Quotations about:
    living


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Come, let us live and love, my dear,
A fig for all the pratings drear
Of sour old sages, worldly wise.
Aye, suns may set again to rise;
But as for us, when once our sun
His little course of light has run,
An endless night we’ll sleep away.
 
[Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.]

gaius valerius catullus
Catullus (c. 84 BC – c. 54 BC) Latin poet [Gaius Valerius Catullus]
Carmina # 5 “To Lesbia,” ll. 1-6 [tr. Stewart (1915)]

One of Catulllus' most popular and widely-translated poems.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Come and let us live, my Deare,
Let us love and never feare
What the sourest Fathers say:
Brightest Sol that dyes to-day
Lives againe as blithe to-morrow;
But if we darke sons of sorrow
Set, ô then, how long a Night
Shuts the Eyes of our short light!
[tr. Crashaw (1648)]

Lesbia, live to love and pleasure,
Careless what the grave may say:
When each moment is a treasure
Why should lovers lose a day?
Setting suns shall rise in glory,
But when little life is o'er,
There's an end of all the story --
We shall sleep, and wake no more.
[tr. Langhorne (c. 1765)]

Let's live, and love, my darling fair!
And not a single farthing care
For age's babbling spite;
Yon suns that set again shall rise,
but, when our transient meteor dies,
We sleep in endless night.
[tr. Nott (1795)]

My Lesbia, let us love and live,
And to the winds, my Lesbia, give
Each cold restraint, each boding fear
Of age and all her saws severe.
Yon sun now posting to the main
Will set -- but 'tis to rise again: --
But we, when once our mortal light
Is set, must sleep in endless night!
[tr. Coleridge (1798)]

Love, my Lesbia, while we live,
Value all the cross advice
That the surly greybeards give
At a single farthing's price.
Suns that set again may rise;
We, when once our fleeting light,
Once our day in darkness dies,
Sleep in one eternal night.
[tr. Lamb (1821)]

Live we, love we, Lesbia dear,
And the stupid saws austere,
Which your sour old dotards prate,
Let us at a farthing rate!
When the sun sets, ' tis to rise
Brighter in the morning skies;
But, when sets our little light,
We must sleep in endless night.
[tr. T. Martin (1861)]

The while we live, to love let's give
Each hour, my winsome dearie!
Hence, churlish rage of icy age!
Of love we 'll ne'er grow weary.
Bright Phoebus dies, again to rise;
Returns life's brief light never;
When once 'tis gone, we slumber on
For ever and for ever.
[tr. Cranstoun (1867)]

Living, Lesbia, we should e'en be loving.
Sour severity, tongue of eld maligning,
All be to us a penny's estimation.
Suns set only to rise again to-morrow.
We, when sets in a little hour the brief light,
Sleep one infinite age, a night for ever.
[tr. Ellis (1871)]

Love we (my Lesbia!) and live we our day,
While all stern sayings crabbed sages say,
At one doit's value let us price and prize!
The Suns can westward sink again to rise
But we, extinguished once our tiny light,
Perforce shall slumber through one lasting night!
[tr. Burton (1893)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and count all the rumors of stern old men at a penny's fee. Suns can set and rise again: we when once our brief light has set must sleep through a perpetual night.
[tr. Smithers (1894)]

Come, my Lesbia, no repining;
Let us love while yet we may!
Suns go on forever shining;
But when we have had our day,
Sleep perpetual shall o'ertake us,
And no morrow's dawn awake us.
[tr. Field (1896)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, and love, and value at one farthing all the talk of crabbed old men.
Suns may set and rise again. For us, when the short light has once set, remains to be slept the sleep of one unbroken night.
[tr. Warre Cornish (1904)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love, for the reprobation of soured age let us not care a sou. Suns can set and rise again; but to our brief light, when once it sets, there comes a never-ending night that must be passed in never-ending sleep.
[tr. Stuttaford (1912)]

We live, Lesbia,
And we love, Lesbia,
And what do we care what the world may say?
The sun goes down,
And the sun comes up,
But our little lives pass away
In a day,
Our poor little lives pass away.
[tr. Dement (1915)]

Let us revel in life and love, my darling;
All that crabbed antiquities say idly
We will value together at a farthing.
Suns may set , and return again as brightly:
When our light to its dying spark has fluttered,
We must sleep an eternity of slumber.
[tr. Symons-Jeune (1923)]

O! let us love and have our day,
All that the bitter greybeards say
Appraising at a single mite.
My Lesbia , suns can set and rise:
For us the brief light dawns and dies
Once only, and the rest is night.
[tr. MacNaghten (1925)]

Come let us live and let us love,
And the stern voice of censors prove,
Who bid us from our loving cease,
Exactly worth a penny piece.
For suns can rise and suns can wane
And on the morrow rise again;
But when our one brief day is gone,
For ever we must sleep alone.
[tr. Wright (1926)]

