Quotes That Might Change Your Life

It’s 1:33 in the morning.  I’m groggy and a bit annoyed.   This is the earliest my “Muse” has awakened me to write to you.  For what it’s worth, my Muse is that creative part of me that runs the show, has a better vocabulary than I do and dictates what I’m going to write about.   Strangely, she’s female, smart and rarely wrong.

I have always had a fascination with the short gems-of-wisdom that are passed down over the generations.  Surely, if there’s such a thing as a cheat-sheet to life,  the best things said by the brightest minds have to come close.  Read and truly understand a great quote and you’ve jumped three steps ahead and become truly wiser.  Strange that so many young people don’t even bother…

What served as the seed for this essay was a quote by Maya Angelou:  “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.”

I think Ms. Angelou nailed it.  I have a fairly keen memory for those who have inspired me and an even sharper memory for those few people who have hurt me.  Most of  us want to be remembered.  We all might think seriously about how we make our friends and loved ones feel.

A Handful of my Favorites…from Oscar Wilde:

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh.  Otherwise they will kill you.   A good part of why I’m still alive comes back to this tiny gem.  Keep a smile on your face and a  twinkle in your eye and you just might survive.

No Good Deed goes Unpunished.  (Pamela reminds me of this at least once a week.)

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.  (99.9999% of life is a LOT greyer and a LOT more nuanced than you might think.  Keep that in mind when your brain wants to snap like a mousetrap upon a quick easy answer.  Perhaps there’s a bit more grit to the answer than you might think.)

A good friend will always stab you in the front.   This is a concept I warn good new friends.  I promise that I will never stab you in the back.  However, if provoked, you’ll discover a gaping psychic hole right up front.  At least you’ll know that it was coming.

You don’t love a person for their looks or their clothes or their fancy cars, but because they sing a song only you can hear.   This goes back to another Oscar Wilde concept.  Pam’s and my unabashed goal with friends is to charm.  One of the worst sins in life is to be an utter bore.

One from me:   “I never met a deadline I didn’t meet.”   A handful of years ago, I received a call from Peter and Nancy Schiffer, the two pistons behind Schiffer Publishing.   They asked if they could come up (in an hour) to do  an interview for a possible book on my 45 years of sculpting.  I hung up the phone and Pam and I went right to panic mode.  One hour???  55 minutes later, we were still sweeping crap under the workbench and waving the doors back and forth to get rid of the welding fumes.

Peter and Nancy were as charming as they were enigmatic and spent the next 40 minutes wandering around the gallery and exchanging glances.  Then Peter took me aside and asked me one question:  “Henry, if we do a book about your art, what’s going to be in it?”  I answered with one word.  MAGIC…  He smiled and nodded.  I’d passed some sort of Zen-like test inside his mind.  He nodded, not just once, but a couple of times, and then he came back for one more question:  He said,  “Book publishing is part art, part business, but it’s 100% deadlines.”  I responded with this sentence, which he really liked and I thank my muse, my subconscious for coming up with it in three nano-seconds.  I said,  “I never met a deadline I didn’t meet.”  It’s an easy sentence to say, but it was and continues to be a bugger of a concept to live up to.  If you translate it, what it actually means is:  If you make a promise, you have to keep it.  You have to…

One from The Association that has served me well:

“It’s not the bridges burned that bother me, but the ones that I never crossed.”  ……followed closely by,  “This is not a dress rehearsal.  You are here and this is today.  Do whatever you’re going to do…now.” (my quotes)

Here is a hugely important quote from the movie, The Rainmaker:  You’re so concerned with what’s right, you’ve forgotten to think about what’s good.”  Many friends and a handful of relatives get this wrong.  Being right all the time can be tremendously boring and tedious for everyone.  Being kind, or at least trying to do what is good…is never boring.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi.

A Sweet One from none other than Audrey Hepburn:  “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible’!”

