Sunday, August 24, 2008

Entry for August 26, 2007 ~ The Bell Tolls for Me...

Well, here we's been a few days again, and I'm in the mood to ramble...
I'm thinking about some of my favorite quotes ~ mostly from famous people ~ but not all!
I seem drawn to quotes that reflect something going on in my life, or those that show a trait of someone close to me. Or I'll pick up on something someone has said in the distant past, for example, one of the Saints or a long-departed author...and use it somewhere that I can relate to it. But no matter where I find my quotes, they all have meaning to me.

A few of my favorites are:
'Be joyful, seek the best, and let the sparrows chirp...' ~ Bl. Pope John XXIII (1881-1963).
A great man, who is now up for Sainthood. How this quote brings to my mind what Our Lord said, telling us to not worry about how we will live, His Father in Heaven will take care of all of it!
'Believe that others are better than you in the depths of their souls, although you may appear better than they...' ~ St. Augustine.
Another great man, who, as a Doctor of the Church, can put so much of our Faith 'in a nutshell', so to speak. To take something as profound as the way Christians view all of God's children, no matter who or where they are...a real example of Charity in action! And, in my own life, it reminds me to never judge another person...something I must struggle with, for sure!
'I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work...' ~ Thomas Edison.
No matter how many times we try, we still have to practice something until it is right, or even perfect. This man, one of the greatest inventors in history, probably spent 99% of the time it took to invent the light bulb in frustration and disappointment. But he never gave up; and the world is a brighter place because of his perseverance!
'If you want to know the Lord, don't try to solve riddles. Just look around you and you'll see Him playing with your children...' ~ Kahlil Gibran.
God is, as they say, 'in the details.' The most valuable lessons in life are often learned at the side of one's own children. When I first had mine, I thought I was smart; I thought I knew so-o much. As they grew, I realized that I knew more about life and love after they happened along than I ever had before. They were my greatest teachers.
'Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers ~ and never succeeding...' ~ Marc Chagall.
'I am following Nature without being able to grasp her...' ~ Claude Monet.
I am including these two as one, since they both say the same things to me. As an artist, I am forever practicing, just like I said in an earlier blog entry. The greatest model for any artist is Mother Nature herself, whether the subject is a portrait, a flower, a sunset. Even the great Leonardo had practice sketchbooks which never saw the light of day until centuries after his death.
'It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him...' ~ JRR Tolkien. favorite author!
I use this quote often when I speak of my husband, Michael. Everything about him takes up my waking moments...and my dreams. I live with wonderful people, but the one closest to me is, of course, him. He has to be! I took my vows with this man, with whom I have shared my life for over 30 years! Everything about him breathes life into my life. Every decision I make revolves around him. Every thought of love that I've ever had ends with him. We are one.

Now, getting back to famous authors, however, there is one writer of whom I am not so fond, but whose quote touches all our lives. Ernest Hemingway. I had to read two of his books when I was in school, and I must admit, I didn't like either one very much. But I also have to say that the quote 'Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!' is one remarkable turn of a phrase. No matter who we are, or where we end up, we all have a bell that will toll somewhere, some time, for us. We cannot escape it.
The thing I love most about literature, all of literature except the Holy Bible, is the way I can take what I want from it, interpret it as I see fit...and the greater the author, the more fun it becomes. I wouldn't presume to interpret the Good Book ~ I leave that to Holy Mother Church, and I follow Her.
But as secular authors go, Hemingway was a great author. Just because I don't prefer him doesn't mean he was not great. And that one quote from him says so much about life, it's uncanny. It puts it all into one succinct sentence ~ life, death, all we have.
I had an English class in my Freshman year at WSU, and I'm afraid I wasn't doing all that well. But one day, after turning in two papers, back to back, one with a 'D' grade and one with an 'A' grade, my professor pulled me aside after class and asked me if I would be interested in taking an Independent Study. It seems that my second paper had impressed him to the point that he figured I was a likely candidate for deeper things on my own than what he was covering in his lectures. So, I agreed. I chose Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Now, I don't really remember what I wrote, or what the book was really all about, but I do remember this: the world's great authors, I re-discovered, really knew something about life. They knew that the characters and situations they penned to paper had to be believable...even if the story was a fantasy, as in Tolkien's work; I used to love dissecting Shakespeare in high school (another of my favorites) for this very I said, the greater the writer, the more fun I had.
The fact that they knew so much about human nature is what makes their writing so great. They were universal. And Hemingway, even tho' he has never been one of my favorites, did know that we all have our bells to answer to ~ and, yes, we cannot escape them.
By the way, I got an 'A+' in my class, after all...thanks to a man whose writing I never liked, but who did know about life...and how it was reflected in the simple turn of a phrase ~ and ironically, one of my favorite quotes.

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