quotes / by Martha Keyes

Sometimes quotes make me feel like I'm going to explode. And I mean that in the best sense.

I love quotes. Far more than is healthy or practical, I'm sure. But what obsessions are practical, really? I've always loved reading, and there's something so fulfilling in finding words of someone else that run parallel to your own thoughts and feelings. In the past, I've felt such frustration when a life situation or discussion has brought the memory or glimmer of a quote to mind but I couldn't remember who said it or how it was said. I can remember how applicable it is, but I know I'll slaughter it if I try to paraphrase it. 

So I began compiling my favorite quotes in a GoogleDoc. Is that weird? I recently took the Strengthsfinder assessment, and when I read my results, I was fairly amazed to see how accurately the first result described me. I've always been pretty skeptical of personality tests, largely because they require me to categorize myself when I feel much more fluid than two poles allow for. But this description of my "Input" strength hit the nail on the head and may help anyone who's scratching their head over my obsession to understand.

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable. 

Spot. On.

My Quotes GoogleDoc is, as of today, 100 pages long. I read through it often, but not as frequently as I would like. It had been awhile since the last time I scanned my Quotes doc, but I was preparing a church talk last week, so naturally, I turned to my archives for some thought-provoking material. I sat there, having read through 3/4 of the document, marveling at how incredibly powerful words are. 

If you were to scan my Quotes doc, you would find quotes from all sorts of people; from Aristotle to Charlotte Brontë to Dumbledore. But a few people in particular speak my language so fluently that they dominate the document unmistakably. A quick scan of the document will reveal: 

William Shakespeare: for his timeless eloquence and poetry

George MacDonald: for his practical gospel wisdom and life lessons hidden amongst fairy tales

C.S. Lewis: for the way he simply and logically puts into words the thoughts and feelings I've grappled with for years

Oscar Wilde: for his short, witty wisdom and humor

Jeffrey Holland: for his straightforward, passionate, and loving sermons that drive at the heart of human experience

Neal Maxwell: for the personal association that makes his carefully-constructed phrases more poignant and potent

"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write." William Makepeace Thackeray
"I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand." C. S. Lewis

I'm grateful for beautiful spirits who have taken the time to write down their thoughts and to understand life through the process of writing. I feel grateful for those who strive to make use of and develop the incredible gift of writing and speaking and who capitalize on the wide vocabulary available to them. 

"If you cannot write well, you cannot think well; if you cannot think well, others will do your thinking for you." Oscar Wilde
"Les langues n'ont d'élégance qu'autant qu'il y en a dans l'esprit de ceux qui les parlent." Étienne Bonnot 

("Languages have only as much elegance as there is in the minds of those who speak them." )

I am grateful for the writings of others that have influenced the person I am and hope to be. I am grateful for the way that my own writing has developed my ability to think clearly, act accordingly, and feel more deeply. I am grateful for the power of words in helping me appreciate the full color, depth, and beauty of life.