Category: quotes

my sunday evening quotes

March 22nd, 2009 — 4:03pm

I don’t have much to say today (I know, I know… don’t die of shock), so I thought instead of me blathering on, I’d just leave a few quotes here for you to do with as you like. It’s okay if they mean nothing to you, but for me—for where I am in my unpredictable, uncharted, and moderately insane life—these words mean a great deal.

There was only time. For what is a man, what are we all, but bits of time caught for a moment in a tangle of blood, bones, skin, and brain? ...We are time's containers. Time pours into us and then pours out again.  In between the two pourings we live our destiny.  -Louise Erdrich, Four Souls

let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. it will not lead you astray. -rumi

2 comments » | books, quotes, what's inside

a life of radiohead and pi

February 24th, 2009 — 2:57pm

Man, Radiohead really has a way of making everything feel so serious and dismal. I’m sitting here with “OK Computer” playing in the background and find myself slowly feeling increasingly pensive… angsty… empowered… insignificant… perceptive… misled… all at once. Weird. Especially because most of those feelings are contradictory. Maybe it’s time to switch to Spice Girls or something that doesn’t make me feel like Armageddon is upon us in t-minus-thirteen seconds. Crazy how my mood is so affected by music.

Anyway, I recently finished reading Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, and it’s been on my mind a lot. Overall, I really liked it. I was planning on writing something about my impressions of the book now, but Radiohead has sapped the life out of me, so that’s not going to happen. I’m a huge fan of good quotes, though, and while reading I tend to mark up the margins around passages I find particularly likable. So in that spirit, here are just a few of the quotes that got the lucky mark of my red pen next to them. (For the sake of your attention span, I pared it down to six quotes, but believe me, I started with a lot more than this.)

Note: I’m not giving away any huge plot lines here, but if you’re a purist like me and hate knowing anything about books/movies/plays before experiencing them for yourself, look away now!

Words of divine consciousness: …a quickening of the moral sense, which strikes one as more important than an intellectual understanding of things; …a realization that the founding principle of existence is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably.

But we should not cling! A plague upon fundamentalists and literalists!

There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. …These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.

Why can’t reason give greater answers? Why can we throw a question further than we can pull in an answer? Why such a vast net if there’s so little fish to catch?

I must say a word about fear. It’s life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy.

…Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation… nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.

“If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Isn’t love hard to believe?”
“Mr. Patel—”
“Don’t you bully me with your politeness! Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?”

I feel like that’s a good question for me right now. What’s the problem with “hard to believe”? Life is hard to believe, really. It’s amazing that any of us are here. This question makes me realize that I take many leaps of faith every day without balking. Belief is at the base of everything, isn’t it? Maybe faith is only hard when I decide to trip over it.

It seems this was a good book for me right now. It was an easy read that managed to be soul-stirring without taking itself too seriously. Plus, I liked Martel’s narrative voice. Although the story seemed to drag in places, the dragging never lasted long, and his voice kept me engaged until the story piqued my attention again. I definitely give it a place on my “Recommendable Books” list.

P.S. Lest you be misled, I really do like Radiohead.

Comment » | books, quotes

forty-fourth, and first

January 20th, 2009 — 10:37pm

Let’s hear it for good speeches that get me hopeful and excited for the future of our country. The pundits can say what they will about President Obama’s inaugural address, but as for me, I loved it.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.  We are the keepers of this legacy.

So? I’m an idealist. I like speeches that promise integrity, temperance, and tenacity. I like to believe that President Obama speaks with complete earnestness when he says, “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” I think he’s telling the truth. Or… at least I have high hopes that he is.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

I can’t deny that there’s definitely a cynical vein that runs through me. I understand the tendency towards cynicism. It’s true that politicians—yes, even our sparkling new president—will make mistakes and may likely break some promises. But I’ve decided recently that this elevating feeling of hope is far more productive than cynicism, even if the cynics ARE right some of the time, even if I am left disappointed in those moments. I’ve decided to not base my hope in faulty humans, but rather in a belief that we have a greater potential that requires some shade of idealism to be realized. I think this hope is a better choice.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

So I’m sorry if this post makes you roll your eyes. At a different time, it probably would’ve made me roll my eyes too. But for now, I feel happy and hopeful. I feel grateful to be a part of this America.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


2 comments » | hopes, politics, quotes

free indeed

January 8th, 2009 — 2:09pm

It is feelings like this that I most want to hold on to but am least able to maintain. Feelings like this are the most fleeting.

