Quotable Quotes

Crepe Myrtle Trees in Raleigh, NC


(Today’s picture has nothing to do with the bulk of this entry.)

I traveled to Raleigh a few weekends ago to hang out with my brother. Later this year he and his wife plan to relocate to the area of St. Augustine Beach, so I figured I’d better get in a last summertime visit.   The Crepe Myrtles were in glorious bloom all over town!  I took this picture during a walk around the neighborhood.  They were really quite something to see, especially when a whole bunch of them were lined up in a row.

So now, I present a few of my favorite quotes and some thoughts on what they mean to me –

Several weeks ago, I was reading a recent edition of The Week magazine and came across a quote by author Annie Dillard:

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

I thought about this and thought more about it, and was very struck by the powerful simplicity of this statement. I wrote it on a card and pinned it to our kitchen bulletin board where I can see it every day and be reminded of the fact that whatever it is I’m doing, for a day or for an hour, I am in fact spending my life.

One thing about reading an interesting quote from a famous person is that, unless you were there when they said it or unless you have some background information, occasionally you have to interpret what they meant. In this case, I don’t think that’s too hard!

I’ve often talked about the danger of “living on someday isle.” You know – someday I’ll do this or someday I’ll do that. Before long lots of time has flown by and you’re still living on “Someday Isle.”

I think what Annie Dillard is telling us is just that this is no rehearsal – this is it. It’s all happening now man!  I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with doing a crossword puzzle or watching some TV, or just sitting and looking off into space.  Go ahead and do that as long as you understand that you are spending your life.  The sand is flowing through the hourglass and there is no pause button.

With my life more than half over, I am personally trying to keep this in mind. I recognize that I still have to clean the litterbox, mow the lawn, do the dishes, and wait in line at the store, but I am going to try!

Here is another one that I heard the guest say during an episode of Fresh Air with Terry Gross some years ago. I was driving at the time and so some of the details are sketchy. I am pretty sure the guest was journalist Mike Wallace, and I hope I can do justice to his quote. I think this is close:

“I’ve finally reached the age where those times that I remember most clearly never happened at all.”

I’ve just always loved this one so much, though I wish I could recall more about the context. I do recall that he said it as a humorous thing. My recollection is that he was illustrating how we idealize our memories.  We remember that perfect day that we went horseback riding on the farm, but the forgiving fog of time helps us to forget that we actually had a big fight with our sibling on that day.  And that it was raining. Or that it really was a crummy day.  We just want to idealize that memory.  So we cleave to the memory of horseback riding on a perfect sunny day.

Somewhere I have a pile of cartoons that I’ve cut out over the years. One of my favorites speaks to this quote.  Two men are in rocking chairs on a farmhouse porch, looking out at the field on a summer day.  One of them says “This is one of those perfect summer days when I’m flooded with wonderful memories of things I’ve never done.”

Who doesn’t (want to) have memories of a lemonade in a rocking chair on the porch?

Though it pains me to validate the existence of Kanye West in any way, I did read a great quote from him recently, also in The Week magazine.

“People always tell you, ‘Be humble. Be humble.’  When was the last time someone told you to be amazing?” 

I think he’s got a good point, never mind that he is the poster child for someone who should be more humble!


I’ll leave you with one that I have printed on a card stuck to the front of my main computer screen. I believe it is from Confucius.  I read it every day and I believe it has helped me.

“Remember the wise teacher – the one that speaks from the silence within us.”

Enjoy your mid-July!


The working stiff

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