I was loved!

I was loved!

After spending most of her childhood exiled in Siberia, much of it as a half-starved orphan, Maria is finally rescued by a distant aunt who takes her in and gives her a loving home for the first time in her life. “Oh my little birdie …” my aunt would...
No outward seeming

No outward seeming

Indeed, often when you love, you take in a whole person, sometimes in an instant, and don’t create a composite of features and qualities. And much of what you respond to is intangible and even invisible.  How did he look?  What like was he?  Was he...
Intelligence in the service of love

Intelligence in the service of love

Saint-Exupéry is one of the most lapidary writers I’ve come across, particularly when commenting on vast human complexities such as love, peace, or war.   I liked this pithy and purposeful view of the validity and value of intelligence. Intelligence is valid...
Happiness makes one more intelligent

Happiness makes one more intelligent

While I’m not sure if this is true, I found it a striking statement, particularly given the context.  It’s from a letter written by a husband in 1920s China, who knew or sensed that he would soon lose his life due to a perilous political situation.  His...
Enduring friendship

Enduring friendship

The cool and collected Narziss finally tells his lifelong friend Goldmund how much he means to him.  Goldmund wanders the world for years, the wilder of the two, and perhaps in some senses the less wise, eventually returning to his childhood home, and friend-mentor...
The thread of love (i)

The thread of love (i)

This lovely metaphor for love is from a fine story of it by Mary Webb. I found this quotation around the same time as another by a quite different writer, Saint-Exupery, which similarly refers to the weaving strands of love.I thought maybe love was like that – a...
Because love is kindness

Because love is kindness

After decades in a concentration camp, this man finds love in kindness.  After being released from the clutches of the gulag, he rents a room in the flat where she lives with her son.  Over time, he sees her kindness, and in it, beauty, and finds a period of love,...
As long as you’re alive

As long as you’re alive

One day I decided not to rely solely on Charlton Heston’s interpretation of El Cid but to go to the original (with the aid of a parallel translation).  The epic Song of the Cid dates from around the second half of the 12th century and in places has a touching...
We are love, we are

We are love, we are

Recently found a scrap of paper with a list of 1960s-1980s progressive rock and similar bands.  I believe I may have jotted them down in a conversation with one of my brothers during which we were revisiting songs we listened to at the time.  To show you how young I...
Why did I never tell him?

Why did I never tell him?

Over time, the need to avoid such a scenario has grown in me.  Without being morbid, we never know when we will see someone again, and it’s important to have a no-regrets approach to expressing love or friendship, even implicitly. Recently I called an old friend...
Catch a falling flower

Catch a falling flower

After weeks of dancing around pandemic implications, we were overjoyed to have three members of my family visit us for ten days.  During their stay we spent a sunny day walking around Geneva before visiting old family friends for tea. ‘Old family friends’...
Love is …

Love is …

For me, if not for others, a perfect definition of love, by a 12th century troubadour.  The image, of wall art in Lisbon, struck me as a perfect illustration.For as all true loversKnow, love is perfect kindness. Source: Guiraut de Borneilh (c. 1138-1215), quoted in...
A record of love

A record of love

Thoreau’s journals have many comments on the nature of journals, of which this one is closest to my own impetus for writing one, albeit patchily: I put off writing for weeks because once I start there is so much to say, even keeping only to one’s...
The flow of beauty

The flow of beauty

It’s years since I singled out this quotation, by someone whose hands produced beauty and whose eyes were attuned to it. And now it comes to the front of the nuannaarpoq pipeline just after I watched an hour long interview with a doctor; ostensibly about...
No charm equal to…

No charm equal to…

Emma’s development from a clever girl into an intelligent woman includes a growing appreciation for tenderness and sensitivity to others. Here she notes the charm of tenderness. ”There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,’ said she afterwards to...
Surrounded by sky

Surrounded by sky

The Swiss explorer and travel writer, Ella Maillart (1903-97), spent the second half, or third age, of her adventurous life in the Alpine village of Chandolin at 2,000 metres. We spotted this quotation during a walk through the snow, on an engraving featuring the...
How to surprise and shake people

How to surprise and shake people

Grossman’s war writing is interlaced with subtle and not so subtle pleas for individual kindness, small, humble, random, spontaneous, and free of corrupting ideological pieties. Here he comments on the habit people in war acquire for suffering, whether they are...
The most splendid thing in the world

The most splendid thing in the world

Vasily Grossman, who lived through and witnessed some of the vilest episodes of human history, never lost his belief in humanity as embodied in the smallness of an individual human being with quirks, dreams, longings and a capacity for love and kindness.He is, for me,...
The great amulet

The great amulet

What a wonderful tribute to love. Why not tell someone that you love them, and enjoy love’s protective amulet?And if you’re into gardening, let this inspire you to get out your digging gear and start making ‘the world a garden’.  (I just...
Just visiting

Just visiting

In 1946 John Steinbeck, with his friend the photographer Robert Capa, spent a month in the Soviet Union, including the war-ravaged city of Stalingrad. Here Steinbeck describes a touching encounter with a little boy for whom the memory of his lost father was clearly...
In praise of later love

In praise of later love

George Eliot noticed a bias in poets’ treatment of love, a tendency to say many fine things about its first experience, and far fewer about those that happen later in life. I confess to having a special interest in sharing this quotation on this day, being the...
Love that moves

Love that moves

These closing lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy, reached after a long upward journey from the pits to Paradise, leave you floating. And what internal harmony and congruity – your wishes and your will rotating in sync with the same universe-turning...
The most potent force

The most potent force

What if love were the prime driver of our creativity?  I liked the power and simplicity of Stravinsky’s statement. And I remembered this photo taken with and of a friend who held up a book he found in a magical library we found in the Jura. ‘In order to create...

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