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Life

  • Life was no more than a boarding-house where one stayed too short a time to bother much if the hot water system didn't work very well or the beds were lumpy.

  • Life is a process of discovery, of new perceptions.

  • To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.

  • Every life is a dilemma that must be solved by the person living it.

  • Life is not worth dying for...

  • That's the way the system works. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

  • It is a truth of human nature that we can ponder life's mysteries for only so long before we lose interest and move on to something else.

  • Life is like a camel: you can make it do anything except back up.

  • Life begins when a person first realizes how soon it ends.

  • The very commonplaces of life are components of its eternal mystery.

  • ... if I had one ambition it was to make my life itself into a poem.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • The finest life is spent creating oneself, not procreating.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • ... I combined an absolutely uneventful outward personal life with a vivid life of imaginary experience.

  • It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin. ... Throw yourself away, and then you will find out that you are really alive.

  • Thank goodness for people courageous enough to be ridiculous, if they must be, in order to balance their lives.

  • The change of life is the time when you meet yourself at a crossroads and you decide whether to be honest or not before you die.

  • Things are never so bad that they can't get worse. But they're sometimes so bad they can't get better.

  • It was not ... that she was unaware of the frayed and ragged edges of life. She would merely iron them out with a firm hand and neatly hem them down.

  • Everything matters, but nothing matters very much.

  • Life cannot be captured in a few axioms. And that is just what I keep trying to do. But it won't work, for life is full of endless nuances and cannot be captured in just a few formulae. Not that you yourself cannot become simpler ...

  • Everything is chance, or nothing is chance. If I believed the first, I would be unable to live on, but I am not yet fully convinced of the second.

  • ... the fruit of life is experience, not happiness.

  • Funny, isn't it, how your whole life goes by while you think you're only planning the way you're going to live it?

  • It is a curious fact that people permit life to slide past them like a deft pickpocket, their purse — not yet missed and now too late — in his hand.

  • ... life is something to do when you can't get to sleep.

  • How remorseless life is!

  • ... life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.

  • Why is life so tragic; so like a little strip of pavement over an abyss. I look down; I feel giddy; I wonder how I am ever to walk to the end.

  • It was like sewing ruffles on a fence of nails. The will to make life beautiful was so strong.

  • I been through living for years. I just ain't dead yet.

  • I want a busy life, a just mind and a timely death.

  • Perhaps we clutch at life only when we have never lived or trusted it. Then death seems the last and greatest defeat, the end of something never felt.

  • Sometimes I think we're all tightrope walkers suspended on a wire two thousand feet in the air, and so long as we never look down we're okay, but some of us lose momentum and look down for a second and are never quite the same again: we know.

  • Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

  • The years seem to rush by now, and I think of death as a fast approaching end of a journey — double and treble reasons for loving as well as working while it is day.

    • George Eliot,
    • letter (1861), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • Why is life speeded up so? Why are things so terribly, unbearably precious that you can't enjoy them but can only wait breathless in dread of their going?

  • ... life itself is always pulling you away from the understanding of life.

  • If life is not always poetical, it is at least metrical.

  • I learned ... that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back — that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a one way street, isn't it?

  • Living, you stand under a waterfall. ... What a racket in your ears, what a scattershot pummeling! It is time pounding at you, time. Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation's short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.

  • Life is very simple ... It merely consists in learning how to accept the impossible, how to do without the indispensable, how to endure the insufferable. What could be easier?

  • It doesn't matter when life finds you, if it finds you.

  • Life, although it takes us many years and many tears to discover it, life is only another name for death; they cannot exist independently.

  • Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans.

  • We can never catch up with life ... we shall always be eating the soft part of our melting ice and meanwhile the nice hard part is rapidly melting too.

  • Life is painful, nasty and short ... in my case it has only been painful and nasty.

    • Djuna Barnes,
    • in Hank O'Neal, Life Is Painful, Nasty and Short ... ()
  • ... life was a battle. You had to fight and think. You had to hack your way through life with your intelligence as a machete cutting down what obstacles you could. You were born knowing nothing; you had to fight for what you knew.

  • A sweater is like life, you get nothing out of it that you don't put into it!

    • Marilyn Monroe,
    • in Adele Whitely Fletcher, "So That the Memory of Marilyn Will Linger On," Photoplay ()
  • Life itself is the proper binge.

  • Life is the ability to start over again.

  • The secret of life is to let every segment of it produce its own yield at its own pace. Every period has something new to teach us. The harvest of youth is achievement; the harvest of middle-age is perspective; the harvest of age is wisdom; the harvest of life is serenity.

  • Life was a series of messes, and one spent one's time cleaning them up; if one had any heart at all one also gave a part of one's time to cleaning up those of other people.

  • Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long-run for having once in a lifetime 'let out all the length of all the reins.'


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  • Life is all getting used to what you're not used to.

  • My life was incoherent to me. I felt it quivering, spitting out broken teeth.

  • These three o'clock awakenings when one starts up, imagining that one has a mortal sickness; and indeed this is true. Life is that sickness, and at that cold hour one can realize it.

  • Art and psychoanalysis give shape and meaning to life and that is why we adore them, but life as it is lived has no shape and meaning ...

  • I'm crazy enough to believe in taking chances in every way, in making choices and gambling with your life. That's the kind of gambling I believe in.

  • I was, being human, born alone; / I am, being woman, hard beset; / I live by squeezing from a stone / The little nourishment I get. / In masks outrageous and austere / The years go by in single file; / But none has merited my fear, / And none has quite escaped my smile.

    • Elinor Wylie,
    • "Let No Charitable Hope," Nets to Catch the Wind ()
  • The pages of our living turn so silently we scarcely hear them, and it is only afterward that we can look back and say, 'That was one chapter.'

  • ... only by pursuing the extremes in one's nature, with all its contradictions, appetites, aversions, rages, can one hope to understand a little — oh, I admit only a very little — of what life is about.

  • If you treat life well, life is usually good to you. And I love life. There's a long-standing affair between us.

  • Just because it's a rat race doesn't mean it's okay to be a rat.

  • I think the meaning of the universe is bound up with the egg. ... I am fed up with the meaning of the universe. Everything starts in the egg and ends in death. I think it's called 'the heartbreak at the heart of things.' But then perhaps our very mortality is an egg and at the moment of death our souls will emerge like damp chicks.

  • ... men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live.

  • Change may be the vitalizing wind blowing through the house of life, but it is not an abiding force. We need permanent things to soak peace into us as well as progress — the beauty of the earth, seedtime and harvest, the smiles of lovers, the joy of the young in being alive, pride in craftsmanship. Why, oh why must we let ourselves forget these lasting treasures in an age of consuming ambition, speed madness and accumulated goods that leave us no chance to live? If we cannot be contented with a little no wealth will ever satisfy us.

