Sometimes when you are trying to find the way that best describes how you feel, you have to let others speak. Sometimes you are just too close to the subject at hand to do it justice with the meagre words that come to mind in those short few seconds you have to collect yourself when someone asks you a “big” question.
On these occasions, it is all that you can do to hold in a steady stream of “um” and “well, you know”. These are the instances that Bartlett was thinking of when he collected quotations for his book, which he aptly named Bartlett’s Quotations.
So, I thought I would share those quotes that I have selected as “life mottos”— these words that someone else has strung together to say what I wanted to say.
The first quote is one I heard about a decade ago, and it has stuck with me since then.
The things you’re fired for when you are young are the things you get awards for when you are old. – Francis Ford Coppola
I heard this watching some late night celebrity “documentary”. I was going through a stage of selective insomnia— I couldn’t sleep until the wee hours. This particular night I was flicking back and forth between the aforementioned documentary and a Partridge Family rerun (which aren’t great, by the way). I was feeling, as teenagers often do, that I was underappreciated. This spoke to that feeling and still does. I suppose that at its basis, this quote saying “you do you”, but for me it’s more than that. It claims that a level of failure is natural, and necessary. It says, “don’t discount yourself because someone else doesn’t see the immediate value of what you are doing. You are in your life for the long haul, so you have to be happy with it, no one else”. Of course, it would be easy to ignore all advice given in light of this quote— to say that others cannot comprehend your genius, but I don’t think that is what Francis Ford is getting at. It’s about staying true to your vision, not necessarily about getting your own way.
I never let my schooling get in the way of my education. – Mark Twain
As a High School drop out I get this more than most. Granted, I have a Master’s degree, but still… I have always learned just as much outside a classroom as I have learnt inside a classroom. As cliché as it is, I consider myself a lifelong learner— the kind of person whose education is on-going and whose graduation is death. The pursuit of knowledge is paramount to the good life, in my mind, but how you go about collecting this is up to you. Formal education has taken a nosedive as of late, so I completely understand those who wish to avoid the academic sector, but gaining wisdom and ability really is non-negotiable. I would add to this a quote from Little Women (the 1994 film version— it’s not in the book that I remember): “Nothing we learn is ever lost to us”. So no matter how simple the task might be, its mastery still adds to the person that you are.
I don’t want to be perfect, I want to be badass. – Dave Grohl
Obviously. Who doesn’t want to be badass? I know I do. I have perfectionist tendencies; I am certainly my own harshest critic. I found this quote not too long ago, while indulging in my love of Nirvana. This has become something of my mantra. I don’t want to be perfect, that’s so boring. I want to revolutionize! I am far more interested in doing things that are new and daring than perfecting something banal. The summation of human existence is lasting impact. We are not remembered for perfection— we are remembered for how far and hard we push the norms. I don’t want to be remembered for doing one thing perfectly; that means I didn’t try anything else. I want to be remembered for advancing as far as I can in as many ways as I can until I finally exert so much effort I die.
These quotes for a collective idea of what I am, or who I am: I am a person who finds their own way to learn, to develop their vision, and to continue to develop their vision. I am a person what want to be as radical as she can in as many ways as she can. I want to be badass.
Cover image: Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia