Incidental Quotes

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I don't want to live, I want to love first and live incidentally.
Zelda Fitzgerald
Oh, I can never get enough. Which, incidentally, is what your sister said when--
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1))
Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Slaughterhouse-Five)
You never called me back," he said. "I called you so many times and you never called me back." Magnus looked at Alec as if he'd lost his mind. "Your city is under attack," he said. "The wards have been broken, and the streets are full of demons. And you want to know why I haven't called you?" Alec set his jaw in a stubborn line. "I want to know why you haven't called me back." Magnus threw his hands up in the air in a gesture of utter exasperation. Alec noted with interest that when he did it, a few sparks escaped from his fingertips, like fireflies escaping from a jar. "You're an idiot." "Is that why you haven't called me? Because I'm an idiot?" "No." Magnus strode toward him. "I didn't call you because I'm tired of you only wanting me around when you need something. I'm tired of watching you be in love with someone else - someone, incidentally, who will never love you back. Not the way I do." "You love me?" "You stupid Nephilim," Magnus said patiently. "Why else am I here? Why else would I have spent the past few weeks patching up all your moronic friends every time they got hurt? And getting you out of every ridiculous situation you found yourself in? Not to mention helping you win a battle against Valentine. And all completely free of charge!
Cassandra Clare (City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3))
Oh, I can never get enough," he said. "Which, incidentally, is what your sister said to me when - " The carriage door flew open. A hand shot out, grabbed Will by the back of the shirt, and hauled him inside. The door banged shut after him, and Thomas, sitting bolt upright, seized reins of the horses. A moment later the carriage had lurched forth into the night, leaving Gabriel staring, infuriated, after it.
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1))
No." Magnus strode toward him. "I didn't call you because I'm tired of you only wanting me around when you need something. I'm tired of watching you be in love with someone else-someone, incidentally, who will never love you back. Not the way I do.
Cassandra Clare (City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3))
I didn't call you because I'm tired of you only wanting me around when you need something. I'm tired of watching you be in love with someone else - someone, incidentally, who will never love you back. Not the way I do.
Cassandra Clare (City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3))
Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.
Harold Abelson (Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs)
Why are you breaking down, incidentally? I mean if you’re able to go into a collapse with all your might, why can’t you use the same energy to stay well and busy?
J.D. Salinger (Franny and Zooey)
Is action merely the incidental product of thought, or is thought the consequential product of action?
Haruki Murakami (After Dark)
Enough of what? Enough of behaving as you do. Oh, I can never get enough. Which, incidentally, is what you sister said to me when
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1))
Oh, I can never get enough," he said. "Which, incidentally, is what your sister said to me when-" The carriage door flew open. A hand shot out, grabbed Will by the back of the shirt, and hauled him inside.
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1))
There is, incidentally, no way of talking about cats that enables one to come off as a sane person.
Dan Greenberg
I dont' want to live - I want to love first, and live incidentally.
Zelda Fitzgerald
Will tossed the bloody cloth aside. “And you wonder why we aren’t friends.” “I just wondered,” Gabriel said, in more subdued voice, “if perhaps you have ever had enough.” “Enough of what?” “Enough of behaving as you do.” Will crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes glistening dangerously. “Oh, I can never get enough,” he said. “Which, incidentally, is what your sister said to me when─” The carriage door flew open. A hand shot out, grabbed Will by the back of his shirt, and hauled him inside.
Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1))
Are you up? Dressing? (Astrid) No. I’m pissing on your rug. What do you think I’m doing? (Zarek) I’m blind. For all I know you really are peeing on my rug, which is a very nice rug incidentally, so I hope you’re kidding. (Astrid)
Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dance with the Devil (Dark-Hunter, #3))
And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor's pocket? No, it's not as easy as that. If that were all, I'd say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren't. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea.
Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead)
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Filters are for cigarrettes and coffee," Simon muttered under his breath as they went inside. "Two things I could use right now, incidentally.
Cassandra Clare (City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1))
I think you were the wrong person for the Jace that I was, but not the Jace that I am now, the Jace you helped make me. Who is, incidentally, a Jace I like much better than the old one. You’ve changed me for the better, and even if you left me, I would still have that.
Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6))
Do you not find consciousness alone to be the most exhilarating thing? Here we are, in this incomprehensibly large universe, on this one tiny moon around this one incidental planet, and in all the time this entire scenario has existed, every component has been recycled over and over and over again into infinitely incredible configurations, and sometimes, those configurations are special enough to be able to see the world around them. You and I—we’re just atoms that arranged themselves the right way, and we can understand that about ourselves. Is that not amazing?
Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1))
When an incidental color or a random fragrance takes possession of our imagination, we can unexpectedly blossom into a new entity as it gives us wings and enlightens our horizon, just like canary birds that feel stimulated and start singing as soon as they sense the radiance of the sun through the reflection of the skylight. (‘"Côté cour…Côté jardin" )
Erik Pevernagie
I don’t want to live— 
I want to love first, and live…incidentally.
Zelda Fitzgerald (Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
I want you to leave your incidental Dick, and this awful hole, and come to live with me, and die with me, and everything with me.
Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)
You don't blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home... Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism...
