|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
I love words. I love words the way some people love food. I am sure that you have met people who can talk about their favorite food and become so overcome with emotion that it sounds as if they were in love, right down to near breathlessness and moaning in ecstacy. That's the way I am about words. Words can be put together so perfectly, with such lyrical harmony, that they are like music. They can convey ideas with breathtaking exactness, emotions and feelings with perfect clarity, and truth with the razor-sharp precision of a surgeon's scalpal. They are powerful, beautiful, and divine. On the other hand, when used poorly, they can also be tedious, dull, trite, overdone, and annoying. I admire people who use or have used words well and am always seeking examples of their creative genius. I collect quotations as a hobby and I could fill pages with them. I particularly like examples of the art of expressing great truth or feeling with the use of as few words as possible.
There are a few quotations of which I am extremely fond. Some express truth with great seriousness, and some with great humor. There have been a few people in history who have been incredibly good at expressing a world of truth in the briefest of phrases. Shakespere is one, of course, along with Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain. When I was young I read a quote by Mahatma Gandhi which became an important part of how I chose to define my existence; it was, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
Reading that quote was a moment of epiphany at my young age. In 12 little words Gandhi managed to say something so true, and so meaningful that it had a profound effect upon my life. He said it in 12 words and I could elaborate upon it using hundreds.
Another one of my favorite quotes is one by Oscar Wilde, who said, "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." I love this quote, partly because it is so true, and partly because it is so amusing. My kids will look at examples of fashion in the 70's and find it inconceivable that anyone could ever have found them anything but hideous. Oscar Wilde would agree that they were dreadful, and then inform them that some years in the future they will think the same thing about what they are wearing right now. Whenever I think that we have achieved some pinacle of fashion ugliness, some new one comes along that is even worse.
Mark Twain was responsible for numerous wonderful quotes. One of my favorites is, "It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." This is so true. Even the most outrageously extreme science fiction or fantasy writer has to make explain his plot and the actions of his characters enough to make it possible for the reader to follow the story while a lot of what goes on in real life is so incomprehensible, and so completely devoid of sense or logic that it rivals anything that any writer could dream up in his or her most vivid imagination.
Abraham Lincoln is the creator of some of my most treasured quotations. Lincoln was a man of unusual intellect and wisdom and had a true genius for expressing both in the most moving and beautiful of words. There is a Lincoln quotation that I find particularly meaningful: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." I so agree with this quote. Anyone who studies history at all can point to hundreds of examples of ordinary people surviving extraordinary and horrific ordeals with unbelievable strength and character. Many of us have stories about people in our own family histories who have done so. People can often behave with unforseen selflessness and unexpected heroism when faced with adversity. They can survive and emerge victorious from challenges so extreme, that it is mind-boggling that they survived at all, much less with a kind of admirable nobility. But how many people are there in history or modern times that you can name who have possessed real power, the kind that can change the course of nations and decide the fates of thousands, about whom you can say the same? I can think of a few, but not many, but I can think of many examples of people in adverse, dangerous, and painful situations who responded with amazing humanity and heroism. I believe that Lincoln was saying that adversity is not the destroyer of men's souls power is.
In the end, Oscar Wilde may have hit the nail on the head when he said, "I sometimes think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."