And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing — maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed — because “Thou mayest.”

John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.

Simone Weil

And as I leave, let me say, that’s an example I think all of us should remember. We think sometimes when things happen that don’t go the right way, we think that when you don’t pass the bar exam the first time — I happened to, but I was just lucky; I mean my writing was so poor the bar examiner said, “We have just gotta let the guy through.” We think that when someone dear to us dies, we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat, that all is ended. We think, as [Teddy Roosevelt] said, that the light had left his life forever.

Not true. It’s only a beginning — always. The young must know it; the old must know it. It must always sustain us because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes; because only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.

Richard Nixon

Always gon’ be a bigger house somewhere, but n***a feel me
Long as the people in that motherf***er love you dearly
Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the one you got
Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
Always gon’ be a b***h that’s badder out there on the tours
But you ain’t never gon’ be happy ’til you love yours

J. Cole

To see them from above: the thousands of animal herds, the rituals, the voyages on calm or stormy seas, the different ways we come into the world, share it with one another, and leave it.

Consider the lives led once by others, long ago, the lives to be led by others after you, the lives led even now, in foreign lands. How many people don’t even know your name. How many will soon have forgotten it. How many offer you praise now-and tomorrow, perhaps, contempt.

That to be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything.

Marcus Aurelius

It’s harder to recognize Good Old Days that are still happening, but they’re always there. Looking back with fondness is almost automatic, but you can consciously turn your fondness towards things happening now that you will one day miss. I’ve long implored readers to periodically pretend the friend you’re with is actually dead and you are only remembering them, so that you can recognize the full miracle of that person now, as they speak and breathe before you, rather than only once they’re gone.

David Cain

My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it.

George H.W. Bush

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?

John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

Real life doesn’t start tomorrow, or on the weekend. It doesn’t start when you graduate, or when you land a job, or when you quit your job. It doesn’t start once you get a handle on your anxiety, or fix your sleep schedule, or finish all the tasks in your to-do list.

Real life is made of moments like this. It’s waking up with dread and clutching at your phone for relief. It’s being mildly frustrated at all your friends for the various ways in which they don’t understand you. Real life is wiping the lint from your dryer, it’s scrubbing the same pan clean for the hundredth time, it’s being surprised that even with all the fun of a friday night, you’re just as sad to say goodbye, just as sad as when you were a child.


My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?

Kurt Vonnegut (If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?)

Many people are so worried about looking good that they never do anything great. Many people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all.

Derek Sivers (Hell Yeah or No)

Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems.

Donald Kingsbury

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

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