows up in too-plain sight. It lives captive on the face of the obvious - the people, events, and things of the day - to which we as sophisticated children have long since become oblivious. What a hideout: Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.
An Eskimo shaman said, Life's greatest danger lies in the fact that man's food consists entirely of souls.
No child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, and you can see it in them, and they know it, too, but then the times get to them, and the wear out their brains learning what folks expect, and spend their strength trying to rise over those same folks.
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery.
Adverbs are a sign that you've used the wrong verb.
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided.
One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam.
I wake expectant, hoping to see a new thing.
There must be bands of enthusiasts for everything on earth-fanatics who shared a vocabulary, a batch of technical skills and equipment, and, perhaps, a vision of some single slice of the beauty and mystery of things, of their complexity, fascination, and unexpectedness.
I feel as though I stand at the foot of an infinitely high staircase, down which some exuberant spirit is flinging tennis ball after tennis ball, eternally, and the one thing I want in the world is a tennis ball.
There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress & its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, & the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.
Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.
A schedule defends from chaos and whim. A net for catching days.
Time is the warp and matter the weft of the woven texture of beauty in space, and death is the hurling shuttle.
No, the point is not only does time fly and do we die, but that in these reckless conditions we live at all, and are vouchsafed, for the duration of certain inexplicable moments, to know it.
Last forever!' Who hasn't prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying.
There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind.