Deep quotes about life

Powerful and inspirational quotes about life from famous writers, artists, musicians, shamans, psychiatrists, poets, entrepreneurs, and others that make you think.
The important thing is somehow to begin. Everything grows out of those first few scratches.

Henry Moore, quoted in
The Ultimate Seduction,
by Charlotte Chandler

When you no longer care about fresh tomatoes and sweet corn, then death is near.

Garrison Keillor, in A Prairie Home Companion‘s “News From Lake Wobegon

You have to be willing to waste some effort. If you want to see a great bullfight, you have to go to all the bullfights.

Pablo Picasso, quoted in The Ultimate Seduction, by Charlotte Chandler

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of— being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time — namely, that if you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

Joseph Campbell in “Sacrifice and Bliss,” Part 4 of Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth with Bill Moyers

The risk you take has a feedback effect on the unconscious. The unconscious will give you ideas and it wants you to act on them. The more courage you have when you act, the more ideas it will give you.

Phil Stutz, in “Hollywood Shadows”
by Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, March 21, 2011

“Don’t be afraid,” Jobs replied. This stunned Weeks, who was good-humored and confident but not used to Jobs’s reality distortion field. He tried to explain that a false sense of confidence would not overcome engineering challenges, but that was a premise Jobs had repeatedly shown he didn’t accept. He stared at Weeks unblinking. “Yes, you can do it,” he said. “Get your mind around it. You can do it.”

As Weeks retold this story, he shook his head in astonishment. “We did it in under six months,” he said. “We produced a glass that had never been made.”

Steve Jobs coaxing Corning CEO Wendell Weeks to produce Gorilla Glass, as recounted in Chapter 36 of
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

The best advice I ever got was, “Do the show you want to do. Because in the end, they’re gonna cancel you anyway.”

Philip Rosenthal in Exporting Raymond

A genius is the one most like himself.

Thelonious Monk in
1. Monk’s Advice (1960).”

I began to understand what faith really meant: faith is the confidence that higher forces are always there to help when you need them.

Barry Michels, in The Tools: 5 Tools to Help You Find Courage, Creativity, and Willpower — and Inspire You to Live Life in Forward Motion

Worry is a misuse of the imagination.

Dan Zadra

There’s a trick to being whatever you want to be in life. It starts with the simple belief that you are what or who you say you are. It starts, like all faiths, with a belief — a belief predicated more on whimsy than reality. And you’ve gotta believe for everybody else, too — until you can show them proof. If you’re lucky, someone starts believing with you — first theoretically, then in practice. And two people believing are the start of a congregation. You build a congregation of believers and eventually you set out to craft a cathedral. Sometimes it’s just a church; sometimes it turns out to be a chapel. Folks who don’t build churches will try to tell you how you’re doing it wrong, even as your steeple breaks the clouds. Never listen.

Kevin Smith, in Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good

Take the risks and you’ll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed. It’s that simple.

attributed to chef Bobby Flay

Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

paraphrasing Rev. John Watson (a.k.a. Ian MacLaren)

The truth, from my perspective, is that the world, indeed, is ending — and is also being reborn. It’s been doing that all day, every day, forever. Each time we exhale, the world ends; when we inhale, there can be, if we allow it, rebirth and spiritual renewal. It all transpires inside of us. In our consciousness, in our hearts. All the time.

Tom Robbins, in an interview by Tony Vigorito

“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—”


“—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Atticus Finch, in Chapter 3 of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

DAVID LETTERMAN: From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know?

WARREN ZEVON: Not unless I know how much— how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.

Warren Zevon, discussing his terminal cancer during his last appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman

Death is the only wise adviser that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, “I haven’t touched you yet.”

Don Juan Matus to Carlos Castaneda in Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan

Everything proceeds from mind, everything proceeds from thought; and miracles are wrought in quiet hours in still rooms when awakened souls harken their divinity.

