In the shelf over my kitchen desk is an impressive collection of Papers Without Which I Cannot Live. There's my household notebook, a dictionary, my Bible, a school handbook and directory, thesaurus, our latest Blockbuster DVDs, a couple of carefully hidden books we don't want the kids to find before Just The Right Moment, and other such vitally important items.
And there, tucked in place of great honor, is a beautiful journal covered in shiny black leather. The papers have a perfect-sounding crinkle that makes my heart beat a little faster.
It's my quote book.
I first began collecting quotes when I was in college. My world was broadening exponentially, and daily, and I was astonished to learn that there were many people other than ME who had important things to say. As I navigated those choppy waters of late adolesence/early adulthood, I scribbled others' important thoughts in a journal covered in obnoxiously cheery pink fabric. I filled it up.
After college, and marriage, I entered my Professional Stage. I decided my quotes should be carefully typed and neatly stashed in a three-ring binder, sorted by topic. I spent a couple of months typing my entire collection. It looked very nice and ridiculously organized.
Then I had my first baby, and I had visions of my children someday coming home from my funeral and sorting through my things. Wouldn't I rather have all my most treasured quotations passed down to them in my own handwriting? And so I re-copied--again--my entire quote collection in its current location.
I don't worry so much about the whole handwriting thing anymore. In these frantic days of busy-ness I could never have imagined years ago, I don't have time to be picky anymore about how these quotations get recorded. Some are neatly hand-printed, many are scrawled in a handwriting that would make a doctor blush, many are printed directly off a website and slapped in with a piece of Scotch tape.
But however they got there, they are all treasures.
Many of those quotes have journeyed through all my quote books, collections from those early days when I was first discovering the delight of a well-turned phrase:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. --Eleanor Roosevelt
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. --Mother Teresa
There are quotes from favorite movies...
An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure. --Steel Magnolias
...and favorite books.
The task, and the joy, of writing for me is that I can play with the metaphors that God has placed in the world and present them to others in a way they will accept. --Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries
There are quotes added in times of great sorrow...
I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands. --Corrie ten Boom
...and quotes added in times of great joy.
A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair, and the Hope of the Future with a frog in its pocket. --Alan Beck
There are many quotes from people whose names appear more often than others...
He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for, and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my light. --Elisabeth Elliott
What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. --C.S. Lewis
...and many quotes from people whose names have been long forgotten.
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. --Anonymous
A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice. --Anonymous
I treasure all those quotes--they're all mementos to me, moments in time captured in writing, and souvenirs of lessons learned. But as I no doubt have much, much more to learn, tell me: what's your favorite quote ever? I still have plenty of empty pages to fill.