Scrawled on the same page are other sayings: Truly great men and women are never terrifying. Their humility puts you at ease. If a very important person frightens you, he is not great; he only thinks is.” This, I copied from the Readers’ Digest, July, 1983. Another is, The only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos: the pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write and the lives they lead. Of all these, the richest in beauty is a life well lived. That is the perfect work of art. Those lines were penned by Somerset Maugham. To the side of that page, I scribbled, Beauty is its own excuse for being. I give my sister Eva credit for that. We were talking over the phone about a painting we both admired when she said it.
Another time I wrote (on the same page), I don’t let those troubles that I can’t do anything about lay heavy on my shoulders. That philosophy was uttered by a woman who was telling me her children lived far away from her and how she missed them and rarely got to see them. She was shelling peas sitting in the shade of a pecan tree. Her name was Donnie. I thought about her comment later and used it in the second volume of my Red Earth southern stories--Beyond This Red Earth.
I’m certain many people copy quotations or sayings that energize their thoughts or they feel might someday be useful. Some we get from books, others from people with whom we talk. One never knows where we’ll stumble across a thought or pithy saying. The other day, I found a quotation in a birthday card that was the perfect comment for one of the character in my play to say to her friend. Then sometimes we copy things simply to keep them fresh in our minds. Consider the message my three and a half year old granddaughter had her mother write on a postcard to her little friend in NC.
Dear __, Thank you for the dolphin. I named her Kara. I’ve been doing crafts with my Grandma Joyce, playing with my cousins, and I even caught a big bass (fish). See you soon. Love, S----
When I read her postcard, I felt I’d read a children’s book for in just a few lines, she said a great deal. Moreover her message conveyed a sense of a delight only a child can express. Someday when she’s grown, I’ll show it to her—along with another adage Miss Donnie shared, What that he didn’t have, he made arrangements to do without.