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Favorite Quotes
Choice Sayings on Life and Learning

Compiled by Aaron Shepard


For more treats and resources, visit Aaron Shepard at
www.aaronshep.com

Copyright © 2006–2009 Aaron Shepard. May be freely copied and shared for any noncommercial purpose as long as no text is altered or omitted.


“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find I have lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width as well.”

—Diane Ackerman

* * *

“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.”

—William G. T. Shedd

* * *

“I’m always suffering from a labor shortage.”

—Masamune Shirow

* * *

“To know life, one must love many things.”

—Vincent van Gogh

* * *

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas there are.”

—Steve Jobs, interviewed in Fortune, March 7, 2008

* * *

“What better way to discover the unknown than to follow your instincts instead of your plans.”

—Rolf Potts, Vagabonding

* * *

“The good were worthy of note because they battled and that battle was a great story, whereas the evil were evil because of moral laziness, or weakness, and that was ultimately a dull and uninteresting affair.”

—Alexander McCall Smith, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate

* * *

“Freedom is never very safe.”

—Annie Hill, Voyaging on a Small Income

* * *

“If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.”

—Benjamin Franklin

* * *

“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

—Goethe

* * *

“It’s better to pour a new cup of coffee than to heat up an old one.”

—Forum poster on Wired.com

* * *

“Most of the people in the world are fools . . . . But there comes a moment in everybody’s life when he must decide whether he’ll live among human beings or not—a fool among fools or a fool alone.”

—Mrs. Levi, in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker

* * *

“When the bird and the book disagree, believe the bird.”

—John James Audubon

* * *

“Normally I object to strangers beaming force fields into my brain.”

—Mary Roach, Spook

* * *

“Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive . . . then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

—Howard Thurman

* * *

“He who hears not the music thinks the dancer mad.”

—African proverb

* * *

“A great master does not move his puppet if there is no reason to do so.”

—Bunraku instruction manual, quoted in
A. C. Scott’s The Puppet Theatre of Japan

* * *

“A man with an experience is never at the mercy of an argument.”

—Anonymous

* * *

“Behind every great man, there’s a woman rolling her eyes.”

—Jim Carrey’s character in the movie Bruce Almighty

* * *

“The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us while we live.”

—Norman Cousins

* * *

“If I had only two loaves of bread, I would barter one for hyacinths to nourish my soul.”

—Mohammed

* * *

“When two paths open before you, choose the hardest.”

—Tibetan Buddhist saying

* * *

“Why get up in the morning unless you’re going to have an adventure?”

—Hans Zimmer

* * *

“Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

* * *

“You’d rather have nothing than settle for less.”

—Warren Beatty’s character in Elaine May’s movie Ishtar

* * *

“To live means to outlive. To grow is to outgrow and to let go.”

—Ramona A. Adams, from Letting Go

* * *

“I never had such a view of the rising moon till my house burned down.”

—Chinese saying

* * *

“To celebrate life, you have to move your hips.”

—Trinidadian saying

* * *

“A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success.”

—Gandhi

* * *

“Leaps of faith are best made from sinking ships.”

—Scott Burns

* * *

“There are good people and there are bad people, but mostly there are good people who just don’t know better.”

—Carol, dinner waitress in Los Angeles

* * *

“The more you pay, the more it’s worth.”

—John Vorhaus

* * *

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”

—Sophia Loren

* * *

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

—Mark Twain

* * *

“A man needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

—Zorba, in Nikos Kazantzakis’s Zorba the Greek

* * *

“Starting something depends on the ability to tolerate uncertainty.”

—Sharyn Wolf

* * *

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

—Marianne Williamson

* * *

“We find our power in the same place as our pain.”

—Aaron Shepard

* * *

“We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

—Oscar Wilde

* * *

“When the dream goes, you die.”

—Nick, character in the movie Flashdance

* * *

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

—G. K. Chesterton

* * *

“A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.”

—Spanish proverb, in Baz Luhrmann’s movie Strictly Ballroom

* * *

“It does not pay to leave a dragon out of your calculations if you live near him.”

—J. R. R. Tolkien

* * *

“You can’t run a shakuhachi through the computer without splitting the bamboo.”

—Monty Levenson

* * *

“Though a thousand men agree upon a subject, if they know nothing about that subject, their opinion is of no value.”

—Krishnamurti, from At the Feet of the Master

* * *

“An axe handle is made from a tree.”

—Anonymous

* * *

“Chase two rabbits, and you get none.”

—Russian proverb

* * *

“Peculiar traveling suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

—Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

* * *

“If you stand in the rain, you get wet, whether you understand water or not.”

—Werner Erhard

* * *

“When all our self-analysis is done, we find that most human problems are not solved but outgrown.”

—Gilbert Kilpack

* * *

“When the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers.”

—African proverb, in Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa

* * *

“When the thought is wrong, affliction follows as the wheel of the cart follows the step of the bullock.”

Dhammapada

* * *

“Now, the old man happened to be the Lord.”

—Italo Calvino, from Italian Folktales

* * *

“Crows are not always available to give warning.”

—Carlos Castaneda

* * *

“Just when you think you’re playing your cards right, God shuffles the deck.”

—Mark Shepard

* * *

“Passion and gradualness.”

—Pavlov

* * *

“Mailer’s Law: A thing either gets better or it costs more to run it the way it was.”

—Norman Mailer

* * *

“Hitting your head against a wall is not the fastest way to move it.”

—Mark Shepard

* * *

“The water or the wave.”

—John Fowles

* * *

“That which does not destroy me makes me stronger.”

—Nietzsche

* * *

“There’s nothing more dangerous in life than dreams come true.”

—Guido, in Michael Ende’s Momo

* * *

“Unless we change our direction, we will wind up where we are headed.”

—Confucius

* * *

“Tell me something I can dance to.”

—Mark Shepard

* * *

“If you can turn a murderer into a mere thief, you are making progress.”

—Idries Shah

* * *

“Is it not possible that the ultimate end is gaiety and music and a dance of joy?”

—James Stephens, from The Crock of Gold

* * *

“Do not expect a reward from Omar when you are working in the house of Zaid.”

—Saadi

* * *

“The lessons we learn, we must learn again and again.”

—Mark Shepard

* * *

“My aim is to live up to my gifts.”

—Kyung-Wha Chung

* * *

“When the camel sinks into the mud, what matter if the destination is near or far?”

—Ustad Khalilullah Khalili

* * *

“If a man’s house is full of medicine bottles, we infer the man is an invalid. But if his house is full of books, we conclude he is intelligent.”

—Vinoba Bhave

* * *

“Probably more sailors have lost their lives trying to keep schedules than from any other cause.”

—Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging

* * *

“Aging makes us all more cautious, though with each year, it makes less sense.”

—Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging

* * *

“As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats.”

—Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging