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Daily Quotes

December 31st, 2019
“That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
- Willa Cather, My Ántonia

December 30th, 2019
“I think that it is useless to fight directly against natural weaknesses…in the ordinary course of life one has to know these weaknesses, prudently take them into account, and strive to turn them to good purpose; for they are all capable of being put to some good purpose.”
- Simone Weil, Waiting For God

December 27th, 2019
“She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

December 26th, 2019
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way…To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion,--all in one.”
- John Ruskin, Modern Painters

December 25th, 2019
"I get so much comfort in thinking of our long friendship, and how it has grown so much stronger through the years, binding us all together. If I didn't have those things at the bottom of my heart I wouldn't get much out of blue seas or sunny lands."
- Willa Cather, Letters

December 24th, 2019
"I can recall in my childhood the continuous excitement of long days in which nothing happened; and an indescribable sense of fullness in large and empty rooms. And with whatever I retain of childishness…I still feel a very strong and positive pleasure in being stranded in queer quiet places, in neglected corners where nothing happens and anything may happen; in unfashionable hotels, in empty waiting-rooms, or in watering-places out of the season. It seems as if we needed such places, and sufficient solitude in them, to let certain nameless suggestions soak into us and make a richer soil of the unconscious."
- G. K. Chesterton, “On the Thrills of Boredom”

December 23rd, 2019
“You can never predict what little things in the way somebody looks or talks or acts will set off peculiar emotional reactions in other people.”
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to Be and Back Again)

December 20th, 2019
“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

December 19th, 2019
“The [hay] rack stood as if it had been there forever across the landscape and lit by the sun with its long shadow behind it, and in harmony with every fold of the field and finally turned into a mere form, a primordial form, even if that was not the word I used then, and it gave me huge pleasure just to look at it. I can still feel the same thing today when I see a hayrack in a photograph from a book, but all that is a thing of the past now…so the feeling of pleasure slips into the feeling that time has passed, that it is very long ago, and the sudden feeling of being old.”
- Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

December 18th, 2019
“Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”
- Seneca

December 17th, 2019
“Complete inactivity in the end has the same effect as prolonged overwork, in the mental sphere as much as in the life of the body and the muscles.”
- Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove

December 16th, 2019
“My laboratory is a place where the lights are always on. My laboratory has no windows, but it needs none. It is self-contained. It is its own world. My lab is both private and familiar, populated by a small number of people who know one another well. My lab is the place where I put my brain out on my fingers and I do things. My lab is a place where I move. I stand, walk, sit, fetch, carry, climb, and crawl. My lab is a place where it’s just as well that I can’t sleep, because there are so many things to do in the world besides that. My lab is a place where it matters if I get hurt. There are warnings and rules designed to protect me. I wear gloves, glasses, and closed-toed shoes to shield myself against disastrous mistakes. In my lab, whatever I need is greatly outbalanced by what I have. The drawers are packed full with items that might come in handy. Every object in my lab—no matter how small or misshapen—exists for a reason, even if its purpose has not yet been found.

“My lab is a place where my guilt over what I haven’t done is supplanted by all of the things that I am getting done. My uncalled parents, unpaid credit cards, unwashed dishes, and unshaved legs pale in comparison to the noble breakthrough under pursuit. My lab is a place where I can be the child that I still am. It is the place where I can play with my best friend.”
- Hope Jahren, Lab Girl

December 13th, 2019
“Pleasures that are in themselves innocent lose their power of pleasing if they become the sole or main object of pursuit.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

December 12th, 2019
“The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and you—beside—”
- Emily Dickinson

December 11th, 2019
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

December 10th, 2019
“One should not wish anyone disagreeable conditions of life; but for him who is involved in them by chance, they are touchstones of characters and of the most decisive value to man.”
- Goethe

December 9th, 2019
“But if a man has commonly a very clear and happy daily life then I think we are justified in asking that he shall not make mountains out of molehills. I do not deny that molehills can sometimes be important. Small annoyances have this evil about them, that they can be more abrupt because they are more invisible; they cast no shadow before, they have no atmosphere….But when all this is allowed for, I repeat that we may ask a happy man…to put up with pure inconveniences, and even make them part of his happiness. Of positive pain or positive poverty I do not here speak. I speak of those innumerable accidental limitations that are always falling across our path – bad weather, confinement to this or that house or room, failure of appointments or arrangements…”
- G.K. Chesterton, “The Advantages of Having One Leg.”

December 6th, 2019
"There should be at least a room, or some corner where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you. You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free, loosing all the fine strings and strands of tension that bind you, by sight, by sound, by thought, to the presence of other men....
"Once you have found such a place, be content with it, and do not be disturbed if a good reason takes you out of it. Love it, and return to it as soon as you can, and do not be too quick to change it for another."
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

December 5th, 2019
“It is in sickness that we are compelled to recognise that we do not live alone but are chained to a being from a different realm, from whom we are worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.”
- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

December 4th, 2019
"At such moments I don't think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: 'Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you're not part of it.' My advice is: 'Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy.'
“I don't think Mother's advice can be right, because what are you supposed to do if you become part of the suffering? You'd be completely lost. On the contrary, beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who's happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!"
- Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank, March 6, 1944

December 3rd, 2019
“The only cure [for envy] in the case of ordinary men and women is happiness, and the difficulty is that envy is itself a terrible obstacle to happiness.”
- Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

December 2nd, 2019
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

November 29th, 2019
“Whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.”
- Aristotle, Rhetoric

November 28th, 2019
“Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too. How fortunate we are to be food-consuming animals. Each meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.”
- Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea

November 27th, 2019
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
- Leo Tolstoy

November 26th, 2019
“Meanwhile, as we read, two little girls slept as if couched on zephyrs on the south side of the parlor floor, in a room that had bunny wallpaper…and a bookcase crammed with the collected Beatrix Potter. Snow White was in a youth bed and Rose Red was in a crib, and next to them was the little blue and white guest room that one of them would have one day. Because I recognize emotions only in retrospect, I didn’t know that I was happy. As always, there was something nagging at my mind’s corners. But I did know that I had all that it is proper in this world to wish for.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

November 25th, 2019
“’Safe! safe! safe!’ the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry ‘Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.’”
- Virginia Woolf, A Haunted House

November 22nd, 2019
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.
- Walt Whitman, from “Song of Myself, 16”

November 21st, 2019
“Wisdom has its excesses, and has no less need of moderation than folly.”
- Michel de Montaigne, “Upon Some Verses of Virgil,” The Essays of Montaigne

November 20th, 2019
“[Physicist Niels Bohr] never trusted a purely formal or mathematical argument. ‘No, no,’ he would say, ‘You are not thinking; you are just being logical.’”
- O.R. Frisch, What Little I Remember

November 19th, 2019
“On the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the Perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the Endeavor, a better and a happier Man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
- Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

November 18th, 2019
“The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it on the tight-rope.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

November 15th, 2019
“What so great happiness as to be beloved, and to know that we deserve to be beloved? What so great misery as to be hated, and to know that we deserve to be hated?”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

November 14th, 2019
“All knowledge is interesting to a wise man, and the knowledge of nature is interesting to all men.”
- Matthew Arnold

November 13th, 2019
“Of all the tasks which are set before man in life, the education and management of his character is the most important, and, in order that it should be successfully pursued, it is necessary that he should make a calm and careful survey of his own tendencies, unblinded either by the self-deception which conceals errors and magnifies excellences, or by the indiscriminate pessimism which refuses to recognize his powers for good. He must avoid the fatalism which would persuade him that he has no power over his nature, and he must also clearly recognize that this power is not unlimited.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

November 12th, 2019
“Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”
- Flannery O’Connor

November 11th, 2019
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
- Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

November 8th, 2019
“The important question is not, what will yield to man a few scattered pleasures, but what will render his life happy on the whole amount.”
- Joseph Addison

November 7th, 2019
“A little tap on the window-pane, as though something had struck it, followed by a plentiful light falling sound, as of grains of sand being sprinkled from a window overhead, gradually spreading, intensifying, acquiring a regular rhythm, becoming fluid, sonorous, musical, immeasurable, universal: it was the rain.”
- Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

November 6th, 2019
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

November 5th, 2019
“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior

November 4th, 2019
“How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.”
- William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

November 1st, 2019
“There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished…Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.”
- Eric Hoffer

October 31st, 2019
“The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before . . . but the Little House stayed just the same.”
- Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House

October 30th, 2019
“The work I have done has already been adequately rewarded and recognized. Imagination reaches out repeatedly trying to achieve some higher level of understanding, until suddenly I find myself momentarily alone before one new corner of nature’s pattern of beauty and true majesty revealed. That was my reward.”
- Richard Feynman, banquet speech at the Nobel Prize ceremonies, Stockholm, 1966

October 29th, 2019
“For me, the challenge of middle age was not to stand still.”
- Jon Katz, A Dog Year

October 28th, 2019
“One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts, once one knows of the necessary ingredients of happiness—simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain.”
- George Sand

October 25th, 2019
“One day when I was studying with Schoenberg, he pointed out the eraser on his pencil and said, ‘This end is more important than the other.’”
- John Cage, Silence

October 24th, 2019
“October is a fine and dangerous season in America. It is dry and cool and the land is wild with red and gold and crimson, and all the lassitudes of August have seeped out of your blood, and you are full of ambition. It is a wonderful time to begin anything at all.”
- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

October 23rd, 2019
“An eccentricity made a regular thing of ceases to provoke remark.”
- Sylvia Townsend Warner, “Winged Creatures” in Kingdoms of Elfin

October 22nd, 2019
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land…the only way to go to England is to go away from it.”
- G. K. Chesterton, “The Riddle of the Ivy,” Tremendous Trifles

October 21st, 2019
“Grownups! Everyone remembers them. How strange and even sad it is that we never become what they were: beings noble, infallible, and free. We never become them. One of the things we discover as we live is that we never become anything different from what we are. We are no less ourselves at forty than we were at four, and because of this we know grownups as Grownups only once in life: during our own childhood. We never meet them in our lives again, and we miss them always.”
- Elizabeth Enright, Doublefields, “The Walnut Shell”

October 18th, 2019
“The way in which people miss their opportunities is melancholy.”
- Elizabeth von Arnim, The Solitary Summer

October 17th, 2019
“I looked at the menu, then I looked at my wife. The one thing about her that I always loved was that she was never one of those people who thinks that someone else is the answer to their happiness. Me or anybody else. She’s always had her own built-in happiness.”
- Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

October 16th, 2019
“If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

October 15th, 2019
“You don’t become a painter, you just discover one day that you are one.”
- Yves Klein, quoted in Klein, by Hannah Weitemeier

October 14th, 2019
“Most men would rather please than admire you; they seek less to be instructed, and even to be amused, than to be praised and applauded; the most delicate of pleasures is to please another person.”
- Jean de La Bruyère, “Of Society and Conversation”, The Characters of Jean de La Bruyère

October 11th, 2019
“A change in the weather is sufficient to create the world and ourselves anew.”
- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

October 10th, 2019
“Humor is the antidote to overthinking. It’s a way of saying that life is paradoxical. Humor contains contradictions; it does not resolve them but revels in them. It says that the right way to exist among the contradictions, paradoxes, and absurdities of life is to cope with them through laughter.”
- Bob Mankoff, How About Never: Is Never Good For You?