William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist)
We are all dying to give our lives away to something, maybe. God or Satan, politics or grammar, topology or philately - the object seemed incidental to this will to give ourselves away, utterly. To games or needles, to some other person. Something pathetic about it. A flight-from in the form of a plunging-into. Flight from exactly what? These rooms, blandly filled with excrement and heat? To what purpose?
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
The addiction to our mobiles may insidiously unlock evil actions by helplessly surrendering to the plague of blatant indifference, arrogant inattention, and flighty bee-lining and sophisticated acts of revenge. Smartphones may unstitch positive points in our lives and incidentally enchant us by instant selfies but, with some, they might inexorably trigger off shabby and despicable practices. ("Even if the world goes down, my mobile will save me" )
Erik Pevernagie
Siobhan says that if you raise one eyebrow it can means lots of different things. It can mean 'I want to do sex with you' and it can also mean 'I think what you just said was very stupid.
Mark Haddon (El curioso incidente del perro a medianoche)
There’s nothing in all the world I want but you and your precious love. All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence because you’d soon love me less and less and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own. I don’t want to live—I want to love first, and live incidentally… Don’t—don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me. You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all—and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had.
Zelda Fitzgerald (Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
That's why it's always worth having a few philosophers around the place. One minute it's all is truth beauty and is beauty truth, and does a falling tree in the forest make a sound if there's no one there to hear it, and then just when you think they're going to start dribbling one of 'em says, incidentally, putting a thirty-foot parabolic reflector on a high place to shoot the rays of the sun at an enemy's ships would be a very interesting demonstration of optical principles.
Terry Pratchett (Small Gods (Discworld, #13))
Harry, despite your privileged insight into Voldemort’s world (which, incidentally, is a gift any Death Eater would kill to have), you have never been seduced by the Dark Arts, never, even for a second, shown the slightest desire to become one of Voldemort’s followers!” “Of course I haven’t!” said Harry indignantly. “He killed my mum and dad!” “You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!” said Dumbledore loudly.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6))
Let us take care of ourselves instead of burning out in the long run. The path of our inner world is not an irreversible freeway to immutable integrity. Let us thus leave room for some probing during the fast and furious assault of the wishful targets throughout our lives. We need not feel demeaned either when we waver in facing the hassling crossroads coming up or must admit needing incidental backing or feel compelled to accept to question ourselves to the bottom. ("Poste Restante")
Erik Pevernagie
Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison)
At what point, then, should one resist? When one's belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one's home? An arrest consists of a series of incidental irrelevancies, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about one of them individually...and yet all these incidental irrelevancies taken together implacably constitute the arrest.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
As a survival-happy species, our successes are calculated in the number of years we have extended our lives, with the reduction of suffering being only incidental to this aim. To stay alive under almost any circumstances is a sickness with us. Nothing could be more unhealthy than to “watch one’s health” as a means of stalling death. The lengths we will go as procrastinators of that last gasp only demonstrate a morbid dread of that event. By contrast, our fear of suffering is deficient.
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race)
Such a captive maiden, having plenty of time to think, soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental: that what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited on her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disk jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?
Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49)
Hey there.' I cleared my throat. 'How are you?' I'm engaged!' Incidentally, this is an unacceptable answer to that question.
Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays)
It is not possible to be 'incidentally a Christian.' The fact of Christianity must be overwhelmingly first or nothing. This suggests a reason for the dislike of Christians by nominal or non-Christians: their lives contain no overwhelming first but many balances.
Sheldon Vanauken
Incidentally, did you know that the whole eight glasses a day thing is complete bullshit and has no scientific basis? So many things are like that. Everyone just assumes they're true, because people are basically lazy and incurious, which incidentally is one of those words that sounds like it wouldn't be a word but is.
John Green
It seems to me there's this tyranny that's not accidental or incidental, to make women feel compelled to look like somebody they're not. I think the effort is being made to get us to turn our time and attention to this instead of important political issues.
V (formerly Eve Ensler)
What just like that? You're not going to tell the chicken plucker you're leaving?" "She already knows," Grimalkin said picking his way across the yard. "And incidentally, 'the old chicken plucker' can hear every word you say, so I suggest we hurry. After she is done with the fowl, she intends to come after you as well.
Julie Kagawa (The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey, #4))
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing... My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System.
Arthur Conan Doyle (A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, #1))
Paul Slazinger says, incidentally, that the human condition can be summed up in just one word, and this is the word: Embarrassment.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Bluebeard)
No one knows, incidentally, why Australia's spiders are so extravagantly toxic; capturing small insects and injecting them with enough poison to drop a horse would appear to be the most literal case of overkill. Still, it does mean that everyone gives them lots of space.
Bill Bryson (In a Sunburned Country)
Desription should be very brief and have an incidental nature.
Anton Chekhov
No matter how much I may love—scratch that, loved, past tense—Josh, I was no dummy. Everyone knows the Y chromosome carries with it the instinctive urge to lie under pressure. Which, incidentally, was what Josh was going to be under when I found him. Serious pressure. On his larynx.
Gemma Halliday (Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool, #1))
On Earth, incidentally, civilization is the result of a group of humans coming together and suppressing their instincts.
Matt Haig (The Humans)
Montana was naked, and so was Billy, of course. He had a tremendous wang, incidentally. You never know who'll get one.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Do you often feel like parched ground, unable to produce anything worthwhile? I do. When I am in need of refreshment, it isn't easy to think of the needs of others. But I have found that if, instead of praying for my own comfort and satisfaction, I ask the Lord to enable me to give to others, an amazing thing often happens - I find my own needs wonderfully met. Refreshment comes in ways I would never have thought of, both for others, and then, incidentally, for myself.
