Strangers On A Train Quotes

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And on that evening when we grow older still we'll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we'll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.
André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name)
There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
It's impossible to resist the kindness of strangers.
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers. Someone who looks at you, who doesn’t know you, who tells you it’s OK, whatever you did, whatever you’ve done: you suffered, you hurt, you deserve forgiveness.
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
I know you have it in you, Guy," Anne said suddenly at the end of a silence, "the capacity to be terribly happy.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Most travel, and certainly the rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don't know and trusting them with your life.
Paul Theroux (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star)
And on that evening when we grow older still we'll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we'll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.' Silence again. 'Perhaps I am not yet ready to speak of them as strangers,' I said. 'If it makes you feel any better, I don't think either of us ever will be.
André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name)
The night was a time for bestial affinities, for drawing closer to oneself.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
How easy it was to lie when one had to lie!
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
What chance combination of shadow and sound and his own thoughts had created it?
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
We haven’t been strangers since I pulled you out of the slave quarters to train you as a soldier.
Susan Ee (Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1))
Anything is possible on a train: a great meal, a binge, a visit from card players, an intrigue, a good night's sleep, and strangers' monologues framed like Russian short stories.
Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia)
And on that evening when we grow older still we'll speak about these two young men as though they were two strangers we met on the train and whom we admire and want to help along. And we'll want to call it envy, because to call it regret would break our hearts.
André Aciman (Call Me By Your Name (Call Me By Your Name, #1))
Every morning the maple leaves. Every morning another chapter where the hero shifts from one foot to the other. Every morning the same big and little words all spelling out desire, all spelling out You will be alone always and then you will die. So maybe I wanted to give you something more than a catalog of non-definitive acts, something other than the desperation. Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I couldn’t come to your party. Dear So-and-So, I’m sorry I came to your party and seduced you and left you bruised and ruined, you poor sad thing. You want a better story. Who wouldn’t? A forest, then. Beautiful trees. And a lady singing. Love on the water, love underwater, love, love and so on. What a sweet lady. Sing lady, sing! Of course, she wakes the dragon. Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly flames everywhere. I can tell already you think I’m the dragon, that would be so like me, but I’m not. I’m not the dragon. I’m not the princess either. Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down. I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure, I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow glass, but that comes later. Let me do it right for once, for the record, let me make a thing of cream and stars that becomes, you know the story, simply heaven. Inside your head you hear a phone ringing and when you open your eyes only a clearing with deer in it. Hello deer. Inside your head the sound of glass, a car crash sound as the trucks roll over and explode in slow motion. Hello darling, sorry about that. Sorry about the bony elbows, sorry we lived here, sorry about the scene at the bottom of the stairwell and how I ruined everything by saying it out loud. Especially that, but I should have known. Inside your head you hear a phone ringing, and when you open your eyes you’re washing up in a stranger’s bathroom, standing by the window in a yellow towel, only twenty minutes away from the dirtiest thing you know. All the rooms of the castle except this one, says someone, and suddenly darkness, suddenly only darkness. In the living room, in the broken yard, in the back of the car as the lights go by. In the airport bathroom’s gurgle and flush, bathed in a pharmacy of unnatural light, my hands looking weird, my face weird, my feet too far away. I arrived in the city and you met me at the station, smiling in a way that made me frightened. Down the alley, around the arcade, up the stairs of the building to the little room with the broken faucets, your drawings, all your things, I looked out the window and said This doesn’t look that much different from home, because it didn’t, but then I noticed the black sky and all those lights. We were inside the train car when I started to cry. You were crying too, smiling and crying in a way that made me even more hysterical. You said I could have anything I wanted, but I just couldn’t say it out loud. Actually, you said Love, for you, is larger than the usual romantic love. It’s like a religion. It’s terrifying. No one will ever want to sleep with you. Okay, if you’re so great, you do it— here’s the pencil, make it work … If the window is on your right, you are in your own bed. If the window is over your heart, and it is painted shut, then we are breathing river water. Dear Forgiveness, you know that recently we have had our difficulties and there are many things I want to ask you. I tried that one time, high school, second lunch, and then again, years later, in the chlorinated pool. I am still talking to you about help. I still do not have these luxuries. I have told you where I’m coming from, so put it together. I want more applesauce. I want more seats reserved for heroes. Dear Forgiveness, I saved a plate for you. Quit milling around the yard and come inside.
Richard Siken
I think a lot about queer villains, the problem and pleasure and audacity of them. I know I should have a very specific political response to them. I know, for example, I should be offended by Disney’s lineup of vain, effete ne’er-do-wells (Scar, Jafar), sinister drag queens (Ursula, Cruella de Vil), and constipated, man-hating power dykes (Lady Tremaine, Maleficent). I should be furious at Downton Abbey’s scheming gay butler and Girlfriend’s controlling, lunatic lesbian, and I should be indignant about Rebecca and Strangers on a Train and Laura and The Terror and All About Eve, and every other classic and contemporary foppish, conniving, sissy, cruel, humorless, depraved, evil, insane homosexual on the large and small screen. And yet, while I recognize the problem intellectually—the system of coding, the way villainy and queerness became a kind of shorthand for each other—I cannot help but love these fictional queer villains. I love them for all of their aesthetic lushness and theatrical glee, their fabulousness, their ruthlessness, their power. They’re always by far the most interesting characters on the screen. After all, they live in a world that hates them. They’ve adapted; they’ve learned to conceal themselves. They’ve survived.
Carmen Maria Machado (In the Dream House)
The whole time I pretend I have mental telepathy. And with my mind only, I’ll say — or think? — to the target, 'Don’t do it. Don’t go to that job you hate. Do something you love today. Ride a roller coaster. Swim in the ocean naked. Go to the airport and get on the next flight to anywhere just for the fun of it. Maybe stop a spinning globe with your finger and then plan a trip to that very spot; even if it’s in the middle of the ocean you can go by boat. Eat some type of ethnic food you’ve never even heard of. Stop a stranger and ask her to explain her greatest fears and her secret hopes and aspirations in detail and then tell her you care because she is a human being. Sit down on the sidewalk and make pictures with colorful chalk. Close your eyes and try to see the world with your nose—allow smells to be your vision. Catch up on your sleep. Call an old friend you haven’t seen in years. Roll up your pant legs and walk into the sea. See a foreign film. Feed squirrels. Do anything! Something! Because you start a revolution one decision at a time, with each breath you take. Just don’t go back to thatmiserable place you go every day. Show me it’s possible to be an adult and also be happy. Please. This is a free country. You don’t have to keep doing this if you don’t want to. You can do anything you want. Be anyone you want. That’s what they tell us at school, but if you keep getting on that train and going to the place you hate I’m going to start thinking the people at school are liars like the Nazis who told the Jews they were just being relocated to work factories. Don’t do that to us. Tell us the truth. If adulthood is working some death-camp job you hate for the rest of your life, divorcing your secretly criminal husband, being disappointed in your son, being stressed and miserable, and dating a poser and pretending he’s a hero when he’s really a lousy person and anyone can tell that just by shaking his slimy hand — if it doesn’t get any better, I need to know right now. Just tell me. Spare me from some awful fucking fate. Please.
