I really loved Jeanette Leblanc’s post, 10 Inspirational Quotes for Writers and Lovers and Speakers of Truth. The first time I read it, I marveled at the powerful passages she chose, and I’ve returned to the post several times since. It’s no secret that I too love quotations. I’ve written many times about that passion here, and wondered what mysterious alchemy causes certain lines and snippets of poetry to rise to my mind at specific times. I’m sure there’s some deep reason behind that, but I haven’t yet discerned its pattern. I’ve also noted the particular poets and lines that live on the walls in my office, where I spend most of my time, and within my skull, where I spend all of my life. I even share a favorite passage once a week, on Fridays.
It’s impossible for me to choose favorite passages. So I decided instead I’d share the first ones that come to mind. Here are a few of those most familiar, well-worn, and oft-remembered words.
For when I lose touch with what matters most in this world.
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
– Mary Oliver
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard
Ordinary life was laced with miracles, I knew that, had read enough poetry to understand that we are elevated with the knowing, and yet it was difficult to notice and be grateful when one was continually fatigued and irritated. I suppose that unquenchable sense of wonder is what separates us dolts from the saints and the poets. This was the lesson, perhaps, that I was sent to learn: the old life was worth having at any expense. – Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World
For when I feel lost.
There is no such thing as a complete lack of order, only a design so vast it appears unrepetitive up close. – Louise Erdrich, The Bingo Palace
Life gives us what we need when we need it. Receiving what it gives us a whole other thing. – Pam Houston, Cowboys Are My Weakness
It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
We have come to our real work.
And when we no longer know which way to go,
We have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
– Wendell Berry
For when I cannot put anything into words.
There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, love within which all other love finds speech. This love is silent. – T. S. Eliot
Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep. – Felix Frankfurter
For when life brings me to my knees.
In this moment there is life and food for future years. – William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. – James Baldwin
When I need to release my grip.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
What are your favorite words, and which do you think of most often?