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Ups and Downs

  • Intermittency — an impossible lesson for human beings to learn. How can one learn to live through the ebb-tides of one's existence? How can one learn to take the trough of the wave? ... Perhaps this is the most important thing. ... Simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of relationship is valid.

  • ... recurrence is sure. What the mind suffered last week, or last year, it does not suffer now; but it will suffer again next week or next year. Happiness is not a matter of events; it depends upon the tides of the mind.

  • The seasons pitched and heaved a man from rail to rail, from weather side to lee side and back, and a lunatic hogged the helm. Shall these bones remember?

  • Watch for the high tides of yourself and flow up with them; when the inevitable low tides come, either rest or meditate. You cannot escape rhythm. You transcend it by working with it.

  • Deborah never yielded to any of the vicissitudes of life; she met them in fair fight like enemies, and vanquished them, not with trumpet and spear, but with daily duties.

  • But complex people are never certain that they are not crooks, never certain their passports are quite in order, and are, therefore, unnerved by the slightest thing.

  • Life is so rotatory that the wilderness falls to each, sometime.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1873, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • 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.

  • I am not so foolish as to murmur, if now, since I have drunk up my wine and beer, I have to put up with skimmed milk and sour.

  • Too many Americans have twisted the sensible right to pursue happiness into the delusion that we are entitled to a guarantee of happiness. If we don't get exactly what we want, we assume someone must be violating our rights. We're no longer willing to write off some of life's disappointments to simple bad luck.

  • The worst part of our nature is seldom slow to revenge itself upon the best. After any strain of moral heroism, comes an inevitable reaction.

  • Deprivation and frustration are as much a part of life as gratification.

  • Oh, how unconstantly our fortune turns. / One hour in joy, the next with sorrow mourns.

  • One day I have chicken to eat and the next day the feathers.

    • Calamity Jane,
    • letter (1890), in Karen Payne, ed., Between Ourselves ()