“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson“
“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” -A.A. Milne
“Quote me as saying I was misquoted”. -Groucho Marx
Not gonna lie. I love me some quotes. In fact, you might say I live by them.
Movie quotes. Song quotes. Quotable quotes. All the quotes.
Yep, I’m just a quoter. And why not?
They’re pithy. Often witty. Occasionally provocative. And above all, memorable.
Why come up with something original, when someone has already said it far better than you can?
I mean, come on now, check these out:
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
Ah yes, words to live by, my friend. #thanksyoda
Or how about this one?
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Ooooh, John Lennon, y’NAILED it.
And then there’s the timeless classic, that can be universally applied to oh, so many situations in life…
“HELLO! MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA! YOU KILLED MY FATHER! PREPARE TO DIE!”
Ok, maybe not that last one. But my point is, so much of my thinking is prompted by something I’ve read or heard, and before I know it, I find myself quoting it to express what I am feeling deep, deep down inside.
Like when I was 22. I remember it like it was yesterday. Maybe not the exact day, time, or what I was wearing or anything like that. But I DO remember EXACTLY how I felt the moment I found myself uttering these words:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”John 6:68
Maybe you recognize them? A guy named Peter said them to another guy. Now this other guy had just been deserted by most of his “followers” who only moments before were pledging their devotion (how fickle we are!), so he turned to Peter and a few of his friends and asked, “Are you going to leave me, too?” That guy, of course, was Jesus, and this stunning question was met with an equally stunning answer, from a man who typically didn’t exactly filter anything before it left his mouth. But he spoke these words as a deep truth, admitting that even if he wanted “something else” (a cushier lifestyle, an easier road, the love of the crowds), there was no place else for him to go. He knew that none of these things would last. They’d fade like color in the sun. But there was something different when Jesus spoke. His words carried weight. Authority. Truth. They were not easy words. But they were words of Life. And Peter knew above all, he needed them. He needed Life. And so he answered…
“Where else shall we go?”…
What else was I to say? I had “tried” everything else. This way… that way… my way… even the highway… All the ways. They all came back to the same place: Loneliness. Emptiness. Heartache. A dead end road. And there I was, standing there, in my sad little cul de sac, directionless. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t feeling very 22 (see, there I go with the quotes again). And though I felt a fair amount of shame and regret,and a bunch of other feelings which are even now, all these years later, hard to articulate- in that moment something else rose up within me, trumping it all, even my pride: desperation. I was just desperate enough to not care anymore about what had seemed so important before (the cushy lifestyle, the easy road, the love of the crowds), and all I knew was I NEEDED LIFE.
So I did. I borrowed Peter’s words.
“Where else can I, go, Jesus, but to You alone?” Ok, so I paraphrased a bit. But the point is, I said it. And I meant it. I meant it then. And I mean it now. And life has been anything but cushy. And the road has often been rough (often by my own doing). And the crowds don’t love me nearly as often as I’d like.
But I’ll tell you what; I’ve found Life in those words. Hope. Peace. Purpose. Joy. All of it.
Best words I’ve ever borrowed. And you can quote me on that.