Tuesday, April 7, 2009

31 Day Blogger: Assignment 1: Make a List

So I've been lagging behind here on the AA blog and just when I felt a little out of sorts about my lack of willpower, along came someone over twitter who is offering a free month long class as a way to create new habits for blogging.

Today's assignment was to create a list and after considering nicknames (too few to make a decent list) or cities (too many to write about adequately) I landed upon My Top Ten Favorite Inspirtational Quotes. Many (probably all) of these have seen this blog before but it's been awhile since I posted. And truthfully, after compiling them, I have to say that now is a good time for me to be re-reading them.. and perhaps you'll feel the same way too ... followed by a short note about why they're my favorites. Enjoy!

The quote: "When you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred has seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensible factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So, who composed the plot?.. . Just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you have met apparently by mere chance become leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others... It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended."-- Joseph Campbell

Why It's My Favorite: I first encountered this quote when I was in grad school in 1991. Sure, I'd heard of Joseph Campbell but this was something that really hit home to me, and the way that I look at and comprehend the world. My life definitely HAS looked like this, many times as I've gone through it but definitely in hindsight.

The Quote:
"I always knew
That I would take this path,
But yesterday
I did not know
That today
I would be on it." ---No Norihiri (Japan)

Why It Made The List: Back in 1988 when the AIDS Quilt came to San Francisco, I spent an evening as a volunteer handing out tissues to folks who were overcome with emotion. It wasn't until I saw this quote embroidered on one of the panels that I started to lose it. There was also: "I did not know yesterday that today it would be raining".... both of them emotionally suckerpunch me with the aching sadness of destiny and really, the futility of trying to figure it out rather than simply living our lives.

The Quote: "In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
--Martin Niemoeller

Why This Quote: I first discovered this quote on a postcard when I was living in London in autumn 1986 and was first coming to terms with being gay.... and it seems quite self explanatory why it's significant. It should be chiseled into a large granite slab and erected on the Washington Mall. We must get involved even when it doesn't feel like 'our' fight. It is ALL our fight.

The Quote:
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that istranslated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will neverexist through any other medium and be lost, the world will not have it."--Martha Graham

Why This Quote?: Another graduate school discovery speaking to the passionate urge to speak and not allow yourself to block it.

The Quote:
“It takes courage to be a painter. I always felt as though I walked the edge of a knife, afraid I’d fall off –
So what? What if you do fall? I would rather be doing something I really wanted to do.”
- Georgia O’Keefe

Why This Quote?: Back in 2003 I was adrift for a few months in what would be an incredibly difficult time for me personally and professionally... and I did what I often do when I come to an impasse, I travel. I drove the country and ended up in Santa Fe, New Mexico because my best friend Matt had raved about it. I took in the Georgia O'Keefe museum and heard this quote in a documentary shown there. I kept watching and listening to get the quote exactly right and probably heard it a dozen times. Now, I have the American Masters show it's from (a PBS documentay on O'Keefe). And it speaks to me of the firm belief that O'Keefe had not to compromise.

The Quote: "You have something to say. Something of your very own. Try to say it. Don't be ashamed of any real thought or feeling you have. Don't undervalue it. Don't let the fear of others prevent you from saying it... You have something to say, something that no one else in the world has said in just your way of saying it."-- Hughes Mearns, Creative Power

Why This Quote?: Another grad school find.. I got a lot for the money I spent at Northwestern including three really great quotes..! LOL

The Quote: "Every person should wear a coat with two pockets. In each is a messagefrom God. The message in one reads, 'You are nothing but one of the billions of grains of sand in the universe. 'The other reads, 'I made the universe just for you.'"--- Hassidic story

Why This Quote?: I have no idea when or where I discovered this but I love that it both shows how specific and yet how insignificant we are in all of creation. One of the most loving and humane quotes I've ever come across.

The Quote: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -Dr. Seuss

Why This Quote?: Because it's Dr. Seuss. Honestly, does there need to be a better reason? I put this in my signature line a couple years ago and then noticed the friends that I was writing to using it in theirs. All my life I've worried what others think and at 45 I might just finally be cracking that difficult nut (with the help of Dr. Seuss of course).

The Quote:
"There's moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're going to be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments, sometimes they're not. Bottom line is even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments.
No one asks for their life to change, not really, but it does. So what are we helpless? Puppets? No, the big moments are going to come, you can't help that, it's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. " - Whisler

Why This Quote?: It's just damn beautiful. I've had many of the Big Moments and yes nothing can prepare you. Even if you fantacize and think and worry and dream, you don't know who you really are until those moments arrive and you reveal at least to yourself what you're made of.

The Quote: "The Things that Make us Happy, Make us Wise" -- East Coast sampler
Why This Quote?:
This quote is used prominently in the fantasy book LITTLE, BIG and it's stayed with me all these years. Kristin, Woody, Lyda and Shawn, Lisa B., Roger, Matt, camp in Texas, London, Jon, Rob, those Palm Springs parties, Roland.. these are just a few of the things/people that have made me unbelievably happy throughout my life and if I can also walk away with a modicum of wisdom on top of that? Gravy.


Stephen said...

here is mine:
“...it doesn't matter how you feel inside, you know? It's what shows up on the surface that counts. That's what my mother taught me. Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down, past your knees until you're almost walking on them. And then you'll fit in, and you'll be invited to parties, and boys will like you, and happiness will follow.”

Marge Simpson

I like your blog. I will be back.

Andrew Altenburg said...

Thanks Stephen!! :)

Andrew Altenburg said...

Just wanted to add: I really love the Simpsons and back when their movie came out, I found and linked the trailer on this site .. it was a real treat to come here every day and find the it playing. :)