This one’s my favourite. It’s painted in white on a big navy blue card and framed with photos of roses and candles, and it goes like this:
“My candle burns bright at both ends,
It will not last the night,
But ah! my foes, and oh! my friends
It gives a lovely light.”
It’s written in the back of most of the Roald Dahl books as it just happened to be his motto, but it’s actually by Edna St. Vincent Millay, it’s called First Fig, and it’s from her book A Few Figs from Thistles. What is so brilliant about this quote is that it captures everything we should all be aspiring to: making the absolute best of what we can, even though it may seem futile at the time. I think the metaphor is clever although slightly cliché, you know, the whole candle equals life idea, but it sort of works here, and to top it all off, it rhymes. Perfect.
The newest one is above my door on the inside, written in permanent marker because I was feeling particularly rebellious. Who’s seen Dead Poets Society? (If you haven’t, I severely recommend. It’s one of those films that change your perception of everything). There are plenty of inspirational quotes in this film, not least of which is “carpe diem”; but my all time favourite that I first heard from watching it is by Walt Whitman:
“I sound my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world.”
For those of you who have seen this movie, you’ll know that the scene itself is pretty inspirational. Keating is shouting at Todd, who stands in front of the whole class, terrified of making a fool of himself, or of failing; and Keating pushes and pushes, and eventually Todd Anderson is hollering out great lines of poetry that express something he doesn’t quite understand. This quote is the kind that stirs up the souls of people who were once too afraid to speak for themselves. Next time you’re feeling nervous, try yawping. You might find it works.
Another good movie one is:
“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”
Gandalf says it in The Fellowship of the Ring, after being told by Frodo that he wishes the Ring hadn’t come to him. What he’s really saying is, “Don’t regret things. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Just stroll along and make the best of everything thrown at you”. And it’s inspirational because it’s so whole-heartedly true; sometimes you just have to sit back and let events carry you along, and not try to influence everything, because you’ll just exhaust yourself with worrying.
So, one by a world-famous poet and two from blockbuster films . . . Paris Hilton is next on the list, and I refuse to be ashamed of quoting her by stating that actually, this one’s quite brilliant (not nearly as funny as her replying “Gordon Ramsey” when asked who the British Prime Minister was in 2009, but whatever). It’s written in A4 size bubble-writing across my back wall, and each letter is patterned with cheerful-looking things like flowers, glasses of champagne, bubbles, cupcakes, strawberries, books, splotches of paint and butterflies. Each is hand-drawn and hand-coloured, and in fact I could probably have handed in every piece of homework throughout Year 9 if I hadn’t spent the best part of that year drawing this. It goes:
“Life’s too short to blend in.”
Pretty simple, I hear you say. (Trust me, it took about six months). But doesn’t it just express everything that we want in life? Unless, of course, you’re happier just fitting in, which is fine too. But I don’t want to be beige, I want to be scarlet and gold and turquoise and lime green, and I don’t want to waste my life in the background when I can fling myself into the whirlpool and let it spit me out into whatever crazy situation it may choose. I want to walk on the moon and deep-sea-dive, and wear home-made neon dresses just so that people stare in the street (one name for this is attention seeking, but I prefer to think of it as not hiding). The point is that I want to do things. I refuse to allow my life to slip through my fingers and look back at the age of sixty thinking, “Damn. I never went skydiving”.
One last quote, to finish off. I really could go on to infinity (and beyond), but I won’t as I suspect you’re getting bored, if you haven’t stopped reading already. It’s written on bright yellow paper and blu-tacked to my door, and it was written by a fifteen-year-old girl who lived in an attic with seven other people for two years of her short life, after which she was murdered. It reads:
“Think of all the beauty still around you and be happy.”
If Anne Frank could look on the bright side of life, then so can we. Even when living so close to death, she saw the good, and for that reason she is one of my all-time heroines. Know the danger, but smile in its face. If you haven’t read her diary, go read it now. It is funny and interesting and heart-warming and heart-breaking.
I want to keep going. Really I do. But I have a feeling that this is already too long, so I’ll call it quits. I hope you feel as inspired by these quotes as I do when I look around my bedroom. There may be a “Quotes Part II” on the way. Stay tuned.