Come, Lesbia, let us live and love,
nor give a damn what sour old men say.
The sun that sets may rise again
but when our light has sunk into the earth,
it is gone forever.
[tr. Gregory (1931)]

Lesbia, let us live only for loving,
and let us value at a single penny
all the loose flap of senile busybodies!
Suns when they set are capable of rising,
but at the setting of our on brief light
night is one sleep from which we never awaken.
[tr. C. Martin (1979)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love,
and all the words of the old, and so moral,
may they be worth less than nothing to us!
Suns may set, and suns may rise again:
but when our brief light has set,
night is one long everlasting sleep.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us judge all the rumors of the old men
to be worth just one penny!
The suns are able to fall and rise:
When that brief light has fallen for us,
we must sleep a never ending night.
[tr. Negenborn (1997)]

Let's live, Lesbia mine, and love --
and as for scandal, all the gossip, old men's strictures,
value the lot at no more than a farthing!
Suns can rise and set ad infinitum --
for us, though, once our bref life's quenched,
there's only one unending night that's left to sleep through.
[tr. Green (2005)]

Come live with me, Lesbia, and be my love,
And ignore the wagging tongues
Of wilted crones and toothless geezers.
Suns rise and set, rise and set again,
But we, when our brief light is blacked,
Must sleep forever, and then forever.
[tr. Hager (2006)]

My Lesbia, let’s live and let’s love,
Let all the rumors of harsh old men
count for only a penny.
Suns can set and rise again:
but when our brief light sets
we must sleep a lonely endless night.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let's value all the rumors
of rather stern old men as one penny!
Suns can set and return;
as for us, once our brief light sets,
there is one perpetual night to be slept.
[tr. Wikibooks (2017)]

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us value all the rumors of
more severe old men at only a penny!
Suns are able to set and return:
when once the short light has set for us
one perpetual night must be slept by us.
[tr. Wikisource (2018)]

Compare also these two pieces, which start modeled after Catullus (as shown):

My sweetest Lesbia, let us live and love;
And though the sager sort our deeds reprove,
Let us not weigh them: Heaven's great lamps do dive
Into their west, and straight again revive,
But, soon as once set is our little light,
Then must we sleep one ever-during night.
[Thomas Campion, A Book of Airs (1601)]

Come my Celia, let us prove,
While we can, the sports of love;
Time will not be ours forever,
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain;
Suns that set may rise again,
But if once we lose this light,
'Tis with us perpetual night.
[Ben Jonson, Volpone, Act 3, sc. 6 (1616)]

 
Added on 10-Apr-24 | Last updated 10-Apr-24
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More quotes by Catullus

A thing I am not anxious to preserve
Is this frail life; for soon as one woe ends,
Others commence, and our weak eyes discern not
What evil fortunes yet remain behind.

[αἰεὶ τὸ µὲν ζῇ, τὸ δὲ µεθίσταται κακόν,
τὸ δ’ αὖ πέφηνεν αὖθις ἐξ ἀρχῆς νέον.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Æolus [Αἴολος], frag. 35 (TGF) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]
    (Source)

Nauck frag. 35, Barnes frag. 51, Musgrave frag. 15, 16. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

One ill is ever clinging;
One treads upon its heels;
A third, in distance springing,
Its fearful front reveals.
[tr. Peacock (1897)]

One trouble alive and well, another gone,
as all afresh a new one comes our way.
[Source]

 
Added on 5-Mar-24 | Last updated 5-Mar-24
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But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) German-American psychologist, writer
Man’s Search for Meaning [Trotzdem Ja zum Leben Sagen], Part 1 (1946) [tr. Lasch (1959)]
    (Source)
 
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Yet they, believe me, who await
No gifts from chance, have conquered fate.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet and critic
“Resignation,” The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems (1848)
    (Source)
 
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Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity, and stumble from defeat to defeat.

Ryszard Kapuściński (1932-2007) Polish journalist, photographer, poet, author
“A Warsaw Diary,” Granta Magazine, No. 15 (1985 Spring)
    (Source)
 
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Historical sense and poetic sense should not, in the end, be contradictory, for if poetry is the little myth we make, history is the big myth we live, and in our living, constantly remake.

robert penn warrren
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) American poet, novelist, literary critic
Brother to Dragons, Foreword (1953)
    (Source)
 
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I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator
Doctor Zhivago [До́ктор Жива́го], Part 2, ch. 13 “Opposite the House of Sculptures,” sec. 12 [Yury] (1955) [tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), US ed.]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

I don't like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn't of much value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them.
[tr. Hayward & Harari (1958), UK ed., "Opposite the House of the Caryatids"]

I don't like the righteous ones, who never fell, never stumbled. Their virtue is dead and of little value. The beauty of life has not been revealed to them.
[tr. Pevear & Volokhonsky (2010), "Opposite the House with Figures"]

 
Added on 2-Feb-24 | Last updated 5-Mar-24
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I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) Catalan-Cuban-French author, diarist
Diary (1933-03)
    (Source)
 
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In order to not find life unbearable, you must accept two things: the ravages of time, and the injustices of man.
 