Elisabeth Elliot
The less time spent in public, the safer girls feel. That’s not incidental; the world was built that way.
Marlowe Granados (Happy Hour)
He had a tremendous wang, incidentally. You never know who'll get one.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Slaughterhouse-Five)
Programs are meant to be read by humans and only incidentally for computers to execute.
Donald Ervin Knuth
Religion invents a problem where none exists by describing the wicked as also made in the image of god and the sexually nonconformist as existing in a state of incurable mortal sin that can incidentally cause floods and earthquakes.
Christopher Hitchens (The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever)
My objective is to create my own world and these images which we create mean nothing more than the images which they are. We have forgotten how to relate emotionally to art: we treat it like editors, searching in it for that which the artist has supposedly hidden. It is actually much simpler than that, otherwise art would have no meaning. You have to be a child—incidentally children understand my pictures very well, and I haven’t met a serious critic who could stand knee-high to those children. We think that art demands special knowledge; we demand some higher meaning from an author, but the work must act directly on our hearts or it has no meaning at all.
Andrei Tarkovsky
Franny has the measles, for one thing. Incidentally, did you hear her last week? She went on at beautiful length about how she used to fly all around the apartment when she was four and no one was home. The new announcer is worse than Grant - if possible, even worse than Sullivan in the old days. He said she surely dreamt that she was able to fly. The baby stood her ground like an angel. She said she knew she was able to fly because when she came down she always had dust on her fingers from touching the light bulbs.
J.D. Salinger (Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction)
Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Incidentally, I only have one cavity, and as much as my dentist asks me to, I just can't bring myself to floss.
Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
Incidentally, sir, while we're on the topic of yoga - may I just say that an hour of deep breathing, yoga, and meditation in the morning constitutes the perfect start to the entrepreneur's day. How I would handle the stresses of this fucking business without yoga, I have no idea. Make yoga a must in all Chinese schools - that's my suggestion.
Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger)
Incidentally, disturbance from cosmic background radiation is something we have all experienced. Tune your television to any channel it doesn't receive, and about 1 percent of the dancing static you see is accounted for by this ancient remnant of the Big Bang. The next time you complain that there is nothing on, remember that you can always watch the birth of the universe.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
The decisions that we write off as momentary, insignificant, incidental, everyday encounters are exactly when we have a chance to define ourselves. To find beauty. To engage the world around us. To create memories.
Teri Hatcher (Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life)
His situation, insofar as he was a machine, was complex, tragic, and laughable. But the sacred part of him, his awareness, remained an unwavering band of light. And this book is being written by a meat machine in cooperation with a machine made of metal and plastic. The plastic, incidentally, is a close relative of the gunk in Sugar Creek. And at the core of the writing meat machine is something sacred, which is an unwavering band of light. At the core of each person who reads this book is a band of unwavering light. My doorbell has just rung in my New York apartment. And I know what I will find when I open my front door: an unwavering band of light.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Breakfast of Champions)
[Woman] is simply what man decrees; thus she is called "the sex," by which is meant that she appears essentially to the male as a sexual being. For him she is sex -- absolute sex, no less. She is defined and differentiated with reference to man and not he with reference to her; she is incidental, the inessential as opposed to the essential. He is the Subject, he is the Absolute -- she is the Other.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex)
It is not possible to be ‘incidentally a Christian’. The fact of Christianity must be overwhelmingly first or nothing. This suggests a reason for the dislike of Christians by nominal or non Christians: their lives contain no overwhelming firsts but many balances.
Sheldon Vanauken (A Severe Mercy)
Incidentally, I really agree with those who say that the capacity to forgive says something about the essential quality of a person. I'm the lowest grade.' 'I didn't mean to criticize you.' 'I promise to be better in my next life...
Jo Nesbø (Panserhjerte (Harry Hole, #8))
For the first time in his life, he stopped worrying about results, and as a consequence the terms “success” and “failure” had suddenly lost their meaning for him. The true purpose of art was not to create beautiful objects, he discovered. It was a method of understanding, a way of penetrating the world and finding one’s place in it, and whatever aesthetic qualities an individual canvas might have were almost an incidental by-product of the effort to engage oneself in this struggle, to enter into the thick of things.
Paul Auster (Moon Palace)
In my opinion, if, as the result of certain combinations, Kepler's or Newton's discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty... to remove those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to mankind. It by no means follows from this, incidentally, that Newton should have the right to kill anyone he pleases, whomever happens along, or to steal from the market every day. Further, I recall developing in my article the idea that all... well, let's say, the lawgivers and founders of mankind, starting from the most ancient and going on to the Lycurguses, the Solons, the Muhammads, the Napoleons, and so forth, that all of them to a man were criminals, from the fact alone that in giving a new law, they thereby violated the old one, held sacred by society and passed down from their fathers, and they certainly did not stop at shedding blood either, if it happened that blood (sometimes quite innocent and shed valiantly for the ancient law) could help them.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment)
The primary purpose of going to college isn't to get a great job. The primary purpose of college is to build a strong mind, which leads to greater self-awareness, capability, fulfillment, and service opportunities, which, incidentally, should lead to a better job.
