Meaningful quotes to inspire and strengthen your life.
The resonance of meaningful quotes.
For many years now I have collected quotes that have moved me; quotes that I try to weave into my everyday life. These are not always the commonplace quotes regularly bandied about on the internet, though some of them may be very familiar to many of us.
The quotations I have chosen so carefully to accompany me through my life are not always inspirational and are very rarely religious but they have resonated so deeply within me, for unknown reasons, that I have needed to keep them stored safely away to read and reread. In this way I have always hoped, ultimately, to absorb their wisdom and ideas.
Although these quotations have a deeply personal significance to me, being as they are, by long association, embedded in my heart and mind, I am sharing them with you in the hopes that you too will find them as meaningful, beautiful and useful as I have found them.
Quotations are ideas ...
One of the first quotes I collected, which inspired pictures in my mind just as dreams did in hers, was by Emily Bronte:
I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.
This was not the only quotation about dreams that I hoarded as I also kept the following by W.B Yeats:
I have spread my dreams under your feet – Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
In Yeats' case it seems obvious to me that he means his aspirations, his goals and he is asking us to be understanding of them. It is a plea to us to be kind, to be gentle with his hopes. With Emily's dreams we cannot be sure if they are the dreams of sleep or the daydreams that she and her siblings had to such great effect.
Although there is a difference in the meaning of dreams in these two examples, I still felt an affinity with them. I was drawn to their words and ideas a long time ago and they have stayed with me.
The motivation quotation.
The quotation about 'Commitment' has caused much controversy in its attribution, an argument that still rages even on the internet. I have always liked the idea of it belonging to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German writer and philosopher of the 18th and early 19th century.
I have lived for so long with this quote at the back of my consciousness and it has spurred me on to achieve so many of my goals that I believe it now to be part of of my DNA. So, if I were to pick one quotation that gives me constant support it is this one:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too.
For me, being a new Age unreconstructed hippy, I interpret 'Providence' as 'The Universe' and I am always keenly aware when the Universe tinkers with my life and sends things my way. I am also aware that it is I who must make the first move to start the whole thing into action.
Once I do, once I take that leap of faith that sets things in motion, it is like stepping on the roller-skate of life. Things gather pace and life is never the same again ... but only if I start it.
It is not quite 'Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it' as I have found that merely wishing does not make things happen for me. Only positive action towards my chosen goal prompts the Universe to support me.
The spiritual quotation.
This is a quotation I discovered carved into a slate plaque half-hidden beneath a creeping plant on a wall in the garden of a tiny holiday cottage I rented in Pembrokeshire. Taken with the spirituality of both the message and the owner of the cottage how could it do anything other than start a lasting friendship:
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
I think it is interesting that this Biblical quotation has also been claimed by Islam and I would love to believe that there is some form of cross-pollination of ideas going on between the two religions.
The comfort quotation.
There are many quotations written about death. When I needed it this offering, taken from Kahlil Gibran's 'The Prophet', gave me the most comfort:
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
The thought of slowly dissolving and becoming one with the wind and the sun caught my imagination and it was possible to believe in something other than the cold earth and the relentlessly fading memory of a dead love.
Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931) indeed had such a way with ideas and articulated them so well that he has left us a great many wise and meaningful quotations.
There must be few pieces of inspirational writing that were once as well known as The Desiderata. It was on the wall of every hippy squat in the 1960s and 70's and could possibly be seen as hackneyed but I have never been able to forget it.
Although it now seems unlikely to appeal to the sophisticated cynicism of modern youth, I believe it is as valid today as it has ever been.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann c.1920
Today, to many people this may seem trite but that would be to neglect the eternal truth of the advice incorporated within these lines. Over the years this piece of writing has meant so much to me that I have a slate in my garden carved with the lines: You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
When life is overwhelming, when the guilts and difficulties gang up on me, it seems to give me the permission to allow myself to be me and not to dissemble or pretend to be something or someone other than who I am. I have a right to be here ... and to be me.
A modern day quotation with truth ... if not tact.
The following is my last quotation and I kept it for its truth ... and its humour.
It is from the inimitable Bill Gates and you may have seen it before but I make no apologies for the fact that I am showing you it again. It should be written in letters on gold in the lobby of every school on the planet, especially now that films, television and ephemeral pop stars are dooming so many of our children to a life of disillusionment.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parent's fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give your as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
And finally ... the quotation as film.
The following video is one of many on the theme of the apparent wisdom of geese. This idea has obviously inspired many people to make their own videos using the same images. Not all of them have been successful and the sensitive video that I was sent as an email attachment some time ago is sadly not amongst them.
So I found the next best one to add to this hub. The message however still moves me to tears. I suppose it could be because what seems to come so naturally to the geese is such a struggle for humans ... to our enduring shame.