Matthew Quick (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock)
The most insightful thing I ever heard, was overheard. I was waiting for a rail replacement bus in Hackney Wick. These two old women weren’t even talking to me - not because I’d offended them, I hadn’t, I’d been angelic at that bus stop, except for the eavesdropping. Rail replacement buses take an eternity, because they think they’re doing you a favour by covering for the absent train, you’ve no recourse. Eventually the bus appeared, on the distant horizon, and one of the women, with the relief and disbelief that often accompanies the arrival of public transport said, ‘Oh look, the bus is coming.’ The other woman - a wise woman, seemingly aware that her words and attitude were potent and poetic enough to form the final sentence in a stranger’s book - paused, then said, ‘The bus was always coming.
Russell Brand (My Booky Wook)
I was static, standing on the platform, watching train after train go by, wishing I knew which one to be on.
Renee Carlino (Before We Were Strangers)
Only later did I come to understand that to be a mother is to be an illusion. No matter how vigilant, in the end a mother can't protect her child - not from pain, or horror, or the nightmare of violence, from sealed trains moving rapidly in the wrong direction, the depravity of strangers, trapdoors, abysses, fires, cars in the rain, from chance.
Nicole Krauss (Great House)
But there were too many points at which the other self could invade the self he wanted to preserve, and there were too many forms of invasion: certain words, sounds, lights, actions his hands or feet performed, and if he did nothing at all, heard and saw nothing, the shouting of some triumphant inner voice that shocked him and cowed him.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
A rush of panic comforted him with its familiarity.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
It isn't important what you do, it is the attitude with which you proceed through the world that matters.
Jenny Diski (Stranger on a Train)
When strangers meet, great allowances should be made for differences in custom and training.
Frank Herbert (Dune (Dune, #1))
Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” It’s nostalgia for studying abroad that one semester. Travel is realizing that “age thirty” should be shed of its goddamn stigma.
Nick Miller
I got a theory a person ought to do everything it’s possible to do before he dies, and maybe die trying to do something that’s really impossible.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
This was the night bus, not a Journey song. Two strangers were not on a midnight train going anywhere. I was going home, and he was probably going to knock over a liquor store.
Jenn Bennett (Night Owls)
But if a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer "writer" for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer "poetry" would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody can earn a living simply by writing poetry.
W.H. Auden (The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays)
People, feelings, everything! Double! Two people in each person. There's also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
It was a train full of strangers, and they were all the same.
Cherie Priest (Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #2))
He turned to her and said, “About time,” when the train finally creaked in, with the familiarity strangers adopt with each other after sharing in the disappointment of a public service.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah)
It was electric, a spark of cosmic recognition, as if in that moment time’s weave had opened and they’d glimpsed an alternative existence in which they were something more than strangers on a train.
Kate Morton (The Lake House)
أحب القطارات و الأماكن العامة فقط لامتلائها بالغرباء المريحين الذين لا يطلبون شئ و لا ينتظرون منى اكثر من صمتى
Ahmed Salama
Why love the boy in a March field with his kite braving the sky? Because our fingers burn with the hot string singeing our hands. Why love some girl viewed from a train bent to a country well? The tongue remembers iron water cool on some long lost noon. Why weep at strangers dead by the road? They resemble friends unseen in forty years. Why laugh when clowns are hot by pies? We taste custard we taste life. Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience. Billions of prickling textures. Cut one sense away, cut part of life away. Cut two senses; life halves itself on the instant. We love what we know, we love what we are. Common cause, common cause, common cause of mouth, eye, ear, tongue, hand, nose, flesh, heart, and soul.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes)
Great teachers had great personalities and that the greatest teachers had outrageous personalities. I did not like decorum or rectitude in a classroom; I preferred a highly oxygenated atmosphere, a climate of intemperance, rhetoric, and feverish melodrama. And I wanted my teachers to make me smart. A great teacher is my adversary, my conqueror, commissioned to chastise me. He leaves me tame and grateful for the new language he has purloined from other kings whose granaries are filled and whose libraries are famous. He tells me that teaching is the art of theft: of knowing what to steal and from whom. Bad teachers do not touch me; the great ones never leave me. They ride with me during all my days, and I pass on to others what they have imparted to me. I exchange their handy gifts with strangers on trains, and I pretend the gifts are mine. I steal from the great teachers. And the truly wonderful thing about them is they would applaud my theft, laugh at the thought of it, realizing they had taught me their larcenous skills well.
Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline)
Isaac was a stranger and he had seen more of my wounds than anyone else. Not because I chose him like I did Nick. He was just always there. That's what scared me. It was one thing inviting someone into your life, choosing to put your head on the train tracks and wait for imminent death, but this - this I had no control over.
Tarryn Fisher (Mud Vein)
I like to drink when I travel. It enhances things, don’t you think?
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
The truth is that there is no terror untempered by some great moral idea.
Jean-Luc Godard (Godard on Godard: Critical Writings)
When strangers on a train or a plane ask what I do for a living, I say, "I kill people." This response makes for a short conversation. No eye contact and no sudden movement from my seat-mate. Only peace and quiet. Rare is the fellow passenger who asks why I do it. I suppose I got tired hanging out in a book all day waiting for a story to begin. I write the kind of novels I want to read. And why the theme of solving murders? Violent death is larger than life and it's the great equalizer. By law, every victim is entitled to a paladin and a chase, else life would be cheapened. And the real reason I do this? My brain is simply bent this way. There is nothing else I would rather do. This neatly chains into my theory of the writing life. If you scratch an artist, under the skin you will find a bum who cannot hold down a real job. Conversely, if you scratch a bum... but I have never done that. The heart of my theory has puritan roots: if you love what you do, you cannot call it honest work.
Carol O'Connell
Like the trains, she's never on time and always departing. Sympathy from strangers can be ruinous.
Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin)
If a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer 'writer' for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer poetry would embarrass us both.
W.H. Auden (The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays)
Anyway, I think Florence and I noticed each other before the local train screeched to a halt at the 110th Street station, because as I boarded it felt as though we were supposed to step into the same car, and hold onto the same moist metal bar. My wishful hunch now seems confirmed by the way she's reading her Time magazine article next to me.
Zack Love (City Solipsism)
. . . children should draw [a husband & wife] nearer than ever, not separate you, as if they were all yours, and [your husband] had nothing to do but support them. . . . don't neglect husaband for children, don't shut him out of the nursery, but teach him how to help in it. His place is there as well as yours, and the children need him; let him feel that he has his part to do, and he will do it gladly and faithfully, and it will be better for you all. . . . That is the secret of our home happiness: he does not let business wean him from the little cares and duties that affect us all, and I try not to let domestic worries destroy my interest in his pursuits. Each do our part alone in many things, but at home we work together, always. . . . no time is so beautiful and precious to parents as the first years of the little lives given them to train. Don't let [your husband] be a stranger to the babies, for they will do more to keep him safe and happy in this world of trial and temptation than anything else, and through them you will learn to know and love one another as you should.
