The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.
I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me.
You listen to people so that you can imagine them, and you hear all the terrible and wonderful things people do to themselves and to one another, but in the end the listening exposes you even more than it exposes the people you're trying to listen to.
YOU are valuable and rare and worthy of love.
Love is the most common miracle.
There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn't.
That's who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.
We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreperably broken.
Some people have lives; some people have music.
He responded a few minutes later. Okay. I wrote back. Okay. He responded: Oh, my God, stop flirting with me!
Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.
It is saying these things that keeps us from falling apart. And maybe by imagining these futures we can make them real, and maybe not, but either way we must imagine them. The light rushes out and floods in.
He loved the scratching of pencil against paper when he was focused: it meant something was happening.
You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can survive in a way that once-requited love cannot.
This is why we call people exes, I guess because the paths that cross in the middle end up separating at the end. It's too easy to see an X as a cross-out. It's not, because there's no way to cross out something like that. The X is a diagram of two paths.
This is what I love about novels -- both reading them and writing them. They jump into the abyss to be with you where you are.
I didn't know if I should hug him, and he didn't seem to know if he should hug me, so we just sort of stood there not touching, which to be honest is my preferred form of greeting.
I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed.
But there was so much todo: cigarettes to smoke, sex to have, swings to swing on. I'll have more time for reading when I'm old and boring.
My parents always liked it when I cursed in front of them. I could see the pleasure of it in their faces. It signified that I trusted them, that I was myself in front of them.
It sounded like a dragon breathing in time with me, like I had this pet dragon who was cuddled up next to me and cared enough about me to time his breaths to mine.
Wounded. Like Caroline Mathers had been a bomb and when she blew up everyone around her was left with embedded shrapnel.
We were very different, and we disagreed about a lot of things, but he was always so interesting, you know?
The problem with happy endings, I said, is that they're either not really happy, or not really endings, you know? In real life, some things get better and some things get worse. And then eventually you die.
The Degree to which I am blessed staggers me... the degree to which I take that for granted shames me. -Streetwalking with Jesus.
He's become the one the songs are about, and while part of me knows he's probably worth that, another part is yelling at me to slow the fuck down.
It's more impressive from a distance, I mean. You can't see the wear on things, you know? You can't see the rust or the weeds or the paint cracking. You see the place as someone once imagined it.
In our hyper-secular world, worship is still inevitable. But it is vital to remember that our gods don't choose us, we choose them.
Teenagers think they are invincible.
Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
The light filtered throught the leaves and pine needles above as if through lace, the ground spotted in shadow.
I realized it in waves and we held on to each other crying and I thought, God we must look so lame, but it doesn't matter much when you have just now realized, all the time later, that you are still alive.
We just sat there quiet for a long time, which was fine, and I was thinking about way back in the very beginning in the Literal Heart of Jesus.
It's not a value judgment. I'm not saying you're good or generous or kind or whatever. I'm just saying you're memorable.
It's so weird, to know you're crazy and not be able to do anything about it, you know? It's not like you believe yourself to be normal. You know there is a problem. But you can't figure a way through to fixing it. Because you can't be sure, you know?
Everyone wanted me to feed them that story--darkness to light, weakness to strength, broken to whole. I wanted it, too.
I realize that humans lack good mirrors. It's so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.
The first few days, I kept checking my phone, waiting for him to reply, but slowly I understood that we were going to be part of each other's past. I still missed him, though. I missed my dad, too. And Harold. I missed everybody. To be alive is to be missing.
When it works, anticipation is far more fulfilling than surprise, because we are reminded that a sunrise is precisely as magnificent as it is inevitable.
I'm not interested in writing for adults. I like them as people! I don't like the way they publish books in that world. Nothing ever gets a chance.
So we gave up. I'd finally had enough of chasing after a ghost who did not want to be seen. We'd failed, maybe, but some mysteries aren't meant to be solved.
On time for us was thirty minutes before actually started, because the half hour before the first bell was the highlight of our social calendars: standing outside the side door that led into the band room and just talking.
Some tourist think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a ciry of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.
Isn't it also that on some fundamental level we find it difficult to understand that other people are human beings in the same way that we are? We idealize them as gods or dismiss them as animals.
It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.
I'm starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It's so hard for anyone to show us how we look, and so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.
It's like people believe all you need to do is like the same bands in order to be soulmates. Or book. Oh my god...you like The Outsiders too...it's like we're the same person! No, we're not. It's like we have the same English teacher. There's a difference.
There are books which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.
They belong to their readers now, which is a great thing -- because the books are more powerful in the hands of my readers than they could ever be in my hands.
That brief walk was one of those moments he knew he'd remember and look back on, one of those moments that he'd try to capture in the stories he told. Nothing was happening, really, but the moment was thick with mattering.
The worst thing that could happen had finally happened. And there was a kind of relief in it, maybe.
It sucked having a dead person in your family and I knew what he meant about seeking solace in the old light...because you can't let the light catch up with the present. Otherwise you'd forget.
You can't know what an experience will mean to future-you until you are future-you. You need millions of seconds of perspective, which ultimately, only time can buy.
Nostalgia is inevitably a yearning for a past that never existed and when I'm writing, there are no bees to sting me out of my sentimentality. For me at least, fiction is the only way I can even begin to twist my lying memories into something true.
I needed, I decided, to really know her, because I needed more to remember. Before I could begin the shameful process of forgetting the how and the why of her living and dying, I needed to learn it: How. Why. When. Where. What.
They were angry, I thought. Horrified. These teenagers, with their hormones, making out beneath a video broadcasting the shattered voice of a former father.
Writing is something you do alone. It's a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it.
When you're as charming and physically attractive as myself, it's easy enough to win over people you meet. But getting strangers to love you...now, that's the trick.
I hated talking, and I hated listening to everyone else stumble on their words and try to phrase things in the vaguest possible way so they wouldn't sound dumb.
I do my precalc homework, and then when I'm done I actually sit with the textbook for like three hours and try to understand what I just did. That's the kind of weekend it is -- the kind where you have so much time you go past the answers and start looking into the ideas.
Honestly, I don't even like my type of girl that much, let alone other types. Not that I'm asexual or something -- I just find Romance Drama unbearable.
I've got a theory about uniforms. I think they design them so that you become, like, a nonperson, so that you're not Daisy Ramirez, a Human Being, but instead a thing that brings people pizza and exchanges their tickets for plastic dinosaurs.
I've got a theory about uniforms. I think they design them so that you become, like, a nonperson, so that you're not Daisy Ramirez, a Human Being, but instead a thing that brings people pizza and exchanges their tickets for plastic dinosaurs. It's like the uniform is designed to hide me.
I thought about how everyone always seemed slightly uncomfortable when discussing their fathers in front of me. They always seemed worried I'd be reminded of my fatherlessness, as if I could somehow forget.
Peter Van Houten was the only person I'd ever come across who seemed to (a) understand what it's
like to be dying, and (b) not have died.
I told myself -- as I've told myself before -- that the body shuts down when the pain gets too bad, that consciousness is temporary, that this will pass. But just like always, I didn't slip away. I was left on the shore with the waves washing over me, unable to drown.
There is no best and no worst, ...those judgments have no real meaning because there is only what is.
For she had embodied the Great Perhaps -- she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps.
But what I want to know is, is there a you independent of circumstances? Is there a way-down-deep me who is an actual, real person, the same person if she has money or not, the same if she goes to this school or that school? Or am I only a set of circumstances?
High School made me realize that the people who say they will never change, are always the ones who change the most.
Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don't.
I think teenagers bring a lot of intellectual sophistication. They're wrestling with big questions. It's just that, a lot of times they do that separately from adults.
These kids, they're like tied-down helium balloons. They strain against the string and strain against it, and then something happens, and that string gets cut, and they just float away. ... But once that string gets cut, kid, you can't uncut it.
The internet is necessarily public. It can be filtered-public or censored-public, but it necessarily has to be open and available.
It was not an eventful day. I should have done extraordinary things. I should have sucked the marrow out of life. But on that day, I slept eighteen hours out of a possible twenty-four.