  • O, were life but longer, and my strength greater! Ever I am bewildered by the riches of existence, had I but more time to open the oysters, and get out the pearls. Yet some are mine, if only for a necklace or rosary.

    • Margaret Fuller,
    • 1846, in Robert N. Hudspeth, ed., The Letters of Margaret Fuller, vol. 4 ()
  • Life's just a perpetual piecing together of broken bits.

  • Life is either always a tight-rope or a feather-bed. Give me the tight-rope.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • diary entry (1926), in Laura Rattray, ed., The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton, vol. 1 ()
  • ... everything is ambiguous. It's exciting, in a way, if you can tolerate ambiguity. I can't, but I'm taking a course where it's taught, in the hope of acquiring the skill. It's called Modern Living, and you get no credit.

  • Life is like a great jazz riff. You sense the end the very moment you were wanting it to go on forever.

  • Life is a death-defying experience.

  • Life is for enjoying. It is not a race to see how much you can get done.

    • Jill Clark,
    • in Karen Casey, A Woman's Spirit ()
  • ... in a way it doesn't matter whether you open doors or close them, you still end up in a box.

  • We shall weave traceries as fine as lace / Of the minute events of time in space, / And hear through silence, with enchanted ears, / The silver music of the turning spheres.

  • ... it is the brevity of life which makes it tolerable; its experiences have value because they have an end.

  • ... why haven't we seventy lives? One is no use.

  • Babies are a nuisance, of course. But so does everything seem to be that is worth while — husbands and books and committees and being loved and everything. We have to choose between barren ease and rich unrest ...

  • They are commiting murder who merely live.

  • ... I asked myself the question, 'What do you want of your life?' and I realized with a start of recognition and terror, 'Exactly what I have — but to be commensurate, to handle it all better.'

  • I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seed every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind.

  • ... life is always bringing unexpected gifts.

    • May Sarton,
    • 1948, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Selected Letters 1916-1954 ()
  • Nothing, perhaps, is strange, once you have accepted life itself, the great strange business which includes all lesser strangenesses.

  • Life, for all its agonies ... is exciting and beautiful, amusing and artful and endearing ... and whatever is to come after it — we shall not have this life again.

  • O World, I cannot hold thee close enough!

  • And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse ...

  • Life in itself / Is nothing, / An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.

  • Life must go on; / I forget just why.

  • It's not true that life is one damn thing after another — it's one damn thing over and over ...

  • Life is unjust, people can be cruel, and yet if you harden your heart, you will lose what little love there is in this world.

  • Some people live life and others talk about it.

  • A young Apollo, golden-haired, / Stands dreaming on the verge of strife / Magnificently unprepared / For the long littleness of life.

  • Life is about becoming more than we are.

  • Life was meant to be lived and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn one's back on life.

  • There is no experience from which you can't learn something ... And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. You can do that only if you have curiosity, an unquenchable spirit of adventure. The experience can have meaning only if you understand it. You can understand it only if you have arrived at some knowledge of yourself, a knowledge based on a deliberately and usually painfully acquired self-discipline, which teaches you to cast out fear and frees you for the fullest experience for the adventure of life.

    • Eleanor Roosevelt,
    • in Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt: 1884-1932, vol. 1 ()
  • ... it takes courage to lead a life. Any life.

  • Dying seems less sad than having lived too little.

  • The art of life isn't controlling what happens, which is impossible; it's using what happens.

  • A living gale is better than a dead calm.

  • We should live and learn; but by the time we've learned, it's too late to live.

  • The soul awakes ... between two dim eternities — the eternal past, the eternal future.

  • People do not live nowadays — they get about ten percent out of life.

  • I am afraid we are little better than straws upon the water; we may flatter ourselves that we swim, when the current carries us along.

  • Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it's no worse than it is.

  • The wheel begins its only if turning. / It had never stopped. / This is life's bargain that motion / Is hope.

  • All is waiting and all is work; all is change and all is permanence.

  • I made the mistake of thinking that if you add up the past, you sum up the future; I forgot how frequently life astonishes us.

  • Life is not a dress rehearsal. Instead of rushing through our lives to get somewhere — instead of saving up real living for after — I think it's important to remember that each single day is all we have. Single days experienced fully add up to a lifetime lived deeply and well.

  • Technology, while providing us many advantages, encourages us to race through our days so that we no longer know what we'd do if we were to slow down. Labor-saving devices seem not only to have failed to enhance the quality of our lives and free up more time, but get between us and the immediate, sensory pleasure of life and increase the pressures on us to do more. Many of us feel cut off from life's blessings, from our neighbors, from the wonders of nature, and from a sense of our own significance in the scheme of things. Modern life leaves us feeling spiritually starved.

  • Dying is a short horse and soon curried. Living is a horse of another color and bigger.

  • You make what seems a simple choice: choose a man or a job or a neighborhood — and what you have chosen is not a man or a job or a neighborhood, but a life.

  • Recognizing the absurdity of life is also a way of surviving.

  • One made a climate; one made the days — the complexion, the special flavor, the special happiness of every day as it passed; one made life.

  • What if — what if Life itself were the sweetheart?

  • ... if men and wimmen think they are marryin' angels, they'll find out they'll have to settle down and keep house with human critters. I never see a year yet, that didn't have more or less winter in it ...

  • Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

  • Our lives are songs. God writes the words, / And we set them to music at pleasure; / And the song grows glad, or sweet, or sad, / As we choose to fashion the measure.

  • For life is a poem to leisurely read, / And the joy of a journey lies not in its speed.

  • Only the thinking man lives his life, the thoughtless man's life passes him by.

  • The essence of living is in doing, and in doing, I have made my world and it's a much better world than I ever saw outside.

  • You could probably prove, by judicious use of logarithms and congruent triangles, that real life is a lot more like soap opera than most people will admit.

  • ... none of what I know is out of books. ... I prefer tactual learning. Touching, on the quick of the sore nail, of present, mobile life. To toy, to gnaw, to tear: at the living element of pain. Like at a living drumstick.

  • I love Life, / I would fight to the death for it, / That's a feeling you say? I will find / A reason for it.

    • Stevie Smith,
    • "A Dream of Comparison," Not Waving But Drowning ()
  • It is better to see the grass than write about it / Better to see the water than write a water-song ...

  • No life is so hard that you can't make it easier by the way you take it.

  • ... there is no existence so content as that whose present is engrossed by employment, and whose future is filled by some strong hope, the truth of which is never proved. Toil and illusion are the only secrets to make life tolerable ...

