10 June, 2010

Shared Wisdom

There are days when I open my reader in the morning to find that there are several people writing about a similar topic.  Sometimes it is about happiness while other times it is about dating… and still others everyone is on a different topic entirely.  Earlier this week, however, there were a few posts noting the writer’s favorite quotations- Ten Quotes I Love and Twenty-Five Quotes.

The idea of noting the words of another is not something I created.  I remember citing work in high school, pulling direct quotes from the works of others to illustrate or even promote my arguments. 

My Master’s thesis used quotes from The Profit to introduce each chapter – not furthering an argument but illustrating the underlying thesis of the work – that we each have a role to play in inter country relations… just as we each play a part in our person-to-person relationships.  My thesis attempted to illustrate this in a subtle way as there is a sense, on many scales, that one party is responsible for the situation while the other has no role.  But, just as in creating a child, it takes two to tango – and in international relations and personal relationships… it takes at least two with everyone playing a part.

You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked;

For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together.

And when the black thread breaks, the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the whole loom also.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

After completing that work, I didn’t use quotations much in my writing personally or professionally… until last summer.  I found myself searching out the thoughts and statements of others to illustrate my own feelings and possibly to frame thoughts that I couldn’t at the time. 

It is interesting how the thoughts and ideas of others can come to play a role in our lives. 

I am continually returning to a poem I read decades ago in which the author notes:

After a While

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman
Not the grief of a child

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every good bye you learn.

Veronica A. Shoffstall

This came to mind as I traveled through college, worked with the different people and children in Europe, and then returned to a life that unfolded in ways I couldn’t have planned if I had tried.  It came back to me late last year… and this past weekend as I planted my own flowers after neglecting my garden throughout last summer. 

The words of others…

I wonder if anyone ever realizes the impact that their words could have on people throughout the world weeks, decades, or even centuries after they are first stated?

Often as not, I now find myself drawn to quotations to illustrate a work or as a muse or a way of adding something.  I find a gem of wisdom in the words of others.  They are often treasures that spark a smile or hit my heart right… there.  And sometimes I just have to share them. 

Here are a few of the thoughts of others that have touched my life lately – please share some of your own, today, tomorrow, or anytime. 


I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about.  But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back. 

Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

Grown-ups love figures.  When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters.  They never say to you, "What does his voice sound like?  What games does he love best?  Does he collect butterflies?" Instead, they demand:  "How old is he?  How many brothers has he?  How much does he weigh?  How much money does his father make?"  Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French

“The important thing is this:  To beThe way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Three things can not be long hidden, the sun, the moon, and the truth..”


Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play--it--safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.

Cecil Beaton

Character is what you do when no one is looking

-Attributed to several different people

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him.


You can't deny laughter; when it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants. 

Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis



Wilma Ham said...

Hi TE, I too loved your poem. I do agree that other people's words can so describe what you want but can't articulate. That is a gift which I like to receive.
One of the quotes I really like is from Humberto Maturana; "love is the only emotion that expands intelligence."
I chew on quotes, taste them, turn them and get to love them.
xox Wilma

Davina said...

Other people's words help to stir the pot. What's neat is that a word is a word but we can mix em up and get something completely different. Just like when we read certain quotes (the same quotes, even) we get something different from them every time. Sometimes it gets tiring seeing the same quotes repeated over and over again on Twitter, though.

Sara said...

I loved the poem and all the quotes. I really like quotes and often will save favorite in my aptly named "Quotes" folder.

As humor is one of my top strengths, I particularly enjoy quotes about humor. Here's one of my favorites:

"Every survival kit should include a sense of humor." ~Author Unknown

Tess The Bold Life said...

I wrote my book Flying By The Seat Of My Soul in 2003. I just received an email from a woman who bought several copies and invited me to speak. Words are powerful and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my wisdom.