It’s a feeling born of the warm, persistent press of the sunlight on my skin despite the chill in the air; the crunching snow underfoot as the sun stakes out its place in the sky; the lilting song of birds and the strong scent of evergreen pouring from a towering fir tree. Such a giant of a tree—it’s a wonder that it has escaped my attention until now. I stop and gaze up and can’t even see the top.

And suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, I’m filled with peace and clarity. I feel realistically optimistic about the future. (Realistically optimistic? It’s amazing that such a feeling exists.) I can clearly see a path laid out in front of me. And what’s more, I don’t feel afraid to start walking down it.

The thing is, I’ve had these fantastically exultant moments before… and so I know that they pass. They pass, and I’m left with life-as-usual once again, trudging through the problems of the day (most of which are problems of my own making). My view of the road ahead becomes obscured again with my doubts, my second-guesses, my mistakes.

But I’m not pointing this out to be a pessimist. Not this time, anyway. I’m pointing this out because this time, I think I understand this feeling better.

Thank goodness for these moments of clarity, these times when the world feels so full of lighted windows and open doors. These moments are exactly the kick in the pants that I need to continue on even when the world turns dark again. The feeling may be gone, but the memory that I had it remains. There’s a “white ring of mineral ash left after the water has boiled away,”* which serves as a real reminder that hope can be constant even while my feelings vacillate between contentment and desperation.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
-Kahlil Gibran

So for now, I get it. I recognize it may not be as easy for me to grasp next week, or maybe even tomorrow. But for now, I get it, and I’m holding on.

*another quote from Louise Erdrich’s Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse

1 comment » | books, hopes, quotes, the great outdoors, what's inside

we are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams

January 2nd, 2009 — 7:50pm

(the title is from a line of an Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem, which was subsequently borrowed by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.)

I don’t know where the time goes when I sit at the piano.  It feels like the clock freezes for me but not the rest of the world.  I swear there’s a parallel reality that exists when my fingers are touching the keys, and only after I manage to wrench myself from that world do I find that hours and hours have passed when I thought no time had passed at all.

When I peeled myself away from the keyboard today, my mind stumbled clumsily across a vague memory… a few passages I once marked on the pages of some book or another.  I pulled a couple of my favorite books off the shelf and started sifting through the pages until my restless memory felt satisfied.

This is from Louise Erdrich’s The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, where the character Agnes, who had been suffering from some form of amnesia, finally regains the knowledge that she is a talented and passionate pianist:

She stood in the entrance to the new church one afternoon, regarding the placement of the piano with an uneasy, critical eye.  Later, she was sure it was the long summer light, the full golden quality of afternoon light that wakened her hands and set them moving about more restlessly than they had for some time. …The key to the keyboard was hidden in the piano’s odd claw foot.  An aperture behind a toe.  Suddenly, Agnes bent and removed the key.  She then opened the keyboard.  All of a sudden there it was, the notes spread out before her in the slant light of afternoon, the discolored ivories of the sad keys gaping at her, the breath of the thing sighing out like an animal.

There was a small brown bench Sister Hildegarde had found and placed before the creature.  Agnes sat, adjusted the distance, and watched the keys carefully.  Nothing happened.  There was nothing to be afraid of, after all, except that her hands sprang out of her sleeves.  Then they jumped off her lap like claws and crashed down in an astonishing chord. She clutched her hands to her chest.  The sound reverberated.  With a soft and, she feared, insane longing, her hands crept forward again.  This time, quite movingly, they brushed the keys in the secret contradictory melody that opens the Pathetique.  Her hands moved on and on.  She crouched over the keyboard in amazed concentration and played, or allowed herself to be played by, the music that had racked her inside and struggled for release.  …As her hands assembled and disassembled their patterns of old harmony and counterharmony, the mystery of their motions became entirely sensible.  She understood the intricate purpose of [this] language….  Music poured out in a rational waterfall.