Louisa May Alcott (Good Wives. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: Being a Sequel to 'Little Women'. With Illustrations by Jessie T. Mitchell)
The places we are born come back. They disguise themselves as migraines, stomach aches, insomnia. They are the way we sometimes wake falling, fumbling for the bedside lamp, certain everything we’ve built has gone in the night. We become strangers to the places we are born. They would not recognize us but we will always recognize them. They are marrow to us; they are bred into us. If we were turned inside out there would be maps cut into the wrong side of our skin. Just so we can find our way back. Except, cut wrong side into my skin are not canals and train tracks and a boat, but always: you.
Daisy Johnson (Everything Under)
All three of us are prisoners of our early indoctrinations, for it is hard, very nearly impossible, to shake off one’s earliest training.
Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land)
I tell him his business, all business, is legalized throat-cutting, like marriage is legalized fornication.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Society's law was lax compared to the law of conscience
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
The taste of Scotch, though Guy didn’t much care for it, was pleasant because it reminded him of Anne. She drank Scotch, when she drank. It was like her, golden, full of light, made with careful art.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Death was only one more adventure untried.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Encounters between people, it often seems to me, are like trains passing at breakneck speed in the night. We cast fleeting looks at the passengers sitting behind dull glass in dim light, who disappear from our field of vision almost before we perceive them. Was it really a man and a woman who flashed past like phantoms, who came out of nothing into the empty dark, without meaning or purpose? Did they know each other? Did they talk? Laugh? Cry? People will say: That's how it is when strangers pass one another in rain and wind and there might be something in the comparison. But we sit opposite people for longer, we eat and work together, lie next to each other, live under the same roof. Where is the haste? Yet everything that gives the illusion of permanence, familiarity, and intimate knowledge: isn't it a deception invented to reassure, with which we try to conceal and ward off the flickering, disturbing haste because it could be impossible to live with all the time. Isn't every exchange of looks between people like the ghostly brief meeting of eyes between travellers passing one another, intoxicated by the inhuman speed and the shock of air pressure that makes everything shudder and clatter? Don't our looks bounce off others, as in the hasty encounter of the night, and leave us with nothing but conjectures, slivers of thoughts and imagined qualities? Isn't it true that it's not people who meet, but rather the shadows cast by their imaginations?
Pascal Mercier (Night Train to Lisbon)
The sad engineer would never go back to England; he would become one of these elderly expatriates who hide out in remote countries, with odd sympathies, a weakness for the local religion, an unreasonable anger, and the kind of total recall that drives curious strangers away.
Paul Theroux (The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia)
He felt he was about to experience again some ancient, delicious childhood moment that the steam calliope's sour hollowness, the stitching hurdy-gurdy accompaniment, and the drum-and-cymbal crash brought almost to the margin of his grasp.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
In no time at all, I find myself crying again. It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers. Someone who looks at you, who doesn’t know you, who tells you it’s OK, whatever you did, whatever you’ve done: you suffered, you hurt, you deserve forgiveness. I confide in him and I forget, once again, what I’m doing here. I don’t watch his face for a reaction, I don’t study his eyes for some sign of guilt or suspicion. I let him comfort me.
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
Conscious Parenting on Children's Happiness and matrix of influences: 'We live surrounded by an increasingly complex matrix of impulses allowing strangers of all sorts (TV, media, Internet) interfere in our children’s mental, emotional and spiritual development. Understanding this intricate network and how does the human brain interacts with it is increasingly becoming our door to happiness and health.
Nataša Pantović (Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents (AoL Mindfulness #5))
Trains induce such terrible anxiety. They image the possibility of total and irrevocable failure. They are also dirty, rackety, packed with strangers, an object lesson in the foul contingency of life: the talkative fellow-traveller, the possibility of children.
Iris Murdoch (The Black Prince)
But love and hate, he thought now, good and evil, lived side by side in the human heart, and not merely in differing proportions in one man and the next, but all good and all evil. One had merely to look for a little of either to find it all, one had merely to scratch the surface. All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, every animal an animal that destroys it, the male the female, the positive the negative.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
What do we do with those that can be accessed and dismissed by a channel changer, that we love no less than a nineteenth-century poet or an admired stranger or a character from the pen of Emily Brontë? What do we do when one of them commingles with our own sense of self, only to be transferred into a finite space within an on-demand portal?
Patti Smith (M Train)
Their arrogance protected them against any liking for their fellow-man, against the slightest interest in the strangers sitting all about them, amidst whom M. de Stermaria adopted the manner one has in the buffet-car of a train, grim, hurried, stand-offish, brusque, fastidious and spiteful, surrounded by other passengers whom one has never seen before, whom one will never see again and towards whom the only conceivable way of behaving is to make sure that they keep away from one's cold chicken and stay out of one's chosen corner-seat.
Marcel Proust (In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower)
Alan
Carolyn Keene (Strangers on a Train (Nancy Drew Diaries Book 2))
That's exactly where you're wrong! Any kind of person can murder. Purely circumstances and not a thing to do with temperament! People get so far -- and it takes just the least little thing to push them over the brink. Anybody. Even your grandmother. I know.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Our parents thought we might be corrupted by one another into becoming whatever it was they most feared: an incorrigible masturbator, a winsome homosexual, a recklessly impregnatory libertine. On our behalf they dreaded the closeness of adolescent friendship, the predatory behaviour of strangers on trains, the lure of the wrong kind of girl. How far their anxieties outran our experience.
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending)
It is almost impossible to shake of one's earliest training. Duke, can you get it through your skull that had you been brought up by Martians, you would have the same attitude toward eating and being eaten as Mike has.
Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land)
I remember this country back when I was growing up. We went to church, we ate family suppers around the table, and it would never even have crossed a kid's mind to tell an adult to fuck off. There was plenty of bad there, I don't forget that, but we all knew exactly where we stood and we didn't break the rules lightly. If that sounds like small stuff to you, if it sounds boring or old-fashioned or uncool, think about this: people smiled at strangers, people said hello to neighbors, people left their doors unlocked and helped old women with their shopping bags, and the murder rate was scraping zero. Sometime since then, we started turning feral. Wild got into the air like a virus, and it's spreading. Watch the packs of kids roaming inner-city estates, mindless and brakeless as baboons, looking for something or someone to wreck. Watch the businessmen shoving past pregnant women for a seat on the train, using their 4x4s to force smaller cars out of their way, purple-faced and outraged when the world dares to contradict them. Watch the teenagers throw screaming stamping tantrums when, for once, they can't have it the second they want it. Everything that stops us being animals is eroding, washing away like sand, going and gone.
