One Day

I think you're being scared of being happy, Emma. I think you think that the natural way of things is for your life to be grim and grey and dour and to hate your job, hate where you live, not to have success or money or God forbid a boyfriend (and a quick discersion here - that whole self-deprecating thing about being unattractive is getting pretty boring I can tell you). In fact I'll go further and say that I think you actually get a kick out of being disappointed and under-achieving, because it's easier, isn't it? Failure and unhappiness is easier because you can make a joke out of it. Is this annoying you? I bet it is. Well I've only just started.  
Em, I hate thinking of you sitting in that awful flat with the weird smells and noises and the overhead light bulbs or sat in that launderette, and by the way there's no reason in this day and age why you should be using a launderette, there's nothing cool or political about launderettes it's just depressing. I don't know, Em, you're young, you're practically a genius, and yet your idea of a good time is to treat yourself to a service wash. Well I think you deserve more. You are smart and funny and kind (too kind if you ask me) and by far the cleverest person I know. And (I'm drinking more beer here - deep breath) you are also Very Attractive Woman. And (more beer) yes I do mean ''sexy'' as well, though I feel a bit sick writing it down. Well I'm not going to scribble it out because it's politically incorrect to call someone 'sexy' because it is also TRUE. You're gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of Confidence. Either that or a scented candle. 
I certainly don't have a master plan I know you think I've got it all sort it out but I haven't I worry too I just don't worry about the dole and housing benefit and the future of the Labour Party and where I'm going to be in twenty years' time and how Mr Mandela is adjusting to freedom. 

taken from the book One Day, by David Nicholls



''It all fits perfectly that it must be true. 
It all fits so perfectly that it makes no sense at all.


The Winner Stands Alone, quotes

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart. 

Whenever someone dies, a part of the universe dies too. 

 Life sometimes separates people so that they can realize how much they mean to each other. 

Who says that children aren't capable of deciding what they want to do in life?
 Some people opt for revenge and try to be really good at whatever it is the others thought they couldn't do. ''One day, you'll envy me,'' they think.
Most people, however, accept their limitations, and then things tend to go from bad to worse. They grow up insecure and obedient (although they dream of a day when they'll be free and able to do whatever they want), they get married to prove that they're not as ugly as other kids said they were (although deep down they still believe they are), they have children so that no one can say they're infertile (even though they never wanted kids anyway), they dress well so that no one can say they dress badly (although they know people will say that anyway).

People are never satisfied. If they have a little, they want more. If they have a lot, they want still more. Once they have more, they wish they could be happy with little, but are incapable of making the slightest effort in that direction.   

Man loves woman. Man loses woman. man gets woman back. Ninety percent of all films are variations on that same theme. 

...transformations always occur during moments of crisis. 

Try the impossible. Don't start low down because that's where you are now. Climb those rungs quickly before they take the ladder away. If you're afraid, say a prayer, but carry on. 

A forbidden thought. 

 ...but then everyone tells me my dreams are mad too, and yet look where they've got me. 

Yes I'm satisfied, but the problem is you're not, and never will be. You're insecure, afraid of loosing everything you've achieved; you don't know how to quit once you're ahead. You'll end up destroying yourself. 

...we're being forced to do things we never planned to do, and yet even so, are incapable of giving it all up and devoting our days and nights to true happiness, to family, nature, love. 

A diamond is a supreme manifestation of human vanity. 

When society doesn't act to stop crime, men have the right to do whatever they think correct. 

He is disciplined enough to control his feelings. 

The young all have the same dream: to save the world. Some quickly forget this dream, convinced that there are more important things to do, like having family, earning money, traveling, and learning a foreign language. Others, though, decide that is possible to make a difference in society and to shape the world we will hand on to future generations. 

They would have time to garden, read, go to the cinema, and do the simple things that everyone dreams of doing, the only things truly capable of filling anyone's life. 

