Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What would your yearbook quote be now?
Rules are simple: what are you going to be remembered for FOREVER? Nah, not really. They feel important, but you’re a teenager so everything feels important. No one takes these seriously, right? This kid quoted Rob Delaney! Now you’re a little bit older and supposedly wiser, so what words are you putting under a picture of yourself in a tux?
In high school I went with a quote by an African poet who had an album on Ani DiFranco’s record label. It made sense at the time. There is no better line in my mind for the situation of suddenly being back in high school, though, than Louis CK’s line about optimism:
“Why would anything nice ever happen?”
Stiviano: I’m Mr. Sterling’s right-hand arm man. I’m Mr. Sterling’s everything. I’m his confidante, his best friend. His silly rabbit.
Walters: His what?
Stiviano: His silly rabbit.
Walters: Does he call you that?
Stiviano: That’s what I call myself. I joke around and I make him laugh. I do things that some people find very silly, or I do things that — sometimes people can’t understand our relationship. I’m his everything.
“Fiction is a kind of compassion-generating machine that saves us from sloth. Is life kind or cruel? Yes, Literature answers. Are people good or bad? You bet, says Literature. But unlike other systems of knowing, Literature declines to eradicate one truth in favor of another; rather, it teaches us to abide with the fact that, in their own way, all things are true, and helps us, in the face of this terrifying knowledge, continually push ourselves in the direction of Open the Hell Up.”
This is a quote from George Saunders that I used in a previous article. It encapsulates a lot of what makes reading so important to me, and why I dedicate so many hours a day to it (even on absurdly busy days, I make sure to spend at least half an hour with a good book). Literature is not here to say this is right or that is wrong, that is good or this is bad. It is here to expand the horizon of our experience, to allow us to consider multiple viewpoints across multiple times and places and people, and to help us understand and accept. Like most people who have become famous for putting words together, Saunders says it much better than me.
Distance will end any relationship, good or bad, faster than most arguments will. If you’re afraid of commitment choose a contractual line of work.
I wouldn’t have one for the same reason I don’t have a tattoo. There just isn’t a quote or symbol I could use as representational of me that wouldn’t embarrass me in the future. Maybe I’d quote Monty Python or MST3K as a cop out. But also, does it matter? I don’t remember anyone’s senior quote. Maybe it’d be “senior quote,” all meta and ironic. But isn’t that so something high school me would have done? No, because I didn’t do it. I don’t know who I am.