Like a drowning man clutching a straw, my inborn optimism clung to this thought: These prisoners look quite well, they seem to be in good spirits and even laugh. Who knows? I might manage to share their favorable position.

I think it was Lessing who once said, “There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose.” An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.

I shall never forget how I was roused one night by the groans of a fellow prisoner, who threw himself about in his sleep, obviously having a horrible nightmare. Since I had always been especially sorry for people who suffered from fearful dream or deliria, I wanted to wake the poor man. Suddenly I drew back the hand which was ready to shake him, frightened at the thing I was about to do. At that moment I became intensely conscious of the fact that no dream, no matter how horrible, could be as bad as the reality of the camp which surrounds us, and which I was about to recall him.

For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”


And it is rare for sons to be like fathers; only a few are better, most are worse

There is no harm in mourning when a person dies; it is the only honor we can pay the dead – to cut our hair and drench our cheeks with tears.

So may the gods grant all your heart’s desires, a home and husband, somebody like-minded. For nothing could be better than when two live in one house, their minds in harmony, husband and wife. Their enemies jealous, their friends delighted, and they have great honor.

So you must never treat your wife too well. Do not let her know everything you know. Tell her some things, hide others.

I would prefer to be a workman, hired by a poor man on a peasant farm, than rule as king of all the dead.


There comes a point

when someone repeats a “fact” so often that the legitimacy of the “fact” becomes suspect. If it’s really that obvious and true, why must you keep declaring it? 

I had a little pride, as I have said, and that was good. More would have been fatal.

Each spell was a mountain to be climbed anew. All I could carry with me from last time was the knowledge that it could be done.

“Tell me,” he said, “who gives better offerings, a miserable man or a happy one?”

“A happy one, of course.”

“Wrong,” he said. “A happy man is too occupied with his life. He thinks he is beholden to no one. But make him shiver, kill his wife, cripple his child, then you will hear from him. He will starve his family for a month to buy you a pure-white yearling calf. If he can afford it, he will buy you a hundred.

“Can no one stop her?”

“Zeus could, or your father, if they wished to. But why would they? Monsters are a boon to gods. Imagine all the prayers.


The men had built up a backlog of shared experiences that offset the vast differences between them.

Nevertheless, there was a remarkable absence of discouragement. All the men were in a state of dazed fatigue, and nobody paused to reflect on the terrible consequences of losing their ship. Nor were they upset by the fact they were now camped on a piece of ice perhaps 6 feet thick. It was a haven compared with the nightmare of labor and uncertainty of the last few days on Endurance. It was quite enough to be alive – and they were merely doing what they had to do to stay that way.

There was even a trace of mild exhilaration in their attitude. At least, they had a clear-cut task ahead of them. The nine months of indecision, of speculation about what might happen, of aimless drifting with the pack were over. Now they simply had to get themselves out, however appalling difficult that might be.

From studying the outcome of past expeditions, he believed that those that burdened themselves with equipment to meet every contingency had fared much worse than those that had sacrificed total preparedness for speed.


the shallowness of sanity

Many people assume that we must be, since sometimes one and sometimes the other would get a better review, the bigger advance, in some way “competitive,” that our private life must be a minefield of professional envies and resentments. This was so far from the case that the general insistence on it came to suggest a certain lacunae in the popular understanding of marriage.

Yet I was myself in no way prepared to accept this news as final: there was a level on which I believed that what had happened remained reversible.

I could not give away the rest of his shoes.

I stood there for a moment, then realized why: he would need shoes if he was to return.

The recognition of this thought by no means eradicated the thought.

I have still not tried to determine (say, by giving away the shoes) if the thought has lost its power.


I loved Vin like he was a part of me, and he loved me like a stick of gum. He’d spat me out when the flavor went, unwrapped another, and stuffed it in, and not just anyone, but Stella Yearwood.

That’s the problem with boys: They tend to help you only ’cause they fancy you, but there’s no embarrassing way to find out their real motives till it’s too late.

“What if … what if heaven is real, but only in moments? Like a glass of water on a hot day when you’re dying of thirst, or when someone’s nice to you for no reason, or …” Mam’s pancakes with Mars Bar sauce; Dad dashing up from the bar just to tell me. “Sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite”; or Jacko and Sharon singing “For She’s a Squishy Marshmallow” instead of “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” for every single birthday and wetting themselves even though it’s not at all funny; and Brendan giving his old record player to me instead of one of his mates. “S’pose heaven’s not like a painting that’s just hanging there forever, but more like … like the best song anyone ever wrote, but a song you only catch in snatches, while you’re alive, from passing cars, or … upstairs windows when you’re lost…”

Love’s pure free joy when it works, but when it goes bad you pay for the good hours at loan-shark prices.

“Now, what can I do for you sweetheart?”

“Not calling me ‘sweetheart’ would be a good start.”

Life’s a matter of Who Dares Wins.


What sounds intelligent in a conversation or a meeting, or, particularly, in the media, is suspicious.

Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.

A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in the light of the information until that point.

At a given time in the market, the most successful traders are likely to be those that are best fit to the latest cycle. This does not happen too often with dentists or pianists – because these professions are more immune to randomness.

Loyalty to ideas is not a good thing for traders, scientists – or anyone.

For instance, you study every day and learn something in proportion to your studies. If you do not feel that you are going anywhere, your emotions will cause you to become demoralized. But reality rarely gives us the privilege of a satisfying linear positive progression: You may study for a year and learn nothing, then, unless you are disheartened by the empty results and give up, something will come to you in a flash.


But any man who walks in the way of power and property is bound to meet hate. So when speakers stood up when the occasion demanded and said “Our beloved Mayor,” it was one of those statements that everybody says but not actually believes like “God is everywhere.”

he’s uh man at changes everything, but nothin’ don’t change him.

They bowed down to him rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down.

She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen.


I knew that until I truly believed that whatever I did was the exact right thing, I’d keep doing the wrong thing.

A lot of times when I think I’m being self-sufficient, I’m really just learning to live without the things that I need.

But if you keep something hidden away, all tied up, it’s hard to summon it when you really need it.

It was beautiful, no lie, to watch a person burn.

My mom had once told me that being a mother was made up of “reget and then forgetting about that regret sometimes.”

In my sunglasses, I felt like a movie star. I couldn’t see myself, which helped the fantasy.

“I’m okay,” I said, though I liked being asked.