I have realized in writing these blogs that I reference a lot of quotes. This is no surprise; as a writer, quotes have always been my bread and butter. You will find the beautiful words of others plastered all over my apartment, pinned to a Pinterest board that reflects my daily ups and downs, and even scribbled on a Post-It note stuck to the vanity mirror in my car.
That one says, “We accept the love we think we deserve,” which comes from a beloved book on my shelf, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It has been stuck on my mirror for years.
The best of these items, though, is a musty old composition book that belonged to me in the seventh grade. My English teacher, with whom everyone became disenchanted for doing so, made us copy a quote into the book each day. It was the bane of my existence (especially as a left-hander using a right-handed desk). I lost the book once and it was the biggest crisis of my junior-high experience.
Today, I realize that there might have been a method to my English teacher’s madness. As I flip through that composition book, I notice passages from Angelou, Ford, and Thoreau, plus dozens of other trailblazers who had spilled the ink of their lives into mine.
I skim these quotes regularly, my seventh-grade handwriting staring back at me. I had no idea then the lessons I could have learned. The book sits on my desk now; I will not lose it again.
I see now that well-timed words have motivated me at my lowest. Recognizing your experiences within the lyricism of someone else’s not only forms valuable connections—it serves as a reminder that even the stories of strangers can be enough to assure us that we are not alone.
Quotes resonate differently with different people, and I adore them for their malleability. My favorite saying could mean something completely different to my best friend, and vice versa—it all depends on your perspective. It is the paradox of self-expression: the creator will forever be the only one who knows what emotion had been bubbling beneath her work, yet we go on analyzing and admiring it, adding our own experiences into the mix.
The result is a sort of love letter, passed back and forth.
As a staff, team RECO knows the power of words, particularly in an atmosphere of recovery. Those pesky combinations of syllables and vowels can become the forces that motivate us, though they can also make up the hideous thoughts in our heads. The outcome is a matter of giving the power to the good words, and understanding the significance of the bad.
For a recent project, I asked each member of our team to provide me with his/her favorite quote. Unsurprisingly, no two quotes were the same. Just as we have all weathered our own unique storms, we have all resonated with unique collections of words. Our paths have led us each to RECO, and we are united by a common goal. The beauty lies within the experiences—both shared and unique—that we each bring to the table, and can draw upon in encouraging and motivating our clients.
This Friday blog series will highlight one staff member’s favorite quote per week. This week it is Lucy’s. She is our case coordinator, and one of the first voices you will learn upon entering our program.
Lucy’s favorite quote comes from Wendell Berry. I remember her explanation for selecting it, as Berry is a fellow Kentuckian, and Lucy hails from Louisville herself. He is 81 years old, today, though he’s still churning out essays and stories like it’s nobody’s business—a rockstar of words, simply put.
“The teachers are everywhere,” Berry wrote. “What is wanted is a learner.”
From birth, we are learners. Though after we learn everything that we are “supposed to”—reading, swimming, driving, etc.—does the learning stop?
It shouldn’t, and neither should our innate curiosity for life. In recovery, we are presented with the optimal opportunity to learn. Everything is magnified by our progress, and our capability to learn reflects our capability to heal.
As learners, we must let the teachers—no matter what or whom they might be—teach us. We must allow ourselves to listen to the good words—the words that will encourage us to become the people we are meant to be.
It is never too late to become a student of the world around you. What is wanted is a learner. Life, through its beautiful chaos, will teach, quote by quote.
Discover a better life and call our recovery helpline today.