“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”– Anaïs Nin
Shakespeare died in April 1616, over 400 years ago. When Shakespeare died, his contemporary playwright, Ben Jonson, made the following prediction: “He was not of an age but for all time!” The fact we know Shakespeare’s name today, proves Jonson was right. One of the great things about books, plays, diaries, essentially the written word, is the perspective you get on history from seeing the timeless quality certain writers have in their work. Years after they scribbled them down, something about the specific phrases they pulled together continue to move people. I believe Anaïs Nin was one of those writers.
“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage” – Anaïs Nin
I came across the above quote whilst grappling with my own sense of confidence. Despite being an outgoing person, I realised that when it came to new experiences or putting myself ‘out there’ I could actually be a massive wuss. A serious scaredy cat. The trouble is, if you dream big, then there comes a time when you need to move beyond your comfort zone. Anaïs Nin’s words articulated that so clearly to me, but I’d never heard her name before. Who was she?
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin
Born in 1903 Anais was French-Cuban in origin but grew up in both Spain and the US. She began writing after moving to Paris in her 20s allegedly completing her first published book within just 16days. Throughout the 20s and 30s she wrote a series of diaries, from which many of her most famous passages have been taken. There’s something about the way she articulates herself in these which makes me feel connected to her. As the heroine of her own story, I think many women, reading Anais Nin’s diaries, could feel she has written down their own feelings; just with more poetry.
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating.” – Anaïs Nin
In the 1940s she began writing erotica for a sponsor. An original E.L. James, she explored sex in a remarkably open way showing no discomfort on the subject. One of her most famous pieces of writing is ‘Henry and June’ in which she recounts the sexual relationship she had with writer Henry Miller and his wife, June. Anais married twice but made the conscious decision never to have children. Despite this, she has left a legacy through her words which could gain increasing recognition as time goes on. Below are some more of the passages that moved me and which I hope will move you too.
“I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” – Anaïs Nin
“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. ”– Anais Nin
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”– Anaïs Nin
“From the backstabbing co-worker to the meddling sister-in-law, you are in charge of how you react to the people and events in your life. You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead. Take control and choose to focus on what is important in your life. Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life.”– Anais Nin
“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”– Anaïs Nin