“He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significance.”
- Jack London
“We may see the small Value God has for Riches, by the People he gives them to.”
-- Alexander Pope (1727).
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
- Robert A. Heinlein
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
- Blaise Pascal
“Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes one's time and just annoys the pig.”
Attribution: Various (Robert Heinlein, Mark Twain,
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: Nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks… and slays,
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.
- Omar Khayyám
Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember.
- Oscar Levant
From the movie Cain Mutiny:
Prosecutor: “Doctor, You have testified that the following symptoms exist in Lieutenant-Commander Queeg's behavior. Rigidity of personality, feelings of persecution, unreasonable suspicion, a mania for perfection, and a neurotic certainty that he is always in the right. Doctor isn't there one psychiatric term for this illness?”
Doctor: “I never said there was any illness.”
“This was not judgement day — only morning. Morning: excellent and fair.”
William Styron, “Sophie’s Choice”
"Beware the fury of a patient man.”
John Dryden's 'Absolom and Architophel'
“I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man."
- Melville, Moby Dick.
"As soon as there is life, there is danger."
"The enemy is an age, the nuclear age. It happens to have killed mans' faith in his ability to influence what happens to him. And out of this comes a sickness… a sickness of frustration, a feeling of impotence, helplessness, weakness. And in this desperation, we look for a champion in red, white and blue. Every now and again a man on a white horse rides by and we appoint him our personal god for the duration."
From the movie Seven Days in May.
“…I turn back time. I reverse it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes had failed them or they had failed their eyes, and so they were having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy. In Spain there was revolution. Here there was only shouting and confusion."
THE GLASS MENAGERIE, by Tennessee Williams
"In the hotchpotch which was everyday life, in the tangle of trivialities out of which human relations were woven, it was no longer a law, but a logical absurdity, when the strong and the weak were both equally victims of their mutual relations, unwillingly submitting to some directing force, unknown, standing outside of life, apart from man."
Anton Chekhov, "A Doctor's Visit"
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
“The universe is not hostile, it is simply indifferent.”
- John A. Holmes
“Assembled in a crowd, people lose their powers of reasoning and their capacity for moral choice. Their suggestibility is increased to the point where they cease to have any judgement or will of their own. They become very excitable, they lose all sense of individual or collective responsibility, they are subject to sudden accesses of rage, enthusiasm and panic. In a word, man in a crowd behaves as though he had swallowed a large dose of what I have called “herd-poisoning.”
“Reading is a private, not a collective activity. The writer speaks only to individuals, sitting by themselves in a state of normal sobriety. The orator speaks to masses of individuals, already well primed with herd poison. They are at his mercy and, if he knows his business, he can do what he likes with them.”
- Aldous Huxley
“Minor surgery is surgery someone else is having.”
- J. Carl Cook
“The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show your distrust.”
- Henry L. Stimson
“The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference.”
- Elie Wiesel
“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”
- Theodore Rubin
“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”
- James A. Baldwin
“Freedom diminishes as numbers increase. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.”
- Frank Herbert
“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”
“Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
- Emmet Fox
We are the origins of war.
Not history’s forces, or the times, or justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, or kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers, we breed war, we carry it like disease inside of us. Dead bodies rotting field and stream because the living ones are rotten.
For the love of god can’t we love one another just a little? That’s how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities… we could change the world.
- From play “The Lion in Winter”
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
- Robert Frost
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs,
who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst,
if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Roosevelt
"Forth from this fair life, measureless things are wrought;
A thought dawn born, which shall not cease to broaden,
'Till its beam makes noon of knowledge
For a gathered world"
- Edwin Arnold.
“And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier. If no other in the world be aware I sit content, and if each and all be aware I sit content.”
— Walt Whitman
"Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am. Stands amused, complacent, compassionate, idle, unitary, looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest. Looking with side-curved head, curious at what will come next. Both in and out of the game, watching and wondering at it."
- Whitman, Leaves of Grass
"That best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness."
- William Wordsworth
"I cannot pretend I am without fear, but my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. ... Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
- Oliver Sacks
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything."
“Once I make up my mind, I'm full of indecision.”
- Oscar Levant
Of course we all have to live with our past, but I try not to encourage it to misbehave.
- Orson Wells
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati (When all else fails, play dead).
“Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.”
"To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer,"
…. And straight am I nothing: but whate'er I be,
Nor I nor any man that but man is
With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
With being nothing.
…. Things past redress are now with me past care.
Shakespeare / Richard II
Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.
“I seemed, in the height of a tempest, to see men overboard struggling in the waves, and driven about here and there. They glanced intelligently at each other, but 'twas little they could do for each other; 'twas much if each could keep afloat alone. Well, they had a right to their eye-beams, and all the rest was fate."
R.W.Emmerson The Conduct Of Life
It's a tough galaxy, if you want to survive out here you've got to know where your towel is.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
There it is... the obiter dicta, the words in passing, that give the game away.
“We do not so much need the help of our friends as the confidence of their help when needed.”
“A ship in a harbor is safe — but that’s not what ships are for.”
- John A. Sheda
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes you bought for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.”
- Ellen Goodman
“Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”
- Malcolm X
“Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.”
- F.P. Jones
“A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”
- Greek Proverb
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson. He said “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson asked him “Which one will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered; “The one I feed.”
“Do what you can with what you have where you are.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
“The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”
- Erich Fromm
“The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit.”
- Mark Twain
Jones: The darker picture of the world is always the correct one.
Jackson (reading the newspaper): Blood spattered spectators at the 155th street station who were interviewed at the scene said that the man's last words as he hurled toward the oncoming commuter train were; "I am right!"
- The Sunset Limited (Film)
In 1975, Army Col. Harry Summers went to Hanoi as chief of the U.S. delegation's negotiation team for the four-party military talks that followed the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. While there, he spent some time chatting with his North Vietnamese counterpart, Col. Tu, an old soldier who had fought against the United States and lived to tell his tale. With a tinge of bitterness about the war's outcome, Summers told Tu, "You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield." Tu replied, in a phrase that perfectly captured the American misunderstanding of the Vietnam War, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."
- Phillip Carter
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
~ Max Ehrmann, 1927
"It is only when it is dark enough, that can you then see the stars."