This is the sequel to “Volume I: Quote Me on That” by Alex Choi, which you can check out here.
I think I have an unusual relationship with quotes. Around a year ago, I started running a daily texting service for a school club, where each day I’d send a motivational message, some mindfulness advice, or in many cases, quotes. I found, after hundreds of messages, that one individual quote can only hold so much power. Without context, they can blend together, becoming an array of mildly distinct fragments of wisdom. Like fallen leaves resting on the grass, you can rake them to the side as a whole, or you can pick one up to find more and more distinct qualities the longer you look at it. So I encourage you when reading this article, and otherwise, to add your context to each quote. Find what it means to you in your present life. Not all will fit in with where you are, and their meaning might not change anything for you. But find those applications to your own being, get uncomfortable with the speaker’s perspective, and maybe you’ll come across one that teaches you just as much about yourself as it does the world around you. And lastly, there are no rights or wrongs and very few absolutes. Quotes are just words, and one’s unique perception of them is what brings about their value. With that being said, what follows is, of course, merely my attempt at objective interpretation. Enjoy 🙂
“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Plato
I believe this quote is incorrect in some aspects. No life is not worth living. For such an intelligent guy, Plato really missed the mark there. However, his hyperbolic declaration on the importance of introspective analysis and reflection does do a great job at consolidating a significant portion of greek philosophy at the time and how it supposedly ought to be implemented into one’s life. The existential note of this quote indeed encourages its audience to consider not just their life but also their consideration of their life. It’s like introspection squared!
I decided to include this quote because self-reflection can be great for one’s mental health. It provides the opportunity to analyze areas for improvement and how to develop in them. Recently, I’ve been heavily examining stress and anxiousness, trying to understand what causes it for me, and becoming more cognizant of my body’s cues to chill out. Then, after examination, I find what practices, from meditation to drawing, help me most. Any level of examination on mental health is healthy, regardless of what aspect of it you face. While I did put this quote in a mental health scope, I think Plato is intentionally vague so that his words can be applied to whatever one prioritizes in life. Be it relationships, personal ambitions, etc.
“People never change their lives; in any case, one life was as good as another and that I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all.” -Albert Camus, The Stranger
This quote is told from the perspective of Meursault, the protagonist’s perspective when his boss commends his good work and offers him a better job in Paris. When first reading this, I thought, my life isn’t nearly as good as David Dobrik’s, and I could change my life to be that way if I wanted. However, I eventually realized that Camus was comparing one’s own life to their potential lives. I think something natural for humans is to wonder what our life could be like. What would it be like if I got into X college, or if I was never depressed, or if I lived in a different country? Known for his existentialist philosophy, Camus is arguing that none of the significant changes we perceive in life, real or hypothetical, actually impact our level of satisfaction with our existence. That, perhaps, perception of reality can matter more than reality itself. That’s not at all meant to undermine the struggles you face as insignificant and simply a matter of mindset, of course. Back in 1946, Camus probably wasn’t much of an expert on mental health.
“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.” -Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
This one is pretty self-explanatory at the surface level. There’s not much fancy prose, no rhymes or literary devices, and a clear message. I often find the question with these kinds of quotes to be, how? Walls is attempting to answer that with her notion about redeeming qualities, but even then, love isn’t an emotion you can just will yourself into feeling, right? I think an important distinction here is about genuine intentions. With emotions, the driving force is usually really authentic. For example, we feel love because someone/thing has given a reason for us to love, and we feel hatred because something has given us a reason to hate. Not often do we feel love to avoid hatred and hate to avoid love. However, these are merely different routes to the same destination. One of the things The Glass Castle taught me is that it doesn’t always matter if your motivations are authentic as long as you reap the same benefits. For example, if I’m at a distant friend’s birthday party and give them a gift card, it doesn’t matter if I got it out of obligation or because I miss them… twenty bucks is twenty bucks. So, whatever it may take to manifest the right emotions, whether to replace hate with love or anxiety with ease, it never hurts to try and draw real emotions with unusual tactics.