Tana French (Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder Squad, #4))
Dear dad, in consequence of a trivial altercation with a Captain Tapper, of Wild Violet Lodge, whom I happened to step upon in the corridor of a train, I had a pistol duel this morning in the woods near Kalugano and am now no more. Though the manner of my end can be regarded as a kind of easy suicide, the encounter and the ineffable Captain are in no way connected with the Sorrows of Young Veen. In 1884, during my first summer in Ardis, I seduced your daughter, who was then twelve. Our torrid affair lasted till my return to Riverlane; it was resumed last June, four years later. That happiness has been the greatest event in my life, and I have no regrets. Yesterday, though, I discovered she had been unfaithful to me, so we parted. Tapper, I think, may be the chap who was thrown out of one of your gaming clubs for attempting oral intercourse with the washroom attendant, a toothless old cripple, veteran of the first Crimean War. Lots of flowers, please! Your loving son, Van He carefully reread his letter – and carefully tore it up. The note he finally placed in his coat pocket was much briefer. Dad, I had a trivial quarrel with a stranger whose face I slapped and who killed me in a duel near Kalugano. Sorry! Van
Vladimir Nabokov (Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle)
Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear. When I really want to hear another person's story, I try to leave my preconceptions at the door and draw close to their telling. I am always partially listening to the thoughts in my own head when others are speaking, so I consciously quiet my thoughts and begin to listen with my senses. Empathy is cognitive and emotional—to inhabit another person's view of the world is to feel the world with them. But I also know that it's okay if I don't feel very much for them at all. I just need to feel safe enough to stay curious. The most critical part of listening is asking what is at stake for the other person. I try to understand what matters to them, not what I think matters. Sometimes I start to lose myself in their story. As soon as I notice feeling unmoored, I try to pull myself back into my body, like returning home. As Hannah Arendt says, 'One trains one's imagination to go visiting.' When the story is done, we must return to our skin, our own worldview, and notice how we have been changed by our visit. So I ask myself, What is this story demanding of me? What will I do now that I know this?
Valarie Kaur (See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love)
But I do know a kind of madness that lies low in the mind, half-buried in consciousness, which lives in parallel to sanity, and given the right circumstances or even just half a chance, creeps like a lick of flame or a growing tumour up and around ordinary perception, consuming it for a while, and causing one, even when not at the movies, to quake in fear of the world and people and what they--I mean, of, we--are capable of.
Jenny Diski (Stranger on a Train)
In no time at all, I find myself crying again. It’s impossible to resist the kindness of strangers. Someone who looks at you, who doesn’t know you, who tells you it’s OK, whatever you did, whatever you’ve done: you suffered, you hurt, you deserve forgiveness.
Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
We have made money our god and called it the good life. We have trained our children to go for jobs hat bring the quickest corporate advancements at the highest financial levels. We have taught them careerism but not ministry and wonder why ministers are going out of fashion. We fear coddling the poor with food stamps while we call tax breaks for the rich business incentives. We make human community the responsibility of government institutions while homelessness, hunger, and drugs seep from the centers of our cities like poison from open sores for which we do not seek either the cause or the cure. We have created a bare and sterile world of strangers where exploitation is a necessary virtue. We have reduced life to the lowest of values so that the people who have much will not face the prospect of having less. Underlying all of it, we have made women the litter bearers of a society where disadvantage clings to the bottom of the institutional ladder and men funnel to the top, where men are privileged and women are conscripted for the comfort of the human race. We define women as essential to the development of the home but unnecessary to the development of society. We make them poor and render them powerless and shuttle them from man to man. We sell their bodies and question the value of their souls. We call them unique and say they have special natures, which we then ignore in their specialness. We decide that what is true of men is true of women and then say that women are not as smart as men, as strong as men, or as capable as men. We render half the human race invisible and call it natural. We tolerate war and massacre, mayhem and holocaust to right the wrongs that men say need righting and then tell women to bear up and accept their fate in silence when the crime is against them. What’s worse, we have applauded it all—the militarism, the profiteering, and the sexisms—in the name of patriotism, capitalism, and even religion. We consider it a social problem, not a spiritual one. We think it has something to do with modern society and fail to imagine that it may be something wrong with the modern soul. We treat it as a state of mind rather than a state of heart. Clearly, there is something we are failing to see.
Joan D. Chittister (Heart of Flesh: Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men)
the war taught me that nothing counts as much as loyalty" "Bullshit. you still haven't learned that when humans are under pressure, we're all willing to lie" "even to the people we care?" "we lie more to our loved ones, because we care about them so damn much. why do you think we tell the truth to priests and shrinks and total strangers we meet on trains? it's because we don't love them, so we don't care what they think.
Ken Follett (Code to Zero)
A person has only so much juice, and it’s ideally kept for your homeboys, not all pissed away on strangers before three in the day. Simple as that sounds, it was a game changer for me. I taught myself to save the juice. It’s a skill, like weight training, you do reps. Tell yourself ten times each night, don’t spend your juice on those sirens, worrying about the life screaming past on its way to getting tanked. Don’t spend it on the customers around you at Walmart Supercenter, just do your job without feeling the madness or sadness, the moms on the brink of snatching their kids bald-headed. The carts loaded with cases of PBR and Pampers.
Barbara Kingsolver (Demon Copperhead)
I took his hand and shook it. Even with all the training I’ve had to desensitize me to the necessity of occasional contact with strangers, the gesture felt wrong. You aren’t supposed to touch people you don’t know. Not unless they’ve just demonstrated their infection status with a successful blood test, and maybe not even then.
Mira Grant (Deadline (Newsflesh, #2))
The law was not society, it began. Society was people like himself and Owen and Brillhart, who hadn't the right to take the life of another member of society. And yet the law did. "And yet the law is supposed to be the will of society at least. It isn't even that. Or maybe it is collectively," he added, aware that as always he was doubling back before he come to a point, making things as complex as possible in trying to make them certain.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
In all human endeavors that deal with what is unthinkable, too terrible to be dealt with squarely, we turn to what is familiar and regimented: funerals, wakes, and even wars. Now, in this trial, we had gone beyond our empathy with the pain of the victims and our niggling realization that the defendant was a fragmented personality. He knew the rules, he even knew a great deal about the law, but he did not seem to be cognizant of what was about to happen to him. He seemed to consider himself irrefragable. And what was about to happen to him was vital for the good of society. I could not refute that. It had to be, but it seemed hollow that none of us understood that his ego, our egos and the rituals of the courtroom itself, the jokes and the nervous laughter were veiling the gut reactions that we should all be facing. We were all on “this railroad train running …
Ann Rule (The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story)
What could he say that might make sense to them? Could he say love was, above all, common cause, shared experience? That was the vital cement, wasn't it? Could he say how he felt about their all being here tonight on this wild world running around a big sun which fell through a bigger space falling through yet vaster immensities of space, maybe toward and maybe away from Something? Could he say: we share this billion-mile-an-hour rid. We have common cause against the night. You start with little common causes. Why love the boy in a March field with his kite braving the sky? Because our fingers burn with the hot string singeing our hands. Why love some girl viewed from a train bent to a country well? The tongue remembers iron water cool on some long lost noon. Why weep at strangers dead by the road? They resemble friends unseen in forty years. Why laugh when clowns are hot by pies? We taste custard we taste life. Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience. Billions of prickling textures. Cut one sense away, cut part of life away. Cut two senses; life halves itself on the instant. We love what we know, we love what we are. Common cause, common cause, common cause of mouth, eye, ear, tongue, hand, nose, flesh, heart, and soul. But... how to say it?
