“It's easy now - it's middle-aged lady, nobody's looking, nobody notices. I go without lipstick if I feel like it, and I always wear my comfy clothes. It's a life with fewer distractions, but should something beautiful show up, a middle-aged woman is free to stare.”
“There is nothing like calamity for refreshing the moment. Ironically, the last several years my life had begun to feel shapeless, like underwear with the elastic gone, the days down around my ankles.”
“Dogs are never in a bad mood over something you said at breakfast. Dogs never sniff at the husks of old conversations, or conduct autopsies on weekends gone wrong. An unexamined life may not be worth living, but the overexamined life is hell. We talk too much.”
“The past is in the wastebasket.”
“For better or for worse, but not for lunch,...”
“I WAS ON A SMALL ISLAND ONCE, IN THE MIDDLE OF a great big lake, mountains all over the place, and as I watched the floating dock the wind kicked up, the waves rose from nowhere, and I imagined myself lying there and the dock suddenly breaking loose, carried away by the storm. I wondered if I could lie still and enjoy the sensation of rocking, after all I wouldn’t be dead yet, I wouldn’t be drowning, just carried off somewhere that wasn’t part of my plan. The very thought of it gave me the shivers. Still, how great to be enjoying the ride, however uncertain the outcome. I’d like that. It’s what we’re all doing anyway, we just don’t know it.”
“SIX MONTHS AGO A FRIEND WAS ANGRY WITH ME and I with her. I had written about something someone said many years ago, but it was she who heard the words, not me, a fact I had completely forgotten. Her experience was precious, and she accused me of stealing her memory. Not only that, but what she remembered with grief I had somehow transmuted to gratitude, so besides stealing her memory, I also got it wrong. We argued, but there was no meeting place. For days the same questions went through my head. Is memory property? If two people remember something differently is one of them wrong? Wasn’t my memory of a memory also real? There were no solid answers, just winding paths I went round and round on. I thought of nothing else; a chasm had opened between me and my friend.”
“There’s nothing I want to relive—certainly not youth—and as for what’s to come, I’m in no hurry. I watch my dogs. They throw themselves into everything they do; even their sleeping is wholehearted. They aren’t waiting for a better tomorrow, or looking back at their glory days. Following their example, I’m trying to stick to the present. I’m not stranded here, I know where I’ve been; I can conjure up details of old haunts, even former states of mind.”
“What I used to fear was growing old—not the aches and pains part or the what-have-I-done-with-my-life part or the threat of illness, none of that. I just couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without the option of looking good. I had a piece of good luck. I married Rich in my late forties and thus was eased into middle age while living with a man who approved of the way I looked. When after three years of marriage I lamented the fact that I had put on a good deal of weight, he said, “Don’t worry. I love it all. You can get as fat as you want.” Then, upon reflection, he added sweetly, “As long as you can still get up from your chair.”
“THERE ARE ENORMOUS HOLES IN MY EDUCATION. I left college in March of my freshman year and never went back. I’ve never read Moby-Dick and it’s probably too late now. I know nothing about the history of music or the history of art except what I’ve learned through osmosis. But Outsider Art is its own context. I don’t have to know all about the Impressionists or the Abstract Expressionists. I don’t have to be able to fit this art into any historic chronology. I don’t feel like an ignoramus. Irony of ironies, I don’t feel like an outsider—to fall in love I only need eyes.”
“It was a long time before I realized that you don't have to start right, you just have to start. Put pen to paper, allow yourself the freedom to write badly, to get it wrong, stop looking over your own shoulder.”
“But we don't get to choose what sticks. How many times I have run my fingers along a picket fence and thought, "This! I will remember this moment always!" and all that remains is the memory of a desire to hold on to a memory.”
“I had always wanted to write but thought you needed a degree, or membership in a club nobody had asked me to join. I thought God had to touch you on the forehead, I thought you needed to have something specific to say, something important, and I thought you needed all that laid out from the git-go. It was a long time before I realized that you don't have to start right, you just have to start. Put pen to paper, allow yourself the freedom to write badly, to get it wrong, stop looking over your own shoulder.”
“DON’T KNOW WHO I AM,” RICH SAYS OVER AND over. “There are too many thoughts inside my head. I am not myself.” Yesterday he said, “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” The image makes me shiver, but he seems exultant in his description. There are days when he is grounded in the here and now and days when his brain is boiling over with confusion.”
“the last several years my life had begun to feel shapeless, like underwear with the elastic gone, the days down around my ankles.”
