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I had given her a story I had written in which I, as the main character, had gone down to the beach at night on the sand and began meditating on the meaning in Christ, on the meaning in death, on the meaning and fullness and rhythm in all things. Then in the middle of my meditations, along walks a bleary-eyed tramp kicking sand in my face. I talk to him, buy him a bottle and we drink. We get sick. Afterward we go to a house of ill-fame. After the dinner, she opened her purse and brought forth the story of the beach. She opened it up about halfway down, to the entrance of the bleary-eyed tramp and the exit of meaning in Christ. “Up to here,” she said, “up to here, this was very good, in fact, beautiful.” Then she glared up at me with that glare that only the artistically intelligent who have somehow fallen into money and position can have. “But pardon me, pardon me very much,” she tapped at the bottom half of my story, “just what the hell is this stuff doing in here?”
— Bukowski, Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip

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“Those who aim at faultless regularity will only produce mediocrity, and no one ever approaches perfection except by stealth, and unknown to themselves.”
— William Hazlitt, 1819

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“We all have our little solipsistic delusions, ghastly intuitions of utter singularity: that we are the only one in the house who ever fills the ice-cube tray, who unloads the clean dishwasher, who occasionally pees in the shower, whose eyelid twitches on first dates; that only we take casualness terribly seriously; that only we fashion supplication into courtesy; that only we hear the whiny pathos in a dog’s yawn, the timeless sigh in the opening of the hermetically-sealed jar, the splattered laugh in the frying egg, the minor-D lament in the vacuum’s scream; that only we feel the panic at sunset the rookie kindergartner feels at his mother’s retreat. That only we love the only-we. That only we need the only-we. Solipsism binds us together, J.D. knows. That we feel lonely in a crowd; stop not to dwell on what’s brought the crowd into being. That we are, always, faces in a crowd.”
— David Foster Wallace, 1989

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By my physical constitution I am but an ordinary man … Yet some great events, some cutting expressions, some mean hypocracies, have at times thrown this assemblage of sloth, sleep, and littleness into rage like a lion.
— John Adams, 1779

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“As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable.”
— Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, 1885

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…we have got to be honest with ourselves that too many of us choose not to exercise the franchise, that too many of our citizens believe their vote won’t make a difference, or they buy into the cynicism that, by the way, is the central strategy of voter suppression, to make you discouraged, to stop believing in your own power…
—Barack Obama, July 30, 2020

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“James wrote to the believers: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”
— NIV

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Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. When you make an impasse passable, that is strength..
—Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1982

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I am a man. Nothing human is alien to me.
—Publius Terentius Afer, 163 BC

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When Ted Williams was managing the Washington Senators he often came into the umpires’ dressing room after games to talk about pitchers. Williams knew more about hitting than any man alive, but he knew who to talk to about pitching. He’d ask about specific pitches during the game — for example, was that a good pitch Mike Epstein struck out on in the third inning? We’d tell him as much as we remembered and make up the rest. He’d also ask our opinion about potential trades. I thought deals were good for baseball, so I’d always tell him to go ahead and make. ‘Sure,’ I’d say, ‘he’s great. Get him if you can.’ ‘I don’t know,’ Williams would say, shaking his head. ‘He was 0-22 last year with a 17.50 earned run average.’ ‘Yeah,’ I’d agree, ‘but you know how statistics lie.’
Once these conversations led to a potentially embarrassing moment. Every third word out of Williams’ mouth was a swear word. These adjectives were an absolutely essential part of his baseball vocabulary. One night, in Washington, President Nixon used our locker room as his ballpark office because it was small, secure and had a separate entrance on the field right next to the President’s box. They even installed a red phone in the room — and you can imagine my temptation. After the game Nixon paused to talk baseball with us. I was my usual delightful self, being smart enough not to mention football, and was in the middle of a wonderful story about me when Williams rapped on the door. The four umpires in the room became so quiet you could have heard a stolen baseball drop. The Secret Service agents brough Williams into the room. I knew exactly what was coming and closed my eyes, although that did not affect my hearing. ‘Hey,’ Williams said after being introduced to the President of the United States, ‘How the $&#* are you?’ Nixon didn’t hesitate. He looked at the four of us and said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve met the $&#*#$ before.’
— Ron Luciano, The Umpire Strikes Back, 1982