A slow and lazy list of quotes I've come across that, for some reason or another, have been influential to me.

Table of Contents


I took [the oyster] in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater... of brine and flesh... and somehow... of the future. Everything was different now. Everything. I'd not only survived— I'd enjoyed.

Kitchen Confidential, 2000

Anthony Bourdain

Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't have.

Kitchen Confidential, 2000

Anthony Bourdain


It should upend our perception of grocery to remember it isn’t about food, it never has been about food. Food is the business of eating—grocery, we’ll see, that’s completely different; it’s the business of desire.

The Secret Life of Groceries, 2020

Benjamin Lorr

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee


Sometimes you need to take responsibility for your own happiness... It takes a long time to realize how truly miserable you are. And even longer to see that it doesn't have to be that way.

Bojack Horseman, S3:E3

Cuddly Whiskers


“I wanted so badly to please him and my mom. I was simply incapable. What happens when you live with a tiger that you can't please is that you're always afraid.”

Eat a Peach

David Chang

People rarely test ideas for external validity when they don’t have internal coherence. If it doesn’t make sense from within the bubble, you’re going to think it’s a mistake, or a lie, or somebody got it wrong. You will tend to do whatever is necessary to protect the consistency and coherence of that bubble, because to you, that bubble is reality itself.

Liminal Thinking, 2016

Dave Gray

The obvious is not obvious. It is constructed.

Liminal Thinking, 2016

Dave Gray

When asked, "do you think I'm a good person, deep down?". That's the thing, I don't think I believe in deep down. I kind of think that all you are is just the things you do.

Bojack Horseman, S1:E12

Diane Nyugun

If everwhere is the same, then what would be the meaning of traveling? Every city would be the same.

DJ SuperBestFriend


I think my mom is manic, but Chinese people don't believe in psychologists. We just drink more tea when things go bad. Sometimes I agree; I think we're all over diagnosed.

Fresh Off the Boat, 2013

Eddie Huang

To this day, I wake up at times, look in the mirror, and just stare, obsessed with the idea that the person I am in my head is something entirely different than what everyone else sees.

Fresh Off the Boat, 2013

Eddie Huang

Take for instance a man driven to incessant work by a sense of deep insecurity and loneliness; or another one driven by ambition, or greed for money. In all these cases the person is the slave of a passion, and his activity is in reality a "passivity" because he is driven; he is the sufferer, not the "actor." On the other hand a man sitting quiet and contemplating, with no purpose or aim except that of experiencing himself and his oneness with the world, is considered to be "passive", because he is not "doing" anything. In reality, this attitude of concentrated meditation is the highest activity there is, an activity of the soul, which is possible only under the condition of inner freedom and independence.

The Art of Loving, 1956

Erich Fromm


I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee... here at the end of all things.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2003

Frodo Baggins


Always remember that to argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, 2015

Haruki Murakami

I don't forgive you. I'm not going to give you closure. You don't get that. You have to live with the shitty things you do... I'm not going to be your prop so you can feel better... You know what your problem is? You want to think of yourself as the good guy... you're not. In fact, you'd probably sleep a lot better a night if you just admitted to youself that you're a selfish coward who takes whatever he wants and doesn't give a shit about who he hurts.

Bojack Horseman, S1:E8

Herb Kazzaz


If you want more freedom in your life, you have to have discipline.

Jocko Willink

I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.

Remarks atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, 2020

John Lewis

There’s the undulation, most people in high-stress, decision-making industries are always operating at this kind of simmering 6, or 4, as opposed to the undulation between just deep relaxation and being at a 10.

Josh Waitzkin

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.

The Journal of Jules Renard

Jules Renard


Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

The Prophet, On Children, 1923

Kahlil Gibran

Oftentimes in denying yourself pleasure you do but store the desire in the recesses of your being. Who knows but that which seems omitted today, waits for tomorrow? Even your body knows its heritage and its rightful need and will not be deceived. And your body is the harp of your soul, and it is yours to bring forth sweet music from it or confused sounds. And now you ask in your heart, “How shall we distinguish that which is good in pleasure from that which is not good?” Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, but it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, and to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, and to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy. People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.

The Prophet, On Pleasure, 1923

Kahlil Gibran


I think the sirens in The Odyssey sang The Odyssey, for there is nothing more seductive, more terrible, than the story of our own life, the one we do not want to hear and will do anything to listen to.


Mary Ruefle

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou


Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

Naval Ravikant

If you don't know it's impossible, it's easier to do.

Neil Gaiman


"'Will having a newborn distract from the time we have together?' she asked. 'Don't you think saying goodbye to your child will make your death more painful?' 'Wouldn't it be great if it did?' I said. Lucy and I both felt that life wasn't about avoiding suffering.”

When Breath Becomes Air, 2016

Paul Kalanithi

Grand illnesses are supposed to be life-clarifying. Instead, I knew I was going to die—but I’d known that before. My state of knowledge was the same, but my ability to make lunch plans had been shot to hell. The way forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me three months, I’d spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d write a book. Give me ten years, I’d get back to treating diseases. The truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day?

When Breath Becomes Air, 2016

Paul Kalanithi


I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding; they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, 1985

Richard Feynman

You must not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool.

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, 1985

Richard Feynman


"Good intention" is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.

Between the World and Me, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates

You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.

Between the World and Me, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates

When you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.

Theodore Roosevelt

To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.

Theodore Roosevelt

For all their bitching about what’s holding them back, most people have a lot of trouble coming up with the defined dreams they’re being held from.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Tim Ferris

Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Tim Ferris

Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.

The 4-Hour Work Week

Tim Ferris


Who would have thought that, after all these years, I would return to the scene of my greatest military disgrace... as a tourist!

The Last Airbender, S2:E12

Uncle Iroh