Essay On Topic Live And Let Live In French

Michel de Montaigne, in full Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, (born February 28, 1533, Château de Montaigne, near Bordeaux, France—died September 23, 1592, Château de Montaigne), French writer whose Essais (Essays) established a new literary form. In his Essays he wrote one of the most captivating and intimate self-portraits ever given, on a par with Augustine’s and Rousseau’s.

Living, as he did, in the second half of the 16th century, Montaigne bore witness to the decline of the intellectual optimism that had marked the Renaissance. The sense of immense human possibilities, stemming from the discoveries of the New World travelers, from the rediscovery of classical antiquity, and from the opening of scholarly horizons through the works of the humanists, was shattered in France when the advent of the Calvinistic Reformation was followed closely by religious persecution and by the Wars of Religion (1562–98). These conflicts, which tore the country asunder, were in fact political and civil as well as religious wars, marked by great excesses of fanaticism and cruelty. At once deeply critical of his time and deeply involved in its preoccupations and its struggles, Montaigne chose to write about himself—“I am myself the matter of my book,” he says in his opening address to the reader—in order to arrive at certain possible truths concerning man and the human condition, in a period of ideological strife and division when all possibility of truth seemed illusory and treacherous.

Life

Born in the family domain of Château de Montaigne in southwestern France, Michel Eyquem spent most of his life at his château and in the city of Bordeaux, 30 miles to the west. The family fortune had been founded in commerce by Montaigne’s great-grandfather, who acquired the estate and the title of nobility. His grandfather and his father expanded their activities to the realm of public service and established the family in the noblesse de robe, the administrative nobility of France. Montaigne’s father, Pierre Eyquem, served as mayor of Bordeaux.

As a young child Montaigne was tutored at home according to his father’s ideas of pedagogy, which included the creation of a cosseted ambience of gentle encouragement and the exclusive use of Latin, still the international language of educated people. As a result the boy did not learn French until he was six years old. He continued his education at the College of Guyenne, where he found the strict disciplineabhorrent and the instruction only moderately interesting, and eventually at the University of Toulouse, where he studied law. Following in the public-service tradition begun by his grandfather, he entered into the magistrature, becoming a member of the Board of Excise, the new tax court of Périgueux, and, when that body was dissolved in 1557, of the Parliament of Bordeaux, one of the eight regional parliaments that constituted the French Parliament, the highest national court of justice. There, at the age of 24, he made the acquaintance of Étienne de la Boétie, a meeting that was one of the most significant events in Montaigne’s life. Between the slightly older La Boétie (1530–63), an already distinguished civil servant, humanist scholar, and writer, and Montaigne an extraordinary friendship sprang up, based on a profound intellectual and emotional closeness and reciprocity. In his essay “On Friendship” Montaigne wrote in a very touching manner about his bond with La Boétie, which he called perfect and indivisible, vastly superior to all other human alliances. When La Boétie died of dysentery, he left a void in Montaigne’s life that no other being was ever able to fill, and it is likely that Montaigne started on his writing career, six years after La Boétie’s death, in order to fill the emptiness left by the loss of the irretrievable friend.

In 1565 Montaigne was married, acting less out of love than out of a sense of familial and social duty, to Françoise de la Chassaigne, the daughter of one of his colleagues at the Parliament of Bordeaux. He fathered six daughters, five of whom died in infancy, whereas the sixth, Léonore, survived him.

In 1569 Montaigne published his first book, a French translation of the 15th-century Natural Theology by the Spanish monk Raymond Sebond. He had undertaken the task at the request of his father, who, however, died in 1568, before its publication, leaving to his oldest son the title and the domain of Montaigne.

In 1570 Montaigne sold his seat in the Bordeaux Parliament, signifying his departure from public life. After taking care of the posthumous publication of La Boétie’s works, together with his own dedicatory letters, he retired in 1571 to the castle of Montaigne in order to devote his time to reading, meditating, and writing. His library, installed in the castle’s tower, became his refuge. It was in this round room, lined with a thousand books and decorated with Greek and Latin inscriptions, that Montaigne set out to put on paper his essais, that is, the probings and testings of his mind. He spent the years from 1571 to 1580 composing the first two books of the Essays, which comprise respectively 57 and 37 chapters of greatly varying lengths; they were published in Bordeaux in 1580.

Although most of these years were dedicated to writing, Montaigne had to supervise the running of his estate as well, and he was obliged to leave his retreat from time to time, not only to travel to the court in Paris but also to intervene as mediator in several episodes of the religious conflicts in his region and beyond. Both the Roman Catholic king Henry III and the Protestant king Henry of Navarre—who as Henry IV would become king of France and convert to Roman Catholicism—honoured and respected Montaigne, but extremists on both sides criticized and harassed him.

After the 1580 publication, eager for new experiences and profoundly disgusted by the state of affairs in France, Montaigne set out to travel, and in the course of 15 months he visited areas of France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Curious by nature, interested in the smallest details of dailiness, geography, and regional idiosyncrasies, Montaigne was a born traveler. He kept a record of his trip, his Journal de voyage (not intended for publication and not published until 1774), which is rich in picturesque episodes, encounters, evocations, and descriptions.

While still in Italy, in the fall of 1581, Montaigne received the news that he had been elected to the office his father had held, that of mayor of Bordeaux. Reluctant to accept, because of the dismal political situation in France and because of ill health (he suffered from kidney stones, which had also plagued him on his trip), he nevertheless assumed the position at the request of Henry III and held it for two terms, until July 1585. While the beginning of his tenure was relatively tranquil, his second term was marked by an acceleration of hostilities between the warring factions, and Montaigne played a crucial role in preserving the equilibrium between the Catholic majority and the important Protestant League representation in Bordeaux. Toward the end of his term the plague broke out in Bordeaux, soon raging out of control and killing one-third of the population.

Montaigne resumed his literary work by embarking on the third book of the Essays. After having been interrupted again, by a renewed outbreak of the plague in the area that forced Montaigne and his family to seek refuge elsewhere, by military activity close to his estate, and by diplomatic duties, when Catherine de Médicis appealed to his abilities as a negotiator to mediate between herself and Henry of Navarre—a mission that turned out to be unsuccessful—Montaigne was able to finish the work in 1587.

The year 1588 was marked by both political and literary events. During a trip to Paris Montaigne was twice arrested and briefly imprisoned by members of the Protestant League because of his loyalty to Henry III. During the same trip he supervised the publication of the fifth edition of the Essays, the first to contain the 13 chapters of Book III, as well as Books I and II, enriched with many additions. He also met Marie de Gournay, an ardent and devoted young admirer of his writings. De Gournay, a writer herself, is mentioned in the Essays as Montaigne’s “covenant daughter” and was to become his literary executrix. After the assassination of Henry III in 1589, Montaigne helped to keep Bordeaux loyal to Henry IV. He spent the last years of his life at his château, continuing to read and to reflect and to work on the Essays, adding new passages, which signify not so much profound changes in his ideas as further explorations of his thought and experience. Different illnesses beset him during this period, and he died after an attack of quinsy, an inflammation of the tonsils, which had deprived him of speech. His death occurred while he was hearing mass in his room.

The Essays

Montaigne saw his age as one of dissimulation, corruption, violence, and hypocrisy, and it is therefore not surprising that the point of departure of the Essays is situated in negativity: the negativity of Montaigne’s recognition of the rule of appearances and of the loss of connection with the truth of being. Montaigne’s much-discussed skepticism results from that initial negativity, as he questions the possibility of all knowing and sees the human being as a creature of weakness and failure, of inconstancy and uncertainty, of incapacity and fragmentation, or, as he wrote in the first of the essays, as “a marvelously vain, diverse, and undulating thing.” His skepticism is reflected in the French title of his work, Essais, or “Attempts,” which implies not a transmission of proven knowledge or of confident opinion but a project of trial and error, of tentative exploration. Neither a reference to an established genre (for Montaigne’s book inaugurated the term essay for the short prose composition treating a given subject in a rather informal and personal manner) nor an indication of a necessary internal unity and structure within the work, the title indicates an intellectual attitude of questioning and of continuous assessment.

