Day 1: Quote 1

So I was tagged by ehbates at Bumbles Books to participate in a 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. Basically I guess I have to just post a quote, write about it, and tag one person each day. So here goes nothing!

For my first quote I thought I’d start with a book that had me actually writing in the margins because of how many beautiful parts inspired me to want to mark favorite sections. I hate defacing books, but with this one I simply had to, and I’ll explain why. The quote is:

“The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?”

Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

I read De Profundis by Oscar Wilde this last year while struggling with a number of different troubles. Though I wasn’t sitting in a jail like Wilde, I was on a tough path of trying to determine what I wanted to do with my actual life, and who I wanted to be, and was struggling with friendships and life and religion and so much more. The book spoke to me on such a great level in so many ways.

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Though I have never had a true romantic relationship like Wilde, I sympathized with him in his struggles with Bosie in knowing what it’s like to have people claim to care for me and then act completely differently. Though I have never sat in a jail cell to contemplate what life is like, I have wondered on matters of God and the divine in my own life. Though I have never been published, I have wondered at the idea of vocation in terms of my art. I have questioned what matters most in terms of what I do.

But I loved this quote. I loved the way it encompassed how I wonder about my own self. I think it is true, that even to myself I’m a mystery. Something to be explored.

I know it’s sort of cheating, but I did want to include one more section of quotes from this book that spoke to me as I prepared to go into the world and find a career, and I hope any fellow students preparing to do so should read this as well.

“The more mechanical people, to whom life is a shrewd speculation dependent on careful calculation of ways and means, always know where they are going, and go there. They start with the desire of being the Parish Beadle, and in whatever sphere they are placed, they succeed in being the Parish Beadle and no more. A man whose desire is to be something separate from himself, to be a Member of Parliament, or a successful grocer, or a prominent solicitor, or a judge, or something equally tedious, invariably succeeds in being what he wants to be. That is his punishment. Those who want a mask have to wear it.”
-Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

I thought this was a great reminder that we are not what we do. We are more than a job. We are more than a vocation. And to make ourselves only that is indeed to wear a mask. Don’t tack down your own identity as your career. That can change. And we are so much more.  Recognize the unknowable element of identity, and let go.

For today I start by tagging a mutual follower calensariel at Impromptu Promptlings. She has been a loyal follower and great commenter, and she runs a fantastic blog on writing and poetry and all kinds of other interesting topics. The challenge is to post one quote a day for three days, and to tag one blogger each day to participate.

If anyone is inspired by this of course feel free to participate even if I don’t tag you. I don’t have enough quotes to tag all of my amazing readers of course!

What have been moments you’ve struggled with in your own life? Have there been times you’ve recognized that self and identity are difficult to determine? What are some quotes you really like? What was the last book you read that inspired you?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Day 1: Quote 1

  1. Wow. Those are some powerful quotes. I may have to go pick that book up for myself now. I’ve definitely had times in my life where I ponder who I am and what that means. I love how he talks about some people who “succeed in being the Parish Beadle and no more,” and that that is their punishment. Sometimes I feel like there are too many parts of me to keep up, but I would rather have too many facets than one dull mask.

  2. Excellent post, Emily! Lots of make-you-think comments in there. I think there are two things in this life that will always be mysteries: the divine and our souls. Doesn’t stop us from running circles around them, though, does it… One of the things I’ve struggled with the last couple years is the whole idea of getting older and what I should be doing. I found some real comfort and encouragement in an unusual book. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I wasn’t expecting what I found. Books are such an adventure.

    And thanks for the tag. If it comes around to you again I will be more than happy to participate. For right now I’ll pass, however, as I just finished up my third go at it! LOL

    • No worries. I lose track of what people have and haven’t done. I really don’t blame you for not wanting to do a fourth go. Thanks for stopping by!

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