creative commons photo by Nathan O’Nions
When Marco Polo came at last to Cathay, seven hundred years ago, did he not feel – and did his heart not falter as he realized – that this great and splendid capital of an empire had had its being all the years of his life and far longer, and that he had been ignorant of it? That it was in need of nothing from him, from Venice, from Europe? That it was full of wonders beyond his understanding? That his arrival was a matter of no importance whatsoever? We know that he felt these things, and so has many a traveler in foreign parts who did not know what he was going to find. There is nothing that cuts you down to size like coming to some strange and marvelous place where no one even stops to notice that you stare about you.
-Richard Adams, “Watership Down”
I saw this quote on a friend’s Facebook page not long ago, and immediately fell in love with it. I, too, want words for complex emotions. Perhaps we should just create them?
Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” I’d like to show how “intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members” connects with “the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.” I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever.
– Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
I know I just posted a quote that made me sit up and take notice, but I’ve got another one to share. I can’t even explain why this one jumped out at me so much, since when you read it you’re thinking, “Well, duh.” But somehow? Somehow it’s a concept that most of us forget (or ignore) too easily.
There are a few more quotes on this page of Colin Wright’s site that I liked, but this was the quote that, when I saw it on Pinterest, led me to hunt down the author in the first place.
So. What are you doing today with your one life?
I like quotes. I know not everyone does, but I do. I love ’em. I’ve got books full of quotes that meant a great deal to me as a teenager that make me cringe a little now, but that’s the beauty of such collections – they double as time machines.
At any rate, this quote, posted today on Twitter by Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz from this blog post, is one that resonates with me right now. I’m guessing you’ll understand why.
I’m not giving up. Quite the opposite. As ugly and awkward as it is to take three strikes and refuse to walk away from the batters’ box, I plan to keep throwing myself against the wall of technology and behavior change and making life better until something gives. Either my head’s gonna crack open or the brick’s gonna start chipping.
What’s inspiring you to take the next step forward today?
photo by Raymond Brown
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!
This quote, by Randy Pausch, has been a source of encouragement for me every single bloody time I’m frustrated by the process to become an expat in Italy. The good news is that it’s widely applicable to any situation that is – I won’t say difficult, I’ll say – challenging.
Honestly, I’ve thought about this quote so many times over the last three years that it just occurred to me I should get it as a tattoo. Hmm…