Imagining isn't perfect. You can't get all the way inside someone else...But imagining being someone else, or the world being something else, is the only way in. It is the machine that kills fascists.
Okay, maybe I'm not such a shitty writer. But I can't pull my ideas together, Van Houten. My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations.
Bro, it's dark. You can't go to a strange building with a mysterious address in the dark. Haven't you ever seen a horror movie?
Best day of my life was January 9, 1997. I was eight years old and my mom and I went to the zoo on a class trip. I liked the bears. She liked the monkeys. Best day ever. End of story.
The whole passage was underlined in bleeding, water-soaked black ink. But there was another ink, this one a crisp blue, post-flood, and an arrow led from How will I ever get out of this labyrinth! to a margin note written in her loop-heavy cursive: Straight and Fast.
Doing wrong and having wrong things happen to you. That's the problem. Bolívar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of the labyrinth of suffering?
She'd obviously read the book many times before, and so she read flawlessly and confidently, and I could hear her smile in the reading of it, and the sound of that smile made me think that maybe I would like novels better if Alaska Young read them to me.
I was not taking my prescription quite as often as I was technically supposed to. Partly, I kept forgetting, but also there was something else I couldn't quite identify, some way-down fear that taking a pill to become myself was wrong.
Principled hate is a hell of a lot stronger than Boy, I wish you hadn't mummified me and thrown me into the lake hate.
But this was the truth, a pitiful boy who desperately wanted not to be pitiful, screaming and crying, poisoned by an infected G-tube that kept him alive, but not alive enough.
Augustus Waters died eight days after his prefuneral, at Memorial, in the ICU, when the cancer, which was made of him, finally stopped his heart, which was also made of him.
Becoming a father made me much more interested in the parent character in my novels. I've never found parents that interesting.
Like many people, I feel like celebrating. Remember this feeling. It is human, and can help us understand when others express bloodlust.
You cannot invent an algorithm that is as good at recommending books as a good bookseller, and that's the secret weapon of the bookstore -- is that no algorithm will ever understand readers the way that other readers can understand readers.
I don't think ministering requires a religious context. The number one thing is that every parent is extremely worried about their kid. Of course, when a chaplain shows up, that can exacerbate this worry rather than calm it.
The nature of the love between a parent and child really is literally stronger than death. As long as either person in that relationship is alive, that relationship is still alive.
Dear Jane, Just so you know: e. e. cummings cheated on both of his wives. With prostitutes. Yours, Will Grayson.
The ideas of directing attention outward, trying to imagine other people complexly, trying not to see myself as the center of the universe -- these concepts have become important to me, and I hope they're at work in my life on a minute-by-minute basis.
She taught me everything I knew about crawfish and kissing and pink wine and poetry. She made me different.
I hate the rich snots here with a fervent passion I usually reserve only for dental work and my father.
Mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying 'I don't want to deal with things today' and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless.
I told him they built a statue of Schultz, and then he said that a monument is cold comfort to a dead man, and then I said that the statue was built not for Schultz, but for us -- to remind us how to be human.
High school is neither a democracy nor a dictatorship -- nor, contrary to popular belief, an anarchic state. High school is a divine-right monarchy. And when the queen goes on vacation, things change.
That's part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence.
This is the fear that made fish crawl out onto dry land and evolve lungs, the fear that teaches us to run, the fear that makes us bury our dead.
I like this world. I like drinking champagne. I like not smoking. I like Dutch people speaking Dutch.
Not the brightest gem in the jewelry shop, but you've got to admire his single-minded dedication to drug abuse.
She has enough black eyeliner on to outline a corpse, and her skin's so pale she looks like she's just broken dawn.
It was nice -- in the dark and the quiet... and her eyes looking back, like there was something in me worth seeing.
But I believe in true love, you know? I don't believe that everybody gets to keep their eyes or not get sick or whatever, but everybody should have true love, and it should last at least as long as your life does.
But I will say this: When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.
That is the fear. I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would have to do without.
I wrote my first novel and my second novel in Chicago. It was the place where I became a writer. It's my favorite city.
But there was nothing I could do to dim the supernovae exploding inside my brain, an endless chain of intra cranial firecrackers.