Umbrella in the Stand

“Is the true self this which stands on the pavement in January, or that which bends over the balcony in June? Am I here, or am I there? Or is the true self neither this nor that, neither here nor there, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it take its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves? Circumstances compel unity; for convenience’ sake a man must be a whole. The good citizen when he opens his door in the evening must be banker, golfer, husband, father; not a nomad wandering in the desert, a mystic staring at the sky, a debauchee in the slums of San Francisco, a soldier heading a revolution, a pariah howling with scepticism and solitude. When he opens the door, he must run his fingers through his hair and put his umbrella in the stand like the rest.”
Virginia Woolf, “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” Selected Essays

An Essential Discomfort in the World

“We moved house often, and each time it appeared that it was the perfecting of our environment that was causing us to leave it, as though living there had been a process of construction that was now complete. (…) To continue creating, a person perhaps has to maintain an essential discomfort in the world.”
Rachel Cusk, “Making House: Notes on Domesticity,” The New York Times Magazine 31 August 2016

[See Andrea Barrett and Mary Ruefle.]