October 9th, 2019
“Perhaps it is the simplest and most popular truths which are also the deepest after all.”
- Thomas Merton, Journal, November 20, 1952

October 8th, 2019
“Reflection is to colors what echo is to sounds.”
- Joubert, Pensees

October 7th, 2019
“I love repetition. Repetitions turn time into a place, turns the days into a house, where the repetitions form the walls, floor, and ceiling.”
- Karl Ove Knausgaard, Summer

October 4th, 2019
“Alexandra drew her shawl closer about her and stood leaning against the frame of the mill, looking at the stars which glittered so keenly through the frosty autumn air. She always loved to watch them, to think of their vastness and distance, and of their ordered march. It fortified her to reflect upon the great operations of nature, and when she thought of the law that lay behind them, she felt a sense of personal security.”
- Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

October 3rd, 2019
“Neither does the tree hold back its leaves but lets them flow open or glide away when the time is right.”
- Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life

October 2nd, 2019
[Of the French writer Colette] “She was both home-loving and adventurous…passionately attached to what she possessed and ready to risk or give it away at any moment.”
- Maurice Goudeket, Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius

October 1st, 2019
“I love a broad margin to my life.”
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

September 30th, 2019
“It is all a question of weeding out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises.”
- M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

September 27th, 2019
“What is far off may be more familiar to us than what is quite near.”
- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

September 26th, 2019
“The mind…is rarely so disturbed, but that the company of a friend will restore it to some degree of tranquility and sedateness.”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

September 25th, 2019
“Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it.”
- Twyla Tharp

September 24th, 2019
“No effort is required to define or even attain happiness, but enormous concentration is needed to abandon everything else.”
- Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant

September 23rd, 2019
“We followed a path in between the trees, and there, in the middle of the wood, stood an apple tree laden with apples. The children were as astonished as I was, apple trees are supposed to grow in gardens, not wild out in the forest. Can we eat them, they asked. I said yes, go ahead, take as many as you want. In a sudden glimpse, as full of joy as it was of sorrow, I understood what freedom is.”
- Karl Ove Knausgaard, Autumn

September 20th, 2019
“’Appearances are not held to be a clue to the truth,’ said his cousin. ‘But we seem to have no other.’”
- Ivy Compton-Burnett, Manservant and Maidservant

September 19th, 2019
“At these best moments a great humility fused with a great ambition: to be only what I was, but to the utmost of what I was.”
- Stephen Spender, World Within World

September 18th, 2019
“Would all, who cherish such wild wishes, but look around them, they would oftenest find their sphere of duty, of prosperity and happiness, within those precincts, and in that station where Providence itself has cast their lot. Happy they who read the riddle without a weary world-search, or a lifetime spent in vain!”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Threefold Destiny”

September 17th, 2019
“On a really clean tablecloth, the smallest speck of dirt annoys the eye. At high altitudes, a moment’s self-indulgence may mean death.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

September 16th, 2019
“This is suffering’s lesson: pay attention. The important part might come in a form you do not recognize.”
- Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds of Decay

September 13th, 2019
“We may, by fixing our attention almost fiercely on the facts actually before us, force them to turn into adventures; force them to give up their meaning and fulfill their mysterious purpose.”
- G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

September 12th, 2019
“Traveling makes one modest: one sees what a tiny place one occupies in the world.”
- The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857

September 11th, 2019
“Even in his most artificial creations, nature is the material upon which man has to work.”
- Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

September 10th, 2019
"It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility; they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it."
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

September 9th, 2019
“Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of all things?”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature,” Selected Essays, Lectures and Poems

September 6th, 2019
“A house in which there are no people—but with all the signs of tenancy—can be a most tranquil good place. People take up space in a house out of proportion to their size.”
- Muriel Spark, The Portobello Road

September 5th, 2019
“[There are] three possible ways to find meaning in life—even up to the last moment, the last breath…1) a deed we do, a work we create; 2) an experience, a human encounter, a love; and 3) when confronted with an unchangeable fate (such as an incurable disease), a change of attitude toward that fate.”
- Victor Frankl, Recollections

