It is not necessary always to speak of weighty matters. Sometimes there is more value to be had in a conversation that centers on pointless trivia. It seems to me, from reflecting on these anecdotes about Dr. Johnson, that it is better for our well-being to seek out associates who have something pleasant and constructive to say for themselves, rather than spend our time with those who are branded with perpetual scowls. There is no need to pass judgment on all things, or pronounce a verdict on every question. There is wisdom in levity, and longevity in lightheartedness. Cant has its uses; so let us use it in good health.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
” … Weapons and provisions are illusions, and do not make a man or a people strong: only strong character can do this. Yet hardship has a way of raising up men of good character to leadership positions. During times of peace and quiescence, men of great character and leadership ability are often passed over or hidden away. Their talents and abilities are rarely appreciated by those who know only comfort and security. When we neglect men of talent, character, and masculine virtue, and exalt the incapable, the corrupt, the venal, and the incompetent, we put our very security at risk. But in times of crisis, everything can change. The situation selects the man; and the man masters the situation through force of will.”
– Quintus Curtius
“If I am not in the state of grace, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.”
– Joan of Arc
“She was here on earth to make sense of its wild enchantments.”
― Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago
“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.”
– John O’Donohue
“You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.”
― John O’Donohue
“For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother”
― Homer, The Odyssey
“For I have heard that most of that which bears the name of learning, and which has abused such quantities of ink and paper, and continually employs so many ignorant unhappy souls for ten, twelve, twenty years in the university (who yet, poor wretches, think they are doing something all the while ) – as logic, etc., and several other things (that shall be nameless lest I should misspell them) – are much more absolutely nothing than the errantest play that e’er was writ.”
– Aphra Behn
“I believe you!’ the artiste exclaimed finally and extinguishes his gaze. ‘I do! These eyes are not lying! How many times have I told you that your basic error consists in underestimating the significance of the human eye. Understand that the tongue can conceal the truth, but the eyes – never! A sudden question is put to you, you don’t even flinch, in one second you get hold of yourself and know what you must say to conceal the truth, and you speak quite convincingly, and not a wrinkle on your face moves, but – alas – the truth which the question stirs up from the bottom of your soul leaps momentarily into your eyes, and it’s all over! They see it, and you’re caught!”
― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
“As we care about more of humanity, we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.”
“Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
“Any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”
― Homer, The Iliad