Sean Covey (The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens)
I've never felt a connection like this with anyone else... I don't even know how to explain it. I feel like I already knew you before I met you, and the first time I saw you, the first time I talked to you, was incidental, because the connection was already there --.
M. Molly Backes (The Princesses of Iowa)
This story is the ultimate example of American’s biggest political problem. We no longer have the attention span to deal with any twenty-first century crisis. We live in an economy that is immensely complex and we are completely at the mercy of the small group of people who understand it – who incidentally often happen to be the same people who built these wildly complex economic systems. We have to trust these people to do the right thing, but we can’t, because, well, they’re scum. Which is kind of a big problem, when you think about it.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
What's with all the cheering over the apocalypse, anyway? Oh, yay, we get to kill poor helpless humans." "The excitement over the apocalypse had nothing to do with humans." "Could have fooled me." "Humans are incidental." "Killing and destroying an entire species is incidental?" I can't help but sound like I'm accusing him (Raffe), even though I know he wasn't part of the plan to wipe us out. Or at least, I think he wasn't personally involved, but I don't really know that, do I? "Your people have been doing it to all kinds of species." "That's not the same." "Why not?
Susan Ee (World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2))
An alarming number of parents appear to have little confidence in their ability to "teach" their children. We should help parents understand the overriding importance of incidental teaching in the context of warm, consistent companionship. Such caring is usually the greatest teaching, especially if caring means sharing in the activites of the home.
Raymond S. Moore (School Can Wait)
He took a deep breath. “You make me question myself,” he said. “All the time, every day. I was brought up to believe I had to be perfect. A perfect warrior, a perfect son. Even when I came to live with the Lightwoods, I thought I had to be perfect, because otherwise they would send me away. I didn’t think love came with forgiveness. And then you came along, and you broke everything I believed into pieces, and I started to see everything differently. You had—so much love, and so much forgiveness, and so much faith. So I started to think that maybe I was worth that faith. That I didn’t have to be perfect; I had to try, and that was good enough.” He lowered his eyelids; she could see the faint pulse at his temple, feel the tension in him. “So I think you were the wrong person for the Jace that I was, but not the Jace that I am now, the Jace you helped make me. Who is, incidentally, a Jace I like much better than the old one. You’ve changed me for the better.
Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6))
There is a kind of sleep that steals upon us sometimes, which, while it holds the body prisoner, does not free the mind from a sense of things about it, and enable it to ramble at its pleasure. So far as an overpowering heaviness, a prostration of strength, and an utter inability to control our thoughts or power of motion, can be called sleep, this is it; and yet we have a consciousness of all that is going on about us; and if we dream at such a time, words which are really spoken, or sounds which really exist at the moment, accommodate themselves with surprising readiness to our visions, until reality and imagination become so strangely blended that it is afterwards almost a matter of impossibilty to separate the two. Nor is this, the most striking phenomenon, incidental to such a state. It is an undoubted fact, that although our senses of touch and sight be for the time dead, yet our sleeping thoughts, and the visionary scenes that pass before us, will be influenced, and materially influenced, by the mere silent presence of some external object: which may not have been near us when we closed our eyes: and of whose vicinity we have had no waking consciousness.
Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist (Spanish Edition))
With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.
Charles Darwin (The Descent of Man)
...To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity, "labor power" cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity of "man" attached to the tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rovers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed...
Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time)
Scott-there's nothing in the world I want but you-and your precious love. All the material things are nothing. I'd just hate to live in a sordid, colorless existence-because you'd soon love less-and less-and I'd do anything-anything-to keep your heart for my own-I don't want to live-I want to love first and live incidentally.
Zelda Fitzgerald
The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife - a depressing thought, particularly for those who bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it's being held. On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done as easily laying down.
