“There’s no there there.”

This is another beautifully evocative and mysterious quotation from Gertrude Stein.  Some say she wrote it in reference to her hometown of Oakland, as a comment on the relative lack of culture at the time.  Others say it was written in reference to the place where once stood her childhood home, since razed to the ground.

To me it seems best applied to the Future, or to any Goal we set for ourselves in that imaginary timespace.  How often do we reach that future, that goal, to find it is not what we anticipated?  That it doesn’t fill the heart the way we hoped?  That it can be described, if at all, not as the end of one line but as the beginning of some other?  Or if, indeed, it truly is the end, the destination, the final resting place, that there is an emptiness to it?

There’s no there there.  But maybe that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean there’s no there anywhere.  It just means the only there is here.  Now.

4 Responses to ““There’s no there there.””

  1. Kristen Says:

    “The only there is here.” That one is going on the quote board, my friend. Exactly the truth I needed.

  2. tb Says:


  3. robertalesher Says:

    Ditto Kristen’s comment. Felt this one.

  4. tb Says:

    🙂 Good! (I hope.)

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