Success:  A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.—Bob Dylan

This one isn’t a quote so much as an equation:  In nearly half a century of being a sculptor, I’ve been asked what creativity is at least 2,000 times.  At a lecture entitled, Back Pages up in Pennsylvania, I finally reduced the question to the equation to your left:  Haven’t had any arguments against it so far.  It works for me…


A Serious and Recent one from Pamela:  It’s no secret that Pam and I have spent this past year both in Heaven and in Hell.   The Heaven was moving to Old Fort, North Carolina.  The Hell, was battling uterine cancer, lymphedema, and a hip replacement all at the same time.  Pam’s surgeons seriously warned me, “You, Henry, are in charge of keeping Pamela absolutely safe for the next 8 months,”  a task which I took 1000% to heart.  But it was not without its emotional conflict and impact on both of us.  Pam is the proudest woman I have ever met and as such was a bugger of a patient…seriously so.  We made it through, but a couple of weeks ago, Pam said, “Yes, you got me through, but you have to take your caretaker hat off now. You can’t be my mate and be my caretaker at the same time.   She was right.  Please pin this concept away for future reference.  Being a caretaker is a huge hat to wear.   And being a lover and a caretaker at the same time is nearly impossible.

Henry and Pamela

20 Responses to "Quotes That Might Change Your Life"

  1. Deidre B says:

    This is a keeper. You chose some poignant quotes. As I mature, the quotes that I dismissed as a kid, seem to be brilliant bon mots. Really enjoyed
    Audrey Hepburn’s impossible quote.
    Also, I never met a deadline I didn’t meet is stuck in my head…so cool and
    My own phrase is, that which doesn’t kill you, costs a bundle. Am looking forward to more words of wisdom from your blog.
    Best, Deidre

    • Henry Harvey says:

      Hi Deidre!

      Cool name! With your “That which doesn’t kill you…costs you a bundle” quote, I’m guessing you’ve gotten snookered a time or two…or three. Don’t feel bad. The more you live your life, the more mistakes you make. Remember Babe Ruth?


  2. Deborah Bellini says:

    Wow! I love what Pam said. It is utterly and completely true. Much love to you both.

  3. henry harvey says:

    My best thoughts seem to come at 3 am. Don’t our muses sleep.
    You’ve done it again, another fine article.
    My new vision at work can be…
    from none other than Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible’!”

    Thanks for the uplift.

    Pam Farrior

  4. henry harvey says:

    Thanks Pam!

    You made my day!

    A damned good song to go with Audrey’s quote comes, believe it or not, from a song Cher sings in Burlesque. It’s called, “You haven’t seen the last of me.” There’s a lyric where she conjugates. “This is far from over. …..I am far from over. You haven’t seen the last of me.”
    Thanks for writing!


  5. Henry Harvey says:

    Another good one, H. I like your choice of quotes. Do you remember a quote you made a bunch of months ago? It was in an essay on Happiness. You kicked off with Ben Franklin’s portion of the Declaration of Independence, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The someone said, (maybe you?) “The trick is we all have to track it down and catch it for ourselves. Something like that.
    Thanks Ted K.

  6. Henry Harvey says:

    Yup, I remember it. In my mind, I was imagining ole Ben going out and setting steel traps to catch some Happiness here and there.
    Thanks to you, Ted!

  7. henry harvey says:

    Hello. I loved your article about quotes, and have many favorites socked away myself.

    Audrey Hepburn’s made me think of my favorite passage from The Phantom Tollbooth – the kicker is at the end.

    “As the cheering continued, Rhyme leaned forward and touched Milo gently on the shoulder.
    “They’re cheering for you,” she said with a smile.
    “But I could never have done it,” he objected, “without everyone else’s help.”
    “That may be true,” said Reason gravely, “but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you *will* do.”
    “That’s why,” said Azaz, “there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn’t discuss until you returned.
    “I remember,” said Milo eagerly. “Tell me now.”
    “It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician.
    “Completely impossible,” said the Mathemagician, looking at the king.
    “Do you mean—-” said the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint.
    “Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone—and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
    And for the remainder of the ride Milo didn’t utter a sound.”
    ― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

    Happy Sunday!