Woody Allen (Without Feathers)
Just so you know, Araragi-kun, I hate romantic comedies where it is obvious the two will get together at the end but lukewarm developments keep them at an in-between more-than-friends-less-than-lovers state chapter after chapter just to keep the story going.” “...I see.” “Incidentally, I also hate sports manga where each match takes an entire year and yet you know they are going to win in the end. I also hate battle manga where it is clear they will defeat the final boss and bring peace to the world, but the battles with weaker enemies go on forever.” “I think you just covered every shounen manga and shoujo manga in existence.” - Senjougahara Hitagi & Araragi Koyomi
NisiOisiN (化物語 (上) [Bakemonogatari] (Bakemonogatari, #1, Part 1))
Man is unhappy because he doesn't know he's happy; only because of that. It's everything, everything, Whoever learns will at once immediately become happy, that same moment... "And when did you find out that you were so happy?" "Last week, on Tuesday, no, Wednesday, because it was Wednesday by then, in the night." "And what was the occasion?" "I don't remember, just so; I was pacing the room...it makes no difference. I stopped my clock, it was two thirty-seven." "As an emblem that time should stop?" Kirillov did not reply. "They're not good," he suddenly began again, "because they don't know they're good. When they find out, they won't violate the girl. They must find out that they're good, then they'll all become good at once, all, to a man. "Well, you did find out, so you must be good?" "I am good." "With that I agree, incidentally," Stavrogin muttered frowningly. "He who teaches that all are good, will end the world." "He who taught it was crucified." "He will come, and his name is the man-god." "The God-man?" "The man-god--that's the whole difference." "Can it be you who lights the icon lamp?" "Yes, I lit it." "You've become a believer?" "The old woman likes the icon lamp...she's busy today," Kirillov muttered. "But you don't pray yet?" "I pray to everything. See, there's a spider crawling on the wall, I look and am thankful to it for crawling." His eyes lit up again. He kept looking straight at Stavrogin, his gaze firm and unflinching. Stavrogin watched him frowningly and squeamishly, but there was no mockery in his eyes. "I bet when I come the next time you'll already believe in God," he said, getting up and grabbing his hat. "Why?" Kirillov also rose. "If you found out that you believe in God, you would believe; but since you don't know yet that you believe in God, you don't believe," Nikolai Vsevolodovich grinned.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Demons)
They’re off, and the big excitement this match is the Firebolt that Harry Potter is flying for Gryffindor. According to Which Broomstick, the Firebolt’s going to be the broom of choice for the national teams at this year’s World Championship —” “Jordan, would you mind telling us what’s going on in the match?” interrupted Professor McGonagall’s voice. “Right you are, Professor — just giving a bit of background information — the Firebolt, incidentally, has a built-in auto-brake and —” “Jordan!” “Okay, okay, Gryffindor in possession, Katie Bell of Gryffindor heading for goal …
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3))
Our world is moving so fast and we are apt to miss so much of what is happening "right now." If we can put down our smart phones for one moment and be present to what is around us, I believe these incidental meetings and strangers who come into our lives can give us unexpected fortitude, perspective and even wisdom just when we need them the most - if we are just awake, aware and open to these new insights.
Kristin S. Kaufman (Is This Seat Taken?: Random Encounters That Change Your Life)
Somhow those Ten Men -- at the time they were called Recruiters, of course -- discovered that Constance had been at the library. Most likely one of their informants saw her come out, because it was on that very day that the brutes showed up and threatened the librarians. Who told them nothing, incidentally.' 'The same thing happened in Holland,' Kate reflected. 'You'd think these guys would learn their lesson -- librarians know how to keep quiet.' 'It helps to ask politely,' said Mr. Benedict
Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #3))
It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that "revolution must necessarily begin with atheism." That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
In 2004 our forty-second president, George W. Bush, the leader of the free world, proposed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to forever ban gay marriage--which was already illegal. In opinion polls, about 50 percent of this country said they thought Bush had the right idea. If half this country feels so threatened by two people of the same gender being in love and having sex (and, incidentally, enjoying equal protection under the law), that they turn their attention--during wartime--to blocking rights already denied to homosexuals, then all the cardio striptease classes in the world aren't going to render us sexually liberated.
Ariel Levy
My son used to believe that he could look at a plane in flight and make it explode in midair by simply thinking it. He believed, at thirteen, that the border between himself and the world was thin and porous enough to allow him to affect the course of events. An aircraft in flight was a provocation too strong to ignore. He’d watch a plane gaining altitude after taking off from Sky Harbor and he’d sense an element of catastrophe tacit in the very fact of a flying object filled with people. He was sensitive to the most incidental stimulus and he thought he could feel the object itself yearning to burst. All he had to do was wish the fiery image into his mind and the plane would ignite and shatter. His sister used to tell him, Go ahead, blow it up, let me see you take that plane out of the sky with all two hundred people aboard, and it scared him to hear someone talk this way and it scared her too because she wasn’t completely convinced he could not do it. It’s the special skill of an adolescent to imagine the end of the world as an adjunct to his own discontent. But Jeff got older and lost interest and conviction. He lost the paradoxical gift for being separate and alone and yet intimately connected, mind-wired to distant things.
Don DeLillo (Underworld)
Once the creator was removed from the creation, divinity became only a remote abstraction, a social weapon in the hands of the religious institutions. This split in public values produced or was accompanied by, as it was bound to be, an equally artificial and ugly division in people's lives, so that a man, while pursuing Heaven with the sublime appetite he thought of as his soul, could turn his heart against his neighbors and his hands against the world... Though Heaven is certainly more important than the earth if all they say about it is true, it is still morally incidental to it and dependent on it, and I can only imagine it and desire it in terms of what I know of the earth. (pg. 23, "A Native Hill")
Wendell Berry (The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays)
In Mexico City they somehow wandered into an exhibition of paintings by the beautiful Spanish exile Remedios Varo: in the central painting of a triptych, titled “Bordando el Manto Terrestre,” were a number of frail girls with heart-shaped faces, huge eyes, spun-gold hair, prisoners in the top room of a circular tower, embroidering a kind of tapestry which spilled out the slit windows and into a void, seeking hopelessly to fill the void: for all the other buildings and creatures, all the waves, ships and forests of the earth were contained in the tapestry, and the tapestry was the world. Oedipa, perverse, had stood in front of the painting and cried. No one had noticed; she wore dark green bubble shades. For a moment she’d wondered if the seal around her sockets were tight enough to allow the tears simply to go on and fill up the entire lens space and never dry. She could carry the sadness of the moment with her that way forever, see the world refracted through those tears, those specific tears, as if indices as yet unfound varied in important ways from cry to cry. She had looked down at her feet and known, then, because of a painting, that what she stood on had only been woven together a couple thousand miles away in her own tower, was only by accident known as Mexico, and so Pierce had take her away from nothing, there’d been no escape. What did she so desire escape from? Such a captive maiden, having plenty of time to think, soon realizes that her tower, its height and architecture, are like her ego only incidental: that what really keeps her where she is is magic, anonymous and malignant, visited on her from outside and for no reason at all. Having no apparatus except gut fear and female cunning to examine this formless magic, to understand how it works, how to measure its field strength, count its lines of force, she may fall back on superstition, or take up a useful hobby like embroidery, or go mad, or marry a disk jockey. If the tower is everywhere and the knight of deliverance no proof against its magic, what else?
Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49)
The most important part of seeing Darla every night wasn’t the fooling around. It was the few minutes we talked while holding each other, the feeling of security I got with her, the feeling of being understood and loved. Before the eruption, I wouldn’t have believed that I could cuddle up every night with the girl who starred in my dreams and not be totally preoccupied with sex. But the trek across Iowa had changed something. I wanted, needed to see her so badly that it woke me up at night. But making out was incidental to my need – nice when it happened, but secondary to the simple pleasure of sleeping beside her.
Mike Mullin (Ashfall (Ashfall, #1))
Anthropologists have often described what happens to a primitive society when its spiritual values are exposed to the impact of modern civilization. Its people lose the meaning of their lives, their social organization disintegrates, and they themselves morally decay. We are now in the same condition. But we have never really understood what we have lost, for our spiritual leaders unfortunately were more interested in protecting their institutions than in understanding the mystery that symbols present. In my opinion, faith does not exclude thought (which is man's strongest weapon), but unfortunately many believers seem to be so afraid of science (and incidentally of psychology) that they turn a blind eye to the numinous psychic powers that forever control man's fate. We have stripped all things of their mystery and numinosity; nothing is holy any longer.
C.G. Jung (Man and His Symbols)
As children get older, this incidental outdoor activity--say, while waiting to be called to eat--becomes less bumptious, physically and entails more loitering with others, sizing people up, flirting, talking, pushing, shoving and horseplay. Adolescents are always being criticized for this kind of loitering, but they can hardly grow up without it. The trouble comes when it is done not within society, but as a form of outlaw life. The requisite for any of these varieties of incidental play is not pretentious equipment of any sort, but rather space at an immediately convenient and interesting place. The play gets crowded out if sidewalks are too narrow relative to the total demands put on them. It is especially crowded out if the sidewalks also lack minor irregularities in building line. An immense amount of both loitering and play goes on in shallow sidewalk niches out of the line of moving pedestrian feet.
Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities)
My anxieties as to behavior are futile, ever more so, to infinity. If the other, incidentally or negligently, gives the telephone number of a place where he or she can be reached at certain times, I immediately grow baffled: should I telephone or shouldn't I? (It would do no good to tell me that I can telephone - that is the objective, reasonable meaning of the message - for it is precisely this permission I don't know how to handle.) What is futile is what apparently has and will have no consequence. But for me, an amorous subject, everything which is new, everything which disturbs, is received not as a fact but in the aspect of a sign which must be interpreted. From the lover's point of view, the fact becomes consequential because it is immediately transformed into a sign: it is the sign, not the fact, which is consequential (by its aura). If the other has given me this new telephone number, what was that the sign of? Was it an invitation to telephone right away, for the pleasure of the call, or only should the occasion arise, out of necessity? My answer itself will be a sign, which the other will inevitably interpret, thereby releasing, between us, a tumultuous maneuvering of images. Everything signifies: by this proposition, I entrap myself, I bind myself in calculations, I keep myself from enjoyment. Sometimes, by dint of deliberating about "nothing" (as the world sees it), I exhaust myself; then I try, in reaction, to return -- like a drowning man who stamps on the floor of the sea -- to a spontaneous decision (spontaneity: the great dream: paradise, power, delight): go on, telephone, since you want to! But such recourse is futile: amorous time does not permit the subject to align impulse and action, to make them coincide: I am not the man of mere "acting out" -- my madness is tempered, it is not seen; it is right away that I fear consequences, any consequence: it is my fear -- my deliberation -- which is "spontaneous.
Roland Barthes (A Lover's Discourse: Fragments)
Single trees are extraordinary; trees in number more extraordinary still. To walk in a wood is to find fault with Socrates's declaration that 'Trees and open country cannot teach me anything, whereas men in town do.' Time is kept and curated and in different ways by trees, and so it is experienced in different ways when one is among them. This discretion of trees, and their patience, are both affecting. It is beyond our capacity to comprehend that the American hardwood forest waited seventy million years for people to come and live in it, though the effort of comprehension is itself worthwhile. It is valuable and disturbing to know that grand oak trees can take three hundred years to grow, three hundred years to live and three hundred years to die. Such knowledge, seriously considered, changes the grain of the mind. "Thought, like memory, inhabits external things as much as the inner regions of the human brain. When the physical correspondents of thought disappear, then thought, or its possibility, is also lost. When woods and trees are destroyed -- incidentally, deliberately -- imagination and memory go with them. W.H. Auden knew this. 'A culture,' he wrote warningly in 1953, 'is no better than its woods.'
