Brand building through storytelling

Bracing thoughts from smart people

Once upon a time, many haircuts and compacts ago, I wanted nothing more than beauty. These days what I’m after is wisdom. I don’t know of any blow dry for the mind, any light-reflecting product to cover blemishes of the soul. But illuminating thoughts are out there for the taking—as you’ll see from these gems I found while reading. While I can’t claim they’ve made me any wiser, they’ve affirmed my faith in the existence of wisdom. And that’s a pretty good start.

On age: You don’t have to think about how old you are. You have to think about how many things you want to do and how to do it and keep on doing it.”—ballet legend Alicia Alonso, 89 and still dancing with her hands.

On poetry: “Poetry…is a warrior for truth and passion that takes no prisoners, only converts.”—San Francisco poet Devorah Major, in her book Where River Meets Ocean, discovered on my visit to the poetry room at City Lights Bookstore.

On racism: “Cecil Rhodes had no intention for us as black women to ever see his money. I can’t think of a better way of saying fuck you than taking it.”—a black female Rhodes scholar, asked about the ethics of her journey to Oxford.

On the seven deadly sins: “Would you want to be married to somebody who nobody coveted?”—art collector Charles Saatchi.

On mother love: “I am going through this surgery only to have the opportunity to see you grow up into the dignified woman I know you’ll be. Without you, my life would not have had such meaning, and now that you are here, it is a life worth preserving.” —Dayniah Manderson, a teacher severely disabled by degenerative spinal disease, in a letter to 2-year-old daughter before a high-risk operation that has extended her life by another decade or two.

On the etiquette of dining out: “I would never show up in a restaurant without being hungry. It’s an insult to the restaurant and the host.”—diminutive actressMarian Seldes, 82, after polishing off two buttered rolls, a 14-ounce filet, asparagus with hollandaise, a baked potato and creamed spinach.

On doing it your way: “It’s always good to start anything off by breaking a rule.”—Susan Sontag.

For more of Susan Sontag’s prickly wisdom, see Sigrid Nunez’s essay “Sontag’s Rules” in Mentors, Muses & Monster: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives, edited by Elizabeth Benedict. True confession: I’ve never read any of Sontag’s books. But oh, what a quotable woman!

Posted by Rona

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