[Il y a deux choses auxquelles il faut se faire, sous peine de trouver la vie insupportable. Ce sont les injures du tems et les injustices des hommes.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 115 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 95]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There are two things to which we must become inured on pain of finding life intolerable: the outrages of time and man's injustice.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and the injustices of men.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

There are two things that a man must reconcile himself to, or he will find life unbearable: they are the injuries of time and the injuries of men.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 29-Jan-24 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“In Blackwater Woods,” American Primitive (1983)
    (Source)

Originally published in Yankee Magazine.
 
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The great calamity of the passions is not the torments they cause but the wrongs, the base actions that they lead one to commit, and which degrade men. Without these hindrances the advantages of the passions would far outweigh those of cold reason, which renders no one happy. The passions make a man live, wisdom merely makes him last.

[Le grand malheur des passions n’est pas dans les tourmens qu’elles causent, mais dans les fautes, dans les turpitudes qu’elles font commettre, et qui dégradent l’homme. Sans ces inconvéniens, elles auraient trop d’avantage sur la froide raison, qui ne rend point heureux. Les passions font vivre l’homme, la sagesse le fait seulement durer.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 118 (1795) [tr. Merwin (1969)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The great evil of the passions does not lie in the torments which they bring upon men, but in the faults and shameful actions they cause him to commit. Were it not for this drawback they would have too great an advantage over cold reason, which can never be productive of happiness. His passions make man live, his wisdom only makes him last.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

The unfortunate thing about passions is not the misery they make one commit, and which degrade man. Without these disadvantages, they would overpower cold reason, which does not in the least a source of happiness. Passions make men live, wisdom only makes the endure.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

The great disaster of passions is not the torment they cause, but the debasing errors and depravity into which they lead men. Without these drawbacks, passion would enjoy many advantages over cold reason, which never produces happiness. Passions enable men to live, wisdom merely enables them to survive.
[tr. Dusinberre (1992)]

The great misfortune of passions does not come from the torments that they cause, but from the base things they make a person do, and which degrade him. Without these inconveniences, they would have too many advantages over cold reason, which never makes people happy. Passions make a man live, wisdom and facts only make him endure.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 15-Jan-24 | Last updated 15-Jan-24
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Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?” West Wind (1997)
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Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form.

André Maurois (1885-1967) French author [b. Émile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog]
The Art of Living, ch. 8 “The Art of Growing Old” (1940) [tr. Whitall]
    (Source)
 
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We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled.
The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) American writer, futurist, fabulist
“The Secret Mind,” The Writer (1965-11)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing (1990).
 
Added on 30-Oct-23 | Last updated 30-Oct-23
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If life is a play, then old age is its last act — and we ought to leave the theater when we are weary or, even better, when we are satisfied.
 
[Senectus autem aetatis est peractio tamquam fabulae, cuius defetigationem fugere debemus, praesertim adiuncta satietate.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 23 / sec. 85 (23.85) (44 BC) [tr. Cobbold (2012)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The poete whiche rehercith in the Scene in some fable owght to beware that he make not werye and that he noye not his heerers by ouer long rehercyng the fable. So that men owght not desire to lyve ouir olde age seeyng pryncypally that in that age or nevir he is fulle weerye for to lyve.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481)]

And old age is, as it were, the peroration or final end of a man's time in this world, much like to the epilogue or catastrophe of an interlude, the wearisome repetition or defatigation whereof we ought to avoid and eschew, and especially when we are fully cloyed with satiety.
[tr. Newton (1569)]

But old age is the last act of our life as of a play, of which there ought to be an end, especially when there is satiety and fulnesse of time joyned with it.
[tr. Austin (1648)]

Good Acts (if long) seem tedious, so is Age
Acting too long upon this Earth her Stage.
[tr. Denham (1669)]

For in Old Age we are as in the last Act of a Play, in which we ought to take our Leave when fully satisfied with the Enjoyment.
[tr. J. D. (1744)]

And as the whole Course of Life but too much resembles a Farce, of which Old-Age is the last Act; when we have enough of it, 'tis most prudent to retire, and not to make a Fatigue of what we should endeavour to make only an Entertainment.
[tr. Logan (1744)]

In fine, old age may be considered as the last scene in the great drama of life, and one would not, surely, wish to lengthen out his part till he sunk down sated with repetition and exhausted with fatigue.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

Now old age is the completion of life, as of a play, weariness of which we ought to avoid, especially when satiety is added.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]

Now old age is the consummation of life, just as of a play; from the fatigue of which we ought to escape, especially when satiety is superadded.
[tr. Edmonds (1874)]

Old age is the closing act of life, as of a drama, and we ought in this to avoid utter weariness, especially if the act has been prolonged beyond its due length.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

Now, old age is as it were the playing out of the drama, the full fatigue of which we should shun, especially when we also feel that we have had more than enough of it.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

Age; is; the end; of life, as of a play:
We should avoid the weariness that comes,
The more, if we've enjoyed it to the full.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Moreover, old age is the final scene, as it were, in life's drama, from which we ought to escape when it grows wearisome and, certainly, when we have had our fill.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

When life's last act, old age, has become wearisome, when we have had enough, the time has come to go.
[tr. Grant (1960, 1971 ed.)]