Montaigne’s skepticism does not, however, preclude a belief in the existence of truth but rather constitutes a defense against the danger of locating truth in false, unexamined, and externally imposed notions. His skepticism, combined with his desire for truth, drives him to the rejection of commonly accepted ideas and to a profound distrust of generalizations and abstractions; it also shows him the way to an exploration of the only realm that promises certainty: that of concrete phenomena and primarily the basic phenomenon of his own body-and-mind self. This self, with all its imperfections, constitutes the only possible site where the search for truth can start, and it is the reason Montaigne, from the beginning to the end of the Essays, does not cease to affirm that “I am myself the matter of my book.” He finds that his identity, his “master form” as he calls it, cannot be defined in simple terms of a constant and stable self, since it is instead a changeable and fragmented thing, and that the valorization and acceptance of these traits is the only guarantee of authenticity and integrity, the only way of remaining faithful to the truth of one’s being and one’s nature rather than to alien semblances.

Yet, despite his insistence that the self guard its freedom toward outside influences and the tyranny of imposed customs and opinions, Montaigne believes in the value of reaching outside the self. Indeed, throughout his writings, as he did in his private and public life, he manifests the need to entertain ties with the world of other people and of events. For this necessary coming and going between the interiority of the self and the exteriority of the world, Montaigne uses the image of the back room: human beings have their front room, facing the street, where they meet and interact with others, but they need always to be able to retreat into the back room of the most private self, where they may reaffirm the freedom and strength of intimate identity and reflect upon the vagaries of experience. Given that always-available retreat, Montaigne encourages contact with others, from which one may learn much that is useful. In order to do so, he advocates travel, reading, especially of history books, and conversations with friends. These friends, for Montaigne, are necessarily men. While none can ever replace La Boétie, it is possible to have interesting and worthwhile exchanges with men of discernment and wit. As for his relations with women, Montaigne wrote about them with a frankness unusual for his time. The only uncomplicated bond is that of marriage, which reposes, for Montaigne, on reasons of family and posterity and in which one invests little of oneself. Love, on the other hand, with its emotional and erotic demands, comports the risk of enslavement and loss of freedom. Montaigne, often designated as a misogynist, does in fact recognize that men and women are fundamentally alike in their fears, desires, and attempts to find and affirm their own identity and that only custom and adherence to an antiquated status quo establish the apparent differences between the sexes, but he does not explore the possibility of overcoming that fundamental separation and of establishing an intellectual equality.

Montaigne extends his curiosity about others to the inhabitants of the New World, with whom he had become acquainted through his lively interest in oral and written travel accounts and through his meeting in 1562 with three Brazilian Indians whom the explorer Nicolas Durand de Villegagnon had brought back to France. Giving an example of cultural relativism and tolerance, rare in his time, he finds these people, in their fidelity to their own nature and in their cultural and personal dignity and sense of beauty, greatly superior to the inhabitants of western Europe, who in the conquests of the New World and in their own internal wars have shown themselves to be the true barbarians. The suffering and humiliation imposed on the New World’s natives by their conquerors provoke his indignation and compassion.

Involvement in public service is also a part of interaction with the world, and it should be seen as a duty to be honourably and loyally discharged but never allowed to become a consuming and autonomy-destroying occupation.

Montaigne applies and illustrates his ideas concerning the independence and freedom of the self and the importance of social and intellectual intercourse in all his writings and in particular in his essay on the education of children. There, as elsewhere, he advocates the value of concrete experience over abstract learning and of independent judgment over an accumulation of undigested notions uncritically accepted from others. He also stresses, throughout his work, the role of the body, as in his candid descriptions of his own bodily functions and in his extensive musings on the realities of illness, of aging, and of death. The presence of death pervades the Essays, as Montaigne wants to familiarize himself with the inevitability of dying and so to rid himself of the tyranny of fear, and he is able to accept death as part of nature’s exigencies, inherent in life’s expectations and limitations.

Montaigne seems to have been a loyal if not fervent Roman Catholic all his life, but he distrusted all human pretenses to knowledge of a spiritual experience which is not attached to a concretely lived reality. He declined to speculate on a transcendence that falls beyond human ken, believing in God but refusing to invoke him in necessarily presumptuous and reductive ways.