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes)
For here it was now, as clear as it had ever been. And, worst of all, he was aware of an impulse to tell Bruno everything, the stranger on the train who would listen, commiserate, and forget. The idea of telling Bruno began to comfort him. Bruno was not the ordinary stranger on the train by any means. He was cruel and corrupt enough himself to appreciate a story like that of his first love.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
I could tell he wanted the best for me. Of course, he assumed that would be getting out. Everyone always thought that, not of what we had to go back to, at home. Maybe our parents had thrown away our mattresses. Maybe they'd told our siblings we'd been run over by trains, to make our absence fonder. Not everyone had a parent. It could be that nothing was waiting for us. Our keys would no longer fit the locks. We'd resort to ringing the bell, saying we've come home, can't we come in? The eye in the peephole would show itself, and that eye could belong to a stranger, as our family had moved halfway across the country and never informed us. Or that eye could belong to the woman who carried us for nine months, who labored for fourteen hours, who was sliced open with a C-section to give us life, and now wished she never did. The juvenile correctional system could let us out into the world, but it could not control who would be out there, willing to claim us.
Nova Ren Suma (The Walls Around Us)
But still I would try to picture the exact moment when the beating of my heart would no longer be going on inside my head. .. But everybody knows life isn't worth living. Deep down I knew perfectly well that it doesn't much matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living— and for thousands of years. .. At that point, what would disturb my train of thought was the terrifying leap I would feel my heart take at the idea of having twenty more years of life ahead of me. But I simply had to stifle it by imagining what I’d be thinking in twenty years when it would all come down to the same thing anyway. Since we’re all going to die, it’s obvious that when and how don’t matter. .. It would take all my strength to quiet my heart, to be rational. .. Throughout the whole absurd life I’d lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. .. for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. .. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.
Albert Camus (The Stranger)
Historians say a war started on such and such a day, but that war really started years before—when a man got on the wrong train and met a stranger, or a boy wasn’t loved by his mother, or a girl said no. And that war didn’t stop on its end date, either. Its effects kept going, down through the children and grandchildren, but they didn’t understand where it all was coming from because historians care more about the rocks than the river.
Erica Bauermeister (No Two Persons)
I thought of all of us who have been trained to suppress our rage—women, especially women of color. Rage is a healthy, normal, and necessary response to trauma. It is a rightful response to the social traumas of patriarchy, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and poverty. But we live in a culture that punishes us when we show our teeth—we are called hysterical when we raise our voice; we are less likely to be believed when we tell our story with fury; and, if we are anything other than deferential with an officer, we might get hurt or shot, and even then, our deference might not make a difference.
Valarie Kaur (See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love)
There are countries in which the communal provision of housing, transport, education and health care is so inferior that inhabitants will naturally seek to escape involvement with the masses by barricading themselves behind solid walls. The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where 'ordinary' life fails to answer a median need for dignity or comfort. Then there are communities—far fewer in number and typically imbued with a strong (often Protestant) Christian heritage—whose public realms exude respect in their principles and architecture, and whose citizens are therefore under less compulsion to retreat into a private domain. Indeed, we may find that some of our ambitions for personal glory fade when the public spaces and facilities to which we enjoy access are themselves glorious to behold; in such a context, ordinary citizenship may come to seem an adequate goal. In Switzerland's largest city, for instance, the need to own a car in order to avoid sharing a bus or train with strangers loses some of the urgency it has in Los Angeles or London, thanks to Zurich's superlative train network, which is clean, safe, warm and edifying in its punctuality and technical prowess. There is little reason to travel in an automotive cocoon when, for a fare of only a few francs, an efficient, stately tramway will provide transport from point A to point B at a level of comfort an emperor might have envied. One insight to be drawn from Christianity and applied to communal ethics is that, insofar as we can recover a sense of the preciousness of every human being and, even more important, legislate for spaces and manner that embody such a reverence in their makeup, then the notion of the ordinary will shed its darker associations, and, correspondingly, the desires to triumph and to be insulated will weaken, to the psychological benefit of all.
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
When Rin Tin Tin first became famous, most dogs in the world would not sit down when asked. Dogs performed duties: they herded sheep, they barked at strangers, they did what dogs do naturally, and people learned to interpret and make use of how they behaved. The idea of a dog's being obedient for the sake of good manners was unheard of. When dogs lived outside, as they usually did on farms and ranches, the etiquette required of them was minimal. But by the 1930s, Americans were leaving farms and moving into urban and suburban areas, bringing dogs along as pets and sharing living quarters with them. At the time, the principles of behavior were still mostly a mystery -- Ivan Pavlov's explication of conditional reflexes, on which much training is based, wasn't even published in an English translation until 1927. If dogs needed to be taught how to behave, people had to be trained to train their dogs. The idea that an ordinary person -- not a dog professional -- could train his own pet was a new idea, which is partly why Rin Tin Tin's performances in movies and onstage were looked upon as extraordinary.
Susan Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend)
Bye-bye.” Walker flaps his hand up and down. I think I’ll give him a hug. I do it too fast and knock him down, he bangs on the train table and cries. “I’m so sorry,” Grandma keeps saying, “my grandson doesn’t — he’s learning about boundaries—” “No harm done,” says the first man. They go off with the little boy doing one two three whee swinging between them, he’s not crying anymore. Grandma watches them, she’s looking confused. “Remember,” she says on the way to the white car, “we don’t hug strangers. Even nice ones.” “Why not?” “We just don’t, we save our hugs for people we love.” “I love that boy Walker.” “Jack, you never saw him before in your life.
Emma Donoghue (Room)
She’s everything that should be loathed,” he went on, staring in front of him. “Sometimes I think I hate everything in the world. No decency, no conscience. She’s what people mean when they say America never grows up, America rewards the corrupt. She’s the type who goes to the bad movies, acts in them, reads the love-story magazines, lives in a bungalow, and whips her husband into earning more money this year so they can buy on the installment plan next year, breaks up her neighbor’s marriage—
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
When Vivian describes how it felt to be at the mercy of strangers, Molly nods. She knows full well what it’s like to tamp down your natural inclinations, to force a smile when you feel numb. After a while you don’t know what your own needs are anymore. You’re grateful for the slightest hint of kindness, and then, as you get older, suspicious. Why would anyone do anything for you without expecting something in return? And anyway—most of the time they don’t. More often than not, you see the worst of people. You learn that most adults lie. That most people only look out for themselves. That you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone. And so your personality is shaped. You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary. You grow fearful and mistrustful. The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend. To display an empathy you don’t actually feel. And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you’re lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you’re broken inside.
Christina Baker Kline (Orphan Train)
If he believed in the full complement of evil in himself, he had to believe also in a natural compulsion to express it. He found himself wondering, therefore, from time to time, if he might have enjoyed his crime in some way, derived some primal satisfaction from it - how else could one really explain in mankind the continued toleration of wars, the perennial enthusiasm for wars when they came, if not for some primal pleasure in killing? - and because the capacity to wonder came so often, he accepted it as true that he had.
