Exerpts – Tracks

“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.”


“I’m amazed at how quickly and absolutely this sense of the importance of social custom fell away from me.  And the awareness of its absurdity has never really left me.  I have slowly regained a sense of the niceties, but, I think, I hope, that I will always see the obsession with social graces and female modesty for the perverted crippling insanity it really is.”

“They hadn’t noticed.  I was astounded.  Couldn’t they see?  No.  One needs to have one’s eyes peeled, and one needs to feel part of the earth before it is possible to notice the difference.”

“I had learnt what love was.  That love wanted the best possible for those you cared for even if that excluded yourself.  That before, I had wanted to possess people without loving them, and now I could love them and wish them the best without needing them.”

“I had understood freedom and security.  The need to rattle the foundations of habit.  That to be free one needs constant and unrelenting vigilance over one’s weaknesses.  A vigilance which requires a moral energy most of us are incapable of manufacturing.  We relax back into the moulds of habit.  They are secure, they bind us and keep us contained at the expense of freedom.  To break the moulds, to be heedless of the seductions of security is an impossible struggle, but one of the few that count.”

“When I look back I marvel at myself.  At what makes me instantly apologetic to people I have stood up to when they have been prepared to walk all over me.”

“In the past, my bouts of gloom and despair had led, like widdershins, to the same place.  And it seemed that at that place was a signpost saying, ‘Here it is,’ here is the thing you must push through, leap free of, before you can learn any more.  It was as if the self brought me constantly to this place – took every opportunity to show it to me.  It was as if there was a button there which I could push if I only had the courage.  If I could only just remember.  Ah, but we always forget.  Or are too lazy.  Or too frightened.  Or too certain we have all the time in the world.  And so back up the ravines to the comfortable places (the sane ones?) where we don’t have to think too much.  Where life is, just ‘getting by’ and where we survive, half asleep.”

“The question I’m most commonly asked is ‘Why?’  A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don’t attempt to escape the limitations imposed upon them?  If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it is familiar.  Wherever there is pressure to conform (one person’s conformity is often in the interests of another person’s power), there is a requirement to resist….one can choose adventure in the most ordinary of circumstances.  Adventure of the mind, or to use an old-fashioned word, the spirit.”

“I was now a mythical being who had done something courageous and outside the possibilities that ordinary people could hope for.  And that was the antithesis of what I wanted to share.  That anyone could do anything.  If I could bumble my way across a desert, then anyone could do anything.  And that was true especially for women, who have used cowardice for so long to protect themselves that it has become a habit.

The world is a dangerous place for little girls.  Besides, little girls are more fragile, more delicate, more brittle than little boys.  ‘Watch out, be careful, watch.’…’Listen but don’t learn, you won’t need it.’…..And so the snail’s antennae grow, watching for this, looking for that, the underneath of things.  The threat.  And so she wastes so much of her energy, seeking to break those circuits, to push up the millions of tiny thumbs that have tried to quelch energy and creativity and strength and self-confidence; that have so effectively caused her to build fences against possibility, daring; that have so effectively kept her imprisoned inside her notions of self-worthlessness.”


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