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Mary Catherine Bateson quotes Showing 1-30 of 38

“We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn.”
MARY CATHERINE BATESON
“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it.”
Mary Catherine Bateson
“The critical question about regret is whether experience led to growth and new learning. Some people seem to keep on making the same mistakes, while others at least make new ones. Regret and remorse can be either paralyzing or inspiring. [p. 199]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
“Worlds can be found by a child and an adult bending down and looking together under the grass stems or at the skittering crabs in a tidal pool.”
Mary Catherine Bateson
“Rarely is it possible to study all of the instructions to a game before beginning to play, or to memorize the manual before turning on the computer. The excitement of improvisation lies not only in the risk of being involved but in the new ideas, as heady as the adrenaline of performance, that seems to come from nowhere.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way
“Self-care should include the cold shower as well as the scented tub.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“Physical things are eloquent tokens of ideas,enriched by new meanings through time even when the tokens are no more than evanescent paper representations.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way
“Real winners in a rapidly changing world will be those who are open to alternatives and able to respect and value those who are different.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“... as we age we have not only to readdress earlier developmental crises but also somehow to find the way to three affirmations that may seem to conflict. ... We have to affirm our own life. We have to affirm our own death. And we have to affirm love, both given and received. [p. 88]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“An encounter with other cultures can lead to openness only if you can suspend the assumption of superiority, not seeing new worlds to conquer, but new worlds to respect.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“As you get up in the morning, as you make decisions, as you spend money, make friends, make commitments, you are creating a piece of art called your life.”
Mary Catherine Bateson
“Moving is both liberating and debilitating. Undertaken too late, it is a very stressful process, one that sometimes seems to catapult people into frail old age, and undertaken too soon, it may preempt other possibilities. [p. 38]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“HUMAN BEINGS TEND to regard the conventions of their own societies as natural, often as sacred. One of the great steps forward in history was learning to regard those who spoke odd-sounding languages and had different smells and habits as fully human, as similar to oneself. The next step from this realization, the step which we have still not fully made, is the willingness to question and purposefully alter one’s own conditions and habits, to learn by observing others. If a particular arrangement is not necessary, it might be possible to choose to change it.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“If your opinions and commitments appear to change from year to year or decade to decade, what are the more abstract underlying convictions that have held steady, that might never have become visible without the surface variation?”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“Sorting gets harder as time goes on--it requires a sort of ruthless decisiveness, while indecision results in endless dithering. Five moves, they say, equal a fire. But those who haven't moved may begin to need a fire. [p. 38]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
We never promised we would stay the same,/But only we would shape our change/From this now single clay.[p. 82]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“Since few people arrive at retirement with an understanding that this transition will involve a rethinking of who they are, an interim pattern has emerged, in which travel offers a way of fulfilling deferred daydreams of adventure while the next stage takes shape. [p. 31]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
tags: age
“It is not necessarily ominous that the formal family dinner is declining in many households or becoming limited to special occasions. We might be better off if we could separate food as nourishment and pleasure from food as the currency of care that leaves so many woman laboring long hours to prove affection in that semantic muddle called nurturance.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“... active wisdom--an entire cohort with something new to offer to the world as years of experience combined with continuing health. [p. 52]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“It's all about being in control of myself as an older woman who lives alone, and it's all about how I am going to do what I have to do to be as strong as I can be and be confident that I can do what I need to do as an older person. [p. 62]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“After all, most of us have lived lives based on commitments made without any way of knowing where they would lead. The uncertainty is an essential element in commitment, the acceptance of consequences an essential element in fidelity. [p. 80]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“The caretaking has to be done. “Somebody’s got to be the mommy,” Individually, we underestimate this need, and as a society we make inadequate provision for it. Women take up the slack, making the need invisible as we step in to fill it. The ethologist Konrad Lorenz used to talk about the number of eggs laid by the same species of songbird when nesting at different latitudes. As you go farther north, the hours of daylight in summer are longer, so a given parental pair could gather food adequate for a larger number of fledglings. As you go south, the available daylight decreases, as does the average number of eggs. For the songbirds, surviving and raising the next generation fill the entire day. What is amazing about humans is that we seem able to do so much else; yet much of what we do is caretaking in another form or involves tasks that would be done better if they were understood in that way.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“In the nineteenth century, a young woman named Ellen Richards, trained in chemistry and unable to work in her field, announced the foundation of a new science she called oekology, or the science of living. This was the discipline later called domestic science or home economics, involving the effort to professionalize and dignify the work of the housewife by drawing on science and technology.* A single Greek root, oekos, has wandered through changing conceptions of human living, as well as changing fashions in spelling, producing the contemporary fields of economics and ecology, which frequently seem to be at odds. It also offers the less well-known term ekistics, coined by the city planner Constantinos Doxiadis to refer to a science of human settlement that would include the architectural creation of human spaces, their social and economic integration, and their relationship with the natural environment. Each of these latter-day coinages represents an incomplete view, but together they represent a view that includes biology and architecture, kitchens and stock exchanges, the growth of meadows and children as well as the GNP.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“As people grow older, some of the ways they have contributed in the past may no longer be possible, but the challenge to society is not only to provide help and care where these are needed but also to offer the opportunity to contribute and care for others [p. 8]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom
tags: age
“For some of us, “chauvinism” is simply a shortening of “male chauvinism.” For others, it is a reminder of the dangers of devotion to the superiority of any group, gender, race, religion, or nation, or even to the truths of any era.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“Part of the task of composing a life is the artist’s need to find a way to take what is simply ugly and, instead of trying to deny it, to use it in the broader design.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Life
“A certain amount of friction is inevitable whenever peoples of different customs and assumptions meet.... What is miraculous is how often it is possible to work together to sustain joint performances in spite of disparate codes, evoking different belief systems to affirm that possibility.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way
“The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what proceeds it.”
Mary Catherine Bateson
“So this little boy was--I became her confidant a little too early, I think. It didn't seem to warp me exactly, but it left me with a little too much knowledge at an early age. [p. 143]”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom

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