In January my husband and I prepared to move for the first time in 37 years. We had to reduce the size of our library to fit into a smaller space, and deciding which books to keep became a crazy-making endeavor for me. There were hundreds of books I couldn’t bear to let go.
Day after day I thumbed through pages that once introduced me to worlds unknown. My gushing tears seemed disproportionate to the activity, as did my frantic scribbles of words I somehow had to hold close to me.
Just as I thought I might actually be losing my mind, it struck me that I was simply doing something I’d loved since I was a child: collecting meaningful quotes I never wanted to forget.
This simple act unintentionally launched a ritual that now brings joy to my daily routine: once a day I post a beloved quote on Twitter. Most of the quotes I collected were – no surprise to me – from women, so using the ubiquitous Twitter hashtag, I label each #WomanOfWisdom.
A sampler of wisdom selected from the past 30 days is listed below:
#WomanOfWisdom Maya Angelou: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
#WomanOfWisdom Emily Dickinson: “They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.” (1878)
#WomanOfWisdom Bella Abzug: “I prefer the word ‘homemaker’ because ‘housewife’ always implies that there may be a wife someplace else.”
#WomanOfWisdom Lena Horne: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
#WomanOfWisdom Madeleine l’Engle: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”
#WomanOfWisdom Rebecca West: “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that distinguish me from a doormat.” (1913)
#WomanOfWisdom Zora Neale Hurston: “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
#WomanOfWisdom Ellen Parr: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
#WomanOfWisdom Emma Goldman: “Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open.”
#WomanOfWisdom Wilma Mankiller: “I’ve run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.”
#WomanOfWisdom Shana Alexander: “The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.”
#WomanOfWisdom Sarah Bernhardt: “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”
#WomanOfWisdom Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
#WomanOfWisdom Indira Gandhi: “You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”
#WomanOfWisdom Abigail Adams: “We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”
This ritual has eased the process of giving away my books. Over the past three months I’ve donated boxes and boxes to schools, libraries, bookshops, Materials for the Arts, and to my children and grandchildren of course.
A little piece of each book will be with me forever. And my hope is that the books will touch the hearts and minds and spirits of many who might not otherwise have been exposed to them. I love thinking about that.
How long do you suppose it will take to run out of wisdom?