All of us at one time or the other must have taken inspiration from words spoken by someone past or present, famous or anonymous; or found them in a work of fiction. These words move us, guide us, inspire us to be better and do better. Some words make sense only to us in a sense that we wonder if others will ever grasp their meaning like we did. They may be direct or they may have multiple meanings only be discerned when read multiple times, some may be long, some only a few words. Whatever they may be, however they might be, these words have shaped us, have become a part of our psyche. I’ve collected few such quotes/lines below which’ve had a great influence on me with a little commentary of my own.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! – Rocky Balboa
You need a tough hide to survive life. No other lines have put that in perspective to me than these words of Rocky. Spoken to his kid who criticizes him, Rocky dishes out words which summarize the philosophy behind the entire movie franchise. I stumble a lot. I get hit (atleast I feel I do). And, I feel sad and get depressed when something knocks me to my knees (natural isn’t it?) but, then I remind myself.. it ain’t how hard you hit, it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And, I get back up.
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. – Dead Poets Society
This is the precise reason why I could never get my mind around engineering, law or business. I need to know ‘why?’ If science tells us how to live, art shows us why to live. And, why do we live but for beauty, romance & love?
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
We are good at commenting, criticizing, calling names. We know what is better than the person in the ring. We know what mistakes he made, how he could’ve done better. We think ‘if only I was in his place I would’ve done this and not that’. We damn if he jabs from the right; we damn him if he jabs from the left. We offer opinions. We offer advices. We offer reviews. But, we ourselves never dare to get into the ring, never dare to be vulnerable. We conveniently forget that it’s easy to comment from the side but tough to decide when our head is reeling from the opponents’ blow in the ring. But, who do we remember today? the critic? or the man in the ring? This world belongs to the doers, the people in the field. Not to the ones on the sidelines. Not to the one who criticized.
Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change. – Robert Kennedy
Moral courage is not easy. It is very easy to say I’m doing what is expected out of me, but very tough to say ‘I’m doing this because I believe it is right and even though people don’t see it this way now, they’ll sometime down the lane’. Very easy to fit in, to bow to popular opinion but very tough to stand out, and stick to our guns. A friend of mine who wanted to get into politics was criticized by his family. So, he vented his anger before me, “All want a Bhagat Singh or a Gandhi to change this country. But, nobody wants them born in their house”. Do we have the moral courage to stand up for what is right and for what we believe?
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. – Thoreau
I read an ad once – ‘Only dead fish swim with the stream’. So damn true. But, it’s very difficult to do something different. Difficult to stand up to our own choices when they are not mainstream. We fear for friends/family who take an unconventional route. We try to correct them. Knock some sense into them. We want to drag them with us. In all our enthusiasm to be safe we snuff their uniqueness. This we do for others and have it done to us and like dead fish we all swim with the stream. Doing what all are doing, loving what all love. Existing but never alive. We no more hear the music of our drummer.
To laugh often and much, to win respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. – Emerson
Success means different to different individuals. But, on our deathbed what matters to us? What gives us contentment? What gives our existence meaning? Money? Lifestyle? I think Emerson defined success for me.
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. – George Bernard Shaw
Living is tough. Work, house hold responsibilities sap our energy. Sometimes, we just want to get through the day. For some this becomes the mantra for life. Whenever I put my life in autopilot to avoid the noise hammering me from all sides, I feel Shaw chiding me, shouting at me to pull up my socks and face life head on.
My life is my message. – Gandhi
We say a lot. I say a lot. But, what did you actually believe? and what did you say just because it is ‘cool’? how to separate the grain from the chaff? Observe your life. If you really believed it, you would’ve lived it. Can you separate honesty and Lincoln? Can you separate non violence and Gandhi? Can you separate kindness and Mother Teresa? They lived the values they believed. The way we live reflects the values we believe. What’s the point if we advocate kindness to animals but wear fur? if we advocate equal opportunity but resort to nepotism? if we advocate anti corruption but have no qualms accepting a bribe? When others see your life, they’ll know what values you believed and what you merely preached.
Do you have such quotes, which you not just like, but, have made them your own? How have they influenced you? What do they mean to you? Let’s discuss them in the comments.