Time passed, or no time passed.  Absorbed in the rush of knowing, Agnes felt eyes watching.  Perhaps children, she thought, unable in her awed greed to quit.  Or one of the sisters, or an Ojibwe curious or gripped by longing.  She played in the embrace of that special sense of being heard, that expectancy, but when she finally set her hands in her lap and looked up to acknowledge the listener, no one was there.  Only the still new leaves faintly twitching between the studs and the haze of gold light through the tremulous scatter of clouds.

And from E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, about Lucy Honeychurch’s love for the piano:

It so happened that Lucy, who found daily life rather chaotic, entered a more solid world when she opened the piano.  She was then no longer either deferential or patronizing; no longer either a rebel or a slave.  The kingdom of music is not the kingdom of this world; it will accept those whom breeding and intellect and culture have alike rejected.  The commonplace person begins to play, and shoots into the empyrean without effort, whilst we look up, marveling how he has escaped us, and thinking how we could worship him and love him, would he but translate his visions into human words, and his experiences into human actions….

[Lucy] was no dazzling exécutant; her runs were not at all like strings of pearls, and she struck no more right notes than was suitable for one of her age and situation.  Nor was she the passionate young lady, who performs so tragically on a summer’s evening with the window open.  Passion was there, but it could not be easily labeled; it slipped between love and hatred and jealousy, and all the furniture of the pictorial style.  And she was tragical only in the sense that she was great, for she loved to play on the side of Victory.  Victory of what and over what—that is more than the words of daily life can tell us.  But that some sonatas of Beethoven are written tragic no one can gainsay; yet they can triumph or despair as the player decides, and Lucy decided that they should triumph.

A very wet afternoon at [Lucy's hotel] permitted her to do the thing she really liked, and after lunch she opened the little draped piano.  A few people lingered round and praised her playing, but finding that she made no reply, dispersed to their rooms to write up their diaries or to sleep. …Like every true performer, she was intoxicated by the mere feel of the notes; they were fingers caressing her own; and by touch, not by sound alone did she come to her desire.

Mr. Beebe, sitting unnoticed in the window, pondered over this illogical element in Miss Honeychurch…. [He remarked to Lucy] when she closed the little piano and moved dreamily towards him: “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting—both for us and for her.”

I don’t imagine that I play with much skill or accuracy, or even that it’s enjoyable for others to listen to me, but playing fills me such a release that my inadequacy has never bothered me much.  Playing brings me to a strangely ephemeral yet “more solid world” where “time passes, or no time passes” and my mistakes are okay.  It’s where my worries melt neatly away, where reality looks beautiful, and where I begin to believe that I may one day find the courage to live with passion.  What an exhilarating notion.

1 comment » | books, quirks, quotes, what's inside

never is a promise

December 17th, 2008 — 12:48am

“Never is a Promise” by Fiona Apple:

You’ll never see the courage I know
Its colors’ richness won’t appear within your view
I’ll never glow the way that you glow
Your presence dominates the judgments made on you

But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch; I see from greater heights
I understand what I am still too proud to mention – to you

You’ll say you understand, but you don’t understand
You’ll say you’d never give up seeing eye to eye
But never is a promise, and you can’t afford to lie

You’ll never touch these things that I hold
The skin of my emotions lies beneath my own
You’ll never feel the heat of this soul
My fever burns me deeper than I’ve ever shown – to you

You’ll say, Don’t fear your dreams, it’s easier than it seems
You’ll say you’d never let me fall from hopes so high
But never is a promise and you can’t afford to lie

You’ll never live the life that I live
I’ll never live the life that wakes me in the night
You’ll never hear the message I give
You’ll say it looks as though I might give up this fight

But as the scenery grows, I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch, I see from greater heights
I realize what I am now too smart to mention – to you

You’ll say you understand, you’ll never understand
I’ll say I’ll never wake up knowing how or why
I don’t know what to believe in, you don’t know who I am
You’ll say I need appeasing when I start to cry
But never is a promise and I’ll never need a lie

I dig the raw broodiness of this song.  In some twisted way, I sometimes wish I could be this internally angsty.  But it’s never worked for me.  I can’t keep it in.  …Almost always.