  • Persons who merely have-a-life customarily move in a dense fluid. That's how they're able to conduct their lives at all. Their living depends on not seeing.

  • Life is a verb, not a noun.

  • The difference is great between one's outside 'life,' the things which happen to one, incidents, pains and pleasures, and one's 'living.'

  • We pass through all like ripples, / And each one disappears. / Which of us will recur? / Who will flow into whom? / What do we need in this world / To quench our thirst?

  • Life is strong stuff, some of us can bear more of it than others.

  • Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short.

  • She would not rest until existence was for her a sucked orange. When there was no drop of juice left, then she would fling away the rind and die content.

  • Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age is one long regret!

  • Each generation must get on the same old merry-go-round, only disguised in a fresh coat of paint.

    • Katherine Anne Porter,
    • letter (1948), The Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter ()
  • There have been many times when I have been so entirely sickened of life it was very hard to work to keep on, a half dozen times I have been tempted to suicide, but I am glad I did not give way, for I have always felt that the last half of my life would somehow atone for the first half, and I still think it may ... It is not possible to live in this world without suffering unless one is a born stone. But it is also possible to have a great deal of happiness in spite of the suffering.

  • All life worth living is difficult, nobody promised us happiness; it is not a commodity you have earned, or shall ever earn. It is a by-product of brave living, and it never comes in the form we expect, or at the season we hoped for, or as the result of our planning for it ...

  • ... Life is a game of piquet played in a bramble bush in very bad weather ...

  • To the bottle! In infancy, the milk bottle; in our prime, the wine bottle; in our dotage, the pill bottle.

  • Life is not so very long ... A little work, a little sleep, a little love, and it is all over.

  • A depressing and difficult passage has prefaced every new page I have turned in life.

  • Serenity of spirit and turbulence of action — that should make up the sum of man's life.

  • Life is so transitory, Lady Slane, that one must grab it by the tail as it flies past. No good in thinking of yesterday or to-morrow. Yesterday is gone, and to-morrow problematical.

  • ... destructiveness comes only when life isn't lived. People who can live their lives don't destroy themselves.

  • ... what's life good fer anyhow? The minute you crawl into the world for no good reason of yer own, it's got you licked four ways from the ace.

  • The bite of existence did not cut into one in Hollywood ... Life elsewhere was real and slippery and struggled in the arms like a big fish dying in air.

  • Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

  • Living never wore one out as much as the effort not to live, she believed, and only if one lived fully and freely one also rested fully and deeply.

  • I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.

  • To love and to labor is the sum of living.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1922, Linotte, the Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • I find that life, day by day, is composed of at least one joy, one problem and one sorrow. Then there are the smaller ingredients: you always learn something, whether useful or harmful — that is difficult to analyze until later; you always give something; you alwayou always grow a little in one direction or another.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1925, Linotte, the Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • That's all life is — something childish and very natural. Isn't it?

  • But warm, eager, living life — to be rooted in life — to learn, to desire, to know, to feel, to think, to act. That is what I want. And nothing less. That is what I must try for.

  • It [life] never becomes a habit to me — it's always a marvel.

  • ... life is a succession of readjustments.

  • If you look at life one way, there is always cause for alarm.

  • As subjects, we all live in suspense, from day to day, from hour to hour; in other words, we are the hero of our own story. We cannot believe that it is finished, that we are 'finished,' even though we may say so; we expect another chapter, another installment, tomorrow or next week.

  • How short is human life! the very breath! / Which frames my words, accelerates my death.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Reflections of King Hezekiah," Sacred Dramas ()
  • The longer we live in the world, the more do troubles thicken upon us, yet we hug the fleeting shadow.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to her sister Mary Smith Cranch (1798), New Letters of Abigail Adams: 1788-1801 ()
  • Not everyone's life is what they make it. Some people's life is what other people make it.

  • It is never quite safe to think we have done with life. When we imagine we have finished our story fate has a trick of turning the page and showing us yet another chapter.

  • ... minutes weren't given you to save but to spend. This is yours — now. Stop and live it.

  • We are often like rivers: careless and forceful, timid and dangerous, lucid and muddied, eddying, gleaming, still. Lovers, farmers, and artists have one thing in common, at least — a fear of 'dry spells,' dormant periods in which we do no blooming, internal droughts only the waters of imagination and psychic release can civilize.

  • She had plenty of evidence that she had a good life. She just couldn't feel the life she saw she had. It was as though she had cancer of the perspective.

  • If my life weren't funny, it would just be true, and that would be unacceptable.

  • Life takes hold of us with strong hands and makes us greater than we thought.

  • What a fearfully distracting, perplexing and heart-searching business it is to live.

  • Life is all getting used to what you're not used to.

  • When there's a terrible murder people who are interviewed say, 'This has always been a quiet neighborhood.' That is so dumb and uninformed! The earth is not a quiet neighborhood. There isn't anyplace that's a quiet neighborhood. People are asking themselves how to stay neat in the cyclone.

    • Paula Fox,
    • in Melanie Rehak, The New York Times ()
  • Life was an impenetrable mystery cloaked in babble.

  • Even without wars / life is dangerous.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "Hurry Up Please It's Time," The Death Notebooks ()
  • There is nothing truly serious in life. All words sound hollow when one listens to them carefully.

  • You took what you wanted from life, if you could get it, and you did without the rest.

  • I take a sun bath and listen to the hours, formulating, and disintegrating under the pines, and smell the resiny hardihood of the high noon hours. The world is lost in a blue haze of distances, and the immediate sleeps in a thin and finite sun.

  • Earth's crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God ...

  • To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations ...

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1871, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • So few that live have life ...

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1862, in Martha Dickinson Bianchi, ed., The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson ()
  • I find ecstasy in living; the mere sense of living is joy enough.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1870, in Martha Dickinson Bianchi, ed., The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson ()
  • Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1874, in Martha Dickinson Bianchi, ed., The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson ()
  • I felt my life with both my hands / To see if it was there — ...

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1862, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • The Heart asks Pleasure — first — / And then — Excuse from Pain-- / And then — those little Anodynes / That deaden suffering — / And then — to go to sleep — / And then — if it should be / The will of its Inquisitor / The privilege to die — .

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1862, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • I took one Draught of Life — / I'll tell you what I paid — / Precisely an existence — / The market price, they said.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1895, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • ... naked were we born and naked must we depart. ... no matter what you may lose, be patient for nothing belongs; it is only lent.

  • It always seems to me that so few people live — they just seem to exist and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't live always — til we die physically ...

