I have a friend named Molly who is contemplating a project that involves letterpressing good quotes on cards, so we were talking about people that are quotable, but maybe not in a ubiquitous way; like, say, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. Mark Twain or Will Rogers. Not that they aren’t extremely quotable, but maybe there are others who are less known but also have good things to say.
Here are some that fit that bill for me:
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
“You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
“This, I thought, is what is meant by 'thy will be done' in the Lord's Prayer, which I had prayed time and again without thinking about it. It means that your will and God's will may not be the same. It means there's a good possibility that you won't get what you pray for. It means that in spite of your prayers you are going to suffer.”
“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.”
“A roadside barbecue stand? Everything tastes better when it's near a road!”
“A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things.”
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”
“You can't just pick and choose which laws to follow. Sure I'd like to tape a baseball game without the express written consent of major league baseball, but that's just not the way it works.”
“Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.” (Case in point: the current presidential campaign.)
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me’.”
Back to Molly and her project: If I were going to commission her to letterpress a quote on a set of notecards for me, which quote would I choose? That’s tough because I love a good quote. I’m sort of a quote collector, and a hoarder of aphorisms.
Who doesn’t love: “Not all those who wander are lost” from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien?
How could you go wrong with John Muir? “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten C.S. Lewis. “I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy; the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Maybe all those are too obvious. After all, if I’m going to have custom cards made, I don’t want them to look like they came from Mardel or a Hallmark store.
Like so many who came of age in the 60s, song lyrics were my poetry. I could definitely find ongoing inspiration from some song lyrics pressed into just the right paper.
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
—IMAGINE. By John Lennon
Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence
—The Sound of Silence. By Simon & Garfunkel
That one may be too long, but I like the idea of having the ampersand character pressed on the card as in the name Simon & Garfunkel.
Just the right verse from scripture could be apropos, not so that I would seem holy, but because of the human honesty there. Definitely, my choice would be Mark 9:24. It is the story of my faith journey in six words:
“I do believe, help my unbelief.”
I had a fleeting thought, and I realize it sounds as arrogant as Donald Trump to even verbalize it, but why let humility stand in the way? What if—I used a quote of my own. What if—I had ever said, or could possibly say, something quotable? What if—one of these days, at my funeral, someone could read a eulogy: “He loved his family and music, and as he would always say: ‘blah, blah, blah, blah and blan’,” And people would knowingly nod and turn to one another and murmur in whispers things like: “That sounds like him,” or “If I’ve heard him say that once, I’ve heard it a hundred times”.
The lines I say often somehow don’t seem notecard-worthy, carefully letterpressed one card at a time by Molly or anyone else.
- “I prefer thin crust.”
- “Did you notice how all the pictures on their walls were crooked?”
- “I will never vote for Donald Trump.” (But I’m haunted by the old aphorism, “Never say never!” because I once said out loud I would never vote for Hillary Clinton. That was before I could fathom the day that a cartoon character would be the candidate of the “Party of Lincoln”.)
- “Dang allergies!”
- “Yes, my Grand-Girls are beautiful and amazing!”
How about you? If Molly were going to letterpress your favorite quote on a lovely notecard, what would it say?