Although Montaigne certainly knew the classical philosophers, his ideas spring less out of their teaching than out of the completely original meditation on himself, which he extends to a description of the human being and to an ethics of authenticity, self-acceptance, and tolerance. The Essays are the record of his thoughts, presented not in artificially organized stages but as they occurred and reoccurred to him in different shapes throughout his thinking and writing activity. They are not the record of an intellectual evolution but of a continuous accretion, and he insists on the immediacy and the authenticity of their testimony. To denote their consubstantiality with his natural self, he describes them as his children, and, in an image of startling and completely nonpejorative earthiness, as the excrements of his mind. As he refuses to impose a false unity on the spontaneous workings of his thought, so he refuses to impose a false structure on his Essays. “As my mind roams, so does my style,” he wrote, and the multiple digressions, the wandering developments, the savory, concrete vocabulary, all denote that fidelity to the freshness and the immediacy of the living thought. Throughout the text he sprinkles anecdotes taken from ancient as well as contemporary authors and from popular lore, which reinforce his critical analysis of reality; he also peppers his writing with quotes, yet another way of interacting with others, that is, with the authors of the past who surround him in his library. Neither anecdotes nor quotes impinge upon the autonomy of his own ideas, although they may spark or reinforce a train of thought, and they become an integral part of the book’s fabric.

Montaigne’s Essays thus incorporate a profound skepticism concerning the human being’s dangerously inflated claims to knowledge and certainty but also assert that there is no greater achievement than the ability to accept one’s being without either contempt or illusion, in the full realization of its limitations and its richness.

Readership

Throughout the ages the Essays have been widely and variously read, and their readers have tended to look to them, and into them, for answers to their own needs. Not all his contemporaries manifested the enthusiasm of Marie de Gournay, who fainted from excitement at her first reading. She did recognize in the book the full force of an unusual mind revealing itself, but most of the intellectuals of the period preferred to find in Montaigne a safe reincarnation of stoicism. Here started a misunderstanding that was to last a long time, save in the case of the exceptional reader. The Essays were to be perused as an anthology of philosophical maxims, a repository of consecrated wisdom, rather than as the complete expression of a highly individual thought and experience. That Montaigne could write about his most intimate reactions and feelings, that he could describe his own physical appearance and preferences, for instance, seemed shocking and irrelevant to many, just as the apparent confusion of his writing seemed a weakness to be deplored rather than a guarantee of authenticity.

In the 17th century, when an educated nobility set the tone, he was chiefly admired for his portrayal of the honnête homme, the well-educated, nonpedantic man of manners, as much at home in a salon as in his study, a gentleman of smiling wisdom and elegant, discreet disenchantment. In the same period, however, religious authors such as Francis of Sales and Blaise Pascal deplored his skepticism as anti-Christian and denounced what they interpreted as an immoral self-absorption. In the pre-Revolutionary 18th century the image of a dogmatically irreligious Montaigne continued to be dominant, and Voltaire and Denis Diderot saw in him a precursor of the free thought of the Enlightenment. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, the encounter with the Essays was differently and fundamentally important, as he rightly considered Montaigne the master and the model of the self-portrait. Rousseau inaugurated the perception of the book as the entirely personal project of a human being in search of his identity and unafraid to talk without dissimulation about his profound nature. In the 19th century some of the old misunderstandings continued, but there was a growing understanding and appreciation of Montaigne not only as a master of ideas but also as the writer of the particular, the individual, the intimate—the writer as friend and familiar. Gustave Flaubert kept the Essays on his bedside table and recognized in Montaigne an alter ego, as would, in the 20th century, authors such as André Gide, Michel Butor, and Roland Barthes.

The Essays were first translated into English by John Florio in 1603, and Anglophone readers have included Francis Bacon, John Webster, William Shakespeare, Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, and Aldous Huxley.

Today Montaigne continues to be studied in all aspects of his text by great numbers of scholars and to be read by people from all corners of the earth. In an age that may seem as violent and absurd as his own, his refusal of intolerance and fanaticism and his lucid awareness of the human potential for destruction, coupled with his belief in the human capacity for self-assessment, honesty, and compassion, appeal as convincingly as ever to the many who find in him a guide and a friend.

Tilde A. Sankovitch

Life is a state that distinguishes organisms from non-living objects or dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism and reproduction.