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • letter to Anita Pollitzer (1915), in Clive Giboire, ed., Lovingly, Georgia ()
  • ... if the doors of my heart / ever close, I am as good as dead.

  • Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?

  • When it's over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

    • Mary Oliver,
    • "When Death Comes," New and Selected Poems ()
  • What does it mean... that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring the world? What is the life that I should live?

    • Mary Oliver,
    • "Long Life and Other Essays," Da Capo ()
  • A Plan for Living a Life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

  • Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement.

  • I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.

  • And think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived.

  • ... occasionally life can be like a movie you'd much rather not be in.

  • Life is a movie, and you're the star. Give it a happy ending.

  • ... if you don't think that all life is improvisation, then you haven't been paying attention. Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans.

  • Sometimes it seemed to him that his life was delicate as a dandelion. One little puff from any direction, and it was blown to bits.

  • Live in your roots, not in your branches.

    • Nancy Willard,
    • "Close Encounters of the Story Kind," A Nancy Willard Reader ()
  • The moral is to make all one can out of life and live up to one's fingers' ends.

    • Clover Adams,
    • 1882, in Natalie Dykstra, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life ()
  • Never, my heart, is there enough of living ...

  • Life is worth being lived, but not being discussed all the time.

  • ... I am one of those people who just can't help getting a kick out of life — even when it's a kick in the teeth.

  • ... whereas there are many people in the world who can give life to others, there are but few who can help others to possess it.

  • You came into this world like a mule, with no pride of ancestry and no hope of posterity.

  • The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current. Some are swept along, protesting, fighting all the way, trying to swim back up the stream, longing for the shores that they have passed, clutching at anything to retard their progress, frightened by the onward rush of the strong current and in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters. Others go with the current freely, trusting themselves to the buoyancy of the water ...

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1923, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • Her life had not been pressed down full to the brim of pleasures, and she had a sort of distrust of joy in the bud. Not until she saw it in full radiance of bloom did she dare embrace it.

  • ... be the most you can be, so life will be more because you were.

  • What we seek we do not find — that would be too trim and tidy for so reckless and opulent a thing as life. It is something else we find.

  • It looks now as if everything has been profitable to me. And if the payment has sometimes been excessive, it was afer all the payment, for life, and there cannot be and is no excessive payment for life.

  • I wanted to write; I sought all possible paths of personal liberation, but I could never sacrifice a living instant of life for the sake of a line to be written, my balance for the sake of a manuscript, a storm within me for the sake of a poem. I loved life itself too much for this.

  • ... my life has been wonderful. I have done what I felt like. I was given courage and I was given adventure and that has carried me along. And then also a sense of humor and a little bit of common sense. It has been a very rich life.

  • Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.

  • Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.

  • 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.

  • Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty.

  • Life was always a puzzle to me. When I had the youth I had no money; now I have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • 1874, in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • Does the road wind uphill all the way? / Yes, to the very end. / Will the day's journey take the whole long day? / From morn to night, my friend.

  • Life loves the liver of it.

    • Maya Angelou,
    • 1977, in Jeffrey M. Elliot, ed., Conversations With Maya Angelou ()
  • I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.

    • Maya Angelou,
    • 1977, in Jeffrey M. Elliot, ed., Conversations With Maya Angelou ()
  • Life goes not in a straight line, lad, but in a circle. The first half we spend venturing as far as the world's end from home and kin and stillness, and the latter half brings us back, by roundabout ways but surely, to that state from which we set out.

  • ... life in the twentieth century is like a parachute jump: You have to get it right the first time.

  • Frog or pearl, life hid something at the bottom of the cup.

  • 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 ()
  • [Life] is made up of infinite eternities — innumerable moments that will last forever.

    • Shira Milgrom,
    • 1988, in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • Life is a publicity stunt. A shill. You've been had.

  • Letters crossing in the post, unfamiliar tunes heard three times in one day, the way that blows of fate descend upon the same bowed shoulders, and the beams of good fortune glow perpetually upon the blessed. Fairy tales, as I said, are lived out daily. There is far more going on in the world than we ever imagine.

  • There seems to be a general overall pattern in most lives, that nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden everything happens.

  • The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order ... it is the continuous thread of revelation.

  • I don't think suicide is so terrible, in fact, I find it quite vital. Everybody should choose life every day. Some rainy winter Sundays when there's a little boredom, you should always carry a gun. Not to shoot yourself, but to know exactly that you're always making a choice.

  • ... there is no life that does not contribute to history. One added to one is the eternal abundance ...

  • Ah! life is delicious; well to live long, and see the darkness breaking, and the day coming! The day when soul shall not thrust back soul that would come to it; when men shall not be driven to seek solitude, because of the crying out of their hearts for love and sympathy. Well to live long and see the new time breaking! Well to live long; life is sweet, sweet, sweet!

  • Life after life after life goes by / without poetry, / without seemliness, / without love.

  • ... the beauty is forever there before us, forever piping to us, and we are forever failing to dance. We could not help but dance if we could see things as they really are. Then we should kiss both hands to Fate and fling our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls into life with a glorious abandonment, an extravagant, delighted loyalty, knowing that our wildest enthusiasm cannot more than brush the hem of the real beauty and joy and wonder that are always there.

  • ... to transpose the quotation ... 'I had slept and dreamed that life was duty, / But waked to find that life was beauty.'

  • Once out of all the gray days of my life I have looked into the heart of reality; I have witnessed the truth; I have seen life as it really is — ravishingly, ecstatically, madly beautiful, and filled to overflowing with a wild joy, and a value unspeakable.

  • ... we wish for more in life rather than more of it.

  • I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

  • Life goes on, having nowhere else to go.

  • It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

  • Life ain't the movies.

  • Life! I know not what thou art, / But know that thou and I must part; / And when, or how, or where we met, / I own to me's a secret yet.

  • Your life, in the end, is the sum total of how you spent your time.

  • I had not loved enough. I'd been busy, busy, so busy, preparing for life, while life floated by me, quiet and swift as a regatta.

  • ... life is the greatest gift that could ever be conceived ... A daffodil pushing up through the dark earth to the spring, knowing somehow deep in its roots that spring and light and sunshine will come, has more courage and more knowledge of the value of life than any human being I've met.

  • My life has not been the best possible. The slave of impulse, I have rushed forward to my own destruction.

    • Lady Caroline Lamb,
    • letter (1824), in Sydney, Lady Morgan, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • Sometimes it feels like God has reached down and touched me, blessed me a thousand times over, and sometimes it all feels like a mean joke, like God's advisers are Muammar Qaddafi and Phyllis Schlafly.

  • Living on Earth has always been a dangerous way to spend your time.