Patricia Highsmith (Strangers on a Train)
Son, quite aside from my own conditioned reflex against munching a roast haunch of—well, you, for example—quite aside from that trained-in emotional prejudice, for coldly practical reasons I regard our taboo against cannibalism as an excellent idea . . . because we are not civilized.” “Huh?” “Obvious. If we didn’t have a tribal taboo about the matter so strong that you honestly believed it was an instinct, I can think of a long list of people I wouldn’t trust with my back turned, not with the price of beef what it is today. Eh?
Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land)
It was their haughtiness that preserved them intact from all human sympathy, from arousing the least interest in the strangers seated round about them, among whom M. de Stermaria kept up the glacial, preoccupied, distant, stiff, touchy and ill-intentioned air that we assume in a railway refreshment-room in the midst of fellow-passengers whom we have never seen before and will never see again, and with whom we can conceive of no other relations than to defend from their onslaught our cold chicken and our corner seat in the train.
Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time, Volume II: Within a Budding Grove (A Modern Library E-Book))
You spoke to strangers for hours. Afterward you walked the streets in search of other cafes, but they were closed. You stretched out on the park benches of a square near the Gare Saint-Lazare, and you remarked on the shape of the clouds. At six o’clock you had breakfast. At seven you took the first train home. When, the next day, your friends repeated to you the words you had spoken to strangers in the cafe, you remembered nothing of them. It was as though someone else inside you had spoken. You recognized neither your words, nor your thoughts, but you liked them better than you would have if you had remembered saying them. Often all it took was for someone else to speak your own words back to you for you to like them.
Édouard Levé (Suicide)
Two Metro lines, two trains, two carriages, two people walking in parallel streets, two lives, couples criss-crossing without seeing each other, potential encounters, meetings which shall never take place. The imagination rewrites history. It modifies the local directory and the roll-call of those who frequent a town, a street, a house, a woman. It transfixes reflections in the mirror for all eternity. It hangs entire portrait galleries from the wall of our future memory on which magnificent strangers use a sharp knife to engrave their initials and a date.
Robert Desnos (Liberty or Love!)
And are we not worthy?” she asked, rolling the end of one ceramic chopstick back and forth between the thumb and index finger of her right hand. “Are our lives devoid of merit? Are we not generous to our friends, kind to strangers, skilled in our areas of expertise, reliable with rent, gentle with children, quick to phone an ambulance when we see a man hit by a car, thoughtful in word and deed? Do we not have worth enough? Are we not already perfect? Perfectly ourselves? Perfect in being who we are?” “I have no one to measure that quality against.” “Do you believe in God?” “No.” “Do you have eyes, judgement?” “And I see the world, but I have no one else’s eyes to measure my own vision against.” “Of course you do. You have the words of friends and strangers. You have discourse and reason. You have critical thought, which may be trained to the highest degree. In short, you do not need the world to tell you what to be. Especially if the world tells you that you are never good enough.
Claire North (The Sudden Appearance of Hope)
She felt as though her nerves were strings being strained tighter and tighter on some sort of screwing peg. She felt her eyes opening wider and wider, her fingers and toes twitching nervously, something within oppressing her breathing, while all shapes and sounds seemed in the uncertain half-light to strike her with unaccustomed vividness. Moments of doubt were continually coming upon her, when she was uncertain whether the train were going forwards or backwards, or were standing still altogether; whether it were Annushka at her side or a stranger. "What's that on the arm of the chair, a fur cloak or some beast? And what am I myself? Myself or some other woman?" She was afraid of giving way to this delirium. But something drew her towards it, and she could yield to it or resist it at will.
Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina)
Well, so I'm going to die.' Sooner than other people will, obviously. But everybody knows life isn't worth living. Deep down I knew perfectly well that it doesn't much matter whether you die at thirty or at seventy, since in either case other men and women will naturally go on living - and for thousands of years. In fact, nothing could be clearer. Whether it was now or twenty years from now, I would still be the one dying. At that point, what would disturb my train of thought was the terrifying leap I would feel my heart take at the idea of having twenty more years of life ahead of me. But I simply had to stifle it by imagining what I'd be thinking in twenty years when it would all come down to the same thing anyway. Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.
Albert Camus (The Stranger)
In every way there is, murder is chaos. Our job is simple, when you get down to it: we stand against that, for order. I remember this country back when I was growing up. We went to church, we ate family suppers around the table, and it would never even have crossed a kid’s mind to tell an adult to fuck off. There was plenty of bad there, I don’t forget that, but we all knew exactly where we stood and we didn’t break the rules lightly. If that sounds like small stuff to you, if it sounds boring or old-fashioned or uncool, think about this: people smiled at strangers, people said hello to neighbors, people left their doors unlocked and helped old women with their shopping bags, and the murder rate was scraping zero. Sometime since then, we started turning feral. Wild got into the air like a virus, and it’s spreading. Watch the packs of kids roaming inner-city estates, mindless and brakeless as baboons, looking for something or someone to wreck. Watch the businessmen shoving past pregnant women for a seat on the train, using their 4x4s to force smaller cars out of their way, purple-faced and outraged when the world dares to contradict them. Watch the teenagers throw screaming stamping tantrums when, for once, they can’t have it the second they want it. Everything that stops us being animals is eroding, washing away like sand, going and gone. The final step into feral is murder.
Tana French (Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4))
Barbara and I had arrived early, so I got to admire everyone’s entrance. We were seated at tables around a dance floor that had been set up on the lawn behind the house. Barbara and I shared a table with Deborah Kerr and her husband. Deborah, a lovely English redhead, had been brought to Hollywood to play opposite Clark Gable in The Hucksters. Louis B. Mayer needed a cool, refined beauty to replace the enormously popular redhead, Greer Garson, who had married a wealthy oil magnate and retired from the screen in the mid-fifties. Deborah, like her predecessor, had an ultra-ladylike air about her that was misleading. In fact, she was quick, sharp, and very funny. She and Barbara got along like old school chums. Jimmy Stewart was also there with his wife. It was the first time I’d seen him since we’d worked for Hitchcock. It was a treat talking to him, and I felt closer to him than I ever did on the set of Rope. He was so genuinely happy for my success in Strangers on a Train that I was quite moved. Clark Gable arrived late, and it was a star entrance to remember. He stopped for a moment at the top of the steps that led down to the garden. He was alone, tanned, and wearing a white suit. He radiated charisma. He really was the King. The party was elegant. Hot Polynesian hors d’oeuvres were passed around during drinks. Dinner was very French, with consommé madrilène as a first course followed by cold poached salmon and asparagus hollandaise. During dessert, a lemon soufflé, and coffee, the cocktail pianist by the pool, who had been playing through dinner, was discreetly augmented by a rhythm section, and they became a small combo for dancing. The dance floor was set up on the lawn near an open bar, and the whole garden glowed with colored paper lanterns. Later in the evening, I managed a subdued jitterbug with Deborah Kerr, who was much livelier than her cool on-screen image. She had not yet done From Here to Eternity, in which she and Burt Lancaster steamed up the screen with their love scene in the surf. I was, of course, extremely impressed to be there with Hollywood royalty that evening, but as far as parties go, I realized that I had a lot more fun at Gene Kelly’s open houses.
