Monday, October 4, 2010

Quotes: Finding Expression Through Others

I love when someone writes or says something poignant that resonates with me, that makes me think of or see life in a new way, or that fills me with a sense of awe and peace. I love when an emotion or insight that I had been unable to express myself is so perfectly articulated for me through the words of others. Whenever I am struck by a person's thoughts or writings, I scribble them down, or type and print them out to place in a special journal I've kept throughout the years. Or, rather, in one of what has now become several journals.

I started collecting quotes long before I fell sick, and continued for many years thereafter. For the most part, however, I am now too ill. It simply takes too much energy to write them down. As I've mentioned before, I can only listen to books on audio, so I therefore have to transcribe what I hear in order to jot them down in my journals. This can often be a bit painstaking, especially if the quote is long.

I do still have quite a few quotes saved on my laptop though, and I thought I'd share a few of those with you today. They are not necessarily my favorites -- just ones I had readily available. As you will see, most of the quotes I collect are ones that I can relate to in terms of illness, struggle, one's inner spirit, and finding the beauty of life despite suffering. I hope some of them resonate with you as well.


You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Maya Angelou

You are the knowing, and not the condition that is known.
-- Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle

Really, no matter how frightened and discouraged I may become about the future, I look forward to it. In spite of everything I see all around me everyday, I have a shaky assurance that everything will turn out fine. I don't think I'm the only one. Why else would the phrase "everything's all right" ease a deep and troubled place in so many of us? We just don't know. We never know so much, yet we have such faith. We hold our hands over our hurts and lean forward, full of yearning and forgiveness. It is how we keep on, this kind of faith.
--Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg

Everything is holding its breath inside me. Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas. I want to be all new and shiny. Not this way, every evening talking to the trees, leaning out my window, imagining what I can't see.
--The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


Something in me did not want to give up on life, was unwilling to let go, wanted to fight to the very end. Where that part of me got the heart, I don't know.

Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others, and I am one of those, never give up. We fight, and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It's not a question of courage. It's something constitutional, an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.

With the every first rays of [morning] light, it came alive in me: hope. As things emerged in outline and filled in color, hope increased until it was like a song in my heart. Oh, what it was to bask in it. Things would work out yet. The worst was over. I had survived the night. Today, I would be rescued. To think that, to string those words together in my mind, was itself a source of hope. Hope fed on hope.
-- Life of Pi by Yann Martel


Life, even at it's simplest level, occurs apparently just for its own sake. It is easy to overlook this thought, that life just is. As humans, we are inclined to think that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of all the intoxicating existence we've been endowed with. But what's life to a lichen? Yet it's impulse to exist to be is every bit as strong as ours -- arguably even stronger. If I were told I would have to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don't. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment's additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be.
--A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson


Be careful reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
--Mark Twain


I wish so much that you could get hold of the idea of what perfection in this world consists of. It is not like going up a great hill from which we see an ever widening landscape, a greater horizon, a plain receding farther and farther into the distance. It is more like an overgrown path that we cannot find. We grope about, we are caught by brambles, we lose all sense of the distance covered. We do not know if we are going around and around, or if we are advancing. We are certain only of one thing: that we desire to go on, even though we are worn and tired. That is your life, and you should rejoice greatly because of it. For it is a true life, serious and real, on which God's eyes and heart are open.
--Abbey de Trouville

People go forth to wonder at the height of mountains, the huge waves of the seas, the broad flow of rivers, the extent of the ocean, the course of the stars -- and forget to wonder at themselves.
--St. Augustine


For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed.
--Attributed to Audrey Hepburn

Words fail me sometimes. I have read most every one in the Webster's International Dictionary of the English Language, but still have trouble making them come when I want them to. Right now, I want a word that describes the feeling you get -- a cold, sick feeling deep down inside -- when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don't want it to, but you can't stop it. And you know for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before, and an after. A was, and a will be. And you will never again be quite the same person you were. What is the word for that feeling? For knowledge and fear and loss all mixed together?
-- A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
(this made me think of the moment I first got sick, as well as some of my more serious health setbacks)


Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl


Beyond there is light and music and sweet companionship, but I may not enter. Fate -- silent, pitiless -- bars the way. Fain would I question his imperious decree, for my heart is still undisciplined and passionate; but, my tongue will not utter the bitter, futile words that rise to my lips, and they fall back into my heart like unshed tears. Silence sits immense upon my soul. Then comes hope with a smile and whispers, ‘There is joy in self-forgetfulness.’ So I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others’ ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.
--The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

You are as prone to love as the sun is to shine.
--Thomas Traherne


Perhaps the worth of any lifetime is measured more in kindness than in competency.
--Rachel Naomi Remen


Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says "I'll try again tomorrow. "
Mary Anne Radmacher