Posts Tagged ‘Cary Tennis’

I’ve got some words from Cary Tennis that I just ran into again, from his advice column on Sunday. Someone was asking about whether it was better to stay in a relationship that wasn’t really feeding her personal happiness, but his response is, as usual, very much broader than just the question asked.

I think it’s a great reminder to keep in touch with what, deep down, we truly want and need. And to acknowledge them and work with them without condemnation. It’s not selfish to be happy and cared for. It’s our job, because the world needs us at our best, and nobody else can do for us what we need to do for ourselves.

I think it is legitimate to act according to your deepest and truest necessities, because your deepest and truest necessities do not spring from you and are not controlled by you; they spring from where you exist in the world; they come to you as instructions from the world and are thus not selfish and narrow as you might fear; they are broad and universal and thus poetic and heroic.

They are bigger than any narrowly conceived right-or-wrong principle.

– Cary Tennis, Since You Asked 10/25/09

How to do that, you may ask? Well since I’m actually putting this up onto the blog a good while after I first shared it, I’m going to continue the quote with a really great paragraph:

This framework I suggest says: Trust in the community of things beyond you; be in harmony with your deepest self, because that is the bigger way of truth; it is the bigger way; it may seem full of tragedy and apparent misstep, of apparent moral failing; it may bring down upon your head the judgment of others, of family and loved ones and later your own offspring; it may make you seem to be a person of questionable judgment; it may cause you to be an outcast. But if it is true to your destiny in this deep sense — which can only be discovered by relentless self-inquiry and relentless allowing-in of the necessary, by allowing the earth to move you toward the place you belong, by trusting that it’s not just about you and your decision but about where the world requires you to be — then I think in the end there is some justice in whatever decision you might make.

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Today’s thought is again from Cary Tennis, my favorite advice writer/prosepoet at Salon.com —

I would amend the oft-repeated belief that everything happens for a reason, in this way: Everything may indeed happen for a reason, but we do not have to know what that reason is before acting. As stated, it is a little too pat, too cause-and-effect for my taste. If you wait to know the reason, you may never act. You act. Then things become clear. That’s more often how it works. Rather than rational certainty, often what you need to act on is a trust in probability, and a trust in inevitability, and your own desire. Trust your own desire. It will often lead you the right way.

– Cary Tennis, Since You Asked September 8, 2009

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Yesterday Cary Tennis (my favorite philosopher in the guise of an advice columnist) was responding to a letter from parents seeking advice on how to handle the control issues they were having with their 16 year old daughter. He said something from the perspective of being someone in a relationship:

I am not a father, but I am a person in a human relationship, and I can say that when a person starts doing things I don’t like, at first I try to stop her. I can think up many reasons why my way is best. But what I find over and over is that when I am thinking of all the reasons my way is best, I am not seeing the person in front of me. I am seeing my reasons.


Meanwhile, here is this beautiful woman before me, radiant and strange, mysterious and funny, limitlessly interesting; I am choosing to complain to her about the condition of the sponges, how they must be properly maintained for kitchen sanitation, and I am a fool. I am focused on the sponges. It is some kind of terrible joke.

I saved it because I think it’s a very well-put reminder on what life’s all about — the people in it. It’s important not to get so wrapped up in what we think of them and their actions that we forget to feel them, who they are and their meaning in our lives.

That is what life is all about, and if we’re to live it well, we need to remember that.

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There’s a Salon advice columnist named Cary Tennis, of whom I’m quite fond.  I love his perspective and turns of phrase, and how he can be more than a little mad (in both senses of the word) but still come out thoughtful and poetic and, in the truest sense, PRACTICAL.

Somebody had written him about having to choose between two things that were happening at the same time, and he said that it made him think of the incompressibility of time.  He then said something that I’m just going to quote:

To do the “incompressibility of water” experiment referenced above, one must first remove all the bubbles of air from the water. If you suck out all the bubbles, then your flask full of water becomes a hammer. Which makes one realize that time, which is also in its pure state incompressible, does, like water, seem to contain many bubbles; that is how we learn to manage time, and how one person can do twice or three times as much as the next person in the same period of time: We find the bubbles. We work in the bubble space. Bubbles in time are found in such things as the random or not-so-random thoughts one has while making a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Bubbles in time occur while driving, while walking the dogs, while reading e-mail. Thinking takes place in the bubbles.

If you suck out all the air in the water, then the flask becomes a hammer. If you suck out all the bullsh** in time, then time becomes a hammer. If you fill each bubble with thought, then consciousness becomes a hammer.


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