“He smiled, and his face was like the sun.”

Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

Miller was born in 1978. She published her first novel at age 33.

This is a simple and beautiful quote. It conjures an image I’ve stored in my mind for years and years of a single moment. It’s of a golden boy, not much different from the Achilles portrayed in Miller’s work.

This is true artistry, for a novelist to be able to move her readers with a simple line.

“We are each the love of someone’s life.”

Andrew Sean Greer, The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Greer was born in 1970 and published his first novel at age 31.

This was a very sweet novel to read. And this quote is lovely.

“If love remains despite the pain of those differences, it must be guarded as rare…”

Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement

Full excerpt:

Teddy once told me that it’s natural that we feel alone, and that’s because our hearts are different from others and we don’t even know how. When we’re in love, as if by magic, our different hearts come together perfectly toward the same desire. Eventually, the differences return, and then comes heartache and mending, and, in between, much loneliness and fear. If love remains despite the pain of those differences, it must be guarded as rare…

Tan was born in 1952 and published her first novel at age 37.

This remains one of my favourite quotes. It illustrates the requirements of lasting love so perfectly and succinctly.

The quote reminds me of when Jamie observed that there is always a stage in any relationship where there is a power struggle, usually after Year One and during Years Two and Three. The power struggle between two people and their opinions and beliefs–a tug of war to decide who will have the final say over just about anything. This quote says that if we can get through that power struggle stage and still love each other, then that love is rare. I agree wholeheartedly.

“Live long enough and you’ll disappoint everyone.”

Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King

Eggers was born in 1970 and published his first novel at age 30.

Full excerpt:

Live long enough and you’ll disappoint everyone. People think you’re able to help them and usually you can’t. And so it becomes a process of choosing the one or two people you try hardest not to disappoint. The person in my life I am determined not to disappoint is you.

I believe the protagonist says this to his daughter, if I recall correctly. I could be wrong. I like this quote because it shows one way that we love another.

“It is the whole thing.”

Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

Full excerpt:

That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.

Very true. What’s sad as well is that often these moments pass us by before we realise it’s happening. I like this quote because it reminds me to be present in each moment, because that moment could be “the whole thing”.

A recent moment that has been imprinted in my memory as The Whole thing: Me and Finley, sitting on the huge king size bed in our little donger, looking out at the sunset on the farm. Finley, who is only a year and a half old, is awed. He stares at the beautiful sunset and says, “wow…”. He stares and stares and stares. He can’t take his eyes off of it. It is the longest moment I have ever seen him focus on something. He is taking it in. It awes me that he, at a year and a half, can appreciate beauty. It is a beautiful moment I will always remember. Watching him take in the sunset reminds me why we are all alive–to experience Awe.

What is a moment in your life that was The Whole Thing?