I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

James Baldwin

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Nevertheless the flowers fall with our attachment, and the weeds spring up with our aversion.


April is a promise that May is bound to keep.

Hal Borland

“For you the world is weird because if you’re not bored with it you’re at odds with it. For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has been to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it.”

Don Juan Matus to Carlos Castañeda, Journey to Ixtlan

To be walking home from work, / strolling along, / and a guy comes up / and asks you for a cigarette or something / then shoots you?/ And then, while you’re lying there, / as your eyes bulge with pain / and your mind spins with terror / he searches your pockets / for money?/ for your fucking wallet? / Everyone should know about this! / Everyone should know / This is — / Everyone should open their windows / and holler and scream / and bang pots together / because this is unbelievable. . . .

Phillip Mahony, New York City police detective

Not that I want to be a god or hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.

Czeslaw Milosz

I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth; and truth rewarded me.

Simone de Beauvoir, All Said and Done

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

According to King Juba, the military elephants of antiquity often hailed the morning with their trunks uplifted in the profoundest silence.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

. . . sometimes I wonder if we were those two people nearly twenty years ago along via Nazionale; two people who talked so politely, so urbanely, in the sunset; who chatted about everything, and nothing; two pleasant talkers, two young intellectuals out for a walk; so young, so polite, so distracted, so ready to judge each other with absent kindliness, so ready to say goodbye forever, in that sunset, on that street corner.

Natalia Ginzburg

When I have to cut tapes, in the places where the speaker sometimes pauses for a moment — or sighs, or takes a breath, or there is absolute silence — I don’t throw that away, I collect it. I splice it together and play back the tape when I’m at home in the evening.

Heinrich Böll

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Interviewer: Some people say they can’t understand your writing even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?

William Faulkner: Read it four times.

F.J. Hoffman and O.W. Vickery, eds., William Faulkner: Three Decades of Criticism