A[edit]

  • It is written that the last enemy to be vanquished is death. We should begin early in life to vanquish this enemy by obliterating every trace of the fear of death from our minds. Then can we turn to life and fill the whole horizon of our souls with it, turn with added zest to all the serious tasks which it imposes and to the pure delights which here and there it affords.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation.
  • Let us learn from the lips of death the lessons of life. Let us live truly while we live, live for what is true and good and lasting. And let the memory of our dead help us to do this. For they are not wholly separated from us, if we remain loyal to them. In spirit they are with us. And we may think of them as silent, invisible, but real presences in our households.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation.
  • The bitter, yet merciful, lesson which death teaches us is to distinguish the gold from the tinsel, the true values from the worthless chaff.
    The terrible events of life are great eye-openers. They force us to learn that which it is wholesome for us to know, but which habitually we try to ignore — namely, that really we have no claim on a long life; that we are each of us liable to be called off at any moment, and that the main point is not how long we live, but with what meaning we fill the short allotted span — for short it is at best.
    • Felix Adler, Life and Destiny (1913), Section 8: Suffering and Consolation.
  • If you will do some deed before you die,
    Remember not this caravan of death,
    But have belief that every little breath
    Will stay with you for an eternity.

B[edit]

  • We live in deeds, not years: in thoughts, not breaths;
    In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
    We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
    Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
  • It matters not how long we live, but how.
  • Life! we've been long together
    Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
    Tis hard to part when friends are dear,—
    Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear.
    Then steal away, give little warning.
    Choose thine own time,
    Say not "Good-night," but in some brighter clime,
    Bid me "Good-morning."
  • One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.
    • Simone de Beauvoir, As quoted in Successful Aging : A Conference Report (1974) by Eric Pfeiffer, p. 142.
  • And so Doctor Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap... will be the leap home.
  • For life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
    And hope and fear
    (believe the aged friend),
    Is just our chance o' the prize of learning love,—
    How love might be, hath been indeed, and is.

C[edit]

  • Life is a pageant that passes very quickly, going hastily from one darkness to another darkness with only ignes fatui to guide; and there is no sense in it. I learned that, Kerin, without moiling over books. But life is a fine ardent spectacle; and I have loved the actors in it: and I have loved their youth and high-heartedness, and their ungrounded faiths, and their queer dreams, my Kerin, about their own importance and about the greatness of the destiny that awaited them, — while you were piddling after, of all things, the truth!
    • James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion : A Comedy of Redemption (1926), Saraïde, in Book Seven : What Saraïde Wanted, Ch. XLVII : Economics of Saraïde.
  • Life is very marvelous … and to the wonders of the earth there is no end appointed.
    • James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion : A Comedy of Redemption (1926), The Gander, in Book Seven : What Saraïde Wanted, Ch. XLV : The Gander Also Generalizes.
  • The realization that life is absurd and cannot be an end, but only a beginning. This is a truth nearly allgreatminds have taken as their starting point. It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.
    • Albert Camus, "The Reading Room," Alger Républicain (1938) critiquing Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, as quoted in Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd (2002) by Avi Sagi, p. 43.
  • People who see life as anything more than pure entertainment are missing the point.
  • Well, as you know, there are many things in life that are not fair, that wealthy people can afford and poor people can't. But I don't believe that the Federal Government should take action to try to make these opportunities exactly equal, particularly when there is a moral factor involved.
    • Jimmy Carter, answer to a question asking whether it is fair that women who can afford abortions can get them while women who cannot afford them are precluded, news conference, Washington, D.C. (July 12, 1977). Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1977, book 2, p. 1237.
  • They cut me down
    And I leapt up high;
    I am the life
    That'll never, never die;
    I'll live in you
    If you'll live in me —
    I am the Lord
    Of the Dance, said he.
    • Sydney Carter, Lord of the Dance (1963)
      • The quotes in Lord of the Dance are from the definitive lyrics to original "Lord of the Dance" song which was written to accompany the Shaker tune of "Simple Gifts" by Joseph Brackett. These were later adapted (in either ignorance or denial of the actual origins) without authorization or acknowledgments in the theatrical play "Lord of the Dance", and in other adaptations since.
  • Since life is but a continuous series of experiences, everything ultimately helps me towards my final enlightenment.
    • Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower Flames Part 1-100 (1979), #4029, Part 41.
  • You try your damnedest, but something always goes wrong. That’s life. If you’re smart, you plan for it.
  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
    • Vicki Corona, Tahitian Choreographies (Aug 1, 1989) Dance Fantasy Productions, p. 36 (Discussion).
  • Still ending, and beginning still.
  • What is it but a map of busy life,
    Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.
    • 'La vie n’est facile pour aucun de nous. Mais quoi, il faut avoir de la persévérance, et surtout de la confiance en soi. Il faut croire que l’on est doué pour quelque chose, et que, cette chose, il faut l'atteindre coûte que coûte.'
      • Marie Curie, As quoted in Madame Curie : A Biography (1937) by Eve Curie Labouisse, p. 69.
  • One is born, one runs up bills, one dies.
    • Richard Curtis (English screenwriter, actor and film director) and Ben Elton (British-Australian comedian and author). Stated by Rowan Atkinson playing Edmund Blackadder in the BBC situation comedy, Blackadder the Third, episode four, 'Amy and Amiability', 1987.

