James Thurber, Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated
“The thing about growing older, dear,” she once told me, “is that you don’t ever stop being the age you were, you just add each new age to it. So I never envy the young, because I’m still twenty years old myself, and thirty, and forty, and so on. By the time you’re my age, you have so many selves to be, and draw upon, and enjoy, that I can only feel compassion for young people, who still have so very few.”
Terri Windling, “Thoughts upon a mid-fifties birthday…..” Myth & Moor, 3 Dec. 2013.
It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily—it helps.
Kate Bartolotta, “How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps.” Be You Media Group, 7 Sept. 2013.
Let a life-threatening crisis arise, and small kindnesses such as an encouraging word, the touch of a hand on the shoulder, or just the presence of another person suddenly take on a depth of significance heretofore unimagined. Even the bravest among us, the most self-reliant, experience an inner strengthening from such human contact. The circumstances may still be just as grim, but somehow they don’t seem as dark or foreboding. Therefore when the storms of life come crashing in, the first thing we need to do is ask for help. Remember it is not weakness but wisdom that causes us to seek the help of others rather than trying to go it alone.
Richard Exley, Strength for the Storm: Finding God in Every Crisis
Of course, by now I’ve also made friends with Giovanni and Dario, my Tandem Language Exchange fantasy twins. Giovanni’s sweetness, in my opinion, makes him a national treasure of Italy. He endeared himself to me forever the first night we met, when I was getting frustrated with my inability to find the words I wanted in Italian, and he put his hand on my arm and said, “Liz, you must be very polite with yourself when you are learning something new.”
“But, Nora told me, do not forget that the day that ends at nightfall is given back to you on the morrow. You get it back. And you keep getting it back, so it is up to you to decide what you will do with it.”
Susan Meissner, The Girl in the Glass: A Novel
Astronomy teaches patience and humility—and you had better be prepared to learn them. Not everything will work the first time. You’ll hunt for some wonder in the depths and miss it, and hunt again, and miss it again. This is normal. But eventually, with increasing knowledge, you will succeed.
There’s nothing you can do about the clouds that move in to block your view, the extreme distance and faintness of the objects of your desire, or the special event that you missed because you got all set up one minute late. The universe will not bend to your wishes; you must take it on its own terms.
Alan MacRobert, “How to Start Right in Backyard Astronomy.” Sky & Telescope, 1 Aug. 2006.
I did finally have my rabbinical moment in Britain. After the jet lag was over, I was interviewed onstage by a woman with a plummy, fluting accent. “So,” she trilled, “you’ve been wounded by humanity and fled to the landscape for refuge.” The implication was clear: I was an exceptionally sorry specimen on display, an outlier in the herd. I turned to the audience and asked, “Have any of you ever been wounded by humanity?” They laughed with me; in that moment, we knew that we were all weird, all in this together, and that addressing our own suffering, while learning not to inflict it on others, is part of the work we’re all here to do. So is love, which comes in so many forms and can be directed at so many things. There are many questions in life worth asking, but perhaps if we’re wise we can understand that not every question needs an answer.
Rebecca Solnit, “The Mother of All Questions.” Harper’s Magazine, October 2015.