    Elizabeth at the Flying Pig Bookstore

  8. henry harvey says:

    Hi Elizabeth!

    Thank you for your gracious reply. When I first started out sculpting and writing, my darling older brother wrote to me with the statistics proving that something like 95% of new ventures go out of business within a year. “….and those are normal, viable businesses.” he continued. “You’re just a guy making little sculpture things. Your chances are essentially zero.”

    Well, sonofagun. Here we are, with 45 years of sculpting under our belts and 25+ books published. And………we’re happy!

    You live in a wonderful state that we’ve visited many times. The Asheville area is very much like that, just warmer. If you’re ever down our way, stop in. We have a guest house next to a waterfall.
    Oh, by the way, waaay waaay back I used to make flying pigs out of copper. Small world.

  9. Henry Harvey says:

    That was sweet! I do think in life we wear many hats at different times.
    Linda S.

  10. Henry Harvey says:

    Well…the chicks do. Whenever I wear anything with sequins though, it’s kinda tough going. Seriously, you’re right-on. And sometimes those duties are in conflict, like being a loyal wife and being a protective mom at the same time. Diplomacy. Thanks for writing, Linda!

  11. Phil says:

    Great piece that you wrote. I’ll add my Mammy Yokum philosophy, “Good is better than bad because it’s nicer.”. Also, I like many of Winston Churchill’s sharp thoughts.
    My best thoughts to you and Pam always.

  12. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Phil,

    I like Plato’s approach… moderation. Sometimes, just to keep your sanity, you have to be a little bad. But just a little. Hope you are well.


  13. Henry Harvey says:


    What? You forgot: “It’s not over until the fat lady sings” J

    Only kidding. Loved it.

    Glad to hear that you guys are doing well.
    All the best..


  14. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Phil!

    I was trying to remember the derivation of your quote… It sounds like it was referring to a Wagnerian opera, where ALL the women are fat.

    Glad you liked the blog. In my life, there have actually been a handful of quotes that were so good and rang so true for me that, they became part of my mindset.

    Hope you guys can come down sometime for a visit. I know you’re convinced that life in the south is all bigotry and ignorance, but there’s a pocket of humanity around the Asheville area that’s pretty special. Of the hundreds of people I’ve talked to this year, comparing notes, they all begin nodding when I mention this. There’s something going on in this one area and we’re lovin’ it.
    Very best to both of you!!!

  15. Henry Harvey says:

    “If you aren’t 15 minutes early, you are 15 minutes late.” Bruce Huff

  16. Henry Harvey says:

    Wow, I thought I was tough!

    A holdover from the military, where if you didn’t show up at “Oh-five-thirty” you didn’t fly that day, I have to show up on time. But if someone shows up 15 minutes early for an invitation, they’re likely to hear me in the shower.
    Looks like you and your group are doing one heck of a lot of good work. Good show, my friend.

  17. Henry Harvey says:

    Here are a few more points to support your recent blog.

    “Those who would disrespect our flag have never been handed a folded one.”

  18. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Phil,

    Thanks for your extra input!
    That second one sounds so easy, and yet kindness seems to be drying up and blowing away like so much dust. I really try to be kind all the time, but even with it as a goal, sometimes you just lose it. It’s those clay feet that get in the way.

    Taking your first quote very seriously, I generally agree 100%, though I witnessed an exception to the statement at a very young age. In the middle of midterms, I got a call that my high school buddy was being sent home from Viet Nam…in a box. John was a small and very short pixie of a kid, with coke bottle glasses and the inability to swat a fly properly. I have no idea why he slipped through the crack. He kept writing letters to us that it was “only a matter of time.” When I drove back for the funeral, John’s casket was draped with a huge American Flag. John’s mom and dad entered the church and his dad removed the flag and then slammed it against the wall.
    Couldn’t really find fault with his dad’s emotions. Once again, there are always circumstances to be considered.

    Anyway, thanks again!

Leave a Reply