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Lines from the Road: 2013-14
chandrachud04
Hi Dear Reader, welcome back to this fourth edition of Lines from the Road, an annual anthology of quotes I started back in 2010-11, a time of catharsis and resetting. The four years since have been full of incredible change, including not least, discovering and getting into a sport that changes lives, pulling the plug on a career in finance, and reuniting with a first love for a more enduring affair. The Lines have been a useful way of collecting together thoughts that have inspired and clarified my way of seeing life and the world. While that will always be a work in progress, I think this will be the last edition of Lines, at least in its present form. Here are the third, the second and the first editions for your convenience, should you be interested. Thanks for reading, and see you in the not too distant future with more.

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"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." - Plato

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music." - Bertrand Russell, via Noah

Par contre, “Math is like sex. It’s really important, but don’t do it in public.” - Samuel Bowles, in an otherwise dense class on Income Inequality

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"I recommend Sachin Tendulkar's retirement speech as mandatory viewing for every young player. Humility & gratitude even in greatness." - Ian Bishop

"It is times like this that it is worth remembering the words of Dr. Seuss, 'Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.'" - Guru Greg

"As the late Bill Shankly famously said of football, 'It [the sport] is not just a matter of life and death, It is much more important than that.'" - Nirmal Sekhar, writing in The Hindu

"To begin to understand why Tendulkar meant so much to so many, one must go back to CLR James writing about WG Grace in his seminal Beyond the Boundary: 'W.G.'s batting figures, remarkable as they are, lose all their true significance unless they are seen in close relation with the history of cricket itself and the social history of England. Unless you do this you fall head foremost into the trap of making comparisons with Bradman. Bradman piled up centuries. W.G. built a social organisation.' It remains a wonder how one little Indian achieved both." - Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

“Most cricketers decide they have had enough of the goldfish bowl after a decade or so. Tendulkar played Test matches in front of the most demanding fans in the world for 24 years. If further proof was required of just how astonishing this was, it came at Perth in December, when for a few moments one Cook and one Clarke added up to exactly one Tendulkar: 200 Test caps, 15,921 runs and 51 hundreds.

Sport’s pleasure resides in meaning so much to so many, while being essentially meaningless itself. Think about this for too long and you’ll get a headache. But Tendulkar came closer than anyone to making sense of it.”
- Lawrence Booth, in the Wisden Almanack 2014

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“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam....

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
- Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

All the World's a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurses's arms.
Then ...
...
... Last scene of all,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

- Will Shakespeare, in As You Like It - Act II, Scene VII

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” - F.Scott Fitzgeralnd in The Great Gatsby, via Mukund

“I came from a family that was fairly affluent and lost its money, so in a sense, getting [used to] a lesser and lesser status, to a diminished material world around you, to circumstances that are completely unpredictable, was part of my life when I was 8 years old, 9 years old, and it stayed, and it made a mark on me. So that's the only way that really truly interests me. It's the world of losing. It's a world where things diminish. And it happens to be the world of everybody, because you get old, and your world diminishes, and you diminish, and you become less. And it's an awfully good training for life, you know, to do it. I found, in the American cities, an echo of my own personal feelings about life and the human destiny if I could say so.” - Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara

Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel it’s worth living?

Kubrick: The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism — and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong — and lucky — he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

via Pinky on facebook

"The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away."


- David Viscott, via Stacie

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“One moment this herd of graduates of the nation’s best universities are young people -- ambitious yes, but still young people -- with young people’s ideals and hopes to live a meaningful life. The next they are essentially old people, at work gaming ratings companies, and designing securities to fail so they might make a killing off the investors they dupe into buying them, and rigging various markets at the expense of the wider society, and encouraging all sorts of people to do stuff with their capital and their companies that they never should do.” - Michael Lewis writing on the occupational hazards of Wall Street

"If you really wanna make money, never make a decision based on money." - Jerry Seinfeld

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nicholas Nissim Taleb, via Sangeet

“If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping. If there’s no future in it, at least it’s a present worth remembering. Fires of happiness, and waves of gratitude, for everything that brought us to that point on earth, at that moment in time to do something worth remembering, or a photograph, or a scar. If you are genuinely lucky to hand on heart say I love doing what I do, and though I may never be a rich man, if I live long enough, I'll certainly have a tale or two for the nephews, and a dig to follow that.” - Mickey Smith in Darkside of The Lens

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“There’s a joke about economics,” [John] Kay answers, lightly amused at his own profession. “It’s the only would-be science in which if the world isn’t like the model, then it’s the world’s problem. The odd thing is I am criticising not so much the world as the way people describe the world–and then make the world worse by trying to bash the world into their model.”

“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.” - George Edward Pelham Box. Take heart, economists.

