I love quotes, I have loads of boards on Pinterest for all sorts of things but my board simple called ‘Quotes’ has 1213 pins and is always growing. Anyone who has paid attention to any of my photography posts since February will see that I always pair my image with a quote from someone else. Part of the enjoyment I find in creating those posts is searching through quotes, both familiar to me and new ones until I find the words that I feel perfectly match my image.
Part of what I love about quotes, short poems or favourite excerpts from books is how in just a few shorts words someone else has encapsulated something I feel, have felt or can somehow apply to my own life. They wrote it about someone else, or about a situation entirely different from mine, but sometimes someone else’s words are just the things you need.
I’ve got quotes on my board about love, sex, child loss, grief, identity, writing, depression, adventures, beauty, darkness, God, Satan and everything else in between. I got quotes from poets, from the bible, from literature and some that I likely will never know the source of.
I was curious as to the first quotes I ever saved onto my Quotes board, so I scrolled back to find it … ‘Let’s get drunk at midnight. Listen to our favourite songs and kiss so much that our lips burn. – p. sc’ … Which actually sets the tone for the whole board quite nicely, I like words with feeling, words with passion, words that mean something. Even the quotes I have on there about things that hurt leave no room for questioning that I saved them because of something that touched me deeply.
My family are incredibly lapsed Catholics, growing up though there were many fragments of religion, though not necessarily Catholicism, in various places and many of them were word-based. My Nan had a little plaque that contained an excerpt from John 15:5 … ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ … Honestly, at the time I had very little idea what it meant and assumed it was to do with my Grandad, who had long since passed, and as I grew I further assumed it was about sex.
It’s clear I was not a bible aficionado as a youngster, but I did know one thing. I loved how bible verses sounded in my head, how they felt in my mouth and the passion and power behind not only the words but the sentiments they conveyed. This isn’t about me being religious in any way, more so finding the conviction of the words used moving. Some religious folk would be mortified in which direction they move me sometimes, In His House would be a good example of this.
It’s not always in perverted ways that Jesus moves me though, one of my all-time favourite pieces of writing is Footprints in the Sand. I have loved this since I was a young girl, my Mum actually bought me many copies of it and I have never become bored with reading it. I’m not overly comforted by the exact notion that Jesus is with me at all times, but I do rather like the reminder that I can get through troubled times. I also as a teenager who never envisaged being without my Mum, felt a little like the times she gave that poem to me was her promise that she always had my back.
It’s not all about the bible though, which I’m sure many of you will be relieved to hear. Although many would say my next source of words to live by is a religion in and of itself.
I love music, I love songs you can sing along and if enough alcohol is consumed I loved to dance. What I love most of all about music though is the lyrics. Songwriters are a gift to the world in my opinion. Not only words but words that move us to sing, dance, laugh, cry. Which means I also have another Pinterest board dedicated to song quotes. I’m not going to delve into this too much though, because I’ve seen the F4TFriday sidebar and I can see ‘Music On! World Off!’ is an upcoming topic. Also, I chose that topic and know full well it is about music that moves us in some way, sexy or otherwise.
None of the quotes so far quite fill the prompt of Words To Live By, there is once quote though that ever since I read it is a good description of how I try to live my life … ‘You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free’ – Thich Nhat Hanh … I originally stumbled across that quote in my early exploration of non-monogamy and it made so much sense to me and it has stayed with me across different strands of life.
That quote contains 14 words. That isn’t many words at all. They have impacted my life more than entire books have though. In my younger years, the phrase I always heard was ‘If you love someone set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ Interestingly attributed by Richard Bach, who wrote John Livingstone Seagull which is a book I freakin’ love. His quote about setting someone free? I don’t love that so much.
That quote never sat right with me, even before I was non-monogamous. Freedom somehow seems to equate to escaping and it always feels like the focus is on ownership, not love. The reason I enjoy the approach of Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote is that it inspires me to love people better. It makes me want to love people so that they feel free to express themselves, free to love others, free to feel, think and experience beyond me, but with the knowledge that I am here for them and loving them whether that’s side by side or from afar.
This started out as a philosophy for romantic relationships. A way for me to embrace a new lifestyle that was at odds with how I’d been brought up and how I’d experienced relationships up until that point. As time has gone on though I’ve seen how beneficial it is to apply it to everyone I know and everyone I love.
I co-parent my little boy, not only with his Dad but his Dad’s fiance. Supporting my little boy in his love for her taught me a lot more about non-monogamy than you might imagine. Channelling the ethos of that quote into how I love him has made things positive for all involved. In many ways I still see him as an extension of me, I grew him, I made him, he literally lived inside of my belly, so he is me, he is mine, but, and it’s such a huge but, he is an awesome and independent little human. He is strong-willed, kind, considerate and full of love. I do everything I can to love him in a way that makes him understand that regardless of who or how he loves he has the freedom to do that, and as his Mum, my love for him is not altered by where else he places his love.
To many people, this may seem like an obvious approach to life, love and parenting, but have you met other people? The world over people uses love as control and as a weapon. Growing up I saw so many parents use their love as a commodity, that could be taken from their children if they did not act accordingly. Romantic partners are just as guilty of this and a wide range of bloggers have shared stories where love was not about love and freedom, it was about being emprisoned.
In my opinion, words are at their most valuable when they are positive, inspiring, motivational and loving and I try to use them in those ways as much as I can. I think it’s easy or expected to live by the words we were given as children or the words that shape the lives of those around us. For many of us though, those words do not fit the life we want to live and we have to find our own motto for life, with that in mind I shall leave you will another one of my all-time favourite quotes …
Promise me you’ll always remember:
You are braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you thinkSaid Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh