From notable people who inspire and illuminate to ravishing lines written or spoken that provoke and evoke and are worth being stimulated, stirred, captivated, and intrigued by. Here we go:
“You should be kissed and often, by someone who knows how.” - Gone With the Wind
A strange nomination? Well, let’s think about it. Whether it is the entreating kiss of a lover, or the comforting and healing peck of a mother, or the joyous “smack” of a friend who hasn’t seen you for some time, or a “pet” presenting its bewhiskered face to be adored. And we can be “kissed” with affection, embraced by a hug, adored by the look in someone’s eyes. So, I wish you “kisses” yes, but also to be “blessed” and often, by someone who knows how.
“We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.” - 1984
Oh, what haunting simplicity and depth, what painfully acute longing! In that place of dreams, in the place of hopes, in that place where love and justice are not slogans or undermined by “doublespeak.” In that place where we can yearn, earn, contribute and care together. From our dreams we hope to mint some semblance of that reality.
“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
All that inside me that is yearning to find its fulfillment and expression. Not other people’s lives, but my potential ones, some which I hide away, needing and awaiting some encouragement, some affirmation, possibly the invigoration of courage, or the steadying rudder of purpose. Perhaps I can be a prism for these possibilities.
“Everyone is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” - Infinite Jest
If we can see ourselves as “unique” which we literally are in the history of the universe, and yet look for the beautiful specialness in everyone else, and realize we are here not to compare with anyone else, but to glory in, learn from, and perhaps be of service to each other, we will grow in rich understanding. And where the “differentness” is in each of us, might just be a secret corridor we have to explore, with wonder, not paranoia or pride.
“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.” - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
And may I say “yes” to that terrifying, ennobling, heroic and humbling invitation, and live into it even if I can’t always live up to it? And could I, when the despair of not knowing wells up, when the confusion seems everywhere, “let go” and say “yes” to everything being presented for my growth and surrender that part of me that mistakenly thinks it’s running the show.
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Anna Karenina
Yes, happiness follows some guidelines, some principles…mutual respect, honoring the holiness of the other, making room for each other, finding the “will” as Scott Peck taught us to nurture and support each other’s growth. But how to be miserable together, each laden with militant egotism, is a hall of distorting mirrors, and we see, hear and feel, the demons we ourselves bring to the carnival.
“A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us.” - Summertime: Fiction
All stimuli, glorious music, ravishing nature, a gorgeous bit of writing, transfixing art, any expression of the human soul’s creative capacity for beauty or even aesthetic impact that “jolts” rather than “delights,” should open new avenues of insight and experience and expand our human circumference in some way.
“It was at times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.” - To Kill a Mockingbird
It takes courage, in the tissue of every day and hour, to live gracefully, genuinely, caringly, with dedication and consistency and avoid temptations to sell who you are for the easy seduction of popularity or herd acclaim. Like Atticus in this play, at moments that matter, when we take a stand, however imperfectly, history bends, towards that positive arc Martin Luther King spoke of.
“But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.” - A Moveable Feast
We all recall simpler times, times of discovery, when we had very little in one sense, and had everything in another. There is a genius, and a wealth to simplicity that complexity and adornment and all the glittering gewgaws of the world can’t offer. We need to recall Khayyam as well in adoration of the jug of wine, the loaf of bread, the mutton that often goes unmentioned, and “thee beside me.” Life is only moments. We have to celebrate them.
“An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral.” - Inherit the Wind
A cathedral is an idea, larger than we are, shared, and around which we rally. Something to which we can literally give our lives away to. An idea in the sense shared here, transforms, it uplifts, it rescues, and it mobilizes. Societies that eventually die, often do so because their governing ideas get ossified, are not examined. They end up based on bad ideas and corrode. Great passions collaborating with good ideas are the harmony from which progress flows, societies are sustained, and we all move meaningfully forward.
So, in this period of contemplative celebration, may you find more such lines, ideas, feelings, relationships, convictions and commitments that almost stop you in your tracks; that invite you to think again, feel anew, be reborn, and renewed. Take that time. In that time taken and savored, we hear the soft, beckoning chimes of our essential humanity.