Hermann Hesse quotes to ponder

There was not a thing in the world that was not just as beautiful, just as desirable, just as joyous as it’s opposite. It was blissful to live, it was blissful to die, as soon as you hung suspended in space. Peace from without did not exist; there was no peace in the graveyard, no peace in God. No magic ever interrupted the eternal chain of births, the endless succession of God’s breaths. But there was another kind of peace, to be found within your own self. It’s name was: Let yourself fall! Do not fight back! Die gladly! Live Gladly!

~ Hermann Hesse, from the story Klein and Wagner in Klingsor’s Last Summer

The only thing that stood between old age and youth, between Babylon and Berlin, between good and evil, giving and taking, the only thing that filled the world with differences, opinions, suffering, conflict, war, was the human mind, the young, tempestuous, and cruel human mind in the stage of rash youth, still far from knowledge, still far from God. That mind invented contradictions, invented names; it called some things beautiful, some ugly, some good, some bad. One part of life was called love, another murder. How young, foolish, comical this mind was. One of its inventions was time. A subtle invention, a refined instrument for torturing the self even more keenly and making the world multiplex and difficult. For then man was separated from all he craved only by time, by time alone, this crazy invention! It was one of the props, one of the crutches that you had to let go, that one above all, if you wanted to be free.

~ Hermann Hesse, from the story Klein and Wagner in Klingsor’s Last Summer

I discovered something critical today on the way to pick up my younger two daughters from school that illustrates these concepts to me:

I drove from K’s school towards E’s school. They are about 5 minutes apart and about 10 minutes from home. On the way to get E, I saw 2 hawks flying relatively close in the air above us…and I’m flipping out excited as I always am when I see the hawks. I had to pass by our house to get E anyway, so I rushed back home to get my camera. Of course, by the time I get them, I discover 2 things: 1) that there are 3 hawks and 2) that they are flying away…too far away to catch on camera. As disappointed as I was, I decided to not let it bother me too much and brought the camera to go get E.

As I’m sitting in the car line, waiting to pick my youngest daughter up…what should I happen to see is a hawk, fly right in front of our window. Naturally I’m excited, I grab my camera, fling open the door, and stand with one leg on the floorboard of the car, and one leg propped up on the inside armrest on the door of the car, balancing precariously trying to get the shot. You should have seen me…all excited…looking like a goofball with my camera and I’m sure the other cars in the line are looking at me like I’m nuts, trying futilely to catch a shot of the damn bird. Of course I didn’t get a good picture – it was fast. And while I was carrying on about how disappointed I was about not getting the hawks on camera…it occurred to me I was NOT really disappointed.

Because it’s NOT about getting the hawks’ pictures…. It was about the exhilaration of the chase. About having the freedom to do something DIFFERENT, to be STRANGE about how I went after it, and to keep making the attempt at all to go after something I’ve been trying to get for months now. And I realize that it’s NOT about the GETTING. Because as soon as I GET those damn birds on camera, I’m going to be momentarily thrilled, then I’m going to be disappointed soon afterward. Because I’m going to be thinking about wanting to have that EXHILARATION again.

Part of what thrills me is taking pictures/going after the hunt for the perfect shot. I enjoy it immensely.

And it showed me quite clearly what I need.

I NEED A PARTICULAR KIND OF EXPERIENCE to live. I need SOMETHING MORE THAN I HAVE RIGHT NOW to write about. To be more than JUST a mother/wife/house frau.

My current problem is having an INability to figure out how to live with EXHILARATION. I don’t want to live a PEACEFUL life. I want to live life RIFE with PASSION. No, not sexual passion. I’m not lacking there. Nor is it intellectual passion. I’m getting my intense intellectual needs met, but I’m not out there in the world to get the experiences I crave. Going interesting places (with or without my family) and taking pictures or weaving stories about what I experience.

Right now, I might as well be a corpse, for all the living I’m NOT doing. It sucks. It really does. This is NOT WHO I AM.

I have not fallen into death. But I also have not fallen into LIFE either. I sit here and think about all I am NOT doing rather than seeking and DOING those things I WANT to do.

As Morgan Freeman simply states in The Shawshank Redemption…it’s time to get busy living, or get busy dying.

