A treasure trove of favorite quotations was recently uncovered in a folder on my iPad. I had almost forgotten my old habit of adding a quote to the list whenever one grabbed my attention. Surely there’s a story here, I thought. Never mind the challenge of winnowing down these many wise words into a short piece of prose while making it relate to my own life history. Here are the results:
Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Confucius echoed da Vinci’s thinking by saying “Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” I think that seems especially true regarding the many complex religions. Joseph Campbell further clarifies the religion topic by saying “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.” I agree with Campbell who goes on to say, “It is as simple as that.”
“Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” was said by Abe Lincoln. I agree with Lincoln that to be happy is a decision a person can make. However, my brain chemistry is greatly improved by a drug which increases my level of serotonin. In other words, Abe, some of us need our “happy pills.”
“Folks may not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” This quote is attributed to Maya Angelou. I remember feeling hurt, while laughing with the others at my husband’s jokes, pretending to be a good sport. I remember one particularly hurtful joke about me, our live-in, teenage, Spanish maid, and our female dog, Auggie Doggie. Mac made a funny joke about life in our household when our three female biological cycles coincided. No doubt his co-workers found it hilarious, but I felt demeaned and disrespected.
If irritations grow pearls, as in oysters, I should soon produce an enormous one. A big annoyance in my life, during this corona-virus pandemic of 2020, is our so-called leader who daily broadcasts dangerous misinformation in a misguided effort to make himself look good and ensure his re-election. According to Carl Jung, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” I await self-understanding, and I invite free psychoanalysis to explain all this irritation, but isn’t it possible this person annoys me simply because he truly is annoying?
“We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak,” said philosopher Epictetus. Radio and TV personality, Larry King, backs up Epictetus by saying this about his many interviews, “I never learned anything while I was talking.” I would say people who talk non-stop are usually boring. I try to keep quiet, observe, and listen.
Henry Kissinger said “No one will ever win the battle of the sexes. There is too much fraternizing with the enemy.” Very funny, Henry, and true!
There, I have touched on all the forbidden topics – religion, sex, and politics – enough to ruffle a few feathers among my readers. Since this piece is submitted remotely and doesn’t have to be read aloud in person, I will refer to this Aesop quote and point out, “It is easy to be brave from a distance.” While I would be reluctant to read this aloud to a group, I do have the courage to press SEND on my computer while safely at home socially distanced from my audience. I will close with a few non-controversial gems to soothe any hard feelings:
“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau
“Acquaintance softens prejudice,” was said by Aesop. Example: Most of today’s anti-Semitics probably never knew a Jew.
The quote “All cats are gray in the dark” by John Heywood (1497- 1580) could be applied in a discussion of racism.
“An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi. I agree, it is non-productive.
Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Rosalind Russell said this in the movie, Auntie Mame. I applaud her. What a waste that many of us are not enjoying life!
My step-grandson, Alex, likes a quote by me! He tells me that ten years ago his sister, Emily, was probing me for answers about sin. He says I told her that “If there is such a thing as sin, the worst one would be to waste one day not being happy.” Alex liked it so much he wrote it down and kept it on the wall by his desk for many years.
Now I feel important. Thanks to Alex, I have my own quote, just like Confucius and Mahatma Gandhi!