Illness is the most heeded of doctors. To goodness and wisdom we make only promises; pain we obey.

Marcel Proust

Only threats are frightening; one soon comes to terms with facts.

Oswald Spengler

Concentrate, don’t embroider.

Spencer Tracy

A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.

Jean Cocteau

You find out that the universe is a system that creeps up on itself and says, “Boo!” and then laughs at itself for jumping.

Alan Watts

Whenever I travel I like to keep the seat next to me empty. I found a great way to do it. When someone walks down the aisle and says to you, “Is someone sitting there?” just say, “No one — except the Lord.”

Carol Leifer

A human being hardly ever thinks about other people. He contemplates phantasms which resemble them and which he has decked out for his own purposes.

Iris Murdoch

After a second’s astonishment, Kate let the lie stand. Like most lies it was much easier than the truth, and to contradict it might turn out to be a very wearying affair.

Ursula Reilly Curtis

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am a grown-up, they call me a writer.

I.B. Singer

Truth is a great flirt.

Franz Liszt

Reality is not what it is. It consists of the many realities which it can be made into.

Wallace Stevens

Sorrows cannot all be explained away. . . . In a life truly lived, grief and loss accumulate like possessions.

Stefan Kanfer

Life always gets harder toward the summit — the cold increases, responsibility increases.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Life is an onion which one peels crying.

French proverb

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!

Louise Bogan

“Why must you always try to be omnipotent, and shove things about? Tragic things happen sometimes that we just have to submit to.”

Rebecca West, The Salt of the Earth

O, how incomprehensible everything was, and actually sad, although it was also beautiful. One knew nothing. One lived and ran about the earth and rode through forests, and certain things looked so challenging and promising and nostalgic: a star in the evening, a blue harebell, a reed-green pond, the eye of a person or a cow. And sometimes it seemed that something never seen yet long desired was about to happen, that a veil would drop from it all; but then it passed, nothing happened, the riddle remained unsolved, the secret spell unbroken, and in the end one grew old and looked cunning . . . or wise . . . and still one knew nothing perhaps, was still waiting and listening.

Hermann Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund

In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that I never did know anything about it.

Thomas Edison, on electricity

In the fight between you and the world, back the world.

Frank Zappa

Reality is not always probable, or likely.

Jorge Luis Borges

A man who is eating, or lying with his wife, or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness, and temperance is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.

C.S. Lewis

I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals. I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants.

A. Whitney Brown