And I have to say, it was real luck meeting you like that. In just one day, I've experienced, hope, despair, loneliness, and the pleasure of finding a new companion. That's a lot of emotions.

from the book The Winner Stands Alone, by Paulo Coelho


East of Eden

A child may ask, ''What is the world's story about?'' And a grown man or woman may wonder, ''What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we're at it, what's the story about?''
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are cough - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambition, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof to our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any change we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, we have left only the hard, clean question: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill? 
Herodotus, in the Persian War, tells a story of how Croesus, the richest and most-favored king of his time, asked Solon the Athenian a leading question. He would not have asked it if had not been worried about the answer. ''Who,'' he asked, ''is the luckiest person in the world?'' He must have been eaten with doubt and hungry for reassurance. Solon told him of three lucky people in old times. And Croesus more than likely did not listen, so anxious as he about himself.  And when Solon did mention him, Croesus was forced to say, ''Do you not consider me lucky?''
Solon did not hesitate in his answer. ''How can I tell?'' he said. ''You aren't dead yet.''
And this answer must have hunted Croesus dismally as his luck disappeared, and his wealth and his kingdom. And as he was being burned on a tall fire, he may have thought of it and perhaps wished he had not asked or not been answered. 
And in our time, when a man dies - if he has had wealth and influence and power and all the vestments that arouse envy, and after the living take stock of the dead's man property and his eminence and works and monuments - the question is still there: Was his life good or was it evil? - which is another way of putting Croesus's question. Envies are gone, and the measuring stick is: ''Was he loved or was he hated? Is his death felt as a loos or does a kind of joy come of it?''   
I remember clearly the deaths of three men. One was the richest man of the century, who, having clawed his way to wealth trough the souls and bodies of men, spent many years trying to buy back love he had forfeited and by that process performed great service to the world and, perhaps, had much more than balanced the evils of his rise. I was on a ship when he died. The news was posted on a bulletin board, and nearly everyone received the news with pleasure. Several said, ''Thank God that son of a bitch is dead.''
Then, there was a man, smart as Satan, who, lacking some perception of human dignity and knowing all too well every aspect of human weakness and wickedness, used his special knowledge to warp men, to buy men, to bribe and threaten and seduce until he found himself in a position of great power. He clothed his motives in the names of virtue, and I have wondered whether he ever knew that no gift will ever buy back a man's love when you have removed his self-love. A bribed man can only hate his briber. When this man died the nation rang with praise and, just beneath, with gladness that he was dead. 
There was a third man, who perhaps made many errors in performance but whose effective life was devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when ugly forces were loose in the world to utilize their fears. This man was hated by the few. When he died the people burst into tears in the streets and their minds wailed, ''What can we do now? How can we go on without him?''
In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thoughts or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world. 
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly re-spawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.

East of Eden, John Steinbeck (1952)


The Sweet Spot

In this article a lot of interesting things are covered starting from loving your job (p.11, 12) all the way to unfamiliar hidden places of the world where talents are hidden.

Writing about talents the writer assume or better to say discovers what he calls ‘’an unexpected pattern’’ (p.12) and further trough text he explains how those talents we saw on television or elsewhere often try over and over again until they ’’nail the move’’ (p.13).

It seems so easy for somebody else to sing, dance, and play soccer or to be a writer. More often than not we don’t even ask ourselves whether any effort is included because it looks so natural, so highly performed that hardly any of us could do it. To be successful or even good in what you do, it takes time and effort.
This is exactly what the writer experienced when he encounter those hotbeds, he expected them to already be excellent, but no. What he discovered was things were hard and tough also for them but the difference is, and this is the main purpose of the story in my opinion, that some are more determined to succeed, more willing to try and not afraid to fail, those people are called talents.  

The example of two columns makes the reader understand the meaning of ’’deep practice’’ (p.16). I have to admit this got me thinking maybe it’s the time to start studying in a slightly different way. I especially like the example of remembering the name of the person we’re meeting for the first time (p.17).
Also, making mistakes is often taken for granted, as something to which measure our ability to do things meaning we cannot do it. This is so wrong. Being blinded by the general view we are missing the point! This is another (maybe the same thing) writer wants us to think about. ’’...you make mistakes – makes you smarter.’’, according to Robert Bjork (p.18)

Another point the writer is making which I found very useful is ’’sweet spot.’’  The term is a mere explanation of the ’’gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do’’ (p. 19).