There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go — if there are no doors or windows — he walks through a wall.
Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.
Character is what you do when nobody is looking.
What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered I would probably [not have become a novelist but] gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a don and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature.
He who knows he is infirm, and would climb, does not think of the summit which he believes to be beyond his reach but climbs slowly onwards, taking very short steps, looking below as often as he likes but not above him, never trying his powers, but seldom stopping, and then, sometimes, behold! He is on the top.
Better to strengthen your back than lighten your burden.
Steep and craggy is the path of the gods.
Anything can happen to anybody. In the last movie I did, Above Suspicion, I played a paraplegic. I went to a rehab center and I worked with the people there so I could simulate being a paraplegic. And every day I would get in my car and drive away and go, “Thank God, that’s not me.” I remember the smugness of that, as if I was privileged in a way. And seven months later, I was in this condition. The point is we are all one great big family and any one of us can get hurt at any moment. . . . We should never walk by somebody who’s in a wheelchair and be afraid of them or think of them as a stranger. It could be us — in fact, it is us.
In the Dalebura tribe a woman, a cripple from birth, was carried about by the tribespeople, each in turn, until her death at the age of sixty-six. . . . They never desert the sick.
Anyone who regards love as a deal made on the basis of “needs” is in danger of falling into a purely quantitative ethic. If love is a deal, then who is to say that you should not make as many deals as possible?
The people you have to lie to, own you. The things you have to lie about, own you. When your children see you owned, then they are not your children anymore, they are the children of what owns you. If money owns you, they are the children of money. If your need for pretense and illusion owns you, they are the children of pretense and illusion. If your fear of loneliness owns you, they are the children of loneliness. If your fear of the truth owns you, they are the children of the fear of truth.
The power of a movement lies in the fact that it can indeed change the habits of people. This change is not the result of force but of dedication, of moral persuasion.
Character is what emerges from all the little things you were too busy to do yesterday, but did anyway.
I’ve had occasions when I wondered seriously how anyone could feel as bad as this and live. The answer came back that I was still alive, that’s all.
The meaning of life must be conceived in terms of the specific meaning of a personal life in a given situation.
The highest condition of the religious sentiment is when . . . the worshipper not only sees God everywhere, but sees nothing which is not full of God.
I remember talking with a friend who has worked for many years at the Catholic Worker, a ministry to the poor in New York City. Daily she tries to respond to waves of human misery that are as ceaseless as surf in that community. Out of my deep not-knowing, I asked her how she could keep doing a work that never showed any results, a work in which the problems keep getting worse instead of better. I will never forget her enigmatic answer: “The thing you don’t understand, Parker, is that just because something is impossible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.”