I used to have the most amazing version of this song.  It was on a mix a friend in high school gave to me… Renee gave me a lot of good music that year.  Anyway, it was Fiona singing with this gorgeous flowing piano in the background, and that was it.  Simple and not overproduced.  My CDs got stolen a few years ago and I haven’t been able to find that version since.

Comment » | music, nostalgia, quotes, what's inside

it's so hard to do, and so easy to say

December 14th, 2008 — 10:18pm

when your bow is broken and your last arrow spent, then shoot, shoot with your whole heart.
-zen saying

dewdrop, let me cleanse
in your brief
sweet waters…
these dark hands of life
-matsuo basho

Comment » | quotes, what's inside

pointers for tormenting your children

December 10th, 2008 — 3:56pm

I stumbled across this funny article, or whatever you want to call it, and I had a good chuckle.  You can read it below, or read it here at its true home.

- – - -


by Jen Statsky

- – - -

DAD: I don’t think we should ever talk about feelings.

MOM: Never.

- – - -

DAD: I’ll take the greatest number of photographs of her when she’s in her most awkward stage, right in the depths of puberty.

MOM: Good idea. I’ll make sure to send them to all our immediate and all our somewhat distant family and friends. Oh, and make sure you forget your camera the one night in her life that Billy Sherman talks to her, so that no proof exists of said event.

DAD: Got it.

- – - -

DAD: We should talk very loudly about the truth about Santa Claus.

MOM: Yes, and let’s not make any attempt whatsoever to disguise Santa’s handwriting from our own.

- – - -

MOM: Let’s make sure we avoid the topic of sex so masterfully and so consistently that she begins to wonder if it’s something made up by people on TV.

DAD: Good idea. Let’s also ignore the existence of any of her long-term boyfriends, no matter how harmless, awkward, and acne-prone they are.

- – - -

MOM: She should never have to worry about money, especially when she’s young.

DAD: I agree. That way, she can spend all her time worrying about us getting a divorce.

- – - -

DAD: When I teach her to ride a bike, I will tell her that my hand is on the seat, but then I will take it away just as she is getting the hang of it.

MOM: That will not turn out well.

DAD: No.

- – - -

MOM: I’ll make sure to give her a haircut that matches mine. Mine in 1972, that is.

DAD: Great. I’ll wear an awkward comb-over.

- – - -

DAD: I think I’ll always be a little bit weirder than necessary around her friends. Especially the “cool” ones who are just over to copy notes for Ms. Reardon’s AP Physics midterm.

MOM: Sounds good. I’ll always talk one decibel louder than a normal person.

- – - -

DAD: She will beg us to get a dog for many, many years.

MOM: And I will repeatedly tell her how I am allergic to animal hair.

DAD: You will wear a fur coat.

- – - -

MOM: Whenever she does something that really upsets me, I’ll always make sure to tell her that “her grandmother is rolling over in her grave.”

DAD: Even though we will cremate her.

- – - -

DAD: I will demonstrate a total lack of understanding of the proper grammatical way to use quotation marks, and sign every birthday card with “Love.”

MOM: That will keep her on her toes.

- – - -

MOM: I think the most important thing is that we will criticize her, no matter what she does or who she becomes.

DAD: And that she knows we criticize her just as much as we criticize each other.

- – - -

DAD: Let’s not give her a little brother or sister.

MOM: No. That might function as some sort of coping mechanism.

- – - -

MOM: We can’t take her on those classic but trite kid vacations that every other child in the Western world gets to experience, like trips to Disneyland.

DAD: No, for she will gain great popularity and respect from her second-grade classmates when she wears her “I Went to Vermont and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt Made From 100% Recycled Compost-Heap Materials” T-shirt.

- – - -

DAD: We should always give her what she wants.

MOM: That way, we can hold it against her when she’s older and can finally provide for herself.

- – - -

(Side note to Mom and Dad: Thanks for being more normal than the theoretical parents above. Well, “normal” might be generous, ::wink wink:: but you know what I mean. I guess I’m saying… I’m definitely glad I got you.)

(One last side note: Thanks to the almost right word for posting this first. That’s one of those blogs I secretly follow even though I don’t know the author in real life. Come on, you know you have a few of those, too. Anyway, I felt the need to point out that I’m actually stealing this post from her. Thanks!)

1 comment » | for my amusement, quotes

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