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I don’t know if it’s a writer thing or a girl thing or a human thing, but I can’t resist collecting and savoring juicy quotes. Maybe it’s my hidden hope that someday I’ll say something so profoundly witty or wise, poignant or ironic that it motivates someone, somewhere to write it down. Or perhaps I just need to procrastinate. That must be it – otherwise why this mango bajito post (see note 1) instead of something thoughtful about Cuban wakes or ham-in-cakes?
Maybe you’re procrastinating too, and I applaud you for landing here to peruse of some of my all time favorite quotes – each one of them coming my way by serendipity over the years: I’d just be poking along reading or listening to the radio when a nugget would jump out and snap me to attention. Nothing Googled here…
Mil pardons to all you readers craving something salient from over here in Havana today – even I have to step out of the Cuban vortex once in a while. But not to worry: posts on The Heat; Being Bilingual; and Baseball are coming soon. If you need a fix, why don’t you click over to my short novel forever-in-progress?
“Love is the food of life. But traveling is the dessert.”
– Singaporean saying
“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait ’til that other is ready and it may be a long time before they get off.”
– Henry David Thoreau
“If I can get a watch for $15 that keeps perfect time, what am I doing messing around with a Rolex?”
– Chuck Feeney (see note 2)
“In a way we could half envy you such fat, wasteful, thing-filled times.”
– Marge Piercy
On the Human Condition:
“What is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance?” (see note 3)
– Theodore Roethke
“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.”
– Alvin Toffler
“Being dumb doesn’t kill you, but it sure makes you sweat a lot.”
– Haitian proverb
“Get your head out of your ass and take a look around.”
– Judge D’Italia (Ret.)
“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe and it has a longer shelf life.” – Frank Zappa
“Ronnie?! Ronnie is a dear friend and brilliant. You’re going to love him…He used to be exactly like you: all potential and no product.” (see note 4)
– Laura Kightlinger in Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman
“The chief glory of a nation is its authors.”
– Inscription, Andrew Carnegie Library (see note 5)
“I write everday to keep my neuroses in check. That’s why the novel will never die – it’s treating American mental illness.”
– Kurt Vonnegut
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
– William Faulkner on E. Hemingway
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
– Ernest Hemingway on W. Faulkner
1. Cogiendo el mango bajito is a Cuban saying meaning ‘going for the low-hanging fruit’ – in this case, the low-hanging mango.
2. If you need a new hero in your life, check out Chuck Feeney: The Billionaire Who Wasn’t. This guy made more money than Cuba has seen since 1959 (I don’t know that this is true, but it might be, he has made that much moola in his 70-something years) and started giving it away a few decades ago through his big-hearted philanthropy. Anonymously. Over time, he and his super smart co-conspirators decided to spend down the fortune which has converted him (unwittingly!) into the guru of giving-while-living.
All you m/billionaires reading Here is Havana: why don’t you start giving some to worthy causes? Start with 5% and work your way up from there. It won’t hurt, I promise, and might even feel good. The world could use ‘two, three, many Chuck Feeneys.’
3. Cuba, in a nutshell.
4. Have I mentioned my work forever-in-progess?!
5. I do think that quotable quotes can be useful tools for writers – as prompts or leaping off points for free writing, as motivation, and yes, for procrastinating – the monkey on every writer’s back. (Ironically, Andrew Carnegie’s essay Wealth was one of Chuck Feeney’s inspirations for his giving-while-living model. But Feeney has given even more than the venerable Carnegie: according to his biographer, Feeney’s philanthropy had granted $4 billion at the time of writing as compared to $3 billion – in 2000 terms – by Carnegie). Another quote inscribed in the Carnegie Library may have guided Feeney: “the highest form of worship is service to man.”