October 30, 2010

A Few Aphorisms

Nothing original today, and nothing cynical or world-weary either, for a change.
Instead, here are some quotations which mean a lot to me, and which might speak to you too.

The first one is as close as I will ever get to having my own motto.
I discovered it as an embroidered sampler in an historic cottage, with the name and date "Ann Hewson 1780". I was quite young at the time, but even so I felt that it perfectly mirrored my own outlook on life, so I copied the words and laboriously embroidered my own sampler, serendipitously finishing it exactly 200 years after Ann signed hers.
It still resonates with me all these years later ...
Learn by the bee from each event to find
Some hint of use or profit to your mind.
Nothing so small but you may draw from thence
Improvement for your virtue or your sense.

The next one is a lot less ponderous, but a very useful reminder that our lives are neither as important nor as serious as we may think. It's from Jerry Seinfeld.
Life is truly a ride. We're all strapped in and no-one can stop it. ...
Sometimes you put your arms up and scream, sometimes you just hang on ...
I think the most you can hope for at the end of your life
is that your hair's messed, you're out of breath, and you didn't throw up.

Life is full of uncertainty, and sometimes the number of necessary decisions seems overwhelming. Lewis Carroll's eternally untroubled Cheshire cat has the answer.
Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

It's unashamedly sentimental, but this quote from an American author named Agnes Sligh Turnbull never fails to bring a lump to my throat, and I'm sure it will do the same to anyone who has loved and lost a dog. (Vale Tess, Kimba, Mtani, Zu, Harry, Taka and all the similarly precious memories of my friends.)
Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.

Then, of course, there was Douglas Adams. Almost everything he said or wrote makes me respond "Yes!", so it is impossible to choose my favourite from thousands of insightful comments. Fortunately, there are many sites (such as this one) which share his witty wisdom, so for those who are unfamiliar with his view of the world, I'll close with this particularly pithy example.
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry
and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

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