"I believe that only one person in a thousand knows the trick of really living in the present. Most of us spend 59 minutes an hour living in the past, with regret for lost joys, or shame for things badly done (both utterly useless and weakening)—or in a future which we either long for or dread. Yet the past is gone beyond prayer, and every minute you spend in vain effort to anticipate the future is a moment lost. There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute—here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle. Which is exactly what it is—a miracle and unrepeatable." -Storm Jameson
The summer after my sophomore year of high school, I went for a 16-day trip in the Wyoming backcountry with 11 strangers. For me, it was terrifying. Our leaders seemed young (they were in their early 20's), and I didn't relate well to any of the other high schoolers. And we were deep in the wilderness. It struck me that if anything bad happened—someone got sick or broke an arm—we'd either have to hike for days back to the car and civilization or they'd have to bring in a helicopter.
Don't get me wrong—I had a lot of fun on the trip. We saw breathtaking scenery, I stepped firmly outside of my teenaged comfort zone (in a good way), and got the best Teva tan of my life. Our young leaders also introduced us to quotes. Every night, as we gathered around the campfire, one of our leaders would read a quote and we would reflect on the day.
At the end of the trip, we were each given an official Wilderness Ventures quote book. It's a simple compilation of really good quotes and remains one of my prized possessions today. (The opening quote of this post came from the Wilderness Ventures book.)
The best quotes make their point with a few poignant words. Some come from famous people and others just come from deep thinkers. My favorite quotes are motivators, phrases and thoughts that pick you up or give you a pat on the back right when you need them.
Later in high school, when I was a captain of my field hockey team, I shared a quote before every game. It was just the right thing to pull everyone's attention together and get focused before hitting the field.
One of my favorite toy companies pulls inspiration from the wise words of little ones. In need of a smile? Then click on over to their quote gallery here.
And these days, I can always find an excuse to splurge on Yogi Tea. They print little sayings (you could call them quotes, or maybe even meditations) on each tea bag. That moment when you're sitting down for a mug of tea—whether it comes first thing in the morning or last thing at night—always seems just right for an extra dose of deep thoughts.
'How Great Quotes Shaped Our World' was a recent topic on the npr radio show On Point. You can listen to the episode here.