Yes, old age is, so to speak, the last scene in the play; when we find it beginning to be tiresome we should beat a hasty retreat from it, especially when we feel as if we had seen all this before, entirely too many times.
[tr. Copley (1967)]

Old age is the last act of the drama of life and when it is over we ought to leave it, especially if we have achieved a good fullness in it.
[tr. Gerberding (2014)]

Old age is but life’s drama’s final curtain.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]

Old age is the final act in the play of life. When we have had enough and are weary, it is time to go.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]

 
Added on 26-Oct-23 | Last updated 2-Nov-23
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

Poor fool, what makes you promise yourself a long life, when there is not a day of it that goes by in security? Again and again, people who looked forward to a long life have been caught out over it, called away quite unexpectedly from this bodily existence. Nothing commoner than to be told, in the course of conversation, how such a man was stabbed, such a man was drowned; how one fell from a height and broke his neck, another never rose from table, another never finished his game of dice. Fire and sword, plague and murderous attack, it is always the same thing — death is the common end that awaits us all, and life can pass suddenly, like a shadow when the sun goes in.
 
[Ha stulte, quid cogitas te diu victurum, cum nullum diem habeas securum? Quam multi decepti sunt et insperati de corpore extracti! Quoties audisti a dicentibus, quia ille gladio cecidit, ille submersus est, ille ab alto ruens cervicem fregit, ille manducando obriguit, ille ludendo finem fecit, alius igne, alius ferro, alius peste, alius latrocinio interiit: et sic omnium finis mors est, et vita hominum tanquam umbra cito pertransit.]

Thomas von Kempen
Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German-Dutch priest, author
The Imitation of Christ [De Imitatione Christi], Book 1, ch. 23, v. 7 (1.23.7) (c. 1418-27) [tr. Knox-Oakley (1959)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Thou art a fool, if thou think to live long, sith thou art not sure to live one day to the end. How many have been deceived through trust of long life, and suddenly have been taken out of this world or they had thought. How oft hast thou heard say that such a man was slain, and such a man was drowned, and such a man fell and broke his neck ? This man as he ate his meat was strangled, and this man as he played took his death ; one with fire, another with iron, another with sickness, and some by theft have suddenly perished ! And so the end of all men is death, for the life of man as a shadow suddenly fleeth and passeth away.
[tr. Whitford/Raynal (1530/1871)]

You are foolish if you think to live long, since you are not certain to live one day through to the end. How many have been deceived through trusting in a long life who have suddenly been taken out of the world much sooner than they had thought. How often have you heard that such a man was slain, and such a man was drowned, and such a man fell and broke his neck; this man choked on his food, and this man died in his recreation; one by fire, another by the sword, another by sickness, and some by theft have suddenly perished. And so the end of all men is death, and the life of man is as a shadow which suddenly glides and passes away.
[tr. Whitford/Gardiner (1530/1955)]

Ah foole, why dost thou think to live long, when thou canst not promise to thy selfe one day, how many have been deceived and suddenly snatcht away? How often dost thou hear these reports, such a man is slain, another is drowned, a third breaks his neck with a fall, this man died eating, and that man playing? One perished by fire, another by the sword, another of the plague, and another was slain by theeves, thus death is the end of all, and mans life passeth away like a shadow.
[tr. Page (1639), 1.23.29-31]

Does any Confidence of long Life encourage you to defer putting this good Advice in Execution speedily ? Nay, but reflect, fond Man, how little you can promise your self one poor single Day. How many Instances have you before your Eyes, or fresh in your Remembrance, of Persons miserably deluded and disappointed in this Hope, and hurried out of the Body without any warning at all? How often have you been surprized with the News of this Friend being run thro', another drowning crossing the Water, a Third breaking his Neck by a Fall, a Fourth fallen down dead at Table, or choaked with his Meat, a Fifth seized with an Apoplex at Play, a Sixth burnt in his Bed, a Seventh murthered, an Eighth killed by Thieves, a Ninth struck with Lightning, or Blasting, or Pestilence, a Tenth swallow'd up in an Earthquake. Such vast variety of Deaths surround us, and so fleeting a Shadow is the Life of a Man.
[tr. Stanhope (1696; 1706 ed.)]

