I don’t want to live a life characterized by anger.

It’s why I write, why I move, why I leave.

It’s why I value reconciliation, resolution, and reflection. It’s why I don’t watch movies with Kirsten Dunst, Nicolas Cage, or Angelina Jolie: I don’t want to live a life characterized by anger.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing as a way to reduce stress. I’ve been categorizing, synthesizing, organizing, and deleting. I’ve been outlining, brainstorming, rewriting, and revising.

I aspire.

A few days ago, I ran across an old journal of mine that was littered with quotes. What did you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?

On Perspective and History

  1. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
  2. “Your neighbor’s vision is as true for him as your own vision is true for you.” – Miguel De Unamuno
  3. “You heard me. You ain’t blind.” – Zora Neale Hurston
  4. “Until the lion has his own storyteller, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – African proverb
  5. “If men swear that they want to harm you when you are asleep, you can go to sleep. If women say so, stay awake.” –African proverb
  6. “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.” – Maya Angelou
  7. “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” –James Baldwin
  8. “In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth rather than a reason for destruction.” –Audre Lorde
  9. “When I’m asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court? And I say, ‘When there are nine.’ People are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

On Imagination, Poetry, and Writing

  1. “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain
  2. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
  3. “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Steven King
  4. “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—“ – Edgar Allan Poe
  5. “Children, when they ask you why your mama so funny, say: She is a poet. She don’t have no sense.” – Lucille Clifton

On Passion, Goals, and Purpose

  1. “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” – James Baldwin
  2. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.” – African proverb
  3. “To begin, begin.” – William Wordsworth
  4. “What’s the quality of your intent?” – Thurgood Marshall
  5. “All I ask is that today, you do the best work of your life.” – Steve Jobs
  6. “Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.” – Bill Murray
  7. “You can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.” –Misty Copeland
  8. “When I dare to be powerful- to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” –Audre Lorde

On Freedom and Enslavement

  1. “When you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.” – Carter G. Woodson
  2. “A man is either free or he is not. There is no apprenticeship for freedom.” –Amiri Baraka
  3. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” –Frederick Douglass
  4. “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” – Frederick Douglass
  5. “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” – Assata Shakur
  6. “Most people don’t grow up. Most people age.” –Maya Angelou
  7. “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” – Zora Neale Hurston

On Life, Love, and Hope

  1. “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank
  2. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston
  3. “Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary.” – Mother Teresa
  4. “I do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses. Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.” – e.e. cummings
  5. “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” – bell hooks

On Things That We Value

  1. “Be careful what you set your heart upon—for it will surely be yours.” –James Baldwin
  2. “God has been replaced, as he has all over the West, with respectability and air conditioning.” – Amiri Baraka
  3. “I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell—you see, I have friends in both places.” – Mark Twain
  4. “Business underlies everything in our national life, including our spiritual life. Witness the fact that in the Lord’s Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach.” – Woodrow Wilson

On The World

  1. “Your silence will not protect you.” –Audre Lorde
  2. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin
  3. “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  4. “Most of what matters in our lives takes place in our absence.” – Salman Rushdie
  5. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  6. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou

On Action and Engagement

  1. “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.” –Robert Frost
  2. “What happens to a dream deferred?” – Langston Hughes
  3. “Nobody is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.” –William Ralph Inge
  4. “What we do is more important than what we say or what we believe.” – bell hooks
  5. “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” – Bruce Lee
  6. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

What are yours? What quotes have changed your life? 


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