You could call my method of reading and copying quotes in my journal cumbersome…and you would be correct. It slows me down, my reading gets ahead of my copying, I end up going through each book twice. Say what you’re thinking: inefficient!
But I can’t articulate the joy that I get from reliving the delight in a well-turned phrase or a clearly expressed thought when I go back through my journal. It brings back the memory of the experience of reading that book. At the top of some pages there is a date and a short description of where I am when I am copying, i.e. 5-13-13, day after Mother’s Day, at the river with Scott, Dad and Mom. Or on the plane to Raleigh-Durham, 11-8-13.
My husband is patient with my quirkiness, but he scratches his head and asks, “What am I supposed to do with these journals if you die before I do?” You know, I don’t care! They have proved their value to me here and now. Here, in chronological order of copying into my journal, are ten great quotes of 2013.
1. In his solitude he can sunder and besmirch the fellowship, or he can strengthen and hallow it. Every act of self-control of the Christian is also a service to the fellowship.
— Diietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
2. Distillation is selection, and selection, as I am hardly the first to affirm, is the essence of writing history. It is the cardinal process of composition, the most difficult, the most delicate, the most fraught with error as art. Ability to distinguish what is significant from what is insignificant is sine qua non. Failure to do so means that the point of the story, not to mention the reader’s interest, becomes lost in a morass of undifferentiated matter. What it requires is simply the courage and self-confidence to make choices and, above all, to leave things out. — Barbara Tuchman in Practicing History
3. Seed biscuits and milk! I hated Mrs. Mullet’s seed biscuits the way Saint Paul hated sin. Perhaps even more so. I wanted to clamber up onto the table, and with a sausage on the end of a fork as my sceptor, shout in my best Laurence Olivier voice, “Will no one rid us of the turbulent pastry cook?” — Alan Bradly in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
4. She was beloved by friends and family for her unique wit perfectly blended with a gift for hospitality and kindness to others. — Billee Ratzlaff 1926-2013
5. It is a rare person who isn’t somewhat traumatized by the state of his or her desk. — David Levy in Scrolling Forward
6. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal. —Peter Godwin in When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
7. There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves—so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful. — Lucy Maud Montgomery in Anne of the Island
8. Her thoughts were always directed outward toward others, and never inward towards herself. She never in all her life knew an introspective moment. Because of this there was no murky fog of self-consciousness between herself and others. She saw not her own disabilities but them and like unclouded sunshine her warmth and light were theirs without hindrance. No one was ever shy of Peronelle—she did not give them time to be shy. She looked at them, she loved them, and with one leap she had curled herself inside their hearts. — Elizabeth Goudge in Island Magic
9. Drink your wine. Laugh from your gut. Burden your moments with thankfulness. Be as empty as you can be when that clock winds down. Spend your life. And if time is a river, you may leave a wake. — N.D. Wilson in Death by Living
10. To sum up, analysis and abstraction are not demons to exorcise, but like the machine, to be mastered, not obeyed. To live amid lax words and dim thoughts more or less translatable into concreteness depletes energy and deadens the joy of life. — Jacques Barzun in From Dawn to Decadence.