September 4th, 2019
“Most of us are experts at solving other people’s problems, but we generally solve them in terms of our own and the advice we give is seldom for other people but for ourselves.”
- Nan Fairbrother, The House in the Country

September 3rd, 2019
“Thinking about monastic ideals is not the same as living up to them, but at any rate such thinking has an important place in a monk’s life, because you cannot begin to do anything unless you have some idea what you are trying to do.”
- Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

September 2nd, 2019
“What we want out of a vacation changes as we age. It changes from vacation to vacation. There was a time when it was all about culture for me. My idea of a real break was to stay in museums until my legs ached and then go stand in line to get tickets for an opera or a play. Later I became a disciple of relaxation and looked for words like beach and massage when making my plans. I found those little paper umbrellas that balanced on the side of rum drinks to be deeply charming then. Now I strive for transcendent invisibility and the chance to accomplish the things I can’t get done at home. But as I pack up my room at the Hotel Bel-Air, I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”
- Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

August 30th, 2019
“I suppose the more you have to do, the more you learn to organise and concentrate—or else get fragmented into bits. I have learned to use my ‘ten minutes.’ I once thought it was not worth sitting down for a time as short as that; now I know differently and, if I have ten minutes, I use them, even if they bring only two lines, and it keeps the book alive.”
- Rumer Godden, A House with Four Rooms

August 29th, 2019
“It is not always in this world the people who bring us fine roses to whom we are most friendly.”
- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

August 28th, 2019
“I had wanted to come back to Greenwich Village ever since I had left Waverly Place, and since moving to West Eleventh Street, I have never lived anyplace else. I do not want to. That is not because of what the Village is but because of what I have made it, and what I have made it depends on who I am at the time.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

August 27th, 2019
“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist Part II

August 26th, 2019
“Forever—is composed of Nows—"
- Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson

August 23rd, 2019
“I didn’t entirely like this glossy new surface, because it made the school look like a museum, and that’s exactly what it was to me, and what I did not want it to be. In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left.”
- John Knowles, A Separate Peace

August 22nd, 2019
“Even paradise must have rules.”
- Mary Oliver, “Flow,” Long Life

August 21st, 2019
“The years from 7 to 13 seem to be particularly formative. We are young enough to be innocent and impressionable, yet old enough to think and feel deeply about what is happening to us.”
- Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Mr. Tibbits’s Catholic School

August 20th, 2019
“The desire of being believed, the desire of persuading, of leading, and directing other people, seems to be one of the strongest of all our natural desires.”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

August 19th, 2019
“Experience, contrary to popular belief, is mostly imagination.”
- Ruth Benedict

August 16th, 2019
“There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself…The fact is, a person is so formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.”
- Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building

August 15th, 2019
“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”
- Winston Churchill, “Hobbies”

August 14th, 2019
“To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations.”
- Emily Dickinson, letter

August 13th, 2019
“Is life so wretched? Isn’t it rather your hands which are too small, your vision which is muddied? You are the one who must grow up.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

August 12th, 2019
“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

August 9th, 2019
“To be driven by our appetites alone is slavery, while to obey a law that we have imposed on ourselves is freedom.”
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

August 8th, 2019
“We are interested in others, when they are interested in us.”
- Publius Syrus

August 7th, 2019
“One does not play Bach without having done scales. But neither does one play a scale merely for the sake of the scale.”
- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

August 6th, 2019
“Read at whim! Read at whim!”
- Randall Jarrell

August 5th, 2019
“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Social Aims” in The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

August 2nd, 2019
“How often the prospect of future happiness is thus sacrificed to one’s impatient insistence upon an immediate gratification!”
- Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

August 1st, 2019
“In 1970 I felt so lonely that I could not give; now I feel so joyful that giving seems easy. I hope that the day will come when the memory of my present joy will give me the strength to keep giving even when loneliness gnaws at my heart.”
- Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary

July 31st, 2019
“It is much easier to extinguish a first desire than to satisfy all of those that follow it.”
- La Rochefoucauld