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6 Responses to Hermann Hesse quotes to ponder

  1. Melody says:

    I started working on a bucket list about a month ago. I’m up to 78 things on it so far. Everything from visiting every continent except antarctica to getting a tattoo, to writing a children’s book. Its very fulfilling just making it, knowing that there is something more.

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Melody…that’s very cool.

    Maybe I should come up with my own bucket list. I have one already I’m aiming for…

    Going to see my real dad for the first time in 29 years!

  3. Papa T says:

    Wow…great quotes.

    Be, Hawk Chaser, be…

    I’m going to climb out on a limb and share one of my favorite (so far) Hesse quotes (from Siddhartha):

    He arrived at the river and asked the old man to take him across. When they climbed out of the boat on the other side, he said to the old man: “You show much kindness to the monks and pilgrims; you have taken many of us across. Are you not also a seeker of the right path?”
    There was a smile in Siddhartha’s old eyes as he said: “Do you call yourself a seeker, o venerable one, you who are already advanced in years and wear the robe of Gotama’s monks?”
    “I am indeed old,” said Govinda, “but I have never ceased seeking.I will never cease seeking. That seems to be my destiny. It seems to me that you also have sought. Will you talk to me a little about it, my friend?”
    Siddhartha said: “What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
    “How is that?” asked Govinda.
    “When someone is seeking,” said Siddhartha, “it happens quite easily that he only sees the things that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, o worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.”
    “I do not yet quite understand,” said Govinda. “How do you mean?”

    This concept means more to me than I even yet realize. I truly appreciate your devotion and labor in your blogging. You know, even when you get trounced on by naysayers and such, it’s all part of the process. It’s tough for us–who tend toward “perfectionism”–to handle challenging responses. But what freedom comes when we realize that we are strengthened by it ALL.

    Just wanted to chime in…I’ll go back to lurking.

    Peace, O Great One . . . (go nuzzle with the little ones)

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Hmm…my devotion, my labor in blogging is about reflection on things I’ve come across. And…when I print these posts out (which I am very behind on), they are going into binders for my girls to one day have. Perhaps they’ll learn something, perhaps they’ll really know what their mother was like or thought about.

    As far as the naysayers go, I decided to unpublish the posts, though I did not delete their comments. The main reason I did was because, in a way, I feel like I’ve lost some internet “friends” because of this. While I don’t feel devastated too much because of this, I decided to keep my personal struggles more private.

    Siddhartha, yes, is a very beautiful, very comforting book. It speaks to me, articulates to me what I haven’t been able to put into words about spirituality, religion, even meditation. I know understand why I have not been able to fully embrace the doctrines other people find such comfort in. For some unknown before now reason, I’ve been highly resistive to religious/spiritual indoctrination.

    I feel best when I follow my own internal compass. So far it has not led me astray.

    There’s more to be discovered, more to be appreciated in Hesse’s works. You (and I) will not be disappointed. I’m not done with Siddhartha yet (halfway through) and I’ve already started Steppenwolf.

    Demian is amazing too.

    Life finally seems to make a lot more sense to me.

  5. Jim Hathett says:

    I find this all rather odd. As a young man i found Hesse, of his work Klingsor’s Last Summer was, for me what was best. The bit about the hawks was what caught my eye. I dont even know how this works. I have been a falconer for 45 years now and have not yet had someone mention Hesse.

  6. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Hi Jim,

    I’m not sure what part you find rather odd. I’m not sure what you mean you “don’t even know how ‘this’ works” – this what?

    Believe it or not, I discovered Hesse when reading a passage about him in Alice Miller’s The Drama of the Gifted Child – she was a Polish psychologist who wrote about child abuse – mostly the more insiduous form – psychological abuse, which cannot be seen and most often not even remembered. Anyway, something about him just resonated and I started looking for his books. I have read his short stories, Demian, Siddhartha, and Steppenwolf. He’s got others, too, but these and Klingor’s Last Summer were my favorites.

    I still love hawks and I’ve been seeing a lot more of them lately – one just swooped down in front of my windshield a few weeks ago.

    Every year when we go to the Renaissance Fair, we always try to see the falconer who has his show in field where they do the Royal Joust.

    Thanks for your comment,


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