“Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.”
“Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don't know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it's not. It's a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”
“In this life we love who we love. There were some stories in which facts were very nearly irrelevant.”
“There was no one clear point of loss. It happened over and over again in a thousand small ways and the only truth there was to learn was that there was no getting used to it.”
“He used to say we all had a compass inside of us and what we needed to do was to find it and to follow it.”
“No one tells the truth to people they don't actually know, and if they do it is a horrible trait. Everyone wants something smaller, something neater than the truth.”
“It is said the sesta is one of the only gifts the Europeans brought to South America, but I imagine the Brazilians could have figured out how to sleep in the afternoon without having to endure centuries of murder and enslavement.”
“She understood in life that a person was only allowed one trip down to hell.”
“Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”
“Society was nothing but a long, dull dinner party conversation in which one was forced to speak to one's partner on both the left and the right.”
“But we cannot unbraid the story of another person’s life and take out all the parts that don’t suit our purposes and put forth only the ones that do.”
“One must not be shy where language is concerned.”
“Like her mother and all her mother's people before her, those inexhaustible blondes who staked their claims in verdant prairies, Marina was cut from Minnesota, the soil and the starry night. Instead of growing up inquisitive and restless, she had developed a profound desire to stay, as if her center of gravity was so low it connected her directly to this particular patch of earth.”
“Minnesota! It smelled like raspberries and sunlight and tender grass. It was summer and everything was more beautiful than any picture she had carried with her....There had never been a place in the world as beautiful as Minnesota.”
“Every drop of rain hit the ground with such force it bounced back up again, giving the earth the appearance of something boiling.”
“...And there it went, the burden of her lifetime, taken.”
“You throw a person in the river and then make a spectacle of jumping in to save them.”
“The question is whether or not you choose to disturb the world around you, or if you choose to let it go on as if you had never arrived. That is how one respects indigenous people. If you pay any attention at all you’ll realize that you could never convert them to your way of life anyway. They are an intractable race. Any progress you advance to them will be undone before your back is turned. You might as well come down here to unbend the river. The point, then, is to observe the life they themselves have put in place and learn from it.”
“Never be so focused on what you are looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.”
“The part when they are together for a while, the two of them, before things go wrong. The way things ended always obliterated the genuine happiness that had come before and that shouldn't be the case.”
“This was her moment, the perfect now.”
“Questions are for the benefit of every student, not just the one raising his hand. If you don't have the starch to stand up in class and admit what you don't understand, then I don't have the time to explain it to you. If you don't have a policy against nonsense you can wind up with a dozen timid little rabbits lined up in the hall outside your office, all waiting to whisper the same imbecilic question in your ear.”
“I saw it myself. An endless succession of mongrels and malingerers, the laziest dropouts who fancied themselves explorers. He made his policy clear: he was not responsible for their food, their shelter, their safety, or their health. He didn't waste his time discouraging them because frankly there was no discouragement they could not withstand. All of the energy they could have put into their intelligence they had used to develop their tenacity. But what I quickly learned was that their tenacity was for going, not for staying. Once they were out on the trail they fell like flies. Some took a day, two days, others were gone in a matter of hours, and Dr. Rapp never stopped for them. He remained beautifully consistent: he was to work and he would continue to work. He would not ferry back the weak and the lame. They had chosen to get themselves in and they would simply have to figure the means to get themselves out. People were quick to accept these terms until they themselves were weak. Then they changed their tune entirely, then they said Dr. Rapp was heartless. They couldn't slander him as a scientist but they said no end of scurrilous things about him as a man. He hadn't rescued them! He hadn't been their father and mother! I will tell you, none of that troubled his sleep. If he had made them his responsibility, either by dissuading them from their ambitions or by bailing them out of their folly, the greatest botanist of our time would have been reduced to a babysitter. It would have been an incalculable blow to science, all in the name of saving the stupid.”
“Marina brushed her hand across the back of her neck and dislodged something with a hard shell.
She had learned in time to brush instead of slap as slapping only served to pump the entire contents of the insect, which was doubtlessly already burrowed into the skin with some entomological protuberance, straight into the bloodstream.”
“Far outside the city the tree frogs were calling her, and the deep, rhythmic pulse of their voices set the blood flow to her heart.”
“Marina Singh: "You went to Radcliffe."
Annick Swenson: "I didn't love it.”
“Maybe he was concerned, or bored, or inappropriately friendly, or midwestern friendly.”
“The root system changes the acidity level in the soil so that nothing much will grow here except for the trees and a little bit of grass. In a sense you could say the tree poisons the area it inhabits to make sure that nothing else will survive in its space and take the nutrients out of the soil or grow taller and block out the sunlight.”
“I couldn’t comprehend why she still hadn’t stopped him because it’s clearly every mother’s responsibility to protect her children. After all, that’s the trust that bonds a mother and her child together, forever”
“St. Thomas Aquinas taught that water has been a natural sacrament since the dawn of creation. In the age of nature—from Adam through the patriarchs—water refreshed and cleansed humankind.”
“Oh, where did you go, dear Gal-i-le-o? Your oats are a-ready, an’ we miss you so!” It”
“Perhaps loneliness—it is that loneliest time of the night, the predawn darkness when the worst dreams come, the sunrise seems far off, and the creatures that inhabit both the real world and the darker edges of the unconscious prowl with the impunity of predators who know that their prey is helpless and alone.”
“Don’t become more knowledgeable, become more innocent. Drop all that you know, forget all that you know. Remain wondering, but don’t transform your wondering into questions, because once the wonder is changed into a question, sooner or later the question will bring knowledge. And knowledge is a false coin.”
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