D[edit]

  • Life is an urge of the Universe to understand itself.
    • N. S. Dhami, "A Phrase Steps Out of the Past".
  • Life's a garden, dig it!
  • A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream? I will say more. Suppose that this paradise will never come to pass (that I understand), yet I shall go on preaching it. And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that's the chief thing, and that's everything; nothing else is wanted — you will find out at once how to arrange it all. And yet it's an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times — but it has not formed part of our lives! The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness — that is what one must contend against. And I shall. If only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once.

E[edit]

  • Life's a vast sea
    That does its mighty errand without fail,
    Painting in unchanged strength though waves are changing.
  • Sooner or later that which is now life shall be poetry, and every fair and manly trait shall add a richer strain to the song.
  • When life is true to the poles of nature, the streams of truth will roll through us in song.
  • So likewise all this life of martall men,
    What is it but a certaine kynde of stage plaie?
    Where men come forthe disguised one in one arraie,
    An other in an other eche plaiying his part.
    • Erasmus, Praise of Folie. Challoner's translation (1549), p. 43.
  • Sometimes I think life is all one long fucking count: We count the hours, the bulls count us, and the head bulls count counts.

F[edit]

  • The sea is only beautiful if there's a shore. Life is like the sea. There'll be a direction to follow even if you sail more than one day or one life... the promise of a new land is your guide, because you know that the sea is a huge world that's beautiful only if there's a shore.
    • Patricky Field, as quoted in Beautiful if there's a shore (2008) song by Patricky Field.
  • There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions, as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.
    • Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, p. 126 in the 1984 Pocket Books edition.
  • I believe that none can "save" his fellow man by making a choice for him. To help him, he can indicate the possible alternatives, with sincerity and love, without being sentimental and without illusion. The knowledge and awareness of the freeing alternatives can reawaken in an individual all his hidden energies and put him on the path to choosing respect for "life" instead of for "death."
    • Erich Fromm, Credo (1965), First published in English in On Being Human (1994) by Erich From, edited by Rainer Funk, pp. 99-105. Full text online.
  • Human beings desire more than small pleasures in the routines of life. We also seek great challenges in the face of death.
  • In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life — It goes on.
    • Robert Frost, as quoted in The Harper Book of Quotations (1993) edited by Robert I. Fitzhenry, p. 261.
  • Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
    The brook runs down in sending up our life.
    The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
    And there is something sending up the sun.

G[edit]

  • Life is a jest; and all things show it.
    I thought so once; and now I know it.
    • John GayMy Own Epitaph, inscribed on Gay’s monument in Westminster Abbey; also quoted as "I thought so once; but now I know it".
  • I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
    • Generally attributed to Stephen Grellet, but not found in his published writings. Same idea found in The Spectator. (Addison). No. I, Volume I. March 1. 1710. Canon Jepson positively claimed it for Emerson. Attributed to Edward Courtenay, due to the resemblance of the Earl's epitaph. See Literary World, March 15, 1905. Also to Carlyle, Miss A. B. Hageman, Rowland Hill, Marcus Aurelius.
  • All the bloomy flush of life is fled.
  • The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form.

