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Meaning

  • In many college English courses the words 'myth' and 'symbol' are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing courses the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils.

  • It ain't what things actually are, it's all they stand for.

  • Recognition of function always precedes recognition of being.

  • The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Linda Paresky, ed., From Success to Significance ()
  • In all ages and cultures there is a yearning and a pull, against mortal gravity, to a more authentic reality in which we drown, with which we merge, in which we lose the discrete boundaries of self. That reality is felt to be a power, a stream, pure nothingness, pure Being. It is God, it is consciousness, it is the human self perfected.

  • People and societies who cannot see any purpose in their existence beyond the material and the tangible must live chartlessly, and must live in spiritual misery, because they cannot overcome the greatest fact and mystery of human life, next to birth, which is death.

  • Accident is veiled necessity.

  • This struggle of people against their conditions, this is where you find the meaning in life.

  • There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life. ... To seek a total unity is wrong. To give as much meaning to one's life as possible is right to me.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1935, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • Now and then I asked a question. Daddy would preface his answer with the assertion, 'I hear what you're saying beneath that!' It gratified me with its implication that there was a deeper meaning to my words than even I understood. If only I could discover what I really meant!

  • Nothing is less real than realism — details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.

  • Our counselling was based on the conviction that life held an ultimate meaning, and that this was knowable by any individual who was prepared to seek it out.

  • There must be more to life than just eating and getting bigger.

  • Live in your roots, not in your branches.

    • Nancy Willard,
    • "Close Encounters of the Story Kind," A Nancy Willard Reader ()
  • More than likely, we will never achieve the satisfaction of knowing a single 'why' of our becoming, any more than our limited, earthbound brain could ever meaningfully grasp a clear purpose behind the vastness of the universe. Any answer would necessarily include understanding the why of the why, and that would be a little like looking into one's own eyes.

  • ... the need to find meaning in the universe is as real as the need for trust and for love, for relations with other human beings.

  • If logic tells you that life is a meaningless accident, don't give up on life. Give up on logic.

    • Shira Milgrom,
    • 1988, in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • You don't choose your themes; they choose you. The meaning of your stories will rise out of your deepest longings, often out of longings so deep that you haven't admitted them even to yourself. Your convictions, your confusions, your most passionate dreams will be there whenever you begin a story, so you might as well learn to tap into them.

  • It isn't enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn't anecdote. It's the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.

  • Throughout the life cycle we consciously and unconsciously edit the events of our life, trying to give them meaning.

  • The secret in the search for meaning is to find your passion and pursue it.

  • Everybody, whether or not he puts the question vocally, wants to know whether life has any meaning, what his relation is to 'whatever gods there be,' why he is here, what his destiny is, how sin and pain may be overcome, whether prayer matters, what lies beyond death for himself and his loved ones.

  • Where shall we seek for meaning? / In wisdom's court / Or in a life of sorrow?

    • Sajida Zaidi,
    • "New Angles" (1972) in Susie Tharu and K. Lalita, eds., Women Writing in India ()
  • ... the life we live is more important than the works we leave.

    • Paula Sandburg,
    • letter to Charles Sandburg during their courtship (1908), in Penelope Niven, Charles Sandburg ()
  • Nature has made nothing in vain.

  • A vertical line is dignity. The horizontal line is peaceful. The obtuse angle is action. That's universal, it is primary.

  • It is only after living a fair portion of one's life that one really knows what are the things that matter, the things that will remain unto the end.

  • The spiritual quest begins, for most people, as a search for meaning.

  • and if ever i touched a life i hope that life knows / that i know that touching was and still is and will always / be the true / revolution.

  • We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

    • Toni Morrison,
    • Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1993, The Source of Self-Regard ()
  • Far more frightening than the thought of dying was the experience of erasure already occurring in my life. My fear of becoming someone who did not count.

  • Oh, if at every moment of our lives we could know the consequences of some of the utterings, thoughts and deeds that seem so trivial and unimportant at the time! And should we not conclude from such examples that there is no such thing in life as unimportant moments devoid of meaning for the future?

  • For me, the meaning of life is the next generation.

    • Grace Paley,
    • in Beth Benatovich, ed., What We Know So Far ()
  • All is pattern, all life, but we can't always see the pattern when we're part of it.

  • There are no meaningless experiences.

  • Look at me / when you say 'I see what you mean.' / Don't get me wrong: / I can mean what I say, seem / to say much more, or / with the wave of one hand over / the blank page of error, I can / say nothing at all.