Below is a gathering of quotes I have been collecting from various sources online. Many of them have come from the quote site Inspiration Peak as well as from blogs: Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal and Keri Smith’s Wish Jar Journal. I will be adding to the group as I find new ones. Enjoy.
Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art.
Life is this simple: We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent
and the Divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. It is true.
This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one: being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch that I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
George Bernard Shaw
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.
William Henry Channing
The idea was to eliminate every thing unnecessary, to make the whole as direct and simple as possible, but always with the beautiful in mind as the first goal.
Henry Mather Greene
The details make life holy. If you want a little happiness in life don’t forget to look at the little things. It is a poet’s work to see the incidental, pluck it, place an appropriate silence around both sides and see the profound in what passes for a passing moment. It is an artist’s job to as much discover art as create it. Prayer is a way of making the common profound by pausing, tying knots around a moment, turning our life into a string of pearls.
Noah Ben Shea
Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.
Walker Evans (in a draft text to accompany the hidden camera subway photographs)
Allow Events to Change You: You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
Bruce Mau, designer (from ”An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth”)
The wisdom of the heart is here, just now, at any moment. It has always been here, and it is never too late to find it. The wholeness and freedom we seek is our own true nature, who we really are. Whenever we start a spiritual practice, read a spiritual book, or contemplate what it means to live well, we have begun the inevitable process of opening to this truth, the truth of life itself.
It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Learn to write about the ordinary. Give homage to old coffee cups, sparrows, city buses, thin ham sandwiches. Make a list of everything ordinary you can think of. Keep adding to it. Promise yourself, before you leave the earth, to mention everything on your list at least once in a poem, short story, newspaper article.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
To vibrate, to accept, to expand… this is the new duty. To give oneself as is, to let life meet us as it really is, to live for the moment and extract from each moment all that it holds of truth, beauty and goodness, without scruple, without vain questioning, in the spontaneous desire of life, in childlike purity of heart… to be able to be oneself, to dare to be happy and at last allow one’s soul to spread its wings.
Jeanne de Vietinghoff
The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions—the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with 4 rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.
If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony.
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.
Every day, passion speaks to us through our feelings. that’s why when you allow yourself to become anesthetized by what others think, you literally block yourself from living the life you were called to live. I promise you that if you make a choice that doesn’t please your mate, your friends, your mother, or whoever, the world will not fall apart — the people who truly love you want you to love yourself. and as you become clearer about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you — the first time around.
Creativity is more about taking the facts, fictions, and feelings we store away and finding new ways to connect them. What we’re talking about here is metaphor. Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself. Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we are experiencing now with what we have experienced before. It’s not only how we express what we remember , it’s how we interpret it – for ourselves and others.
Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with their imagination.
Angels sing in me.
I rush to write down what I hear.
I carry a pad and pencil everywhere,
for this singing may come at and hour in any place.
I must get it down quickly and turn it into words and phrases before it passes away,
leaving no trace.
For the Angels, I have noticed,
hardly ever sing the same song twice…
All I can do is pray that my Angels will return and look over my shoulder where I write,
and whisper a few more words in my ear.
So that the singing I heard you may hear too.
James Dillet Freeman
Lester Levenson used to say, ‘Release and allow yourself to see the perfection where the seeming imperfection seems to be.’ During this process, welcome your thoughts, your sensations, your feelings, and the stories that you tell yourself. Just allow them all to be here, and know that everything is okay as it is. Part of what happens when we release this is that we start to recognize the perfection underlying our thoughts and feelings. Begin by making yourself comfortable and focusing your attention inwardly. Now, bring to mind … an issue that’s currently up in your awareness. As you think about that situation, problem, intention, or goal, allow yourself to get in touch with your feelings about it right in this very moment.
To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of everyday life,
is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
If by a ‘Liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal’ then I’m proud to say I’m a ‘Liberal.’
John F. Kennedy
The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.
The point of life is not to get anywhere—it is to notice that you are, and have always been, already there. You are always and forever in the moment of pure creation. The point of life therefore is to create—who and what you are, and then to experience that.
Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Rainer Maria Rilke
This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind… let it be something good.
And while it takes courage to achieve greatness, it takes more courage to find fulfillment in being ordinary. For the joys that last have little relationship to achievement, to standing one step higher on the victory platform. What is the adventure in being ordinary? It is daring to love just for the pleasure of giving it away. It is venturing to give new life and to nurture it to maturity. It is working hard for the pure joy of being tired at the end of the day. It is caring and sharing and giving and loving…
Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.
To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind, and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is how I desire to waste wisely my days.
Though we can’t always see it at the time,
if we look upon events with some perspective,
we see things always happen for our best interests.
We are always being guided in a way
better than we know ourselves.
The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world… I have loved the feel of the grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side. The hum of the wind in the treetops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men. I am in love with this world…I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvest, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings.
It is better to light candles
than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
than to accuse the earth.
The world needs all of our power
and love and energy,
and each of us has something that we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it,
to find it and give it away.
So there will always be more.
We can be lights for each other,
and through each other’s illumination
we will see the way.
Each of us is a seed,
a silent promise,
and it is always spring.
How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway… And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness!
I used to sit on the banks with a raft and watch the water roll lazily by. One day I pushed my raft into the shallows of the water and found the water moved swifter than I thought. My raft was actually a boat. Then, after some time, I rowed my little boat into deeper water. There were great storms, mighty winds, tremendous waves, and sometimes I felt so alone. But I have noticed my little rowboat is now a mighty ship manned by my friends and loved ones; and beautiful calm seas, warm sunny days, and nights filled with comfortable dreams always double after a storm. Now, I could never go back and sit on the bank. In fact, I search for deeper water. Such is life when lived.
B. D. Gulledge
Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The lesson which life constantly repeats is to ‘look under your feet.’
You are always nearer to the divine and the true sources of your power than you think.
The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.
The great opportunity is where you are.
Do not despise your own place and hour.
Every place is under the stars.
Every place is the center of the world.
John Burroughs, American Author and Naturalist
I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.
Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife. The first question was, ‘Did you bring joy?’ The second was, ‘Did you find joy?
Dr. Leo Buscaglia
We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful… and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things.
Take hold of your own life.
See that the whole existence is celebrating.
These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious.
The rivers and the oceans are wild,
and everywhere there is fun,
everywhere there is joy and delight.
listen to the existence and become part of it.
I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see and pursuing that vision.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jalal ad-Din Rumi
It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
Life is a process of continual discovery, and our surroundings should bear witness to the search. The best
discoveries are those that are unique and exciting, with elements of the familiar and comforting. The same can be said for style, which can’t be obtained by simply following a prescription. Good style is ultimately a found style – stumbled upon, discovered and collected over time. It is easier to hire a designer, choose to be either shocking or conservative, to use massive clutter or leave rooms nearly empty for effect. But homes that feature a true sense of style are most often those that have been lovingly assembled over time, piece by piece, matching old and new with creativity, common sense, thriftiness, and occasional humor.
Daivd & Amy Butler
Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to this moment, to come to this day. This moment – this day – is as good as any moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day – each moment of this day – a heaven on earth. This is my day of opportunity.
Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.
O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on,
To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports,
A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship, full of rich words — full of joys.
Art should make you interested in life, not in art. Art is a by-product of living.
Art, then, is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent.
Believing in yourself is not just for you; it’s for every person who has touched your life in a significant way and for every person your life will touch the same way five minutes from now, or five centuries from now.
People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.
Language does have the power to change reality. Therefore, treat your words as the mighty instruments they are – to heal, to bring into being, to remove, as if by magic, the terrible violations of childhood, to nurture, to cherish, to bless, to forgive – to create from the whole cloth of your soul, true love.
Daphne Rose Kingma
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
Time, which is so often an enemy in life, can also become our ally if we see how a pale moment can lead to a glowing moment, and then turn to a moment of perfect transparency, before dropping again to a moment of everyday simplicity.
The moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
William Murray, mountaineer
We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are… Men do not really live for honors or for pay; their gladness is not the taking and holding, but in doing, the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things but more to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honors it may bring, but for the life itself.
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy
Peace is more then just the absence of war. People everywhere seek an inner peace that comes from the human rights to voice their views, choose their leaders, feed their families and raise healthy children.
Behind all creation is silence. Silence is the essential condition, the vital ingredient for all creation and all that is created. It is a power in its own right. The artist starts with a blank canvas-silence. The composer places it between and behind the notes. The very ground of your being, out of which comes all your thoughts, is silence. The way to silence is through meditation. When you arrive in your own silence, you will know true freedom and real power. Stop, take a minute, and listen to the silence within you today. Then be aware of what disturbs you inner silence. It could be negative thought, memories or sensations. And when you are aware, you will know what is draining your creative power, and you will know what needs to change….on the inside.
Over this brave small road, the wind blows. Tree and bush are left behind, only stone and moss grow here. Nobody has anthing to look for here, nobody here owns anything, up here the farmer has neighter hay nor wood. But the distance beckons, longing awakens, and through rocks and swamp, snow, they have provided this good little road, which leads to other valleys, other houses, to other languages and other men…..
But I smile, and not only with my mouth. I smile with my soul, with my eyes, with my whole skin, and I offer these countrysides, whose fragrances drift up to me, different senses than those I had before, more delicate, more silent, more finely honed, better practiced, and more grateful. Everything belongs to me more than ever before, it speaks to me more richly and with hundreds of nuances. My yearning no longer paints dreamy colors across the veiled distances, my eyes are satisfied with what exists, because they have learned to see. The world has become lovelier than before.
The world has become lovlier. I am alone, and I don’t suffer from my lonliness. I don’t want life to be anything other than what it is. I am ready to let myself be baked in the sun till i am done. I am eager to ripen. I am ready to die. ready to be born again.
The wold has become lovelier.
Herman Hesse (from Wandering)
This bright, new day… complete with 24 hours of opportunities, choices, and attitudes… a perfectly matched set of 1440 minutes.This unique gift, this one day, cannot be exchanged, replaced or refunded. Handle with care. Make the most of it. There is only one to a customer.
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
Louise Erdrich, Original Fire
The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
Robert Louis Stevenson
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man
who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while
so that his place shall never be
with those timid souls
who know neither victory or defeat.
Art – and life – is about improvisation, discovery and awe. It is about leaning over the edge and staring deep into the abyss. It’s about staring into our own inadequacies and, just as we think we might come up short, finding the answer that we need was there all the time. As we create we not only reveal Reality, we reveal ourselves.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
To live ordinary life artfully is to have this sensibility about the things in daily life, to live more intuitively and to be willing to surrender a measure of our rationality and control in return for gifts of the soul.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
If you don’t find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.
Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question,’Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of all the reins’.
Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
I confess that I consider life to be a thing of the most untouchable deliciousness, and that even the confluence of so many disasters and deprivations, the exposure of countless fates, everything that insurmountably increased for us over the past few years to become a still rising terror cannot distract me from the fullness and goodness of existence that is inclined toward us. There would be little sense in approaching you with good wishes if each wish were not preceded by this conviction that the goods of life arise pure, undamaged, and, at their very bottom, desirable out of upheaval and ruin.
Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.
There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it! It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
..but the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly
clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There
is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in
the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I
wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how
they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I
had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath,
book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the
getting it done a little less.
Our lives are a flood of images and we are collectors who keep a strange assortment of images: moments of extreme emotion, pain, beauty, and fear stand out. Events we’re taught to remember: weddings, graduations, births, deaths. Then there are the millions of images that we can’t shake out of our heads, that come to us at strange times – things we can’t remember why we remember: the gold threads in an old stereo speaker, the way the light hit a thousand cars in a parking lot by the water, the face of a stranger in a restaurant, a friend standing in a pool – you can’t remember where, slapping the water with the flat of her hand. Memory is a sieve that holds curious things. A life is a trail of strange, colorful memories.