When I got this assignment I felt sure that I had to choose the epic starting sentence from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina as my favourite quote. That sounds pretentious – but it is truly amazing. However, I’ve never managed to get further than page 121 of my Penguin edition. I’ve tried – once a year since I was eighteen – but I give up every time. I decided that it would be fraudulent to claim it so my search began in earnest.
I looked at other literature. There are some much loved examples to choose from, but many are just romantic notions now that the novelists’ subject matter is anachronistic. Time passes and I often get too caught up in a good book to notice that it’s not culturally relevant anymore. Those beautiful examples went – sadly – to the ‘rejected’ pile.
I looked at some quotes from my personal heroes – and got a bit luckier. I wanted gumption and I found it in dear old Tim Gunn. Somehow, though, it didn’t say enough. He boils life down to its very essence – but it’s not enough.
My alternative – and frivolous, guilty favourite – must be Edna Mode’s seminal work, ‘no capes’. Again, it seems that fashion condenses everything.
One of my great heroes is Gloria Steinem. Honestly, there are almost too many nuggets of wisdom to choose from when it comes to her. She’s – frankly – inspirational. She’s kind, sympathetic, gracious, wise and persuasive. She’s everything I want my daughters to appreciate. In fact, she’s everything that any halfway human person should appreciate. Picking a favourite was impossible. The shortlist was too long. In the end, I chose the quote that made me smile – it’s so true for me that just reading it has left me looking like a Cheshire cat.
I suppose it’s time to cut to the chase. Ultimately, my favourite is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I can’t say anything more than this – it’s perfect. It says everything. It’s all I want in life. I find it makes me both satisfied with my efforts and inspired to stretch myself. It’s reassuring and inspiring.
I hope you can see the beauty in the sentiment as well.
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