Farley Granger (Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway)
I probably should say that this is what makes you a good traveler in my opinion, but deep down I really think this is just universal, incontrovertible truth. There is the right way to travel, and the wrong way. And if there is one philanthropic deed that can come from this book, maybe it will be that I teach a few more people how to do it right. So, in short, my list of what makes a good traveler, which I recommend you use when interviewing your next potential trip partner: 1. You are open. You say yes to whatever comes your way, whether it’s shots of a putrid-smelling yak-butter tea or an offer for an Albanian toe-licking. (How else are you going to get the volcano dust off?) You say yes because it is the only way to really experience another place, and let it change you. Which, in my opinion, is the mark of a great trip. 2. You venture to the places where the tourists aren’t, in addition to hitting the “must-sees.” If you are exclusively visiting places where busloads of Chinese are following a woman with a flag and a bullhorn, you’re not doing it. 3. You are easygoing about sleeping/eating/comfort issues. You don’t change rooms three times, you’ll take an overnight bus if you must, you can go without meat in India and without vegan soy gluten-free tempeh butter in Bolivia, and you can shut the hell up about it. 4. You are aware of your travel companions, and of not being contrary to their desires/​needs/​schedules more often than necessary. If you find that you want to do things differently than your companions, you happily tell them to go on without you in a way that does not sound like you’re saying, “This is a test.” 5. You can figure it out. How to read a map, how to order when you can’t read the menu, how to find a bathroom, or a train, or a castle. 6. You know what the trip is going to cost, and can afford it. If you can’t afford the trip, you don’t go. Conversely, if your travel companions can’t afford what you can afford, you are willing to slum it in the name of camaraderie. P.S.: Attractive single people almost exclusively stay at dumps. If you’re looking for them, don’t go posh. 7. You are aware of cultural differences, and go out of your way to blend. You don’t wear booty shorts to the Western Wall on Shabbat. You do hike your bathing suit up your booty on the beach in Brazil. Basically, just be aware to show the culturally correct amount of booty. 8. You behave yourself when dealing with local hotel clerks/​train operators/​tour guides etc. Whether it’s for selfish gain, helping the reputation of Americans traveling abroad, or simply the spreading of good vibes, you will make nice even when faced with cultural frustrations and repeated smug “not possible”s. This was an especially important trait for an American traveling during the George W. years, when the world collectively thought we were all either mentally disabled or bent on world destruction. (One anecdote from that dark time: in Greece, I came back to my table at a café to find that Emma had let a nearby [handsome] Greek stranger pick my camera up off our table. He had then stuck it down the front of his pants for a photo. After he snapped it, he handed the camera back to me and said, “Show that to George Bush.” Which was obviously extra funny because of the word bush.) 9. This last rule is the most important to me: you are able to go with the flow in a spontaneous, non-uptight way if you stumble into something amazing that will bump some plan off the day’s schedule. So you missed the freakin’ waterfall—you got invited to a Bahamian family’s post-Christening barbecue where you danced with three generations of locals in a backyard under flower-strewn balconies. You won. Shut the hell up about the waterfall. Sally
Kristin Newman (What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding)
Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself, and by whose side would you sit down? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth? Now perhaps you love the company of the light and the careless, the worldly-minded and the covetous, the reveller and the pleasure-seeker, the ungodly and the profane. There will be none such in heaven. Now perhaps you think the saints of God too strict and particular, and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. There will be no other company in heaven. Now perhaps you think praying, and Scripture-reading, and hymn singing, dull and melancholy, and stupid work—a thing to be tolerated now and then, but not enjoyed. You reckon the Sabbath a burden and a weariness; you could not possibly spend more than a small part of it in worshipping God. But remember, heaven is a never-ending Sabbath. The inhabitants thereof rest not day or night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this? Think you that such an one would delight to meet David, and Paul, and John, after a life spent in doing the very things they spoke against? Would he take sweet counsel with them, and find that he and they had much in common?—Think you, above all, that he would rejoice to meet Jesus, the Crucified One, face to face, after cleaving to the sins for which He died, after loving His enemies and despising His friends? Would he stand before Him with confidence, and join in the cry, “This is our God; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation”? (Isa. xxv. 9.) Think you not rather that the tongue of an unholy man would cleave to the roof of his mouth with shame, and his only desire would be to be cast out! He would feel a stranger in a land he knew not, a black sheep amidst Christ’s holy flock. The voice of Cherubim and Seraphim, the song of Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven, would be a language he could not understand. The very air would seem an air he could not breathe. I know not what others may think, but to me it does seem clear that heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise. People may say, in a vague way, “they hope to go to heaven;” but they do not consider what they say. There must be a certain “meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Our hearts must be somewhat in tune. To reach the holiday of glory, we must pass through the training school of grace. We must be heavenly-minded, and have heavenly tastes, in the life that now is, or else we shall never find ourselves in heaven, in the life to come.
