Growing up, my mother had a collection of plaques with different and interesting sayings on them that she displayed throughout our house, but primarily they were located in the kitchen. Even as a child I was fascinated by the written word, but I was also confused at their appearance on these pieces of wood along with, what I believed to be, their unusual placement on the walls, rather than in books. Despite my confusion I also found a certain pleasure in being able to access these messages at any time by simply walking into a room and scanning the walls.
As an adult in my own home, I have chosen to continue my mother’s custom; however, I expanded on it a bit. I have splattered the walls of my Sleepy Hollow like apartment, with its small rooms, dark wood and seven-foot ceilings, with a variety of sayings that suit my individual tastes in the here and now. Although I am a bit unconventional in nature, I still find comfort in being surrounded by various words of wisdom and encouragement that are timeless and always accessible. Below are some of the categories of quotations, including a sampling of each, that now grace the walls of my home:
Proverbs, which are those wonderful words of wisdom from days gone by. They are practical, sensible, and simple, and can calm the most jangled nerves, or lift the most saddened heart. Two examples of these are: “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” and “It is always darkest before the dawn.”
Biblical quotations are the foundation of all quotes, and can guide one’s life, or lead them to acceptance, such as: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32) and “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Quotations from esteemed individuals serve as food for thought, or to help put things in perspective. Two of my favorites are: “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are,” (Anais Nin) and by Albert Camus, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Affirmations remind me of what I deserve, or what I need to do to get there. They are also positive statements that reinforce what I have forgotten about myself, or perhaps that which I never knew. “Think happy” is a mainstay, as are any sentences that begin in the first person and are followed by a positive thought.
Whimsical phrases remind me to lighten up, and to smile at life’s, and my own little absurdities on my less favorite days. Two of these are: “I feel like I’m diagonally parked in a parallel universe”, or “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure”.
Miscellaneous sayings are the ones that do not quite fit into any category, or maybe they actually fit into almost all of them. One of my favorites is, “The cure for everything is salt water…sweat, tears or the sea”.
I surround myself with these simple, yet profound, collection of words because sometimes I want to read them and other times I need to read them. They also serve as a bridge to connect where I came from to the present, while guiding me to where I am going. Sometimes I long for the warmth of what was my mother’s kitchen, at other times, I need courage to continue walking into my very uncertain future.
Similar to most things on this planet – including myself – these messages are transient and can be replaced with others as my moods, needs or persona change. The one questioning quotation that is a constant on my wall, and that I do not foresee ever being removed is my favorite …“What if the Hokey Pokey Really is What it’s All About?”
[Islip; October 2008]