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Helen Van Slyke

  • Living would be a terribly pedestrian business without the impatient ones. The seekers. Always searching for something new, something relevant to leave their mark on. Always on tiptoe, anticipating discovery. Such people find change as necessary as the air they breathe.

  • Emotion seemed more valid than experience, for I had so much of the former and so little of the latter.

  • If arrogance is the heady wine of youth, then humility must be its eternal hangover.

  • People who let the weak or greedy drink their blood sometimes have a need to play God.

  • Mail from home was so important when you were traveling. It kept you in touch with the familiar, even the part you were running from.

  • It's especially fitting that they call a cruise ship 'she,' for she is pregnant with a thousand adult embryos who long to stay forever warm and sheltered in this great white womb.

  • I should coldly, clinically think of myself and stop worrying about other people, as though I'm a necessary woman, indispensable to their happiness and well-being. Self-preservation is the first law. I must start trying to obey the law.

  • She was about as subtle as a see-through blouse.

  • Isn't it boring ... how people always want to tell you their own stories instead of listening to yours? I suppose that's why psychiatrists are better than friends; the paid listener doesn't interrupt with his own experiences.

  • Even angels must find their wings too heavy sometimes.

  • ... Michael couldn't bear to think of himself as average. He lived on dreams, saw a tycoon in the mirror when he shaved, lied to himself and everyone.

  • Never doubt love ... Never question it when it comes onstage, but be happy for its entrance. And do not weep when it makes its exit, for it leaves behind it the sweet aroma of caring, a fragrance to linger the rest of your life.

  • [On parents:] They're not gods to be pleased or devils to be exorcised. They're just there, and we can only hope they understand when we seem less than perfect. And try to understand, ourselves, when they're not all we'd like them to be.

  • Fear is for the old. Lack of it is one of the joys of youth.

  • Timing. We give it many names: Destiny, Fate, Kismet, the will of God. Whatever we call it, lives are changed and molded by it, in small or drastic ways beyond our control. The precise, exquisite influence of timing moves people into new positions as surely as a spring flood rearranges the landscape. It is as unavoidable as life.

  • Eighty's a landmark and people treat you differently than they do when you're seventy-nine. At seventy-nine, if you drop something it just lies there. At eighty, people pick it up for you.

  • When you get to be my age, all your friends have either died or moved to Florida.

  • Vanity, wounded pride, rejection, self-delusion. I could recite a litany of little pinpricks that finally produce a gaping wound. That's how marriages and friendships come apart.

Helen Van Slyke, U.S. writer

(1919 - 1979)

Full name: Helen Lenore Vogt Van Slyke.