Findings

For me it is enough to have the first and the last word — the middle we can discuss.

What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?

Many things in the world around me seem to me ugly, wasteful, foolish, cruel, destructive, and wicked. How much of this should I talk to children about? I tend to feel, not much. I prefer to let, or help, children explore as much of the world as they can, and then make up their own minds about it. If they ask me what I think about something, I will tell them. But if I have to criticize the world in their hearing, I prefer to do it in specifics, rather than give the idea that I think the world, in general, is a bad place. I don’t think it is, and for all the bad that is in it, I would much rather be in it than out of it. I am in no hurry to leave.

Learn all you can on your own before you spend any money on a school.

A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.

Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it. What are you working for, posterity? We don’t know if there is any posterity.

One of the more agreeable symmetries in design work is that consistency and laziness often lead you to the same solution. If software developers have a crucial lesson for designers, it is to exploit this situation to the fullest extent possible, then use the saved time to get into bread baking or something.

Learn to draw. If you don’t, you’re gonna live your life getting around that and trying to compensate.

“When I think I’m teaching, I’m probably not,” he said. “When I don’t think I’m teaching, I probably am.”

It’s hard for me to throw anything away without thinking about how it can become part of some work I’m doing. I just stare at something and say: Why isn’t that art? Why couldn’t that be art?

If plants grow and thrive, he should be happy; and if the plants which thrive chance not to be the ones which he planted, they are plants nevertheless, and nature is satisfied with them. We are apt to covet the things which we cannot have; but we are happier when we love the things which grow because they must.

Little children love the dandelions; why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely.

It’s easy to forget that we only ever see facets of other people, never the whole (not even in marriage) — and in those facets what we’re mostly seeing is some aspect of ourselves.

I write nonfiction because I don’t understand life well enough to make things up.

Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere, if you say so.

He said that unconditional acceptance was “loving someone into existence.”

No one is coming to the rescue. We have to save each other. Every day, in small and great ways.

You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.

And years from now — years after this moment — they’ll be sitting together at the kitchen table on a Sunday morning, laughing at something on the radio. He’ll tell her, out of the blue — for the first time in years — that he loves her.

And she’ll feel tears in her eyes in an instant, in a gorgeous swell of grateful relief in her belly, knots unfasting she’d forgotten were even there. And he’ll tell her that for him, it’s a choice. Her, Thomas, the house, their life together — it’s all a choice. And he’ll take her hand and he’ll say that for him — for Benjamin — there is no “fate”. There is no “meant to be”. There is only ever what we decide. And that for him, that’s not depressing. That actually, the constant possibility of something other than this is the only thing that makes this mean anything.

And he’ll say that even now, outside the front door, the world is pressing possibilities and people and places up against the wood and the glass, but that he doesn’t even care because here, out of everywhere, is where he chooses to be. And she, out of everyone, is who he wants to be here with.

The beginnings of articulating taste are almost always through discovering what you don’t like.

The most ridiculous thing about living is that childhood is its own eternity and then suddenly you’re an adult.

[Ideas] are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.

The younger girl begins to sag under the weight of all the waiting and the lateness, the way small children do.

Follow the rules exactly unless you come up with something better.

“Time goes too quickly” is a belief system. Like all belief systems, the more you believe that it’s true, the more true it becomes.