Before you delve any further: This is an older post, so I feel compelled to explain a few things. One, it’s nowhere near my birthday, so there’s no need to express congratulations over milestones or pity over my decay, unless you’re feeling really festive. Two, the bit about my having the flu seems discordant (and insensitive) these days, but that section was scribbled before the stunning madness of Covid. Three, there’s something soulfully satisfying about discovering a passage that really speaks to you, especially when those words come from a source you didn’t expect. And that’s the real focus of this collection. Enjoy.
I’m a tad late with this, but (cue minimalist fanfare) here’s my annual birthday post, based on a budding tradition that originally wasn’t meant to be a tradition. It just worked out that way.
It all started with 50/50, some thoughts I shared as I hit the mid-century mark in 2015. I re-posted this one in 2017 (big surprise, right?) so you may have already seen it, but if you haven’t, it would be swell if you’d give it a gander. It’s still my favorite in this series.
The following year, on a whim, I decided to stick with that vague “the numbers in the title reflect my age and a total of one hundred”, a completely extraneous concept that seemed fitting for Bonnywood. This resulted in “51 Things About 49 Movies”, highlighting specific scenes that stayed with me. The next year had me unleashing “52 Lines from 48 Songs”, a collection of lyric snippets that were great inspirations at the time, and many of them still are.
2018 was a bit fubar when it came to my birthday post. Just as I was scribbling away on last year’s compilation (it concerned favorite books, for those who are curious), I was felled by a particularly obnoxious bout of flu, a near-death experience which resulted in a no-show come The Posting Day. I apologized (I’m always apologizing, have you noticed?) and promised to finish the bit soon. I never did. Perhaps, in the distant future, when my writings have been donated to the University of Lost Souls, there will be a small plaque in the archives indicating where “The Lost Manuscript” would be, had I been a more responsible curator of words. Or maybe not.
All of which brings us to this year, as we fumble our way into 2019. For this particular clam bake, we’ll be looking at certain quotations that have stuck with me, for a variety of reasons, some of them exceedingly personal and of no particular use to anyone else. Then again, one of the best ways to see what makes a certain writer click is to see what he’s been clicking.
Note: I have shared many of these quotes over the years at Bonnywood, so there might be a whiff of familiarity here and there. These are by no means my ultimate-fave quotes, but rather some interesting things that interesting people have said as we all shuffled toward wherever we are going.
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” – Robert Frost
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali
“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice that it always coincides with their own desires.” – Susan B. Anthony
“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” – Marie Antoinette (or perhaps her dressmaker said this; there is some debate.)
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.” – Shirley Jackson
“I learned compassion from being discriminated against. Everything bad that’s ever happened to me has taught me compassion.” – Ellen DeGeneres
“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” – Richard Avedon
“Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone.” – Mary Astor
“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” – Fred Astaire
“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
“Listening is being able to be changed by the other person.” – Alan Alda
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.” – Zora Neale Hurston
“Never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.” – Rod Serling
“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, then we don’t believe in it at all.” – Noam Chomsky
“Nothing that you do will ever feel good if you let people convince you that you have no choice.” – Fiona Apple
“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood
“This is the very perfection of man, to find out his own imperfections.” – Saint Augustine
“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” – W. H. Auden
“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” – Jane Austen
“The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.” – Tom Waits
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” – Allen Ginsberg
“When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing one another.” – Alan Alda
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” – Douglas Adams
“All that we are not stares back at what we are.” – W.H. Auden
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” – Jane Austen
“He that is jealous is not in love.” – Saint Augustine
“The worst enemy women have is in the pulpit.” – Susan B. Anthony
“It’s not good to make sentimental journeys. You see the differences instead of the sameness.” – Mary Astor
“War is what happens when language fails.” – Margaret Atwood
“Flying is learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” – Douglas Adams
“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler
“You can only perceive real beauty in a person as they get older.” – Anouk Aimee
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov
“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” – Frank Herbert, Dune
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” – George Bernard Shaw
“My life is full of drama, and I don’t have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like.” – Adele
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” – John Barrymore
“The things that we love tell us what we are.” – Thomas Aquinas
“The older you get, the more you realize how happenstance… has helped to determine your path through life.” – Rowan Atkinson
“The mere attempt to examine my own confusion would consume volumes.” – James Agee
“Everybody needs that one person that takes you to the right place to see all the positives in your life.” – Christina Aguilera
“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” – Francis of Assisi
“Life is too short to spend hoping that the perfectly arched eyebrow or hottest new lip shade will mask an ugly heart.” – Kevyn Aucoin
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” – John James Audubon
“Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.” – Diane Arbus
“Life sometimes gets in the way of writing.” – Jean M. Auel
“I’m not like a poker player. I’m not into bluff. My way is to look someone in the eye and tell them the way I’m intending to go. My cards are always on the table.” – Tori Amos
“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Literature is air, and I’m suffering in mediocrity.” – Armand Assante
“The quest for riches darkens the sense of right and wrong.” – Antiphanes
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Previously published. No changes made, other than the updated intro.
Categories: The Journey