In every work of genius
we recognize our own rejected thoughts.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
American poet & essayist (1803-1882)
Will a quote a day really keep the doctor away?
Like an apple a day, there are no guarantees of its efficacy but pondering the meaning behind a thought-provoking, image-evoking, enlightening and inspiring quote, can stimulate and energize you in healthy ways. I for one, find that quotes extend my thinking beyond my own. They also reinforce many of the thoughts I already have. Quotes make me think further. They make me think more.
Outside of mundanity is where I seek to go – where most of us wish to go – faraway from what we have to do when we deal with everyday life – roof tile repairs, burst water pipes, leaking kitchen faucets or the many other responsibilities to which we as social beings, commit. At the same time however, we can be uplifted by a quote from a profound and inspiring thinker. Our minds have the capacity to think in more than one direction at the same time. So how about a quote a day to keep mundanity at bay?
Connecting to creativity
I love quotes and over the years I have collected many that are meaningful to me. In the introduction to my recent book, QUOTES ABOUT CREATIVITY: What Makes Creative People Tick, I write:
“I have been collecting quotations for many years from a variety of creative thinkers whom I have come across in my readings. Their thoughts about their lives, their creative processes and philosophies on a wide-range of topics have served as both reinforcements to and advancements of my own thinking on creativity and related topics. I have benefited from and enjoyed my internal conversations with these profound thinkers from the past and the present. I decided therefore, to honor their individual strivings and dedication to what was and is meaningful to them in a book of their quotations about creativity.”
All these people lived their lives according to their individual creative yearnings, beliefs, and desires to contribute to the world. They did not do their work because of their need to appear important, but because they were compelled to explore what was meaningful to them – what they truly believed in. Each individual whom I selected for my book of quotes, had their own song to sing and I have included their thought songs in the book:
A bird does not sing because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.
Chinese Proverb (page 13)
I selected the quotes that I felt reflected individual authenticity and profundity, quotes that resonated with me:
Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before,
But on saying exactly what you think yourself.
British High Court Judge (1829-1894) page 20
In or out of context?
I find it enjoyable to select a particular quote and see how I can apply it’s meaning in ways that might be quite different to the context in which it was originally used. It is fun to do and so you might want to try that, too. Take this quote for example. There are many ways it could be applied. I have selected two:
Why do you look like an envelope without any address on it?
Writer & humorist (1835 – 1910) page 110
What marvelous images this evokes for me! I see many bland, expressionless faces with little internal cerebration or animation. I see houses with no addresses – no ownership and no evidence of human energy. I see rooms with only safety in their design, all quite devoid of risk-taking or surprises. These unaddressed envelope-houses, have no sense of adventure but are instead, homes based solely on perfection rather than on personality. Just like a person should not be only a structure uninhabited by a self within, so a home needs to reflect who you are…
Be yourself; everybody else is already taken.
American writer & humorist (1845 – 1910) page 111
Collaboration to discover
So put yourself into yourself and put yourself into your home. Sometimes, you might need reinforcement in doing so. You might find that instead of achieving this entirely on your own, you need to collaborate with people who will help you to discover that place – in your head or that physical space that feels like home:
Great discoveries and achievements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.
Alexander G. Bell
Scottish-born American inventor (1847 – 1920) page 63
When you take time to read and ponder quotes, you think not only about the individual whose words have been recorded, but you also think about society in general, life in its many forms, progress and regress and the state of the world today. Plus, very importantly, when you ponder a quote, you ponder yourself.
You put so much heart into your posts. This idea around pondering quotes then pondering self is brilliant. There are lots of sites that publish quotable quotes but I’ve not seen one like this.
Of great inspiration to me: Kandinsky.
“Color is a means to exert a direct influence on the soul.” Could color be like a tuning fork of some kind that touches invisible places within us? I choose to believe so and it affects my work and my home.
Looking forward to your next post.
Thank you so much for your comments Susan! I love the quote you give of Kandinsky. I find that the vibrancy of color – of many colors – stirs emotions in me that are uplifting and energizing. Kandinsky also said: “Color is the keyboard…The artist the hand that plays…to cause vibrations in the soul.” After visiting your studio in Reno, I was left with a lasting impression of how emotively you use light and color in your fabulous paintings. So I respond to your question (which by the way I love because it is a further elucidation for me) : “Could color be like a tuning fork of some kind that touches invisible places within us?” with a definite YES. I think that by being receptive to mysterious stimuli from those “invisible places within”, you transmit those emotions to others, too.
‘A quote a day …….. ‘–brilliant title for a thought-full blog!
Most surely those words of Alexander Graham Bell–as do those of Mark Twain and the others–set one busily to pondering! He takes me back through a lifetime. Ever since our varsity days, he’s been one of my top 250 Millennium characters (those at the helm of forging the path of Western Civilisation, 1000-2000 AD! Aside from inventing the telephone (and how huge has it now become), he helped establish the journal ‘Science’ (in the 1880s) and was the 2nd President of the ‘National Geographic Society’ (1898-1903). Both colour my everyday life! When you do pop around to visit our ‘Microcosm’ here in Pretoria, you’ll find a decent pile of those iconic yellow-rimmed Nat. Geo. magazines gracing the corner of one of our coffee tables! Yes, from global science to global conservation–quite aside from the phone–AGB has certainly helped keep ‘many minds’ alight and ‘cooperating’!
I loved scrolling down this newsletter which looks great by the way, while wondering how to choose what to click on first: should I read your newest insights on quotes, or listen to the radio interview, or go to the website that hosts your fabulous art….a dilemma. So after a brief bout of indecision, I decided to start at the top with “A Quote A Day Will Keep The Doctor Away”. You, Ellen, present so many deep insights using such a thoughtful and eclectic group of quotes, and you reflect back to us the impact that a few well-thought out words can have on our daily lives. My favorite is the Chinese Proverb: “”A bird does not sing because it has an answer, It sings because it has a song”..How exquisitely simple yet deep. I moved on to the radio interview with Kevin Hunter and found it to be terrific…a real conversation with a kindred spirit for you Ellen. He gets your amazing drive and talent and intelligence…and he shares you with the listening audience without interruption. P.S. I really enjoyed the wonderful comments from Susan Watson who shared her reflective and meaningful responses so beautifully , and who is an exceptionally talented, devoted and accomplished painter…and to John Anderson who always amazes me with his comments …and “lessons”…hi John!! And whoever reads this, go to Fine Art Bistro and check out Ellen’s fabulous art!
John and Jill – what wonderful comments from both of you! John, you are so amazingly adept at contextualizing the individuals I have quoted in this blog such as Alexander Graham Bell and then landing him in your collection of yellow-rimmed National Geographic magazines on your coffee table – information, judging by their yellowness in your description, that has definitely seen the light of day (the action of the lignin in the paper). And Jill – so pleased to have given you a little bit of conflict in the beginning as to where to begin and then you decided to start at the top and scrolled down. Now that is smart! I love your responses to the blog, the radio show (Kevin Hunter is a terrific interviewer), the comments from Susan and John, and I want to add, I love your art!
Hello Ellen and Jill!!
What fun chatting so colourfully around the world,
each from our own corner of realty,
together a vibrating tapestry!
I could fill a whole few pages on Mark Twain,
who ‘came in with Halley’s comet in 1835’
and went ‘out with it’ on its return in 1910!
But I really must refrain–too much else to get done!