You’ll have to bear with me here.  On Memorial Day, I crushed 3 fingers in a wood splitter, causing a rushed trip to the ER.  2 nail bed repairs, 2 pins, lots of stitches later, I’m on the mend.  Except that I can’t do the one thing I need to do, and that’s type!  Well, as you can see here, I’m managing, but this whole typing-with-one-finger is aggravating.  Four hours later…

Today, I’ll share a few more of my treasured quotes.  As you may already know, I keep articles, personal book notes, poems, thoughts, and quotes in an Italian leather journal.  The journals always bulge a little, with all I pack into them, but they’re a source of calming wisdom on difficult days.

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stone-cutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow it would split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before together.  —Jacob A. Riis

Every man possesses three characters: that which he exhibits, that which he really has, and that which he believes he has.  —Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.  —Greek proverb

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.  —Edith Wharton

Read, every day, something no one else is reading.  Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.  Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.  It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.  —Christopher Morley

No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale.  The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it.  It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.  —Alan Watts

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.  —Bertrand Russell

There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.  —Søren Kierkegaard

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.  —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses.  —Francis Bacon

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.  —John Muir

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because some day in life you will have been all of these.  —George Washington Carver

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.  —Robert Green Iingersoll

Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.  —Alexander Solzhenitsyn

If we do not want to change and develop, then we might as well remain in a deathlike sleep.  —Bruno Bettelheim

Now here was I, new-awakened, with my hand stretching out and touching the unknown, the real unknown, the unknown unknown.  —D.H. Lawrence

The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, the emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand.  —Joseph Campbell

We are volcanoes.  When we women offer our experience as our truth, all the maps change.  There are new mountains.  That’s what I want—to hear you erupting.  You Mount St. Helenses who don’t know the power in you—I want to hear you…if we don’t tell our truth, who will?  —Ursula K. Le Guin

And this lovely poem, leading us “unknowingly yet profusely onwards,” in Armitage’s words.  Liliana came in the house last Saturday morning, breathless.  “Mom, I saw a deer!”  Mind you: we see them all the time, but each time is as though it’s the first.  They’re that magnificent.

The Supple Deer
Jane Hirshfield

The quiet opening
between fence strands
perhaps eighteen inches.

Antlers to hind hooves,
four feet off the ground,
the deer poured through it.

No tuft of the coarse white belly hair left behind.

I don’t know how a stag turns
into a stream, an arc of water.
I have never felt such accurate envy.

Not of the deer—

To be that porous, to have such largeness pass through me.

Be observant today.  Hold beauty in your heart.  We are here such a short time, after all.

[Post image: Deer I snuck up on by cempey on stock.xchng]


  1. Heather
    Jun 09, 2011

    Hi, Elissa. I found you, by way of your book, “Eve” {very well written, I might add}. Firstly, I am impressed that you were working with a wood splitter. Secondly, I am so sorry that your fingers found their way to harm {ouch}. I can’t imagine the pain, well, I can…but I’m going to try not to. Heal well.

    You have no idea how much some of those quotes touched my heart, just now…and I couldn’t continue to read because I want to absorb every part of each one. I’m like that. Knowing myself well enough to slow down, savor the moment….yet, sometimes, I lose sight of the progress.

    I’m going to make note of these, for future need. Oh, how we women need to keep treasure of those words that deeply affect us. I’m having a mess of a hormonal mind, kind of day and visiting you just lifted me up.

    Thank you 🙂

  2. Elissa
    Jun 09, 2011

    Heather, I’m so glad these sayings touched you in some way…there’s something about small sentences of wisdom that tug at my heart and haunt my days…and hopefully, change my actions…

    LOVE your blog, too…thank you for the introduction…I’ll have to catch up on your blog posts! xo

  3. Sylvia
    Jun 09, 2011

    Thank you for the post Elissa. I hope you are on the mend and will be back to full use of your fingers really soon. Love, Sylvia

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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