This week's Woman to Woman challenge asked bloggers to name a favorite quote and what it meant for them. I finally settled on this one by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
Whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived
This is to have succeeded. "
We live in a world that gives such awful distorted messages about what it means to win, to get it right, to succeed. I think there is tremendous value in standing apart from all the emphasis on shiny things or popularity or a specific body fat ratio to simply allow ourselves to be present to all that is good, all that is possible, all that is worthy in this world.
There is so much badness, coarseness, depravity and danger. But there is also tremendous beauty and loveliness of spirit. Emerson's words remind me that I can turn my face and my focus to that goodness and embrace it with a vengeance.
Another one that I particularly like is:
"Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, tolerant with the weak, and forgiving with the wrong, for sometime in your life you will have been all of these." (This one has been attributed to various sources, included Lloyd Shearer and Robert Goddard. I honestly don't know who said it first, but I LIKE it just the same!)
There's certainly no guarentees for old age, as is emphasized by the fact that far too many of my pals never made it that far. But still, the words ring true.
We're all just doing the best we can to get through this crazy old life with a degree of grace and smiles, even when we fumble. Shearer's words remind me to take a deep breath and cut some slack to those who may frustrate or annoy me.
There are so many other good quotes - I could go on and on with tales of how they have comforted me, lifted me, challenged my thinking. From scripture verses to song lyrics to ancient Chinese probverbs, a well turned phrase that is powerful enough to last through the ages is a sacred gift to us all.