"We choose [these things], not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win" - John F. Kennedy
I remember something I read, once, in Opera News about the great Tatiana Troyanos. Here was a woman that had every right to complain at the Fates over her lot in life...she was abandoned by her parents to an orphanage, and she battled health issues for many years before dying of cancer at 55. (I remember reading that selfsame article about her and being amazed at what she had overcome.) And yet she remained ever gracious in her career and her professional dealings. The writer of the article, I remember, recalled assisting in a Metropolitan Opera performance of Giulio Cesare in Egitto, in which Kathleen Battle was singing. Battle was then in the throes of some of her worst behavior, and she was really letting people have it over trivial matters. And the writer said that when the curtain fell, he was about ready to tell her off, when he felt a tug at his elbow. It was Troyanos - she took him aside, smiled, and said, "Don't. It doesn't matter."
It can be so tempting to get wound up over the least little thing around here. But every time I do, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind...so deep that I feel
her presence rather than hear it...I'm sure Troyanos is reminding me, too: "It doesn't matter." If she, with all that she overcame, could say it, then I damn well can, too –Ser Amantio di Nicolao
"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" --Napoleon
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
—Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1892)
Complexity [. . .] is not ambivalence or ambiguity. To tell the whole story—to follow that crooked course—does not diminish the clarity of an argument or mystify it into a maze of “nuances, paradox, or irony.” Telling the entire tale is not a form of obscuration. If done right, it clarifies precisely because it consolidates the mass of competing claims under a single head. Elegance or simplicity of argument is only useful when it encompasses all of the evidence, not when it excludes or narrows it.
— Ira Berlin, "Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and its meaning in American life"
The past is holy. Why? Not merely because the present contains the past, but because a moral world depends on an acceptance of the notion of causality, on an acknowledgment that we are responsible for, and a product of, our actions.”