Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Quote Book

For years I kept a notebook of quotes that I copied out in longhand. I can now see it as a tool that I used as a young adult to define myself. I collected all the ideas and inspirations that I liked and then read and re-read them until they became a part of who I am.

The entries follow my interests and readings over the years: feminism as I first discovered it in University; my philosophy 101 readings; my New Age phase; my Zen phase. There's some random stuff too, like a paper slip from a fortune cookie that I taped onto the page.

It says "He who hurries cannot walk with dignity."

When I re-read it today, most of the quotes don't excite me. They are either ideas that I rejected long ago, or so much a part of me that I now take them for granted. Oddly enough, the ones that still move me most are dated from when I was around 17 years old. Here are two samples:

"We must lighten ourselves to survive. We must not cling. Safety lies in lessening, in becoming random and thin enough for the new to enter. Only folly dares those leaps that give life."
-John Updike

"Exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one's highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight."
-Ayn Rand

What words move you?

15 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

You know I read a lot of blogs and everyone has these very enlightening quotes or phrases that are special to them. Then I try to think of my inspirational quotes and all I come up with are things from Monty Python or the Simpsons.

jameil1922 said...

its a bit wordy but "The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the shortterm in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is theindispensable pre-requisite for success." - Brian Tracy

i never was a quote girl (i usually felt like if i didn't have the answers (hyper-confident), i knew where to find them whether it was my mom or research.) but i had a friend like you and she's still trying to find herself. i hope it helps.

Karen said...

I started doing quote books in college. I have 3 filled books and I am working on my 4th. When I re-read them, they take me back to where I was and why those words were significant to me. I love it.

Keera Ann Fox said...

The Messiah's Handbook in the novel "Ilusions" by Richard Bach has pithy sayings that still make me think. I'm a quote junky though I never use or remember them, and like you, some I outgrow or already live. Except sometimes one sticks, like Gandhi's "If you can't find God in the next person you meet, it's a waste of time to look any further". I've actually used that as a sort of mantra for the day.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: What, no Family Guy? ;-) Seriously now, humour can be very inspiring. It can make unbearable situations bearable. That's invaluable!

Jameil: I like that one. So very true.

Karen: I'm just musing that our journals show us where we were, and our quote books show us where we wanted to go.

Keera: Wow, I love that Gandhi quote. There's another I can't quite recall... something like "You may be a minority of one, but that doesn't mean you're wrong."

R.E.H. said...

No, I don't have any real quotes that I live by or feel inspired by.

I've always been impressed with how people seem to quote things left and right, and I've never heard any of them... I guess I'm not one for paying attention to them, sort of...

I can quote dialogue from every David Lynch movie... but, you know - that's different!

Sparkling Red said...

r.e.h.: Well, you're a writer. Maybe someday there'll be people quoting you! Perhaps some already have.

Jenski said...

When you said "Quote book", I was thinking of the quote book I took possession of at the end of college with all the funny things we had said to each other. Taken completely out of context of course.

There aren't too many serious quotes I can recall, but here are a couple:

That’s the way it is in life. You let go of what is beautiful and unique. You pursue something new and don’t even know that the wind of your own running is a thief.
~From 'Ahab's Wife' Sena Jeter Naslund; I like it because I'm still not quite sure what it means.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~from Aristotle via my brother's email signature

Kell said...

I love the idea of keeping a quote book, but I've never been good about writing them down and I never remember them. But there are a couple that I actually did write down--

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
-John Burroughs


And

Always... always remember: Less is less. More is more. More is better, and twice as much is good too. Not enough is bad, and too much is never enough except when it's just about right.
-The Tick
(If you've never watched The Tick, that won't mean a thing to you, but it cracks me up)

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: That's like certain poems that can't be fully understood - it makes them better.

Kell: I have seen the Tick. I had no idea he had such wisdom to share. ;-)

binky ink said...

Spark!
I totally did the same thing when I was younger! I had a composition notebook filled with long hand quotes. Oh, and I always save clever fortunes from fortune cookies! I post them around in random places to just keep the ideas in my head. The tagline on my site is from a fortune cookie!

Here are some favorites:
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

-C.S. Lewis

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

-???

Mighty Mouse said...

Here's one of my favourites - it's from Goethe: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Sparkling Red said...

Binky: I love the C.S. Lewis quote! It's so true.

Mighty Mouse: That's an old favourite of mine. I'll bet you didn't know this: I've got quotes from YOU in my quote book!

Aurora said...

"Systems run down and run out of energy; life continually creates energy; i.e., runs up." I got this idea from a program about the evolution of life on earth. Apparently it's the second law of thermodynamics. (Physics always sounds profound to an English major.)

It's true that one's old quotes do come to seem rigid or tewww-tally obvious at some point. But some remain as useful. The poetic and religions ones go on meaning, for me, though I'm not religious or poetic. For example: "Three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (From Corinthians.) Ahhhh. Isn't that so nice?

Sparkling Red said...

Aurora: Ah yes, very nice! I like the idea of life "running up". It's quirky.