Ah foolish man! why dost thou still flatter thyself with the expectation of a long life, when thou canst not be sure of a single day? How many unhappy fools, deluded by this hope, are in some unexpected moment separated from the body! How often dost thou hear, that one is slain, another is drowned, another by falling from a precipice has broken his neck, another is choaked in eating, another has dropt down dead in the exercise of some favorite diversion; and that thousands, indeed, are daily perishing by fire, by sword, by the plague, or by the violence of robbers! Thus is death common to every age; and man suddenly passeth away as a vision of the night.
[tr. Payne (1803), 1.23.8]

Ah! fool, why dost thou think to live long, when thou canst not promise to thyself one day. How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often dost thou hear these reports, Such a man is slain, another man is drowned, a third breaks his neck with a fall from some high place, this man died eating, and that man playing! One perished by fire, another by the sword, another of the plague, another was slain by thieves. Thus death is the end of all, and man's life suddenly passeth away like a shadow.
[ed. Parker (1841)]

Ah, foolish man! why dost thou think thou wilt live long, when thou canst not count upon a single day? How many souls, deluded by this hope, are, in some unexpected moment, separated from the body! How often dost thou hear, that "one is slain, another is drowned, another, by falling form a precipice, has broken his neck -- another is choaked in eating; another has dropt down dead in the exercise of some favourite diversion; and that thousands, indeed, are daily perishing by fire, by sword, by the plague, or by the violence of robbers! Thus, death is the end of all; and the life of man passeth away suddenly like a shadow.
[tr. Dibdin (1851)]

Ah, fool! why dost thou think to live long, when thou art not sure of one day? How many thinking to live long have been deceived, and snatched unexpectedly away? How often hast thou heard related, that such a one was slain by the sword; another drowned; another, from a height, broke his neck; one died eating, another playing? Some have perished by fire; some by the sword; some by pestilence; and some by robbers. And so death is the end of all; and man's life suddenly passeth away like a shadow.
[ed. Bagster (1860)]

Ah, foolish one! why thinkest thou that thou shalt live long, when thou art not sure of a single day? How many have been deceived, and suddenly have been snatched away from the body! How many times hast thou heard how one was slain by the sword, another was drowned, another falling from on high broke his neck, another died at the table, another whilst at play! One died by fire, another by the sword, another by the pestilence, another by the robber. Thus cometh death to all, and the life of men swiftly passeth away like a shadow.
[tr. Benham (1874)]

Ah! fool, why dost thou think to live long, when thou canst not promise to thyself one day. How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often dost thou hear these reports, Such a man is slain, another is drowned, a third has broken his neck with a fall, this man died eating, and that man playing! One perished by fire, another by the sword, another by the plague, another was slain by thieves. Thus death is the end of all, and man's life suddenly passeth away like a shadow.
[tr. Anon. (1901)]

Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
[tr. Croft/Bolton (1940)]

Ah fool, why think of living long when you have no certainty of a day? How many are mistaken and unexpectedly snatched away from the body. How often you have heard men say, he is killed by the sword, he is drowned, he broke his neck falling from a height, he choked while eating, he met his end while at play; one perished by fire, another from plague, another by a robber; and so death is the end of all; and man’s life passes suddenly like a shadow.
[tr. Daplyn (1952)]

Foolish man, how can you promise yourself a long life, when you are not certain of a single day? How many have deceived themselves in this way, and been snatched unexpectedly from life! You have often heard how this man was slain by the sword; another drowned; how another fell from a high place and broke his neck; how another died at table; how another met his end in play. One perishes by fire, another by the sword, another from disease, another at the hands of robbers. Death is the end of all men; and the life of man passes away suddenly as a shadow.
[tr. Sherley-Price (1952)]

You fool, why do you imagine you will live a long life. when you cannot be sure of a single day? Many have made this mistake and have been snatched away from life when they least expected it. So often you hear people saying that so and so has been killed in battle, and so and so drowned; another man has fallen from a height and broken his neck; one choked over a meal, another met his end in some sport. Others have died by -- fire, by violence, by sickness, by robbery -- death is the end of all, and the life of man passes by and vanishes like a shadow.
[tr. Knott (1962)]

Foolish one, why do you hope for long life when not even one day is certain? How many there are who think they will live long, but are mistaken and snatched from the body unexpectedly. How often have you heard it said: This man fell by the sword; that man was drowned; another fell and broke his neck; yet another was taken while at table and the other was at sport when the end came. One by fire, another by steel, yet another by pestilence and again another by thieves met his death. Death is the end of all men and man’s life is a shadow that quickly passes by.
[tr. Rooney (1979)]

Ah, my foolish friend! why do you think of living a long life when you are not sure of even one day? How many people are tricked and unexpectedly snatched away? How often have you heard it said that someone was murdered, someone else drowned, another broke his neck falling from a high place, yet another choked while eating, and someone else met his end while playing; one person died by fire, another from disease, and another was killed by a robber, and thus death is the end of all, and our life passes suddenly like a shadow.
[tr. Creasy (1989)]

 
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Writers do not live one life, they live two. There is the living and then there is the writing. There is the second tasting, the delayed reaction.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) Catalan-Cuban-French author, diarist
Diary (1932-04)
    (Source)
 
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I don’t think there is anything I have done that I wish I hadn’t done. Because I learn from everything I do. I’m in school every day. My diploma will be my tombstone.

Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) American singer and actress
In Lon Tuck, “It’s Been a Long Time But … Eartha’s Back!” Washington Post (1978-01-19)
    (Source)

When a citation is given to this quotation, it's usually "Playbill 1978." It does indeed show up in an (unknown month) of Playbill Magazine in 1978, also in association with her starring role in the stage show Timbuktu, which opened on Broadway March 1st of that year, but this article appears to be the source. (see comments for the helpful tip).
 
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To die is nothing. Begin by living. It’s less funny and lasts longer.

[Mourir, ce n’est rien. Commence donc par vivre. C’est moins drôle et c’est plus long.]

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) French dramatist
Roméo et Jeannette, Act 3 (1946) [tr. (1949)]
 
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Just as you drifted through an entire day without a plan and accomplished nothing, some people drift through their entire lives. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one month at a time. The months run into years and span a life. It happens so gradually that they are unaware of how their lives are slipping by them until it’s too late.

Mary Kay Ash
Mary Kay Ash (1918-2001) American entrepreneur
Mary Kay, You Can Have it All, ch. 4 (1995)
    (Source)
 
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A man wants to earn money in order to be happy, and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Myth of Sisyphus, “Absurd Creation” (1942) [tr. O’Brien (1991)]
    (Source)
 
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Life is a disease temporarily relieved every sixteen hours, by sleep. The complete cure: death.

[Vivre est une maladie dont le sommeil nous soulage toutes les seize heures. C’est un palliatif. La Mort est le remède.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 113 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 91]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Life is a malady in which sleep soothes us every sixteen hours; it is a palliation; death is the remedy.
[Ballou, comp. (1872)]

Living is a disease from the pains of which sleep eases us every sixteen hours; sleep is but a palliative, death alone is the cure.
[tr. Hutchinson (1902)]

Life is a disease from which sleep gives us alleviation every sixteen hours. Sleep is a palliative, Death is the remedy.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

Living is an ailment which is relieved every sixteen hours by sleep. A palliative Death is the cure.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

To live is a malady from which sleep vouchsafes us relief every sixteen hours. That is a palliative. The remedy is death.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

To live is a sickness that sleep comforts every sixteen hours. It's a palliative. Death is the cure.
[tr. Sinicalchi]

Life is a sickness to which sleep provides relief every sixteen hours. It's a palliative. The remedy is death.
[Source]

 
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If one burdens the future with one’s worries, it cannot grow organically. I am filled with confidence, not that I shall succeed in worldly things, but that even when things go badly for me I shall still find life good and worth living.

Etty Hillesum
Esther "Etty" Hillesum (1914-1943) Dutch Jewish law graduate, writer, diarist
Diary (1942-06-11)
    (Source)

Collected in An Interrupted Life [Het Verstoorde Leven] (1981) [tr. Pomerans (1983)].
 
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A sparkling house is a fine thing if the children aren’t robbed of their luster in keeping it that way.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1945-11)
    (Source)
 
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One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours — all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
“The Art of Fiction,” Interview by Jean Stein, Paris Review #12 (Spring 1956)
    (Source)
 
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Life is like a camel: you can make it do anything except back up.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1945-07)
    (Source)
 
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Come to think of it, I don’t know that love has a point, which is what makes it so glorious. Sex has a point, in terms of relief and, sometimes, procreation, but love, like all art, as Oscar said, is quite useless. It is the useless things that make life worth living and that make life dangerous too: wine, love, art, beauty. Without them life is safe, but not worth bothering with.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry (b. 1957) British actor, writer, comedian
Moab Is My Washpot, “Falling In,” ch. 6 (1997)
    (Source)

Referencing Oscar Wilde from the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890): "All art is quite useless".
 
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Man comes to each age of his life a novice.

[L’homme arrive novice à chaque âge de la vie.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionnée], Part 2 Characters and Anecdotes [Caractères et Anecdotes], ch. 12 (1795) [tr. Merwin (1969)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Man arrives a novice at every age of life.
[Source (1878)]

Man reaches each stage in his life as a novice.
[tr. Hutchinson (1902), "The Cynic's Breviary"]

A man begins every stage of his life as a novice.
[tr. Parmée, ¶412 (2003)]

 
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Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one.

Adler - Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one - wist.info quote

Stella Adler
Stella Adler (1901-1992) American actor and acting teacher
Quoted in Barry Paris, ed., Stella Adler on America’s Master Playwrights, Introduction (2012)
    (Source)
 
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If you keep your eyes so fixed on Heaven that you never look at the Earth, you will stumble into Hell.