U.S. Andersen, Three Magic Words

You can tell the story of your life in five minutes, and leave practically nothing out.

— Poet Mark Strand in an interview which aired on WBUR’s Here and Now March 13, 2012

Everybody is so limited, and so really useless when you think about the limitations on yourself. And the whole thing is to change — try and make everything better and better. And that’s what the physical world is about, is change.

George Harrison in George Harrison: Living in the Material World

There was a message written in pencil on the tiles by the roller towel. This was it:

What is the purpose of life?

Trout plundered his pockets for a pen or pencil. He had an answer to the question. But he had nothing to write with, not even a burnt match. So he left the question unanswered, but here is what he would have written, if he had found anything to write with:

To be
the eyes
and ears
and conscience
of the Creator of the Universe
you fool.

Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!

Charles Dickens, Book 1, Chapter 3 of A Tale of Two Cities

“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Roger Ebert, in Chapter 55 of Life Itself: A Memoir

I narrated to her the way don Juan made me understand what was meant by impeccability. He and I were hiking one day through a very steep ravine when a huge boulder got loose from its matrix on the rock wall and came down with a formidable force and landed on the floor of the canyon, twenty or thirty yards from where we were standing. The size of the boulder made its fall a very impressive event. Don Juan seized the opportunity to create a dramatic lesson. He said that the force that rules our destinies is outside of ourselves and has nothing to do with our acts or volition. Sometimes that force would make us stop walking on our way and bend over to tie our shoelaces, as I had just done. And by making us stop, that force makes us gain a precious moment. If we had kept on walking, that enormous boulder would have most certainly crushed us to death. Some other day, however, in another ravine the same outside deciding force would make us stop again to bend over and tie our shoelaces while another boulder would get loose precisely above where we are standing. By making us stop, that force would have made us lose a precious moment. That time if we had kept on walking, we would have saved ourselves. Don Juan said that in view of my total lack of control over the forces which decide my destiny, my only possible freedom in that ravine consisted in my tying my shoelaces impeccably.

Carlos Castaneda in The Second Ring of Power

When I went on, I heard people screaming, but it all happened so fast. I just went with it. All I knew was, the only way to do it, the only way to make it, what got me to this point, was to just be natural and let it happen. And don’t stop. Don’t stop anything, don’t think. The minute I started thinking, it would turn off. So, you don’t think. Just do. Just be it.

—Elvis Presley, recalling his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in If I Can Dream: Elvis’ Own Story, by Larry Geller, Joel Spector, and Patricia Romanowski

I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.

Chevy Chase as Ty Webb in Caddyshack

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

— Apollo 14 Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell

You’ve gotta have friction, and tension, and something to push up against. … If the triumphant part of the song was going to feel real and not just hacked out, I had to have something I was pushing up against.

Bruce Springsteen, in a Rolling Stone interview by Brian Hiatt, October 5, 2016

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self Reliance

If you boil down what your brain does to a single idea — this is fundamentally what a brain is, based on artificial intelligence going back 50 years: It is a prediction machine. Everything your brain does, it takes the past, it applies it to the present to predict the future. And it does it in small ways — it’s basically creating a map of how the world works, based on the experiences that happen to it.

Erik Vance, in conversation on On Being with Krista Tippett

Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

The Gospel of Thomas, saying 70, as quoted by Elaine Pagels in The Gnostic Gospels

Out of that, though, came for me what I always thought was one of our greatest sort of mottoes, which is like — we’re standing around, the four of us, standing around with the van kind of out of commission and our roadie thinking, “Oh my God, how am I gonna get this?” ‘Cause it was a slope that we’d gone down, so you couldn’t just drive the van back up the slope. But we’re sitting around and somebody said, “We’ll what are we gonna do now?”

And then one of us — I can’t remember which — said, ”Something’ll happen.” And it was like, ”Wow — that is the greatest quote ever!”

Paul McCartney, recalling an early Beatles van crash to Terry Gross on Fresh Air, November 3, 2021