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Divide the work and thus you’ll shorten it.

[Divisum sic breve fiet opus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, Epigram 82
    (Source)

As quoted in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906); mislabeled as Epigram 83.Alt. trans.:
  • "If it be too much to read two volumes, let them roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "If two be too much, double one parcel down; / So half, perhaps, better the pleasure will crown." [tr. Elphinston]
  • "If it is too much to read two, let one book be rolled up: divided the work will thus become brief. [Si nimis est legisse duos, tibi charta plicetur / Altera: divisum sic breve fiet opus.]"  [tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 210]
Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 49b

Alt. trans.: "Great is labor, for it honors the worker." [tr. Freedman] Alt. trans.: "Labor is great, as it brings honor to the laborer who performs it."
Added on 6-Jul-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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It’s amazing how much work you can get done in three days if you hold a blowtorch to each end of the candle.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score, ch. 7 (2015)
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Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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There are millions of ways to not be writing.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
“Rod Serling: The Facts of Life,” Interview with Linda Brevelle (4 Mar 1975)
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Added on 22-May-17 | Last updated 22-May-17
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A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 7 (1847) [Nelly]
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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It is not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to set it aside.

tarfon-finish-the-task-wist_info-quote

Tarfon (fl. 1st-2nd C AD) Jewish rabbi, sage
Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 2:15-16

Alt. trans.:
  • It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it.
  • It is not up to you to finish the task, but you are not free to avoid it.
  • We need not finish the task but neither can we desist from it.
  • Although I am not free to avoid doing the work, it is not always necessary that I finish the task.
  • You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
Added on 21-Nov-16 | Last updated 21-Nov-16
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Laborare est orare. By the Puritan moralist the ancient maxim is repeated with a new and intenser significance. The labor which he idealizes is not simply a requirement imposed by nature, or a punishment for the sin of Adam. It is itself a kind of ascetic discipline, more rigorous than that demanded of any order of mendicants — a discipline imposed by the will of God, and to be undergone, not in solitude, but in the punctual discharge of secular duties. It is not merely an economic means, to be laid aside when physical needs have been satisfied. It is a spiritual end, for in it alone can the soul find health, and it must be continued as an ethical duty long after it has ceased to be a material necessity.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926)

The Latin means, "To work is to pray."
Added on 28-Sep-16 | Last updated 28-Sep-16
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Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.

Brown - reflect the kind of care they get - wist_info quote

H. Jackson "Jack" Brown, Jr. (b. 1940) American writer
Life’s Instructions for Wisdom, Success, and Happiness (2001)
Added on 30-Aug-16 | Last updated 30-Aug-16
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There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Misattributed)

Actually American writer and historian James Truslow Adams (1878-1949).Variants:
  • "There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live."
  • "There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
Added on 17-Aug-16 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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The virtues, like the body, become strong more by labor than by nourishment.

Jean-Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [pseud. Jean-Paul]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Jul-16
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Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.

Bell - brought to a focus - wist_info quote

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) Scottish-American scientist, inventor, engineer
Interview, in Orison Swett Marden, How They Succeeded, ch. 2 (1901)
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Added on 28-Apr-16 | Last updated 28-Apr-16
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[T]he behaviour of the cat was somewhat peculiar. It was soon noticed that when there was work to be done the cat could never be found. She would vanish for hours on end, and then reappear at meal-times, or in the evening after work was over, as though nothing had happened. But she always made such excellent excuses, and purred so affectionately, that it was impossible not to believe in her good intentions.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
Animal Farm, ch. 3 (1945)
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Added on 26-Apr-16 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build shitty things.

Stewart Butterfield (b. 1973) Canadian tech entrepreneur and businessman
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Apr-16 | Last updated 15-Apr-16
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I have said time and again there is no place on this earth to which I would not travel, there is no chore I would not undertake if I had any faintest hope that, by so doing, I would promote the general cause of world peace.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News Conference (23 Mar 1955)
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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The way’s not easy where the prize is great:
I hope no virtues, where I smell no sweat.

Quarles - smell no sweat - wist_info quote

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Emblems, Emblem 11, Epigram (1634)
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Often given, "I see no virtue where I smell no sweat."
Added on 1-Feb-16 | Last updated 8-Jun-16
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You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

Munroe - become great - wist_info quote

Randall Munroe (b. 1984) American webcomic writer, roboticist, programmer
XKCD, # 896 “Marie Curie” (9 May 2011)
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Added on 20-Jan-16 | Last updated 20-Jan-16
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And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1963) German poet
Letter to Clara Rilke (1 Jan 1907)
    (Source)

Usually paraphrased: "And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been."
Added on 31-Dec-15 | Last updated 31-Dec-15
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Let the Care of one’s business be committed but to one Person; for otherwise, besides Disagreement which may arise when Account is taken, everyone’s Answer is, That he thought others had done it.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #1072 (1731)
Added on 21-Dec-15 | Last updated 21-Dec-15
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The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.

Shaw - miserable - wist_info quote

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Treatise on Parents and Children, “Children’s Happiness” (1914)
Added on 17-Dec-15 | Last updated 17-Dec-15
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Men might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
Speech on West India Emancipation (4 Aug 1857)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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For it isn’t enough to talk of peace. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Voice of America (11 Nov 1951)
Added on 27-May-15 | Last updated 27-May-15
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Business and pleasure, rightly understood, mutually assist each other, instead of being enemies, as silly or dull people often think them. No man tastes pleasures truly who does not earn them by previous business; and few people do business well who do nothing else.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (7 Aug 1749)
Added on 15-May-15 | Last updated 15-May-15
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Thank goodness, many years ago, I had a preceptor, for whom my admiration has never died, and he had a favorite saying, one that I trust I try to live by. It was: always take your job seriously, never yourself.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, New England “Forward to ’54” Dinner, Boston (21 Sep 1953)
Added on 14-May-15 | Last updated 14-May-15
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Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.

Wilson Mizner (1876-1933) American screenwriter and wit
In Alva Johnston, The Legendary Mizners, ch. 4 (1953)

Also quoted in Evan Esar, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (1949).
Added on 23-Apr-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-17
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How little a thing can make us happy when we feel that we have earned it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Eve’s Diary” (1905)
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Added on 20-Mar-15 | Last updated 20-Mar-15
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Why do men delight in work? Fundamentally, I suppose, because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done — a kind of satisfaction not unlike that which a hen enjoys on laying an egg.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, #34 (1956)
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Added on 10-Mar-15 | Last updated 2-May-16
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There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best.

Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) American baseball player [b. Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper"]
The Sporting News (4 Apr 1951)

When asked why he hustled on even a play that wouldn't affect the outcome of the game or his team's standing.
Added on 17-Feb-15 | Last updated 17-Feb-15
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It took me twenty years to become an overnight success.

Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) American comedian, dancer, singer, actor, songwriter [b. Isidore Itzkowitz]
(Attributed)

Though most often attributed to Cantor, the phrase is also associated with Danny Thomas and many others. Sometimes given as "It takes twenty years to become an overnight success" (or sometimes ten years). More here.
Added on 5-Dec-14 | Last updated 5-Dec-14
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There are but two ways of rising in the world: either by your own industry or by the folly of others.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
“Of the Gifts of Fortune” (52). The Characters [Les Caractères] (1688) [tr van Laun (1929)]
Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-16
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Undoubtedly “a full dinner pail” is a great achievement as compared with an empty one, but no people ever did or can attain a worthy civilization by the satisfaction merely of material needs, however high these needs are raised. The American standard of living demands not only a high minimum wage, but a high minimum of leisure, because we must meet also needs other than material ones.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
“Hours of Labor,” speech, Civic Federation of New England (11 Jan 1906)
    (Source)

Reprinted in his Business -- A Profession (1914).
Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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When a man feels that he cannot leave his work, it is a sure sign of an impending collapse. … When men are so tired, they cannot be trusted in their business judgment and cannot properly tend to their affairs.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Letter to Alfred Brandeis (8 Mar 1897)
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Added on 23-Sep-14 | Last updated 23-Sep-14
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Write. No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pullovers or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go.