Robert Macfarlane (The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot)
An enlightened man had but one duty--to seek the way to himself, to reach inner certainty, to grope his way forward, no matter where it led. The realization shook me profoundly, it was the fruit of this experience. I had often speculated with images of the future, dreamed of roles that I might be assigned, perhaps as poet or prophet or painter, or something similar. All that was futile. I did not exist to write poems, to preach or to paint, neither I nor anyone else. All of that was incidental. Each man had only one genuine vocation--to find the way to himself. He might end up as poet or madman, as prophet or criminal--that was not his affair, ultimately it was of no concern. His task was to discover his own destiny--not an arbitrary one--and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would-be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness.
Hermann Hesse
Inferiority is not banal or incidental even when it happens to women. It is not a petty affliction like bad skin or circles under the eyes. It is not a superficial flaw in an otherwise perfect picture. It is not a minor irritation, nor is it a trivial inconvenience, an occasional aggravation, or a regrettable but (frankly) harmless lapse in manners. It is not a “point of view” that some people with soft skins find “ offensive. ” It is the deep and destructive devaluing of a person in life, a shredding of dignity and self-respect, an imposed exile from human worth and human recognition, the forced alienation of a person from even the possibility of wholeness or internal integrity. Inferiority puts rightful self-love beyond reach, a dream fragmented by insult into a perpetually recurring nightmare; inferiority creates a person broken and humiliated inside. The fragments— scattered pieces and sharp slivers of someone who can never be made whole—are then taken to be the standard of what is normal in her kind: women are like that. The insult that hurt her—inferiority as an assault, ongoing since birth—is seen as a consequence, not a cause, of her so-called nature, an inferior nature. In English, a graceful language, she is even called a piece. It is likely to be her personal experience that she is insufficiently loved. Her subjectivity itself is second-class, her experiences and perceptions inferior in the world as she is inferior in the world. Her experience is recast into a psychologically pejorative judgment: she is never loved enough because she is needy, neurotic, the insufficiency of love she feels being in and of itself evidence of a deep-seated and natural dependency. Her personal experiences or perceptions are never credited as having a hard core of reality to them. She is, however, never loved enough. In truth; in point of fact; objectively: she is never loved enough. As Konrad Lorenz wrote: “ I doubt if it is possible to feel real affection for anybody who is in every respect one’s inferior. ” 1 There are so many dirty names for her that one rarely learns them all, even in one’s native language.
Andrea Dworkin (Intercourse)
Good is to be found neither in the sermons of religious teachers and prophets, nor in the teachings of sociologists and popular leaders, nor in the ethical systems of philosophers... And yet ordinary people bear love in their hearts, are naturally full of love and pity for any living thing. At the end of the day's work they prefer the warmth of the hearth to a bonfire in the public square. Yes, as well as this terrible Good with a capital 'G', there is everyday human kindness. The kindness of an old woman carrying a piece of bread to a prisoner, the kindness of a soldier allowing a wounded enemy to drink from his water-flask, the kindness of youth towards age, the kindness of a peasant hiding an old Jew in his loft. The kindness of a prison guard who risks his own liberty to pass on letters written by a prisoner not to his ideological comrades, but to his wife and mother. The private kindness of one individual towards another; a petty, thoughtless kindness; an unwitnessed kindness. Something we could call senseless kindness. A kindness outside any system of social or religious good. But if we think about it, we realize that this private, senseless, incidental kindness is in fact eternal. It is extended to everything living, even to a mouse, even to a bent branch that a man straightens as he walks by. Even at the most terrible times, through all the mad acts carried out in the name of Universal Good and the glory of States, times when people were tossed about like branches in the wind, filling ditches and gullies like stones in an avalanche – even then this senseless, pathetic kindness remained scattered throughout life like atoms of radium.
Vasily Grossman (Life and Fate)
Here we come to the central question of this book: What, precisely, does it mean to say that our sense of morality and justice is reduced to the language of a business deal? What does it mean when we reduce moral obligations to debts? What changes when the one turns into the other? And how do we speak about them when our language has been so shaped by the market? On one level the difference between an obligation and a debt is simple and obvious. A debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money. As a result, a debt, unlike any other form of obligation, can be precisely quantified. This allows debts to become simple, cold, and impersonal-which, in turn, allows them to be transferable. If one owes a favor, or one’s life, to another human being-it is owed to that person specifically. But if one owes forty thousand dollars at 12-percent interest, it doesn’t really matter who the creditor is; neither does either of the two parties have to think much about what the other party needs, wants, is capable of doing-as they certainly would if what was owed was a favor, or respect, or gratitude. One does not need to calculate the human effects; one need only calculate principal, balances, penalties, and rates of interest. If you end up having to abandon your home and wander in other provinces, if your daughter ends up in a mining camp working as a prostitute, well, that’s unfortunate, but incidental to the creditor. Money is money, and a deal’s a deal. From this perspective, the crucial factor, and a topic that will be explored at length in these pages, is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic-and by doing so, to justify things that would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene. The factor of violence, which I have been emphasizing up until now, may appear secondary. The difference between a “debt” and a mere moral obligation is not the presence or absence of men with weapons who can enforce that obligation by seizing the debtor’s possessions or threatening to break his legs. It is simply that a creditor has the means to specify, numerically, exactly how much the debtor owes.
David Graeber (Debt: The First 5,000 Years)
His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to be to me such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it. "You appear to be astonished," he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it." "To forget it!" "You see," he explained, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones." "But the Solar System!" I protested. "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.
Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection)
In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months, or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.) At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in — or more precisely not in — the country’s businesses and banks. This inventory — it should perhaps be called the bezzle — amounts at any moment to many millions of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle. In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly. In depression all this is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks. … Just as the boom accelerated the rate of growth, so the crash enormously advanced the rate of discovery. Within a few days, something close to a universal trust turned into something akin to universal suspicion. Audits were ordered. Strained or preoccupied behavior was noticed. Most important, the collapse in stock values made irredeemable the position of the employee who had embezzled to play the market. He now confessed.
John Kenneth Galbraith (The Great Crash 1929)
I was diagnosed with ADHD in my mid fifties and I was given Ritalin and Dexedrine. These are stimulant medications. They elevate the level of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. And dopamine is the motivation chemical, so when you are more motivated you pay attention. Your mind won't be all over the place. So we elevate dopamine levels with stimulant drugs like Ritalin, Aderall, Dexedrine and so on. But what else elevates Dopamine levels? Well, all other stimulants do. What other stimulants? Cocaine, crystal meth, caffeine, nicotine, which is to say that a significant minority of people that use stimulants, illicit stimulants, you know what they are actually doing? They're self-medicating their ADHD or their depression or their anxiety. So on one level (and we have to go deeper that that), but on one level addictions are about self-medications. If you look at alcoholics in one study, 40% of male adult alcoholics met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD? Why? Because alcohol soothes the hyperactive brain. Cannabis does the same thing. And in studies of stimulant addicts, about 30% had ADHD prior to their drug use. What else do people self-medicate? Someone mentioned depression. So, if you have been treated for depression, as I have been, and you were given a SSRI medication, these medications elevate the level of another brain chemical called serotonin, which is implicated in mood regulation. What else elevates serotonin levels temporarily in the brain? Cocaine does. People use cocaine to self-medicate depression. People use alcohol, cannabis and opiates to self-medicate anxiety. Incidentally people also use gambling or shopping to self-medicate because these activities also elevate dopamine levels in the brain. There is no difference between one addiction and the other. They're just different targets, but the brain systems that are involved and the target chemicals are the same, no matter what the addiction. So people self-medicate anxiety, depression. People self-medicate bipolar disorder with alcohol. People self-medicate Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. So, one way to understand addictions is that they're self-medicating. And that's important to understand because if you are working with people who are addicted it is really important to know what's going on in their lives and why are they doing this. So apart from the level of comfort and pain relief, there's usually something diagnosible that's there at the same time. And you have to pay attention to that. At least you have to talk about it.
Gabor Maté
A few months ago on a school morning, as I attempted to etch a straight midline part on the back of my wiggling daughter's soon-to-be-ponytailed blond head, I reminded her that it was chilly outside and she needed to grab a sweater. "No, mama." "Excuse me?" "No, I don't want to wear that sweater, it makes me look fat." "What?!" My comb clattered to the bathroom floor. "Fat?! What do you know about fat? You're 5 years old! You are definitely not fat. God made you just right. Now get your sweater." She scampered off, and I wearily leaned against the counter and let out a long, sad sigh. It has begun. I thought I had a few more years before my twin daughters picked up the modern day f-word. I have admittedly had my own seasons of unwarranted, psychotic Slim-Fasting and have looked erroneously to the scale to give me a measurement of myself. But these departures from my character were in my 20s, before the balancing hand of motherhood met the grounding grip of running. Once I learned what it meant to push myself, I lost all taste for depriving myself. I want to grow into more of a woman, not find ways to whittle myself down to less. The way I see it, the only way to run counter to our toxic image-centric society is to literally run by example. I can't tell my daughters that beauty is an incidental side effect of living your passion rather than an adherence to socially prescribed standards. I can't tell my son how to recognize and appreciate this kind of beauty in a woman. I have to show them, over and over again, mile after mile, until they feel the power of their own legs beneath them and catch the rhythm of their own strides. Which is why my parents wake my kids early on race-day mornings. It matters to me that my children see me out there, slogging through difficult miles. I want my girls to grow up recognizing the beauty of strength, the exuberance of endurance, and the core confidence residing in a well-tended body and spirit. I want them to be more interested in what they are doing than how they look doing it. I want them to enjoy food that is delicious, feed their bodies with wisdom and intent, and give themselves the freedom to indulge. I want them to compete in healthy ways that honor the cultivation of skill, the expenditure of effort, and the courage of the attempt. Grace and Bella, will you have any idea how lovely you are when you try? Recently we ran the Chuy's Hot to Trot Kids K together as a family in Austin, and I ran the 5-K immediately afterward. Post?race, my kids asked me where my medal was. I explained that not everyone gets a medal, so they must have run really well (all kids got a medal, shhh!). As I picked up Grace, she said, "You are so sweaty Mommy, all wet." Luke smiled and said, "Mommy's sweaty 'cause she's fast. And she looks pretty. All clean." My PRs will never garner attention or generate awards. But when I run, I am 100 percent me--my strengths and weaknesses play out like a cracked-open diary, my emotions often as raw as the chafing from my jog bra. In my ultimate moments of vulnerability, I am twice the woman I was when I thought I was meant to look pretty on the sidelines. Sweaty and smiling, breathless and beautiful: Running helps us all shine. A lesson worth passing along.
Kristin Armstrong