Beautiful Words Pt. 1

Words have an incredible power. Whether they be in books, or quotes. Whether they be consumed by reading or listening or exhumed by writing or talking. They always have a certain sway over me. In these posts, I will share favorite words from books, essays, blog posts, songs, conversations, etc.

The first book I read this year, Here I am by Jonathan Safran Foer, hit me in places I didn’t know were hittable. Its characters revealed that many things I’ve struggled with, but haven’t been able to put words to, have been fought with by others. That I am not alone in them. This book was beautiful, and it also left me raw and exposed. It was a long book. There are a lot of quotes. As I went through these, I really thought about removing some of them, but I think there is something beautiful about keeping in tact everything that had some impact on me when I read it.

“The absence of the expression of pain is not the absence of pain.”

“Things can be for the best and the worst at the same time.”

“‘Whatever the condition of your life, you’re never going to be happy if you use the word unfair as often as you do.'”

“‘He wrestled because he recognized the blessings were worth the struggle. He knew you only get to keep what you refuse to let go of.'”

“‘Love isn’t the absence of struggle. Love is struggle.'”

“‘The nice thing about reincarnation is that life becomes a process rather than an event…One life is too much pressure.'”

“‘Making it. Not failing. There are more ambitious things to do with life.'”

“My explanation of what went wrong always came down to an inability to live fully honestly with them. Dr. Silvers pushed me to explore what I meant by full honesty, but he never challenged my reasoning. Never suggested that I was self sabotaging or creating definitions that were impossible to meet.”

“It was too much love for happiness. I loved my boy beyond my capacity to love, but I didn’t love love.”

“‘You want to believe that a long marriage should offer the same kind of excitement as a first date.'”

“Was it easier to extend such kindness to a dog because it didn’t risk rejection?”

“‘Life itself is not the loftiest ambition. Righteousness is.'”

“‘Not to have a choice is also a choice.'”

“‘In sickness and in sickness. That is what I wish for you. Don’t seek or expect miracles. There are no miracles. Not anymore. And there are no cures for the hurt that hurts most. There is only the medicine of believing each other’s pain, and being present for it.'”

“Creation demanded self-erasure, and to Jacob, it was the most extreme humility, the purest generosity.”

“Everyone was moved, and everyone was persuaded that being moved was the ultimate aesthetic, intellectual, and ethical experience.”

“To have any kind of future you’ve got to give up hope of ever changing you past.”

“They sought happiness that didn’t have to be at the expense of anyone else’s happiness.”

“‘Be present, sit with your pain (rather than send it back), and resist desire for certain outcomes.'”

“‘Maybe you were trying to get something exactly right, and when it wasn’t, you needed to destroy it?'”

“Long before man traveled into space, rabbis debated how one would observe Shabbat there–not because they anticipated space travel but because Buddhists strive to live with questions and Jews would rather die.”

“‘Here I am’…it is primarily about who we are wholly there for, and how that, more than anything else, defines our identity.”

“I think you put an enormous emphasis on happiness–your own and others’–and find unhappiness so threatening that you would rather go down with the ship than acknowledge a leak.”

“I was raised to understand that I’m not worthy of all that came before me. But no one ever prepared me for the knowledge that I’m not worthy of all that will come after me either.”

“‘It saw something incredibly beautiful before it was destroyed. You heard about it, and thought it was incredibly beautiful, and so you assumed you would be destroyed.'”

“It’s harder to be Jewish. It doesn’t give you every best chance.”

“You may find a dead bird; you won’t see a flock of them anywhere.”

“Some religions emphasize inner peace, some avoidance of sin, some praise. Judaism emphasizes intelligence–textually, ritualistically, and culturally. Everything is learning, everything preparation, perpetually filling the mental toolbox until we are prepared for any situation (and it’s too heavy to carry).”

“Jews have been training for Nobel Prizes for thousands of years. But if there were Nobel Prizes for contentment, for feeling safe, for the ability to let go, that 22 percent would need a parachute.”

“It was the feeling of not wanting to live in the world, even if it was the only place to live.”

“Between any two beings there is a unique, uncrossable distance, an untenable sanctuary. Sometimes it takes the shape of aloneness. Sometimes it takes the shape of love.”


Love is not a positive emotion. It is not a blessing, and it is not a curse. It is a blessing that is a curse, and it is also not that. LOVE OF ONE’S CHILDREN, is not LOVE OF ONE’S SPOUSE, is not LOVE OF ONE’S PARENTS, is not LOVE OF ONE’S EXTENDED FAMILY, is not LOVE OF THE IDEA OF FAMILY. LOVE OF JUDAISM is not LOVE OF JEWISHNES, is not LOVE OF ISRAEL, is not LOVE OF GOD. LOVE OF WORK is not LOVE OF SELF. Not even LOVE OF SELF is LOVE OF SELF. The place where LOVE OF NATION, LOVE OF HOMELAND, and LOVE OF HOME meet is nowhere. LOVE OF DOGS is to LOVE OF ONE’S CHILD’S SLEEPING BODY as LOVE OF DOGS is LOVE OF ONE’S DOG. LOVE OF THE PAST has as much in common with LOVE OF THE FUTURE as LOVE OF LOVE has with LOVE OF SADNESS–which is to say, everything. But then, LOVE OF SAYING EVERYTHING makes one untrustworthy.
Without love, you die. With love, you also die. Not all deaths are equal.




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