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Mind-blowing quotes from John Steinbeck to bring new insight on love and life.
It is funny when an author, who was never really your cup of tea, becomes so dear to you by finding his way to your heart throughout different stages in your life.
What is also funny is that the first time I came across his name, it was in Arabic—my native language. I was trying to read one of my mother’s translated books, The Grapes of Wrath. I was a teenager—not a mature one, if I may add—hence, I found it extremely dull and enigmatic.
I forgot all about John Steinbeck until I started working at a school and a student left a book on my desk; the title referred to the meaning of my first name, The Pearl. Thankfully, as a semi-mature woman now, I enjoyed the perplexity of this American giant. Naturally, The Red Pony and Of Mice and Men followed.
However, my fascination was not complete until serendipity—knowing how I love letters and biographies—put him once again on my path. Just last year, I saw a post from the seller where I buy all my used books; consequently, Steinbeck: A Life in Letters became one of my most recent sources of literature and wisdom.
The Nobel Prize in Literature winner was born on February 27th, in California. Today, years after his death in 1968, he still outsells most American writers (and obviously for good reasons).
Here are 15 timely quotes from Steinbeck that gave me a fresh perspective on life and love:
1. “It has always seemed strange to me…the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding, and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system.
And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.”
2. “Don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—the main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
3. “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
4. “It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.”
5. “There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind.
The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect, which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.
The first kind can make you sick and small and weak, but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
6. “It’s all fine to say, ‘Time will heal everything. This, too, shall pass away. People will forget’—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are, there is no passage of time, people do not forget, and you are in the middle of something that does not change.”
7. “You know most people live 90 percent in the past, 7 percent in the present, and that only leaves them 3 percent for the future.”
8. “No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself.”
9. “Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.”
10. “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
11. “You know how advice is. You only want it if it agrees with what you wanted to do anyway.”
12. “When two people meet, each one is changed by the other, so you’ve got two new people. Maybe that means—hell, it’s complicated.”
13. “It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough…”
14. “It takes great courage to back truth unacceptable to our times.”
15. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”