Alison Louise "A. L." Kennedy (b. 1965) Scottish writer and comedian
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 10-Jul-14 | Last updated 10-Jul-14
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Three very crowded hours went past. They involved quite a lot of phone calls, telexes, and faxes. Twenty-seven people were got out of bed in quick succession and they got another fifty-three out of bed, because if there is one thing a man wants to know when he’s woken up in a panic at 4:00 A.M., it’s that he’s not alone.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Good Omens [with Terry Pratchett] (1990)
Added on 15-May-14 | Last updated 15-May-14
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There is a popular hallucination that makes of authors a romantic people who are entirely dependent upon moods and moments of inspiration for the power to labor in their peculiar way. Authors are supposed to write when they “feel like it,” and at no other time. Visions of Byron with a gin-bottle at his side, and a beautiful woman hanging over his shoulder, dashing off a dozen stanzas of Childe Harold at a sitting, flit through the brains of sentimental youth. We hear of women who are seized suddenly by an idea, as if it were a colic, or a flea, often at midnight, and are obliged to rise and dispose of it in some way. We are told of very delicate girls who carry pencils and cards with them, to take the names and address of such angels as may visit them in out-of-the-way places. We read of poets who go on long sprees, and after recovery retire to their rooms and work night and day, eating not and sleeping little, and in some miraculous way producing wonderful literary creations. The mind of a literary man is supposed to be like a shallow summer brook, that turns a mill. There is no water except when it rains, and the weather being very fickle, it is never known when there will be water. Sometimes, however, there comes a freshet, and then the mill runs night and day, until the water subsides, and another dry time comes on.

Now, while I am aware, as every writer must be, that the brain works very much better at some times than it does at others, I can declare without reservation, that no man who depends upon moods for the power to write can possibly accomplish much. I know men who rely upon their moods, alike for the disposition and the ability to write, but they are, without exception, lazy and inefficient men. They never have accomplished much, and they never will accomplish much.

Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881) American novelist, poet, editor [pseud. Timothy Titcomb]
Lessons in Life, Lesson 1 “Moods and Frames of Mind” (1861) [as Timothy Titcomb]
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Added on 29-Jan-14 | Last updated 29-Jan-14
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I tell you all this because it’s worth recognizing that there is no such thing as an overnight success. You will do well to cultivate the resources in yourself that bring you happiness outside of success or failure. The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few.

Bill Watterson (b. 1958) American cartoonist
Commencement Address, Kenyon College (20 May 1990)
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Added on 21-Nov-13 | Last updated 21-Nov-13
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Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.

[Nil sine magno vita labore dedit mortalibus.]

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Satires, Book 1, Satire 9, l. 59 (c. 35 BC)
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He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, ch. 2 (1876)
Added on 16-Apr-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 28-Jan-08 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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It is better to wear out than to rust out.

Richard Cumberland (1632-1718) English philosopher and cleric (Bishop of Peterborough)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in G. Horne, "Sermon on the Duty of Contending for the Truth" (1786).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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To business that we love we rise betime
And go to it with delight.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4, sc. 4, l. 20 (1606)
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Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
“The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,” Atlantic Monthly (1864)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Dec-13
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O, how full of briers is this working-day world!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 11 (1599)
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I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. It is my service to think how I can best fulfil the demands that each day makes upon me, and to rejoice that others can do what I cannot. Green, the historian, tells us that the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker, and that thought alone suffices to guide me in this dark world and wide. I love the good that others do; for their activity is an assurance that whether I can help or not, the true and the good will stand sure.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism,” Part 1 (1903)
    (Source)

Often paraphrased as: "I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The longing for certainty and repose is in every human mind. But certainty generally is an illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.

Holmes - certainty and repose - wist_info quote

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
“The Path of Law,” 10 Harvard Law Review 457 (1897)
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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
(Attributed)

Used by Bruce Lee, and sometimes attributed to him.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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You should not confuse your career with your life.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“25 Things I Have Learned In 50 Years,” #20 (1997)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées, #1806 (1838) [tr. Auster (1983)]
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The Lord respects me when I work,
But He loves me when I sing.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
“Fireflies” (1926)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
"God honours me when I work,
He loves me when I sing."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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