When I was younger, I used to collect quotations I found especially meaningful or funny. These little snippets of wisdom or humor were collected in a little notebook designated just for that purpose, probably now buried under mounds of old souvenirs in storage. Part of it was a simple appreciation for how beautifully words could be strung together, for the layers of meaning that could be embedded in seemingly simple phrases. Another part was a then unconscious search for some universal key to life – surely there was someone out there who really had it all figured out and could impart this knowledge in cleverly crafted prose. I no longer keep a notebook, but this appreciation for a good quote seems to be fairly universal. What else would you put on t-shirts and bumper stickers?
A few years ago I came across this quote from a Mrs. Cheryl Lindgren in a New York Times article on wind turbines, and to this day it is one of my favorites:
“I remember the sound of silence so palpable, so merciless in its depths, that you could almost feel your heart stop in sympathy,” she said. “Now we are prisoners of sonic effluence. I grieve for the past.”
Lady is talking about noise pollution from wind turbines! Did the reporter actually ask her what she thought, and she said this? On the spot, this is what came to her mind and out of her mouth? Cheryl Lindgren is amazing, and if she’s not a poet she needs to be.
More recently, though, and more on the side of universal truth, this quote from Hugh Laurie has been on my mind:
“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
I have no idea what prompted him to say this, and it lacks the eloquence of Mrs. Lindgren’s lament, but it strikes a mid-twenties nerve and I love it.