“I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow out of life”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
When in turmoil about choosing my college major I asked a favorite, visiting professor, Howard Raiffa, “How do I choose? “
“Walk up to a wall of books in a familiar part of our library,” he suggested. "Pull out a book, open to any page, scan your finger down and start reading somewhere with your question in your mind. That will focus your mind on what you truly want to do."
“We boil at different degrees.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reluctantly I followed his advice. Afterwards I left the library knowing I wanted a journalism major, not business. Only many years and random page readings later did I begin to understand myself better and the life patterns I set up for myself.
“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it”
- Rabindranath Tagore
Once a Big Man on Campus (BMOC) Dr. Mardy Grothe took a more dramatic approach to self-discovery. Seeking deeper meaning for his life, he abruptly resigned as president of his fraternity, vice-president of the student-senate and from several social clubs. He even moved off campus and spent all his spare moments, not in dating or with friends but in reading Emerson, Thoreau, Camus and more.
“Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use.”
–- Charles M. Schulz, writing for Charlie Brown
To reinforce his self-discovery, Grothe thumb-tacked to the wall of his room his favorite quotations. That practice morphed into typing them onto his computer and continues to this day, a habit for which thousands of us are grateful. His newsletter of quotations and the remarkable stories of the people behind them is the mental candy break for many of us.
“Life is like a cobweb, not an organization chart.”
- H. Ross Perot
After devouring Grothe's first three books, Never Let a Fool Kiss You or Let a Kiss Fool You, Oxymoronica and Viva la Repartee, I dove into his fourth “intellectual smorgasbord” I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like, and you will too.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
- Henry Winkler
With chapters on wit, sex, stages of life, humor and the human condition, this may become the book you open to try my college professor’s suggested exercise - figuring out what you really want to do. Or, more deeply, what you are about in this life you are living.
His droll chapter titles include
The Lights May Be on, But Nobody’s Home (Insults & Criticism)
A Relationship Is Like a Shark (Relationships)
An Actor is a God in Captivity (Stage & Screen)
“Luck is the residue of design”
- Branch Rickey
“Love is a kind of dementia with very precise and oft-repeated clinical symptoms.”
- Louis de Bernieres, Corelli’s Mandolin
By the way, my favorite story in his book begins the chapter, Humor Is the Shock Absorber of Life.
“Gratitude, like love, is never a dependable international emotion”
- Joseph W. Alsop, Jr.
The quotes in this post are culled from over 2,000 gems in his book. For those much-needed mental vacations, keep this book within easy reach on your bed stand or in your bathroom, study or kitchen.