  • I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.

  • One should make one's life a mosaic. Let the general design be good, the colors lively, and the materials diversified ...

  • ... we learn through what we love to love the world — / which might be all that we are here to do.

  • These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one's prime, always remember that. ... One's prime is elusive.

  • ... be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.

  • For Lou Ann, life itself was a life-threatening enterprise.

  • Why endeavor to straighten the road of life? The faster we travel, the less there is to see.

    • Helen Hayes,
    • in Helen Hayes with Marion Glasserow Gladney, Our Best Years ()
  • There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars and the turning of the earth and the changing of the season, and even in the cycle of human life. But human life itself is almost pure chaos.

  • ... I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.

  • Life resembles Gobelin tapestry; you do not see the canvass on the right side; but when you turn it, the threads are visible.

  • Why shouldn't man be as angry about not having always been alive as about having to stop being alive?

  • ... life is a disease ...

  • Love is going to replace life and from then on it's all smooth sailing. Love will replace life.

  • It has begun to occur to me that life is a stage I'm going through.

  • ... it seems a silly kind o' business to bring us into the world at all for no special reason 'cept to take us out of it again just as folks 'ave learned to know us a bit and find us useful.

  • ... life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.

  • If you take what you want in this world you will also have to take what you get.

  • 'It's only for now,' we say when we're young. And one fine day we wake up and find out that what's only for now is the whole Goddamned thing!

  • For what is life, when Hope has ceas'd to strew / Her fragile flowers along its thorny way?

  • The almost right life is nothing at all. The right life is dangerous, open-ended, more questions than answers, a map to undiscovered countries.

  • Sacredness of human life! The world has never believed it! It has been with life that we settled our quarrels, won wives, gold and land, defended ideas, imposed religions. We have held that a death toll was a necessary part of every human achievement, whether sport, war, or industry. A moment's rage over the horror of it, and we have sunk into indifference.

  • Life is but a collection of habits.

  • Oh, of course I'd be breathing all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn't be living. You breathe all the time you're asleep, but you aren't living. I mean living — doing the things you want to do ... Just breathing isn't living!

  • It isn't life that weighs us down — it's the way we carry it.

  • Why hope to live a long life if we're only going to fill it with self-absorption, body maintenance and image repair? When we die, do we want people to exclaim 'She looked ten years younger,' or do we want them to say 'She lived a great life'?

  • Life is the best party I've ever been invited to.

    • Arlene Francis,
    • in Arlene Francis with Florence Rome, A Memoir by Arlene Francis ()
  • When I can look Life in the eyes, / Grown calm and very coldly wise, / Life will have given me the Truth, / And taken in exchange — my youth.

  • ... life is a frail moth flying / Caught in the web of the years that pass ...

  • Life was a fool's errand, carrying news to the worms.

  • What a miserable life is this! There is no happiness that is secure and nothing that does not change.

  • [Roseanne Roseannadanna line:] It's always something.

  • When I consider life and its few years — / A wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun; / A call to battle, and the battle done / Ere the last echo dies within our ears; / A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears; / The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat; / The burst of music down an unlistening street — / I wonder at the idleness of tears.

  • Almost every evil springs from a preceding evil. The smallest situations find their seeds in situations that preceded them. Life, all life, is a chain.

    • Holly Roth,
    • "The Pursuer" (1959), in Alfred Hitchcock: The Best of Mystery ()
  • And there is no living creature, though the whims of eons had put its eyes on boggling stalks and clamped it in a carapace, diminished it to a pinpoint and given it a taste for mud and stuck it down a well or hid it under a stone, but that creature will live on if it can.

  • Life is creation. Self and circumstances the raw material.

  • Life is just like a book. Only after you've read it do you know how it ends. It is when we are at the end of life that we know how our life ran. Mine, until now, has been black. As black as my skin. Black as the garbage dump where I live.

  • Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.

    • Agnes de Mille,
    • in Carol Easton, No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille ()
  • [After seeing a film based on her life:] What an interesting life I had. And how I wish I had realized it sooner!

    • Colette,
    • in Helen Bevington, When Found, Make a Verse Of ()
  • This is the urgency: Live! / and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.

  • Life is a gamble, a chance, a mere guess. Cast a line and reel in a splendid rainbow trout or a slippery eel.

  • To be put down in this world, and given only eighty years to get to know it in, is like being let loose in the United States of America for the first time with a high-powered car and unlimited gasoline — but with a visa that is valid for only a week. It's agonizing, that's what it is.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "Democracy Begins at Home," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • Life is a lottery. Pay up and take your chance if you desire a prize. You may not get it even then. You will never have it unless you pay with yourself first.

  • One day my life will end; and lest / Some whim should prompt you to review it, / Let her who knows the subject best / Tell you the shortest way to do it; / Then say, 'Here lies one doubly blest.' / Say, 'She was happy.'

  • Life is such a very troublesome matter, when all is said and done, that it's as well even to take its blessings quietly.

  • We are always getting ready to live, and never having time enough to live.

  • Some gamble at the tables, others on the race-course, but the greatest of all gambles is with life.

  • Life need not be easy, provided only that it is not empty.

    • Lise Meitner,
    • c. 1892, in Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, Nobel Prize Women in Science ()
  • Such a fitful fever life is!

  • The vicissitudes of life resemble one of those gilded balls seen in a fountain. Thrown up by the force of the water, it flies up and down — now at the top, catching the rays of the sun, now cast into the depths, then again shooting up, sometimes so high that it escapes altogether, and falls to the ground.

  • Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

    • Ernestine Ulmer,
    • in John Cook and Leslie Ann Gibson, eds., The Book of Positive Quotations ()
  • I do not want to arrive at the end of life and then be asked what I made of it and have to answer: 'I acted.' I want to be able to say: 'I loved and I was mystified. It was a joy sometimes, and I knew grief. And I would like to do it all again.'

  • We who are alive at this moment are only an infinitesimal part of something that has existed for eternity and will continue when there is no longer anything to show that earth existed. Still, we must feel and believe that we are all.

  • The life ... that she had complained against, had murmured at, had raged at and defied — none the less she had loved it so, joyed in it so, both in good days and evil, that not one day had there been when 'twould not have seemed hard to give it back to God, nor one grief that she could have forgone without regret --

  • If we get used to life that is the crime ...

    • Jean Garrigue,
    • "Some Serious Nonsense for the Cats and Wolves," The Monument Rose ()
  • I've always wanted two lives — one for the movies, one for myself.

  • ... I see no reason why I should not live on indefinitely just as I have done, and on the whole I am more comfortable here than in Purgatory, a place that I imagine to be like the suburbs of London.