“THERE WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO HAD ARRIVED AT the Northeast Center angry and belligerent, as inclined to take a swing at you as not. He began showing up in Bill’s studio and started to paint. Bill watched him become an artist, and gradually he stopped being at the mercy of his rages. He got well enough to leave the center and move to a group home. This is what he said to Bill before he left: “What is art, anyway, except not pounding on walls.”
“Good things happen slowly,” said a doctor in the ICU months ago, “and bad things happen fast.”
“My definition of fear is that it's a constant companion, a sidekick, riding you like a watch, going in and out of the days. I don't live like that anymore. The fact that I'm sixty-three has something to do with it. What I used to fear was growing old—not the aches and pains part or the what-have-I-done-with-my-life part or the threat of illness, none of that. I just couldn't imagine what my life would be like without the option of looking good.”
“When I was young, the future was where all the good stuff was kept, the party clothes, the pretty china, the family silver, the grown-up jobs. The future was a land of its own, and we couldn't wait to get there. Not that youth wasn't great, but it came with disadvantages; I remember the feeling I was missing something really good that was going on somewhere else, somewhere I wasn't. I remember feeling life passing me by. I remember impatience. I don't feel that way now.”
“The future was also the place where the bad stuff waited in ambush. My children were embarking on their futures in fragile vessels, and I trembled. I wanted to remove obstacles, smooth their way, I wanted to change their childhoods. I needed to be right all the time, I wanted them to listen to me, learn from my mistakes, and save themselves a lot of grief. Well, now I know I can control my tongue, my temper, and my appetites, but that's it. I have no effect on weather, traffic, or luck. I can't make good things happen. I can't keep anybody safe. I can't influence the future and I can't fix up the past.
What a relief.”
“Being cautious is new territory; my specialty was leaping, not looking. These days I pay attention. You can stumble uphill as easily as down. Ice comes in smooth and corrugated. Plastic bags are slippery underfoot. A big dog can knock you to your knees.”
“If you were to look into our apartment in the late morning, or early afternoon, or toward suppertime, you might find us together sleeping. Of course a good rainy day is preferable, but even on sunny summer days, the dogs and I get into bed.”
“I feel only gratitude. We are doing something as necessary to our well-being as food or air or water. We are steeping ourselves, reassuring ourselves, renewing ourselves, three creatures of two species, finding comfort in the simple exchange of body warmth.”
“But we're all looking for the place we belong. And what is home, anyway, but what we cobble together out of our changing selves? Maybe there isn't any it, as my friend said, only the longing”
“Good things happen slowly and bad things happen fast. Those were comforting words, and they comfort me today.”
“Never give orders—give instructions. … Make a game out of your work. … The greatest dividend in human life is happiness.”
“Nhưng mỗi người trong chúng tôi bị chiến tranh chà nát theo một kiểu riêng, mỗi người ngay từ ngày đó đã mang trong lòng một cuộc chiến tranh của riêng mình nhiều khi hoàn toàn khác với cuộc chiến đấu chung, những nhìn nhận mà sâu trong lòng cực kỳ khác nhau về con người, về thời đại chiến trận, và đương nhiên mỗi người một số phận hậu chiến. Có thể nói chúng tôi giống nhau ở chỗ là hoàn toàn khác nhau trong cái vẻ hoàn toàn giống nhau trong quá trình nặng nề đeo đuổi cuộc chiến. Nhưng chúng tôi còn có chung một nỗi buồn, nỗi buồn chiến tranh mênh mang, nỗi buồn cao cả, cao hơn hạnh phúc và vượt trên đau khổ. Chính nhờ nỗi buồn mà chúng tôi đã thoát khỏi chiến tranh, thoát khỏi bị chôn vùi trong cảnh chém giết triền miên, trong cảnh khốn khổ của những tay súng, những đầu lê, những ám ảnh bạo lực và bạo hành, để bước trở lại con đường riêng của mỗi cuộc đời có lẽ chẳng sung sướng gì và cũng đầy tội lỗi, nhưng vẫn là cuộc đời đẹp đẽ nhất mà chúng tôi có thể hy vọng, bởi vì đấy là đời sống hòa bình.”
“when the only thing he’s heard for the last hour is the snort of a horse and his own toots.”
“I'd give everything to back to that moment and make things right."
"Would you really? Would you go back in time and change that, if you could?"
"No. No, maybe not. Because then I wouldn't have this. I wouldn't have you. I have to live with my mistakes, but I don't have to regret them. I regret my actions but I can't regret the consequences.”
“He was from that generation—the type who didn’t change things just because they were tired of them, or they were outdated. You bought something, or married someone, and stuck with it.”
BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.
We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.
Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.