“Question: I am interested in so many things, and I have a terrible fear because my mother keeps telling me that I’m just going to be exploring the rest of my life and never get anything done. But I find it really hard to set my ways and say, “Well, do I want to do this, or should I try to exploit that, or should I escape and completely do one thing?”
Anaïs Nin: One word I would banish from the dictionary is ‘escape.’ Just banish that and you’ll be fine. Because that word has been misused regarding anybody who wanted to move away from a certain spot and wanted to grow. He was an escapist. You know if you forget that word you will have a much easier time. Also you’re in the prime, the beginning of your life; you should experiment with everything, try everything…. We are taught all these dichotomies, and I only learned later that they could work in harmony. We have created false dichotomies; we create false ambivalences, and very painful one’s sometimes -the feeling that we have to choose. But I think at one point we finally realize, sometimes subconsciously, whether or not we are really fitted for what we try and if it’s what we want to do.
You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too. No, I think there was too rigid a pattern. You came out of an education and are supposed to know your vocation. Your vocation is fixed, and maybe ten years later you find you are not a teacher anymore or you’re not a painter anymore. It may happen. It has happened. I mean Gauguin decided at a certain point he wasn’t a banker anymore; he was a painter. And so he walked away from banking. I think we have a right to change course. But society is the one that keeps demanding that we fit in and not disturb things. They would like you to fit in right away so that things work now.””
If I could only get hold of the whole of you,
How could I ever get hold of the whole of you,
Even more than the most beloved idols,
More than mountains quarried whole,
More than mines
Of burning coal,
Let’s say mines of extinguished coal
And the breath of day like a fiery furnace.
If one could get hold of you for all the years,
How could one get hold of you from all the years,
How could one lengthen a single arm,
Like a single branch of an African river,
As one sees in a dream the Bay of Storms,
As one sees in a dream a ship that went down,
The way one imagines a cushion of clouds,
Lily-clouds as the body’s cushion,
But though you will it, they will not convey you,
Do not believe that they will convey you.
If one could get hold of all-of-the-whole-of-you,
If one could get hold of you like metal,
Say like pillars of copper,
Say like a pillar of purple copper
(That pillar I remembered last summer)—
And the bottom of the ocean I have never seen,
And the bottom of the ocean that I can see
With its thousand heavy thickets of air,
A thousand and one laden breaths.
If one could only get hold of the-whole-of-you-now,
How could you ever be for me what I myself am?