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

  • She dragged her life after her. It was fastened to her like a heavy cloak, stifling at times to wear, but then she was accustomed to it.

  • What puppets we humans are — what puppets! Born without permission, dying when it is neither pleasant nor convenient, we are made to march or crawl through life on the edge of a precipice from which at any moment we may be knocked over. And we're told we should believe the experience is a privilege!

  • ... faith, Sir, we are here to Day, and gone to Morrow ...

  • ... when one's young ... everything is a rehearsal. To be repeated ad lib, to be put right when the curtain goes up in earnest. One day you know that the curtain was up all the time. That was the performance.

  • Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn't do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.

  • ... life is a tragic mystery. We are pierced and driven by laws we only half understand, we find that the lesson we learn again and again is that of accepting heroic helplessness.

  • The older I get, the clearer it becomes to me that no one is cheated in this world, unless it's by himself.

  • It's hard to be happy, and safe, and applauded in a miserable world.

  • Life is often a motiveless crime.

  • What are we, the inhabitants of this globe, least among the many that people infinite space? Our minds embrace infinity; the visible mechanism of our being is subject to merest accident.

  • There are chapters in every life which are seldom read, and certainly not aloud.

  • The Game of Life is a game of boomerangs. Man's thoughts, deeds and words return to him sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.

  • I remain convinced that one of the greater risks in both life and poetry is succumbing to inertia. I hope to be continually startled, made uncomfortable and taught.

    • Debra Bokur,
    • in Stephen Corey and Warren Slesinger, eds., Spreading the Word: Editors on Poetry ()
  • Our love is the unfolding miracle that expands our joy to include our pain.

  • On the whole, life is unfair in the way it works out. It is a game played without an umpire!

  • Children of yesterday, / Heirs of to-morrow, / What are you weaving? / Labor and sorrow? / Look to your looms again. / Faster and faster / Fly the great shuttles / Prepared by the Master, / Life's in the loom, / Room for it — / Room!

    • Mary Lasswell,
    • "Song of Hope," Poems of Mary Artemisia Lathbury ()
  • ... love and life cannot help but marry and stay married with an exhausting violence of fidelity.

  • Every season of life has its compensations ...

  • Life seems to be a choice between two wrong answers.

  • Life doesn't get easier, you just get better at it.

  • [Preparing to meet a firing squad in 1917:] Life is an illusion.

    • Mata Hari,
    • in Barbara McDowell and Hana Umlauf, Woman's Almanac ()
  • Life is a continual alternation of rest and action, of the need of comfort and the need of power.

  • I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty, — / I woke, and found that life was Duty.

  • Life is made up of desires that seem big and vital one minute, and little and absurd the next. I guess we get what's best for us in the end.

  • It is not what we have but what we do with what we have that constitutes the value of life.

  • For me life is a challenge. And it will be a challenge if I live to be 100 or if I get to be a trillionaire.

  • ... life is too short to stuff a mushroom.

  • The patches [of the quilt], placed next to each other formed a unity — a design for a life. ... The world still comes to me in fragments, but I see now that the fragments themselves are not the enemy. If the pattern is strong enough, they will form a whole. It was a fragmented life that I didn't want.

  • Life is not precious, a thing to be cherished. The soul and the mind are the instruments God gives us for our use and half of us don't begin to use them. We put Life and Health on two little pedestals and spend most of our time performing acts of devotion before them. Instead of using them as a carpenter his tools, as a helmsman the rudder, to hammer or steer our way to victory, we turn ourselves into Vestal Virgins with nothing on the face of the earth to do but to feed the feeble flames of our comfort. Life is no craven thing, lurking coward-like in a corner. It is big, broad, splendid in opportunity. It is to be used, not cherished. It is to be spent, not saved.

  • To me life means the growing of a soul. I do not know why this duty is imposed upon us. I merely know that it is, and I feel that we are given much latitude of free will.

  • Life is made up of circles ... Life is not a straight line ... And sometimes we circle back to a past time. But we are not the same. We are changed forever.

  • ... as we acquire new aches and new pains, our health care is, of necessity, being supplied by internists, cardiologists, dermatologists, podiatrists, urologists, periodontists, gynecologists and psychiatrists, from all of whom we want a second opinion. We want a second opinion that says, don't worry, you are going to live forever.

  • You could say that all of life is a series of last chances.

  • Maybe life was like a sea, and all the people were like boats ... Everybody who was born was cast into the sea. Winds would blow them in all directions. Tides would rise and turn, in their own rhythm. And the boats — they just went along as best they could, trying to find a harbor.

  • The ideal life is to do everything a little and one thing a lot.

  • Life is only a short whistle stop.

  • What a strange pattern the shuttle of life can weave.

  • I will not die an unlived life, / I will not go in fear / Of falling or catching fire, / I choose to inhabit my days, / To allow my living to open to me, / To make me less afraid, / More accessible, / To loosen my heart / Until it becomes a wing, / A torch, a promise. / I chose to risk my significance: / To live. / So that which comes to me as seed, / Goes to the next as blossom, / And that which comes to me as blossom, / Goes on as fruit.

  • I have always had a dread of becoming a passenger in life.

  • The secret of life is not to do what one likes, but to try to like what one has to do.

  • Life is a bowl of spaghetti ... every now and then you get a meatball.

  • I guess when all is said and done, if there is one last commentary on me, I would want it to be said that I participated in my life. I was a full participant.

  • In the cup of life, 'tis true, / Dwells a draught of bitter dew ... / Yet no other cup I know / Where such radiant waters glow.

    • Agnes Robinson,
    • "Epilogue," Lyrics: Selected From the Works of Agnes Robinson ()
  • Joyous miracle of birth, dark miracle of death. Between the two, a life, a destiny.

  • My life is a crystal teardrop. There are snowflakes falling in the teardrop and little figures trudging in slow motion.

  • ... you don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live.

  • Children, you must remember something. A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive. Having been alive, it won't be hard in the end to lie down and rest.

  • I gave my life to learning how to live. Now that I have it all organized ... it's just about over.

  • Life has given me of its best — / Laughter and weeping, labor and rest, / Little of gold, but lots of fun; / Shall I then sigh that all is done? / No, not I; while the new road lies / All untrodden, before my eyes.

  • Brief sweet laughter and tears, / A tumult of eddying strife, / Drift and the wreckage of years — / Life.

  • Warped with satisfactions and terrors, woofed with too many ambiguities and too few certainties, life can be lived best not when we have the answers — because we will never have those — but when we know enough to live it right out to the edges, edges sometimes marked by other people, sometimes showing only our own footprints.