July 30th, 2019
“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.”
- M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

July 29th, 2019
“There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing.”
- Mary McCarthy, “The Vita Activa”, The New Yorker, October 18, 1958

July 26th, 2019
“Most people take action by habit in small things more often than in important things.”
- Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life

July 25th, 2019
“Always, as one arrives, here is the old acceleration of the pulse—the mountainous gray skyline glimpsed from the Triboro Bridge, the cheerful games of basketball and handball being played on the recreational asphalt beside the FDR Drive, the startling, steamy, rain-splotched intimacy of the side streets where one’s taxi slows to a crawl, the careless flung beauty of the pedestrians clumped at the street corners. So many faces, costumes, packages, errands! So many preoccupations, hopes, passions, lives in progress!”
- John Updike, “Is New York City Inhabitable?”

July 24th, 2019
“One of the consolations of old age is the intense pleasure I now get from nature. It seems that in youth I was too busy confronting life and experience to stand still and gaze.”
- P. D. James, Time to Be in Earnest

July 23rd, 2019
“We love the things we love for what they are.”
- Robert Frost, “Hyla Brook”

July 22nd, 2019
“Habit is, of all the plants of human growth, the one that has least need of nutritious soil in order to live.”
- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

July 19th, 2019
“Action and feeling go together…by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling.”
- William James, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals

July 18th, 2019
“Sometimes deliberate people look for their island and conquer it, and sometimes the dream of the island can be a passive symbol for what is one step beyond reach. The island—at last, privacy, remoteness, intimacy, a rounded whole without bridges or fences.”
- Tove Jansson, “The Island,” The Paris Review

July 17th, 2019
“Like the bee, we distill poison from honey for our self-defense—what happens to the bee if it uses its sting is well known.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

July 16th, 2019
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
- e.e. cummings, “maggie and milly and molly and may”

July 15th, 2019
“Everyone knows the power of things: life is solidified in them, more immediately present than in any of its instants.”
- Simone de Beauvoir, A Very Easy Death

July 12th, 2019
“The constant remaking of order out of chaos is what life is all about, even in the simplest domestic chores such as clearing the table and washing the dishes after a meal…but when it comes to the inner world, the world of feeling and thinking, many people leave the dishes unwashed for weeks so no wonder they feel ill and exhausted.”
- May Sarton, Recovering

July 11th, 2019
“It has been well observed, that the misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continuously repeated.”
- Samuel Johnson, “Pope,” in Selected Writings

July 10th, 2019
“Pessimism like calumny is easy to do, and attracts immediate attention. The gossiper and the writer may find this out soon enough, and a little encouragement from the current mood will procure them successes that bring endless imitators in their trail. On the other hand saying good things about life in general and individuals in particular and making it interesting is a serious task which few can achieve with credit."
- Bernard Berenson, Sunset and Twilight

July 9th, 2019
“The fact is, that, of all God’s gifts to the sight of man, colour is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn…The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
- John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

July 8th, 2019
“For whatever reason, the heart cannot separate the world’s appearance and actions from morality and valor, and the power of every idea is intensified, if not actually created, by its expression in substance. Over and over in the butterfly we see the idea of transcendence. In the forest we see not the inert but the aspiring. In water that departs forever and forever returns, we experience eternity.”
- Mary Oliver, “Wordsworth’s Mountain,” Long Life

July 3rd, 2019
"Happiness and misery are not absolute but depend on the direction in which you are tending and consist in a progression towards better or worse."
- Samuel Butler, The Note-books of Samuel Butler

July 2nd, 2019
“Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place,
not for another hour, but this hour…”
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

July 1st, 2019
“Most of our faculties lie dormant because they can rely upon Habit, which knows what there is to be done and has no need of their services. But on this morning of travel, the interruption of the routine of my existence, the unfamiliar place and time, had made their presence indispensable. My habits…for once were missing, and all my faculties came hurrying to take their place.”
- Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove

June 28th, 2019
“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

June 27th, 2019
Who goes to dine must take his Feast
Or find the Banquet mean –
The Table is not laid without
Till it is laid within.
- Emily Dickinson, “Who goes to dine must take his Feast”

June 26th, 2019
“It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.”
- Franz Kafka, The Zurau Aphorisms

June 25th, 2019
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
- William Shakespeare, Hamlet

June 24th, 2019
“Sometimes something can look beautiful just because it’s different in some way from the other things around it. One red petunia in a window box will look very beautiful if all the rest of them are white, and vice-versa.”
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again

June 21st, 2019
“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

June 20th, 2019
“You increase your self-respect when you feel you’ve done everything you ought to have done, and if there is nothing else to enjoy, there remains that chief of pleasures, the feeling of being pleased with oneself. A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”
- Eugene Delacroix, Journal

June 19th, 2019
“Some people just shouldn’t be disturbed in their inclinations, whether large or small. A reminder can instantly turn enthusiasm into aversion and spoil everything.”
- Tove Jansson, Fair Play

June 18th, 2019
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good: Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood, Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
- William Wordsworth, Personal Talk

June 17th, 2019
“We try to discover in things…the reflection of what our soul has projected on to them; we are disillusioned when we find that they are in reality devoid of the charm which they owed, in our minds, to the association of certain ideas.”
- Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

June 14th, 2019
“With what pleasure do we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign mutual love and esteem, where the parents and children are companions for one another, without any other difference than what is made by respectful affection on the one side, and kind indulgence on the other, . . .”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

June 13th, 2019
“Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what may be called a friendly interest in persons and things.”
- Bertrand Russell

June 12th, 2019
“I suppose every one has a mental picture of the days of the week, some seeing them as a circle, some as an endless line…Mine is a wavy line proceeding to infinity, dipping to Wednesday which is the colour of old silver dark with polishing and rising again to a pale gold Sunday.”
- Angela Thirkell, Three Houses

June 11th, 2019
“Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.”
- George Santayana

June 10th, 2019
“Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what is in our minds already…What do we ever get nowadays from reading to equal the excitement and the revelation in those first fourteen years?”
- Graham Greene, The Lost Childhood

June 7th, 2019
“A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.”
- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

June 6th, 2019
“Years later I figured out why he [Ivan Karp] was such a successful art dealer--this may sound strange, but I believe it was because art was his second love. He seemed to love literature more, and he put the serious side of his nature into that…Some people are even better at their second love than their first, maybe because when they care too much, it freezes them, but knowing there’s something they’d rather be doing gives them a certain freedom.”
- Andy Warhol, POPism

June 5th, 2019
“In the shapeliness of a life, habit plays its sovereign role.”
- Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life

June 4th, 2019
“I sometimes think how much the shaping of a destiny and the binding of a couple together depend on successful meetings and the avoidance of snares. A door which one thought was closed, a watch that is slow, a false step, a traffic jam, a sleeping car available…and your fate is settled…We walk across a cemetery of happiness missed for lack of a word, a gesture, an airy bubble; and how many people, meant for each other, have passed each other by in the fog?”
- Maurice Goudeket, Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius

June 3rd, 2019
“The sacrifice of pleasures is of course itself a pleasure.”
- Muriel Spark, Loitering With Intent

May 31st, 2019
“Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.”
- W.H. Sheldon

May 30th, 2019
“And the eighth and ninth, the tenth, eleventh, twelfth trips? What have they to do with me, the gastronomical me? What sea changes were there, to make me richer, stranger? I grew older with each one, like every other wanderer. My hungers altered: I knew better what and how to eat, just as I knew better how I loved other people, and even why.”
- M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

May 29th, 2019
“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

May 28th, 2019
“Out of date, perhaps, but who wasn’t these days? Out of date, but loyal to his own time. At a certain moment, after all, every man chooses: will he go forward, will he go back? There was nothing dishonorable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one’s own generation.”
- John Le Carre,

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