Austin O'Malley
Austin O'Malley (1858-1932) American ophthalmologist, professor of literature, aphorist
Keystones of Thought (1914)
    (Source)
 
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If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way of making a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
Man Without a Country, ch. 3 “Here Is a Lesson in Creative Writing” (2005)
    (Source)
 
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Sometimes it is good for us to have troubles and hardships, for they often call us back to our own hearts. Once there, we know ourselves to be strangers in this world, and we know that we may not believe in anything that it has to offer.

[Bonum nobis est, quod aliquando habeamus aliquas gravitates et contrarietates, quia sæpe hominem ad cor revocant, quatenus se in exilio esse cognoscat, nec spem suam in aliqua mundi re ponat.]

Thomas von Kempen
Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German-Dutch priest, author
The Imitation of Christ [De Imitatione Christi], Book 1, ch. 12, v. 1 (1.12.1) (c. 1418-27) [tr. Creasy (1989)]
    (Source)

See Psalm 119:71.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

It is good that we have sometime griefs and adversities, for they drive a man to behold himself, and to see that he is here but as in an exile, and be learned thereby to know that he ought not to put his trust in any worldly thing.
[tr. Whitford/Raynal (1530/1871)]

It is good that we sometimes have griefs and adversities, for they drive a man to behold himself and to see that he is but here as in exile, and to learn thereby that he ought not put his trust in any worldly thing.
[tr. Whitford/Gardiner (1530/1955)]

It is good for us sometimes to suffer affliction and contradiction, because they oftentimes call a man home unto himselfe. They make a man to know that he liveth here but in banishment, and that he must not trust to any thing in this world.
[tr. Page (1639), x.12.1-2]

It is good for me that I have been in Trouble, says David. Nor is it David's Case alone, for many Men have reason to bless that Providence which sends Crosses and Calamities upon them. These bring Man's Thoughts home, put him upon Reflection, and help him to understand himself and his Condition. They shew him, that he is in a State of Exile and Pilgrimage, and forbid him to set up his Hope and Rest, in a strange Country, where he is no better than a Sojourner.
[tr. Stanhope (1696; 1706 ed.)]

It is good for man to suffer the adversity of this earthly life; for it brings him back to the sacred retirement of the heart, where only he finds, that he is an exile from his native home, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly enjoyment.
[tr. Payne (1803)]

It is good that we have sometimes some troubles and crosses; for they often make a man enter into himself, and consider that he is here in banishment, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly thing.
[ed. Parker (1841)]

It is good for us that we sometimes suffer contrarieties and vexations; for they call a man back to the retirement of his heart, where only he finds, that, as he is an exile from his native home, he ought not to place his trust in any worldly enjoyment.
[tr. Dibdin (1851)]

It is good for us to have sometimes troubles and adversities, for they make a man enter into himself, that he may know that he is in exile, and may not place his hopes in anything of the world.
[ed. Bagster (1860)]

It is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adversities, for they often make a man lay to heart that he is only a stranger and sojourner, and may not put his trust in any worldly thing.
[tr. Benham (1874)]

It is good that we have sometimes troubles and crosses; for they often make a man enter into himself, and consider that he is here in banishment, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly thing.
[tr. Anon. (1901)]

It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing.
[tr. Croft/Bolton (1940)]

It is good for us at times to have some burdens and adversities, for they often call a man back to his heart, that he may recognise himself to be in exile, and not fix his hope on anything earthly.
[tr. Daplyn (1952)]

It is good for us to encounter troubles and adversities from time to time, for trouble often compels a man to search his own heart. It reminds him that he is an exile here, and that he can put his trust in nothing in this world.
[tr. Sherley-Price (1952)]

It's good for you to go through difficult times now and again, and to have your will thwarted; the effect is often to make a man think -- make him realize that he is living in exile, and it is no use relying upon any earthly support.
[tr. Knox-Oakley (1959)]

It is a good thing that we have to face difficulties and opposition from time to time, because this brings us back to ourselves; it makes us realize that we are exiles and cannot pin our hopes on anything in this world.
[tr. Knott (1962)]

It is good for us now and then to experience difficulties and adversity; for they make man realize again that he is an exile and should not put his hopes on any worldly thing.
[tr. Rooney (1979)]

 
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I live,
But live to die: and, living, see no thing
To make death hateful, save an innate clinging,
A loathsome and yet all invincible
Instinct of life, which I abhor, as I
Despise myself, yet cannot overcome —
And so I live. Would I had never lived!

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Cain, Act 1, sc. 1 [Cain] (1821)
    (Source)
 
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I want to walk through life instead of being dragged through it.

Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette (b. 1974) Canadian-American singer, songwriter, actress
Maverick Recording press release information, Jagged Little Pill album (Jun 1995)
    (Source)
 
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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
Felix Adler (1851-1933) German-American educator
Life and Destiny, Lecture 8 “Suffering and Consolation” (1903)
    (Source)
 
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Life begins when a person first realizes how soon it will end.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1949-05)
    (Source)
 
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Although reason were intended by Providence to govern our passions; yet it seems that in two points of the greatest moment to the being and continuance of the world, God has intended our passions to prevail over reason. The first is, the propagation of our species; since no wise man ever married from the dictates of reason. The other is, the love of life; which, from the dictates of reason, every man would despise, and wish it at an end, or that it never had a beginning.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
    (Source)
 
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Many of us go through life feeling as an actor might feel who does not like his part, and does not believe in the play.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
    (Source)
 
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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
Felix Adler (1851-1933) German-American educator
Life and Destiny, Lecture 8 “Suffering and Consolation” (1903)
    (Source)
 
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When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.

Patrick Rothfuss
Patrick Rothfuss (b. 1973) American author
The Name of the Wind, ch. 12 “Puzzle Pieces Fitting” (2007)
    (Source)
 
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The neurotic feels like a Christmas shopper who keeps dropping his packages, and it’s raining.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
    (Source)
 
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I like the man who faces what he must,
With steps triumphant and a heart of cheer;
Who fights the daily battle without fear.

Sarah Knowles Bolton
Sarah Knowles Bolton (1841-1916) American writer, poet, journalist, activist
“The Inevitable” (1895)
    (Source)
 
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“Life is meant to be lived.” Telling that to most of us is as useful as telling a mouse that aluminum is meant to be made into cars.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
    (Source)
 
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Into a dancer you have grown,
From a seed somebody else has thrown.
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own,
And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go,
May lie a reason you were alive but you’ll never know.

Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne (b. 1948) American musician, songwriter, political activist
“For a Dancer” (1974)
    (Source)
 
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Speaking for myself, I could never pray to be delivered from sudden death. It is how you live, and not how you die that counts, and sudden deaths are only sad for those who are left. It is not dying, but living, that is a preparation for Death.

Margot Asquith
Margot Asquith (1864-1945) British socialite, author, wit [Emma Margaret Asquith, Countess Oxford and Asquith; Margot Oxford; née Tennant]
More Memories, ch. 11 (1933)
    (Source)
 
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It takes more courage to live than to die; which is proved by the fact that so many more men die well than live well.

William Lyon Phelps
William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) American educator and critic
Representative Plays by J. M. Barrie, Introduction, § 2 (1926)
    (Source)
 
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It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) American writer, feminist, activist
The Feminine Mystique, ch. 14 (1963)
    (Source)
 
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The great wisdom traditions of the world all recognize that the main impediment to living a life of meaning is being self-absorbed.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
An Altar in the World, ch. 6 (2009)
    (Source)
 
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A tradition has now for long been established that cooking and cleaning are woman’s work. As these occupations are among the most tiresome which humanity has to endure, this tradition is very unfortunate for women. But there it is; and the problem is how to get what is needful done as rapidly as possible, so that one can go and do something else, more lucrative, interesting, or amusing.

The general rule is that there must be something to eat at stated intervals, and the house or the flat must be about as clean as the houses and flats of one’s acquaintances. It sounds simple, but actually to secure both these results will often be found to take the entire time. All the time that there is. And that is so tragically little. None left over for reading, writing, walking, sitting in woods, playing games, making love, merely existing without effort. And ever at your back you hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near…and so the grave yawns, and at the end you will be able to say, not “I have warmed both hands before the fire of life,” but “I have kept house.”

The only solution of this problem which I can suggest — and I almost hesitate to do in these pages — is, Do not keep house. Let the house, or flat, go unkept. Let it go to the devil, and see what happens when it has gone there. At the worst, a house unkempt cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.

Rose Macaulay
Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) English writer
“Some Problems of a Woman’s Life,” Good Housekeeping (Aug 1923)
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Added on 15-Sep-21 | Last updated 15-Sep-21
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Of all the ways to avoid living, perfect discipline is the most admired.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 24 (2001)
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Added on 24-Aug-21 | Last updated 24-Aug-21
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The first fact about the celebration of a birthday is that it is a way of affirming defiantly, and even flamboyantly, that it is a good thing to be alive.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
“Our Birthday,” G. K.’s Weekly (1935-03-21)
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Added on 14-May-21 | Last updated 19-Aug-23
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More quotes by Chesterton, Gilbert Keith

Learning and living. But they are really the same thing, aren’t they? There is no experience from which you can’t learn something. … And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living, Introduction (1960)
 
Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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For even the humblest person, a day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search for truth and perfection is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days is fatal to human life.

Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) American writer, philosopher, historian, architect
The Condition of Man (1944)
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Added on 17-Feb-21 | Last updated 17-Feb-21
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Those who live without enjoying life are fools.

[Ἀνοήμονες βιοῦσιν οὐ τερπόμενοι βιοτῆι.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 200 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2014)]
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Cited by Diels as "200. (93 N.)"; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 4, 74.

Alternative translations:

  • "People are fools who live without enjoyment of life." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "Fools live with no enjoyment in life." [Source]
 
Added on 16-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-May-21
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Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
 
Added on 22-Dec-20 | Last updated 22-Dec-20
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