    • Rosalie Maggio,
    • introduction, in Rosalie Maggio, ed., Quotations by Women on Life ()
  • ... our lives are stories we tell ourselves.

  • You must learn to drink the cup of life as it comes ... without stirring it up from the bottom. That's where the bitter dregs are!

  • Ah, sweet mystery of life / At last I found thee.

  • Ah, life, life, how madly, how cruelly it raced along your pulses!

  • Life is large. We cannot possibly grasp the whole of it in the few years that we have to live. What is vital? What is essential? What may we profitably let go?

  • Our lives are written in disappearing ink.

  • Don't confuse having a career with having a life. They are not the same.

  • ... whoever stage-manages this living business certain has a sense of humor.

  • Sometimes I think no matter how one is born, no matter how one acts, there is something out of gear with one somewhere, and that must be changed. Life at its best is a grand corrective.

  • She saw life as a ghastly skeleton and herself feverishly trying to cover up its bare bones ...

  • To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.

  • Life is a lie, and Love a cheat.

  • His life seemed to be untacking itself, lying loose about him like a blouse.

  • ... your life is the one place you have to spend yourself fully — wild, generous, drastic — in an unrationed profligacy of self. This one freedom is your sole birthright. It will take you your lifetime to exercise it. And in that split second when you understand you finally are about to die — to uncreate the world no time to do it over no more chances — that instant when you realize your conscious existence is truly flaring nova, won't you want to have used up all — all — the splendor that you are?

  • Watch out for life ... It's harder than it looks.

  • Life justified itself. It might be cruel, treacherous, ironic, but it was life, and pain was as much a part of it as joy.

  • ... I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know.

  • In each life what is left over still waits to be used.

  • Life owes me a living worth living. Yes, Eden regarded life as her debtor, she its relentless paymaster.

  • Life is a marvelous, transitory adventure.

  • A happy life is one spent in learning, earning and yearning.

  • What you get is a living — what you give is a life.

  • 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 ()
  • Life is what we make it. Always has been. Always will be.

  • World world sister world / When shall I tire of you. / When my bread is dry / When my hand forgets my glass / When the coffin's boxed me in / Maybe that's when I'll be tired of you.

  • Go we late or soon, / More frail our lives / Than dew-drops / Hanging in the / Morning.

  • A short life in the saddle, Lord! / Not long life by the fire.

  • Life is a breathing-space between two eternities, a holiday with appalling realities behind and before.

  • Your life feels different on you, once you greet death and understand your heart's position. You wear your life like a garment from the mission bundle sale ever after — lightly because you realize you never paid nothing for it, cherishing because you know you won't ever come by such a bargain again.

  • You know, some people fall right through the hole in their lives. It's invisible, but they come to it after time, never knowing where.

  • Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

  • life was a spiral staircase on which / we stumbled up and down simultaneously ...

  • I don't believe that life can be counted by years or days, but by experience and how you leave the world by the way you live.

  • Life is one long leavetaking.

    • Beth Nugent,
    • "City of Boys," in The North American Review ()
  • I've looked at life from both sides now, / From win and lose, and still somehow ... / It's life's illusions I recall ... / I really don't know life at all!

  • What is so nice & so unexpected about life is the way it improves as it goes along. I think you should impress this fact on your children because I think young people have an awful feeling that life is slipping past them & they must do something — catch something — they don't quite know what, whereas they've only got to wait & it all comes.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1952, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • One day I will have to forgive life for ending, I tell myself. I will have to learn how to let life be life with its unbearable finality ... just be what it is.

    • Sue Monk Kidd,
    • in Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor, Traveling With Pomegranates ()
  • Your world is as big as you make it. / I know, for I used to abide. / In the narrowest nest in a corner, / My wings pressing close to my side.

  • You're leaving college now, and going out into real life. And you have to realize that real life is not like college. Real Life is actually a lot more like high school.

  • There is nothing in life except what we put into it.

  • Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulders; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night.

  • For a long time it seemed to me that real life was about to begin, but there was always some obstacle in the way. Something had to be got through first, some unfinished business; time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

  • You're born, you die. Everything in between is subject to interpretation.

  • There are no bystanders in this life.

  • All my life I have gone out on a limb, but I have turned the limb into a bridge, and there is cool, clear water flowing under. The world is a challenging lover, and I, helplessly in love.

    • Holly Near,
    • in Holly Near, with Derk Richardson, Fire in the Rain...Singer in the Storm ()
  • ... I don't believe that life is supposed to make you feel good, or to make you feel miserable either. Life is just supposed to make you feel.

  • We may need to let go of our beliefs and ideas about life in order to have life.

  • ... death was the price of life.

  • By the time your life is finished, you will have learned just enough to begin it well.

  • Someone has said that life itself is a party: you join after it's started and you leave before it's finished.

  • Life is very hard, isn't it? It does kill you, after all.

    • Katharine Hepburn,
    • in Robin Morgan, "Katherine Hepburn: Getting On With It," Ms. ()
  • To go on and on about your soul is to miss the whole point of life. I could say that with more certainty if I knew the whole point of life.

  • It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we're alive — to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a façade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.

  • ... life is a narrative that you have a hand in writing.

  • Life's a rash, and then there's death and the itching's over.

  • Don't be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.

  • ... let dullness have its due: and remember that if life and conversation are happily compared to a bowl of punch, there must be more water in it than spirit, acid, or sugar.

    • Hester Lynch Piozzi,
    • 1817, in A. Hayward, ed., Autobiography, Letters, and Literary Remains of Mrs. Piozzi (Thrale), vol. 2 ()
  • All is pattern, all life, but we can't always see the pattern when we're part of it.

  • Life is malleable and the hammer is desire.

  • To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.

  • The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us.

  • Life is not only knowing what you want but what you'll settle for.

    • Joan Bennett Kennedy,
    • commencement address, in Marcia Chellis, The Joan Kennedy Story: Living With the Kennedys ()
  • there are three things that keep life / from being so daily / to make love / to make believe / to make hope.

  • If I could only live another century!

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • 1902, in Deborah Hopkinson, Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Women's Rights ()
  • All life goes in a circle, around and around, you started at one place, and then came right back to it again.

  • But I warn you, / I am living for the last time.

    • Anna Akhmatova,
    • "In 1940" (1940), in D.M. Thomas, trans., You Will Hear Thunder ()
  • So I, with eager voice and news-flushed face, / cry to those caught in comas, stupors, sleeping: / come, everything is running, / flying, / leaping, / hurtling through time! / And we are in this race.

    • Jessica Powers,
    • "Everything Rushes," in Marcianne Kappes, Track of the Mystic: The Spirituality of Jessica Powers ()
  • I have loved and been loved; all the rest is background music.