H[edit]

  • He was, first and last, the born fighter, to whom the consciousness of being matched against a great adversary suffices and who can dispense with success. Life for him was an adventure, perilous indeed, but men are not made for safe havens. The fullness of life is in the hazards of life. And, at the worst, there is that in us which can turn defeat into victory.
    • Edith Hamilton, The Great Age of Greek Literature (1942), p. 243. She was referring to Aeschylus.
  • My secret to a long, healthy life is to always keep working. It keeps me busy and happy, and gives me a reason to stay alive.
  • 'Life is worth Living
    Through every grain of it,
    From the foundations
    To the last edge
    Of the cornerstone, death.'
  • Life — life — let there be life!
    Better a thousand times the roaring hours
    When wave and wind,
    Like the Arch-Murderer in flight
    From the Avenger at his heel,
    Storm through the desolate fastnesses
    And wild waste places of the world!
  • Life — give me life until the end,
    That at the very top of being,
    The battle-spirit shouting in my blood,
    Out of the reddest hell of the fight
    I may be snatched and flung
    Into the everlasting lull,
    The immortal, incommunicable dream.
  • Life — life — life! 'Tis the sole great thing
    This side of death,
    Heart on heart in the wonder of Spring!
  • One doth but break-fast here, another dine; he that lives longest does but suppe; we must all goe to bed in another World.
  • If you need something to worship, then worship life — all life, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together!
  • Let all live as they would die.
  • The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we … kill those people. "Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride.' Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.
  • The life so short, the craft so long to learn.
    • Hippocrates, Aphorisms, I. i
      Often translated in Latin as:
      Ars longa, vita brevis.
  • No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
  • O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.!
    Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
    Such a gift as never a king
    Save to daughter or son might bring,—
    All my tenure of heart and hand,
    All my title to house and land;
    Mother and sister and child and wife
    And joy and sorrow and death and life!
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., "Dorothy Q"., stanza 5, in The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1975), p. 187. Dorothy Quincy was Holmes's great-grandmother, and, as he explained in a head-note to the poem, p. 186–87, "the daughter of Judge Edmund Quincy, and the aunt of Josiah Quincy, junior, the young patriot and orator who died just before the American Revolution, of which he was one of the most eloquent and effective promoters".
  • We have really lost in our society the sense of the sacredness of life.
  • Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act.

I[edit]

J[edit]

  • Death's got to be easy, because life is hard. It'll leave you physically, mentally, and emotionally scarred.
  • It is only by risking our persons from one hour to another that we live at all. And often enough our faith beforehand in an uncertified result is the only thing that makes the result come true.
    • William James, in "Is Life Worth Living?" The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897).
  • Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
    • William James, in "Is Life Worth Living?" The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897).
  • Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
    • Steve Jobs, Address at Stanford University (12 June, 2005).
  • I am the resurrection and the life. The one who exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone who is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.
  • Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
    • Jesus, John 17:3 (NIV).
    • Variants:
    • And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
    • This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.
  • Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding.

K[edit]

  • Azazel: You've been on the force so long you think you've seen it all, but you haven't. 'Cause life's always got one more surprise for you. And sometimes, it's a big one.
  • I compare human life to a large mansion of many apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me.
  • Love will come find you
    Just to remind you
    Of who you are
    [...] See that's the thing about love
    [...] Then life
    It will embrace you
    Totally amaze you
    So you don't give up
  • Ah Love! could you and I with him conspire
    To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire
    Would we not shatter it to bits—and then
    Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's Desire?
  • Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
    Whose portals are alternate Night and Day,
    How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
    Abode his destin'd Hour and went his way.
  • A Moment's Halt—a momentary taste
    Of BEING from the Well amid the Waste—
    And, Lo! the phantom Caravan has reach'd
    The NOTHING it set out from. Oh, make haste!
  • But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
    Upon this Checker-board of Nights and Days;
    Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
    And one by one back in the Closet lays.
  • And fear not lest Existence closing your
    Account should lose or know the type no more:
    The Eternal Sáki from that Bowl has poured
    Millions of Bubbles like us and will pour.
  • Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love (1963), Last paragraph of section III of Antidotes for fear, page 122 (see link at top of the section).
  • If you are eating well and your condition is pure and clean, life itself becomes like the dreams or visions that you have when sleeping.

