August 26, 2011
Other People's Words
I came across the above quote in my new day planner, just before I sat down to write my last post. I still use a book style day planner as I have neither a Blackberry nor an iphone to keep track of my life for me. I still like to write things down with a pen on paper, make lists, and cross off tasks as I complete them. Call me old fashioned.
I use student planners because they go from August to August, tracking the school year, just as I, the mother of school-aged children do. They are also reasonably priced. My newest planner, created by the fine company Polestar Press has a quote for each week of the year, meant to inspire the student, of course, but I find the quotes work just as well for me. I'm often looking for little ways to keep motivated and organized. Call me human.
Being a words person, I've liked quotes since I was a young teenager. I remember suggesting to my family that we put a small chalk board by the telephone (the center of the house) and take turns writing funny or inspiring quotes to live by. "Wouldn't that be great?" I said with all the conviction of youthful enthusiasm. My dad looked over his glasses at me and cocked an eyebrow. Okay, maybe not. We did share quotes from time to time, and put funny comic strips on the fridge. Close enough.
Some of my favourite quotes are from artists, like the one above. I was given a gift certificate to a book store as a prize in my last year of school. I bought The Book Lover's Birthday Book from the Metropolitain Museum of Art to keep track of the birthdays of my friends and large family (eighteen nieces and nephews at last count). The book, which I still have and use is full of illustrations from a great variety of classic books, birth dates of writers, and a great quote from a writer for each day. I still enjoy all the quotes, many of which are not commonly known.
Facebook seems to be a haven for quote collectors of all stripes. I've read quotes by everyone from the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa to the boy band The Jonas Brothers, thanks to my diverse group of Facebook friends. The quotes range from extremely cheesy to funny or inspiring. Most recently, fifteen Facebook friends posted the last hopeful message from a popular Canadian politician who was dying of cancer.
Why do people love quotes so much? Not long ago The Bible was the most quoted book in the Western Hemisphere. Nowadays I'm not sure if many people realize that many of the things they say are actually quotes from the Bible. "To everything there is a season," for example, is from Ecclesiastes. After I saw a production of the musical Godspell, I heard the people sitting in front of us remark on all the great lines in the play. My mom leaned over to me and said quietly, "Well, it's hard to get better quotes than from Jesus himself." I think people are searching for words of insight and wisdom all the time, words on which to hang their hat and make sense of our common human plight.
One of my favourite lines in the Steve Martin film, Roxanne, is actually a mis-quote spoken by Roxanne's dimwitted love interest, Chris. Chris is being fed whispered lines from Steve Martin's much more brilliant and eloquent Cyrano de Bergerac-type character, from his hiding place in bushes. Chris is repeating those lines and calling them up to Roxanne who is leaning starry eyed over the balcony rail above. At one point, Roxanne asks Chris why he hasn't spoken so eloquently in person before. Steve whispers from the bushes: "I was afraid of words, Roxanne, words!"
Chris gives Steve a baffled look, then calls up to Roxanne: "I was afraid of worms, Roxanne, worms!"
I have many favourite quotes, but here are ten off the top of my head:
"We read to know we are not alone." C.S. Lewis
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." The Beatitudes
"Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger, baby, sometimes you're the ball." Mark Knopfler
"Don't borrow trouble 'till trouble borrows you." A well known saying that originated from 'The Sermon on the Mount', I believe.
"We learn from history that we don't learn from history." Bishop Desmond Tutu
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need." The Rolling Stones
"If we have a natural disaster and everything is destroyed, it will be the Third World that has to show us how to live." My younger son
"It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear." Norm Peterson
"It's not the mountain ahead that wears you down; it's the sand in your shoe." Robert W. Service
Have a great weekend and please share a favourite quote if you have one!