Wednesday, November 03, 2010


One of the greatest satisfactions of retirement is that finally—finally—I have time to read those interesting books people talk about. A person just doesn’t have time to do that while holding down a full-time job or raising kids or cramming more activities than physically fit into the little squares of the calendar hanging by the telephone.

And now that I have the luxury of having the time to read, I also have a time to appreciate (or maybe envy) the thought and skill that go into what other people write.

These are my three favorite quotes from the last three books I’ve read:

From Healthy Aging by Andrew Weil, M.D.:

“ . . . Aging and death give meaning to life. Without them, life would eventually be horrible, intolerable . . . to yearn for eternal youth and escape from death seems to me the height of foolishness.”

Think about that, would you . . . just think how different our lives would be if we knew that our physical time on earth was endless, that we would always be here, that there would never be an end or an escape or a conclusion to our physical existence. Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a minute . . . and gosh, I wish I’d been the one to write it first.

Another quote from Little Bee by Chris Cleave, which I loved because of its imagery in describing a situation that seemed hopeless:

“ . . . Handing out inflight meals in a plane crash.”

Don’t you just love it? Don’t you wish you had written that (or if you’re really unselfish, don’t you wish I had written that?)?

And a final quote from The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel in which two recently traumatized little sisters in Haddington, Indiana, rename themselves Immaculata and Epiphany after the Virgin Mary makes seemingly daily appearances to them by the mulberry tree in their yard. Their caretaker makes this observation when one of the little girls asks her if she believes them:

“ . . . If I could be an innocent in history, and were presented with two notions, Nazis or a visitation from Mary, I know which one would seem less likely.”

Ha! Again, wish I’d written that. Sometimes I read an entire book and yawn the whole way through until I get to one line—one nugget of truth—that makes the whole book worthwhile. And for five or ten minutes, I actually believe that knowing that nugget of truth will change me and make me a better person.

For five or ten whole minutes--after which I immediately slip back into being my old ordinary self. I can only hope that nugget of wisdom lodged itself deep into my subconscious to be pulled out later, at just the right moment.

And I hope that maybe, someday before I die, I can write one thought, one little line, that will cause someone else to exclaim, “I wish I had written that!”


bd said...

Interesting to think about things from another person's point of view. I never thought about writing profound things...but I don't read very many books. Funerals inspire me - to think about what a person's life means and what they are remembered for.

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

My 10 year old just recently read The City Of Ember and I've been thinking of this quote she read outloud to me ever since, and now we can't find it ... We'll keep looking and get back to you.