L[edit]

  • Oh, Life ! — the wearisome, the vexatious — whose pleasures are either placed beyond our reach, or within it when we no longer desire them — when youth toils for the riches, age may possess but not enjoy ; — where we trust to friendship, one light word may destroy ; or to love, that dies even of itself; — where we talk of glory, philosophical, literary, military, political — die, or, what is much more, live for it — and this coveted possession dwells in the consent of men of whom no two agree about it.
  • Yes! Life is a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death! Live!
    • Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, Auntie Mame, act II, scene vi (1957). Auntie Mame is speaking. Based on the novel of the same title by Patrick Dennis.
  • Time means a lot to me because, you see, I, too, am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing and simplifying. If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of.
    • Bruce Lee, Striking Thoughts (2000), p. 10; Here Lee paraphrases a much older English proverb: If you care for life, don't waste your time; for time is what life is made of. (as quoted in Bordighera and the Western Riviera (1883) by Frederick Fitzroy Hamilton, p. 189).
  • The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced.
    • Jacobus Johannes Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion (1928), p. 9
  • Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
  • Hey, hey, hey. A life. A life, Jimmy. Do you know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come.
    • Lester Freamon to Jimmy McNulty, The Wire.
  • Life — a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter.
  • What shall we call this undetermin'd state,
    This narrow isthmus 'twixt two boundless oceans,
    That whence we came, and that to which we tend?
    • George Lillo, Arden of Feversham (performed in 1759), Act III, scene 2.
  • This life of ours is a wild æolian harp of many a joyous strain,
    But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail, as of souls in pain.
  • My life, I live to the limit and I love it.
    • Jennifer Lopez, "I'm Real (Murder Remix)" (2001).

M[edit]

  • "In the midst of life we are in death," said one; it is more true that in the midst of death we are in life. Life is the only reality; what men call death is but a shadow — a word for that which cannot be — a negation, owing the very idea of itself to that which it would deny. But for life there could be no death. If God were not, there would not even be nothing. Not even nothingness preceded life. Nothingness owes its very idea to existence.
Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act.
Fred Hoyle
It was said that life was cheap in Ankh-Morpork. This was, of course, completely wrong. Life was often very expensive; you could get death for free. ~ Terry Pratchett in Pyramids
The terrible events of life are great eye-openers. They force us to learn that which it is wholesome for us to know, but which habitually we try to ignore — namely, that really we have no claim on a long life; that we are each of us liable to be called off at any moment, and that the main point is not how long we live, but with what meaning we fill the short allotted span — for short it is at best. ~ Felix Adler
Life, with all it yields of joy and woe,
And hope and fear [...]
Is just our chance o' the prize of learning love,—
How love might be, hath been indeed, and is. ~ Robert Browning
I am the life
That'll never, never die;
I'll live in you
If you'll live in me —
I am the Lord
Of the Dance, said he. ~ Sydney Carter
Since life is but a continuous series of experiences, everything ultimately helps me towards my final enlightenment. ~ Sri Chinmoy
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. ~ Vicki Corona.
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained. ~ Marie Curie
For with you is the source of life;
By light from you we can see light. ~ David
When life is true to the poles of nature, the streams of truth will roll through us in song. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is like the sea. There'll be a direction to follow even if you sail more than one day or one life... the promise of a new land is your guide, because you know that the sea is a huge world that's beautiful only if there's a shore. ~ Patricky Field
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun. ~ Robert Frost
It is the law of life that if you are kind to someone you feel happy.  If you are cruel you are unhappy.  And if you hurt someone, you will be hurt back. ~ Cary Grant
The fullness of life is in the hazards of life. And, at the worst, there is that in us which can turn defeat into victory. ~ Edith Hamilton
Life is worth Living
Through every grain of it,
From the foundations
To the last edge
Of the cornerstone, death. ~ William Ernest Henley
If you need something to worship, then worship life — all life, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together! ~ Frank Herbert
Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. ~ William James
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. ~ Steve Jobs
Love will come find you
Just to remind you
Of who you are
[...] See that's the thing about love
[...] Then life
It will embrace you
Totally amaze you
So you don't give up ~ Alicia Keys
And fear not lest Existence closing your
Account should lose or know the type no more:
The Eternal Sáki from that Bowl has poured
Millions of Bubbles like us and will pour. ~ Omar Khayyam
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it. ~ Martin Luther King
If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of. ~ Bruce Lee
The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced. ~ Jacobus Johannes Leeuw
Life — a culmination of the past, an awareness of the present, an indication of a future beyond knowledge, the quality that gives a touch of divinity to matter. ~ Charles Lindbergh
What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. ~ Nelson Mandela
Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about. ~ Rollo May

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