I don’t know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion.
Zona Gale, b. Aug 26, 1874
Great minds that are healthy are never considered geniuses, while this sublime qualification is lavished on brains that are often inferior but are slightly touched by madness.
Guy de Maupassant, (b) Aug. 5, 1850
There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.
from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird … So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.
Richard P. Feynman
We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif — books in piles on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are the boxes waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books. They are a sort of insulation, soundproofing some walls. They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables. The quantities and types of books are fluid, arriving like hysterical cousins in overnight shipping envelopes only to languish near the overflowing mail bench. Advance Reading Copies collect at beside, to be dutifully examined — to ignore them and read Henry James or Barbara Pym instead becomes a guilty pleasure. I can’t imagine home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you’d longed to fall asleep reading The Aspern Papers, and there it is.
I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.
Norma Jean Mortenson
If you look at a testimony of love from 2,000 years ago it can still exactly speak to you, whereas medical advice from only 100 years ago is ridiculous.
Jennifer Michael Hecht
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; 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 daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910
It is harrowing for me to try to teach 20-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise.
[W]ith a great moral issue involved, neutrality does not serve righteousness; for to be neutral between right and wrong is to serve wrong.
Theodore Roosevelt – February 22, 1915
“Growing up in a place that has winter, you learn to avoid self-pity. Winter is not a personal experience, everybody else is just as cold as you, so you shouldn’t complain about it too much. You learn this as a kid, coming home crying from the cold, and Mother looks down and says, ‘It’s only a little frostbite. You’re okay.’ And thus you learn to be okay. What’s done is done. Get over it. Drink your coffee. It’s not the best you’ll ever get but it’s good enough.”
We are as happy as people can be, without making themselves ridiculous, and might be even happier; but, as a matter of taste, we choose to stop short at this point.
When you’re curious, you find a lot of interesting things to do.
In the final analysis, the progress of our civilization will be retarded if any large body of citizens falls behind. Without the help of thousands of others, any one of us would die, naked and starved.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Get action. Do things. Be sane.
Don’t fritter away your time. Create. Act.
Take a place wherever you are and be somebody.
Theodore Roosevelt, The Roosevelts
Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.
What has happened to us in this country? If we study our own history we find that we have always been ready to receive the unfortunates from other countries, and though this may seem a generous gesture on our part, we have profited a thousandfold by what they have brought us.
Eleanor Roosevelt – 1939
It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.”
“Most men are a little better than their circumstances give them a chance to be.”