  • There's the life we dream, the life we deserve, and the life we get. I'll take what I got over what I deserve any day.

  • Be bigger than what happens to you.

  • throw in your lot / w/the gals & guys on the streets / write like you talk / talk like you sing / sing like you dance / or love.

  • In the end, what adds up to a life is nothing more than the accumulation of small daily moments.

  • There are three habitual styles of approaching the world: through passion, through aggression, and through ignorance. That is, we pull things to us, push things away from us, or ignore things.

  • ... it is a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.

  • The hard thing about death is that nothing ever changes. The hard thing about life is that nothing stays the same.

  • Life is real, and death is the illusion.

  • If I knew for certain that I should die next week, I would still be able to sit at my desk all week and study with perfect equanimity, for I know now that life and death make a meaningful whole.

  • Glad was the living — blessed be the dying. / Let the leaves fall.

  • Life, the permission to know death.

  • [On the ancient Venus figurines:] If the central religious figure was a woman giving birth and not, as in our time, a man dying on a cross, it would not be unreasonable to infer that life and the love of life — rather than death and the fear of death — were dominant in society as well as art.

  • Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death ...

  • Life flows on over death as water closes over a stone dropped into a pool. ... Fate is certain; death is certain; but the courage and nobility of men and women matter more than these.

  • I am not ready to die, / But I am learning to trust death / As I have trusted life.

    • May Sarton,
    • "Gestalt at Sixty," Selected Poems of May Sarton ()
  • Cry for joy in April, / Cry for death in fall. / Birth's an open gateway, / But death's a solid wall.

  • Life is a movie. Death is a photograph.

  • And once he's been touched he won't dare turn his head, / ... / Numb with pain, the truth comes — that to live means to die. / He is blessed who cares not what the stars signify.

  • It is not death that kills us, but life. We are done to death by life.

  • Destiny is another name for humanity's half-hearted yet persistent search for death. Again and again peoples have had the chance to live and show what would happen if human life were irrigated by continual happiness; and they have preferred to blow up the canals and perish of drought.

  • Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Only Justice Can Stop a Curse," In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • Life and Death are two locked caskets, each of which contains the key to the other.

  • ... I shall never be afraid / Even of life; / And who that does not fear life can fear Death / Which is so much a lesser thing?

  • Knowledge by suffering entereth, / And life is perfected by death.

  • It is not dying hurts us so, — / 'T is living hurts us more ...

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1864, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • To get born, your body makes a pact with death, / and from that moment, all it tries to do is cheat — .

  • When it's over I don't want to wonder / if I have made of my life something particular, and real. / I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, / or full of argument. / I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

    • Mary Oliver,
    • "When Death Comes," New and Selected Poems ()
  • I know I shall not live very long. But why is that so sad? Is a festival more beautiful because it lasts longer? My sensuous perceptions grow sharper, as if I were supposed to take in everything with the few years that will be offered to me ... And now love will still blossom for me before I depart, and if I've painted three good pictures, then I shall leave gladly with flowers in my hand and my hair.

  • When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn't matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly.

  • Life! we've been long together, / Through pleasant and through cloudy weather; / 'Tis hard to part when friends are dear, / Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear; / Then steal away, give little warning; / Choose thine own time; / Say not 'Good-night'; but in some brighter clime/ Bid me 'Good-morning.'

  • ... one life would not suffice, mine especially. To touch everything and leave nothing after oneself! Ah! my God! I hope better than that. Ah! I am very cowardly, and under the blow of such a terror I am ready to believe in priests.

  • To be born is to start the journey towards death.

  • What should happen to us is that we should grow to whatever is our peak, and then blow up in a blast of fireworks.

  • ... the anxiety arising from the perpetual activity of the death instinct, though never eliminated, is counteracted and kept at bay by the power of the life instinct.

    • Melanie Klein,
    • "On the Theory of Anxiety and Guilt" (1948), Envy and Gratitude & Other Works 1946-1963 ()
  • ... one should be afraid of life, not of death.

  • What we put into every moment is all we have. You can drug yourself to death or you can smoke yourself to death or eat yourself to death, or you can do everything right and be healthy and then get hit by a car. Life is so great, such a neat thing, and yet all during it we have to face death, which can make you nuts and depressed.

  • It is so hard for us little human beings to accept this deal that we get. It's really crazy, isn't it? We get to live, then we have to die. ... What spirit human beings have! It is a pretty cheesy deal — all the pleasures of life, and then death.

  • The decision to choose life or death is constantly in our own hands.

    • Jenny Read,
    • 1974, in Kathleen Doyle, ed., Jenny Read: In Pursuit of Art and Life ()
  • ... I do disapprove of the modern attitude that you can't do the simplest thing, like dying or being born, in your own house.

  • How oddly do life and death jostle each other in this strange world of ours! How nearly allied are smiles and tears!

  • It's not that I'm afraid to die, but I'm terribly, terribly afraid not to live.

  • Every life is punctuated by deaths and departures, and each one causes great suffering that it is better to endure rather than forgo the pleasure of having known the person who has passed away. Somehow our world rebuilds itself after every death, and in any case we know that none of us will last forever. So you might say that life and death lead us by the hand, firmly but tenderly.

  • i hope i die / warmed by the life / i tried to live.

  • ... if you are afraid of death, you are afraid of life, for living your life leads to death. Until you face death and see its beauty, you will be afraid to really live — you will never properly burn the candle for fear of its end.

    • Doris Haddock,
    • with Dennis Burke, Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year ()
  • It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you'll live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do. You live your life in preparation for tomorrow or in remembrance of yesterday, and meanwhile, each today is lost.

  • Am I incapable of living with the one sole guarantee, that I'm still here? Am I afraid of living because I fear death?

  • The more complete one's life is, the more ... one's creative capacities are fulfilled the less one fears death ... People are not afraid of death per se, but of the incompleteness of their lives.

  • Silence before being born, silence after death: life is nothing but noise between two unfathomable silences.

  • Lifestyle. Not a word at all, really — rather a wordette. A genuine case of more is less. ... the word life and the word style are, except in rare cases (and chances are that you're not of them), mutually exclusive.

  • ... those who use the word 'lifestyle' are rarely in possession of either.

  • Alternative Lifestyles, the emotional fly-drive packages of our times, come equipped with a set of clothes, a choice of authors, a limited menu of sports and a discount coupon book of clichés.

  • I don't have a life-style, I have a life.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "An Answer to Some Questions on How I Write," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • It's funny how heterosexuals have lives and the rest of us have 'lifestyles.'