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People without sexual partners receive 17 percent less back than people who do have sexual partners (this is true of both men and women). We find that senders who work for pay receive less from the social interaction. Senders with sexual partners take home over 4 dollars more than their celibate classmates. Individuals who drink beer earn more. - Glaeser, Laibson, Scheinkman & Soutter, on "Measuring Trust" , 2000. The things you learn in behavioural & experimental economics.

Hollywood of course had put this much more eloquently:

Ellerby: How is your wedding coming along?
Colin Sullivan: Great, great; she's a doctor.
Ellerby: That's outstanding.
Colin Sullivan: Yeah.
Ellerby: Marriage is an important part of getting ahead: lets people know you're not a homo; married guy seems more stable; people see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch; ladies see the ring, they know immediately you must have some cash or your cock must work. [laughs]
Colin Sullivan: [laughing] Yeah, it's working... Overtime!
Ellerby: I'm glad to hear that.
Colin Sullivan: Yeah... Thank you.

- Martin Scorsese's The Departed, 2006

“What did you say?” I asked, walking to her, putting my hand on the small of her back.

“Shhh,” she said. “I’m sleeping.”

Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.


- Miles Halter, in John Green's Looking for Alaska

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"C'est dans le silence qui suit l'orage et non dans celui qui le précède qu'il faut chercher la fleur en bouton." - Proverbe indien

"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anaïs Nin, channelled by Martin Crowe

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” - C. S. Lewis

"'At a point in life when one is through with boyhood, but has not yet discovered how to be a man, it was my fortune to travel with the most marvellously appealing of teams.' Thus begins Roger Kahn’s dazzling Boys of Summer, a book about growing up with the Brooklyn Dodgers." - Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

“When I’m requested to speak to youngsters I like talking about this phase of my life and liken it to a fascinating plant: The Chinese Bamboo. You can take a Chinese bamboo seed and plant it in the ground, water and nurture the seed for an entire year & not even see a single sprout. In fact, you’ll not see a sprout for 5 years.

But suddenly, a tiny shoot will spring from the ground. And over the next 6 weeks, the plant can grow as tall as 90 feet. It can grow as fast as 39 inches every 24 hours. You can literally watch the plant grow. What was the plant doing during these 5 years, seemingly dormant period? It was growing its roots. For 5 full years it was preparing itself for rapid, full growth. Without this root structure, the plant simply couldn’t support itself for its future growth.

Some would say the plant grew 90 feet in 6 weeks, I would say it grew 90 feet in 5 years & 6 weeks.”
- Rahul Dravid on Patience

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“Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” - Pablo Picasso

"The creative adult is the child who survived." - Ursula K Le Guin via Shreya

“Eighty percent of all choices are based on fear. Most people don't choose what they want; they choose what they think is safe.” - Phil McGraw

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.” - Vince Lombardi

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

“The only way to keep from going backward is to keep going forward. Eternal vigilance is the price of success. There are three steps, and each one is absolutely essential. You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to keep going.” - Charles F Haanel

"Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person." - Leo Tolstoy

“The main task in life is to give birth to our self to become what we actually are.” - Erich Fromm, via Sangeet again

"Own your dreams. There is no better way to make them happen.” - Seth Godin

"You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself into one." - Henry David Thoreau

"If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” - Michelangelo

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“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” - Lao Tzu

"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place." - Kurt Vonnegut

"The only fact that you dream is important. I wish you endless dreams and the strong desire to realize some of them. I wish you to love what you have to love and forget what you have to forget. I wish you silences. I wish you birds songs on waking, and sweet sounds of children's laughter. I wish you to resist getting dragged down, getting indifferent, to resist the negative virtues of our time. I wish you above all to be yourself." - Jacques Brel

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“In the Katha Upanishad, the Lord of Death, Yamaraja, instructs his advanced student Nachiketa on how to find true enjoyment. He says: Know this self to be the rider. The body to be the chariot. The buddhi, or intellect, to be the charioteer, and the manas, or lower mind, to be the reins. The indriyas, or the senses, are the horses, and the vishayas, the sense objects, are the path on which they run." - Katha Upanishad, on Brahmacharya

"Happiness, he [John Kay] argues, is more easily experienced as a by-product of something else rather than as an ambition in itself." - Cricketer turned writer Ed Smith on just being vs just doing, and finding the balance

Finally, Martin Crowe, in another of his meditative pieces this year which have brought much pleasure and understanding,

"The gap. This is the space between thoughts, between breaths, between fielders, between balls. They say to experience the gap wholly brings ultimate joy in what we do. In the gap there is nothing, and it's that nothing space in which lies the secret to our purpose.

As I contemplate the meaning of much my life, a life I now truly treasure, with dangers lurking, it is in this moment of nothing that I feel at peace."


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"'You should walk a mile in a man's shoes before you criticise him' - that way, when you criticise him, you are a mile away, and you have his shoes." - Ian Pont

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