J.C. Ryle (Holiness)
Architecture without pain, art looked at in undiluted pleasure, enjoyment without anxiety, compunction, heartache: there is no beggar woman in the church door, no ragged child or sore animal in the square. The water is safe and the wallet is inside the pocket. There will be no missed plane connection. We are in a country where the curable ills are taken care of. We are in a country where the mechanics of living from transport to domestic heating (alack, poor Britain!) function imaginatively and well; where it goes without saying that the sick are looked after and secure and the young well educated and well trained; where ingenuity is used to heal delinquents and to mitigate at least the physical dependence of old age; where there is work for all and some individual seizure, and men and women have not been entirely alienated yet from their natural environment; where there is care for freedom and where the country as a whole has rounded the drive to power and prestige beyond its borders and where the will to peace is not eroded by doctrine, national self-love, and unmanageable fears; where people are kindly, honest, helpful, sane, reliable, resourceful, and cool-headed; where stranger–shyly–smiles to stranger. "Portrait Sketch of a Country: Denmark 1962
Sybille Bedford (Pleasures and Landscapes)
What could he say that might make sense to them? Could he say love was, above all, common cause, shared experience? That was the vital cement, wasn’t it? Could he say how he felt about their all being here tonight on this wild world running around a big sun which fell through a bigger space falling through yet vaster immensities of space, maybe toward and maybe away from Something? Could he say: we share this billion-mile-an-hour ride. We have common cause against the night. You start with little common causes. Why love the boy in a March field with his kite braving the sky? Because our fingers burn with the hot string singeing our hands. Why love some girl viewed from a train, bent to a country well? The tongue remembers iron water cool on some long lost noon. Why weep at strangers dead by the road? They resemble friends unseen in forty years. Why laugh when clowns are hit by pies? We taste custard, we taste life. Why love the woman who is your wife? Her nose breathes in the air of a world that I know; therefore I love that nose. Her ears hear music I might sing half the night through; therefore I love her ears. Her eyes delight in seasons of the land; and so I love those eyes. Her tongue knows quince, peach, chokeberry, mint and lime; I love to hear it speaking. Because her flesh knows heat, cold, affliction, I know fire, snow, and pain. Shared and once again shared experience. Billions of prickling textures. Cut one sense away, cut part of life away. Cut two senses; life halves itself on the instant. We love what we know, we love what we are. Common cause, common cause, common cause of mouth, eye, ear, tongue, hand, nose, flesh, heart, and soul.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
Imagine you live on a planet where the dominant species is far more intellectually sophisticated than human beings but often keeps humans as companion animals. They are called the Gorns. They communicate with each other via a complex combination of telepathy, eye movements & high-pitched squeaks, all completely unintelligible & unlearnable by humans, whose brains are prepared for verbal language acquisition only. Humans sometimes learn the meaning of individual sounds by repeated association with things of relevance to them. The Gorns & humans bond strongly but there are many Gorn rules that humans must try to assimilate with limited information & usually high stakes. You are one of the lucky humans who lives with the Gorns in their dwelling. Many other humans are chained to small cabanas in the yard or kept in outdoor pens of varying size. They are so socially starved they cannot control their emotions when a Gorn goes near them. The Gorns agree that they could never be House-Humans. The dwelling you share with your Gorn family is filled with water-filled porcelain bowls.Every time you try to urinate in one,nearby Gorn attack you. You learn to only use the toilet when there are no Gorns present. Sometimes they come home & stuff your head down the toilet for no apparent reason. You hate this & start sucking up to the Gorns when they come home to try & stave this off but they view this as evidence of your guilt. You are also punished for watching videos, reading books, talking to other human beings, eating pizza or cheesecake, & writing letters. These are all considered behavior problems by the Gorns. To avoid going crazy, once again you wait until they are not around to try doing anything you wish to do. While they are around, you sit quietly, staring straight ahead. Because they witness this good behavior you are so obviously capable of, they attribute to “spite” the video watching & other transgressions that occur when you are alone. Obviously you resent being left alone, they figure. You are walked several times a day and left crossword puzzle books to do. You have never used them because you hate crosswords; the Gorns think you’re ignoring them out of revenge. Worst of all, you like them. They are, after all, often nice to you. But when you smile at them, they punish you, likewise for shaking hands. If you apologize they punish you again. You have not seen another human since you were a small child. When you see one you are curious, excited & afraid. You really don’t know how to act. So, the Gorn you live with keeps you away from other humans. Your social skills never develop. Finally, you are brought to “training” school. A large part of the training consists of having your air briefly cut off by a metal chain around your neck. They are sure you understand every squeak & telepathic communication they make because sometimes you get it right. You are guessing & hate the training. You feel pretty stressed out a lot of the time. One day, you see a Gorn approaching with the training collar in hand. You have PMS, a sore neck & you just don’t feel up to the baffling coercion about to ensue. You tell them in your sternest voice to please leave you alone & go away. The Gorns are shocked by this unprovoked aggressive behavior. They thought you had a good temperament. They put you in one of their vehicles & take you for a drive. You watch the attractive planetary landscape going by & wonder where you are going. You are led into a building filled with the smell of human sweat & excrement. Humans are everywhere in small cages. Some are nervous, some depressed, most watch the goings on on from their prisons. Your Gorns, with whom you have lived your entire life, hand you over to strangers who drag you to a small room. You are terrified & yell for your Gorn family to help you. They turn & walk away.You are held down & given a lethal injection. It is, after all, the humane way to do it.
Jean Donaldson (Culture Clash: A New Way Of Understanding The Relationship Between Humans And Domestic Dogs)
But that wasn't the chief thing that bothered me: I couldn't reconcile myself with that preoccupation with sin that, so far as I could tell, was never entirely absent from the monks' thoughts. I'd known a lot of fellows in the air corps. Of course they got drunk when they got a chance, and had a girl whenever they could and used foul language; we had one or two had hats: one fellow was arrested for passing rubber cheques and was sent to prison for six months; it wasn't altogether his fault; he'd never had any money before, and when he got more than he'd ever dreamt of having, it went to his head. I'd known had men in Paris and when I got back to Chicago I knew more, but for the most part their badness was due to heredity, which they couldn't help, or to their environment, which they didn't choose: I'm not sure that society wasn't more responsible for their crimes than they were. If I'd been God I couldn't have brought myself to condemn one of them, not even the worst, to eternal damnation. Father Esheim was broad-minded; he thought that hell was the deprivation of God's presence, but if that is such an intolerable punishment that it can justly be called hell, can one conceive that a good God can inflict it? After all, he created men, if he so created them that ti was possible for them to sin, it was because he willed it. If I trained a dog to fly at the throat of any stranger who came into by back yard, it wouldn't be fair to beat him when he did so. If an all-good and all-powerful God created the world, why did he create evil? The monks said, so that man by conquering the wickedness in him, by resisting temptation, by accepting pain and sorrow and misfortune as the trials sent by God to purify him, might at long last be made worthy to receive his grace. It seem to me like sending a fellow with a message to some place and just to make it harder for him you constructed a maze that he had to get through, then dug a moat that he had to swim and finally built a wall that he had to scale. I wasn't prepared to believe in an all-wise God who hadn't common sense. I didn't see why you shouldn't believe in a God who hadn't created the world, buyt had to make the best of the bad job he'd found, a being enormously better, wiser and greater than man, who strove with the evil he hadn't made and who might be hoped in the end to overcome it. But on the other hand I didn't see why you should.
W. Somerset Maugham (The Razor’s Edge)
I have been so great a lover: filled my days So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise, The pain, the calm, and the astonishment, Desire illimitable, and still content, And all dear names men use, to cheat despair, For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear Our hearts at random down the dark of life. Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far, My night shall be remembered for a star That outshone all the suns of all men's days. Shall I not crown them with immortal praise Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see The inenarrable godhead of delight? Love is a flame; -- we have beaconed the world's night. A city: -- and we have built it, these and I. An emperor: -- we have taught the world to die. So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence, And the high cause of Love's magnificence, And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames, And set them as a banner, that men may know, To dare the generations, burn, and blow Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming.... These I have loved: White plates and cups, clean-gleaming, Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust; Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food; Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood; And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers; And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours, Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon; Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen Unpassioned beauty of a great machine; The benison of hot water; furs to touch; The good smell of old clothes; and other such -- The comfortable smell of friendly fingers, Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers About dead leaves and last year's ferns.... Dear names, And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames; Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring; Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing; Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain, Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train; Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home; And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould; Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew; And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new; And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass; -- All these have been my loves. And these shall pass, Whatever passes not, in the great hour, Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power To hold them with me through the gate of Death. They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath, Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust And sacramented covenant to the dust. ---- Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake, And give what's left of love again, and make New friends, now strangers.... But the best I've known, Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown About the winds of the world, and fades from brains Of living men, and dies. Nothing remains. O dear my loves, O faithless, once again This one last gift I give: that after men Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed, Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved.
Rupert Brooke