But early on I saw this: You are wasting time by suffering twice. I mention this only to show how many things the mind cannot will itself to do, even if it wants to.

I've always been tremendously interested in criminal law. It goes to a deep interest I have in prisons and the criminal element, and what we do as a society with it. I've always been touched by the idea of criminality.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. Many of us have been saved many times by the kindness of strangers, but after a while it sounds trite, like a bumper sticker. And that's what makes me sad, that a beautiful and true line comes to be used so often that it takes on the superficial sound of a bumper sticker.

Everyone, she understood, was mainly and mostly interested in themselves.

He took down the curtains that hung in front of the blinds and washed them in the old washing machine. In his mind they were blue-gray curtains, but it turned out that they were off-white. He washed them a second time, and they were an even brighter off-white.

Traits don't change, states of mind do.

My parents were very, very, very strict.

She had spells of manic loquaciousness, followed by days of silence.

This must be the way most of us maneuver in the world, half knowing, half not, visited by memories that can't possibly be true. But when I see others walking with confidence down the street, as though they are free completely from terror, I realize I don't know how others are. So much of life seems speculation.

I suspect I said nothing because I was doing what I have done most of my life, which is to cover for the mistakes of others when they don't know they have embarrassed themselves. I do this, I think, because it could be me a great deal of the time.

They say that's what happens as you get older. You think about the things of your youth.

How did you ever know? You never knew anything, and anyone who thought they knew anything - well, they were in for a great big surprise.

A person can only move forward, she thinks. A person should only move forward.

I said, I was sorry that woman in class asked about PTSD. I jumped too.Sarah said, I know you did, I saw that. And anyone who uses their training to put someone down that way—well, that person is just a big old piece of crap.She winked at me, her face exhausted, and turned to go. I have never seen her since.

It was Henry's nature to listen, and many times during the week he would say, 'Gosh, I'm awful sorry to hear that, ' or 'Say, isn't that something?

I suspect the most we can hope for, and it's no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.

Speaking of this, he felt something had been returned to him, as though the inestimable losses of life had been lifted like a boulder, and beneath he saw - under the attentive gaze of Daisy's blue eyes - the comforts and sweetness of what had once been.

They would be hyphenated people. Somali-American. What a strange thing, Abdikarim thought, to become hyphenated to a country now gratifying itself with the impression that all Somalis were pirates.

He wanted to put his arms around her, but she had a darkness that seemed to stand beside her like an acquaintance that would not go away.

It's just that I'm the kind of person,' Rebecca continued, 'that thinks if you took a map of the whole world and put a pin in it for every person, there wouldn't be a pin for me.

She feels her stomach turn choppy, whitecaps in her stomach.

He knew the quiet that arrived, the blinding force of panic, and he knew too that each loss brought with it some odd, barely acknowledged sense of relief.

I never wrote him. I never saw him again. He was just gone, this dear, dear man, this friend of my soul in the hospital so long ago, disappeared. This is a New York story too.

God, I love young people," Harmon said. "They get griped about enough. People like to think the younger generation's job is to steer the world to hell. But it's never true, is it? They're hopeful and good - and that's how it should be.

Do not ever think you are better than someone, I will not tolerate that in my classroom, there is no one here who is better than someone else, I have just witnessed expressions on the faces of some of you that indicate you think you are better than someone else, and I will not tolerate that in my classroom, I will not.

The evenings grew longer; kitchen windows stayed open after dinner and peepers could be heard in the marsh. Isabelle, stepping out to sweep her porch steps, felt absolutely certain that some wonderful change was arriving in her life. The strength of this belief was puzzling; what she was feeling, she decided, was really the presence of God.

To listen to a person is not passive.

They had grown up on shame; it was the nutrient of their soil.

It is true she doesn't exercise, her cholesterol is sky-high. But all that is only a good excuse, hiding how it's her soul, really, that is wearing out.

The appetites of the body were private battles.

So she way awake at night and at times there was a curious peacefulness to this, the darkness warm as though the deep violet duvet held its color unseen, wrapping around Pam some soothing aspect of her youth, as her mind wandered over a life that felt puzzingly long; she experienced a quiet surprise that so many lifetimes could be fit into one.

And so there's a struggle, or a contest, I guess you could say, all the time, it seems to me. And remorse, well, to be able to show remorse—to be able to be sorry about what we've done that's hurt other people—that keeps us human. Tommy.

His laugh is huge, walloping. He is happy with anything I make for us to eat.

A yearning stirred in him that was not sexual but a kind of reaching toward her simplicity of form.

In America, it is about the individual. Self-realization. Go to the grocery store, the doctor's office, open any magazine, and it is self, self, self. But in my culture it is about community and family. Margaret.

He hated dishonesty-- or lack of courage-- more than anything.

I do write by hand. I just think - I don't know, it's a physical thing for me. It's a bodily thing. It literally has to earn its way through my hand.

And it was too late. No one wants to believe something is too late, but it is always becoming too late, and then it is.

He thought of all the people in the world who felt they'd been saved by a city. He was one of them.

Jim, because he was angry even back then and trying to control it, she felt, and Bob because his heart was big. She didn't care much for Susan. Nobody did, far as I know, she said.

The year that followed - was it the happiest year of his own life? He often thought so, even knowing that such a thing was foolish to claim about any year of one's life: but in his memory, that particular year held the sweetness of a time that contained no thoughts of a beginning and no thoughts of an end..

Only the young, he thought, could withstand the rigors of love.

But an ache stayed inside her. And a faint reverberating hum of something close to joy lived on the outer edges of her memory, some kind of longing that had been answered once and was simply not answered anymore.

But what could you do? Only keep going. People kept going; they had been doing it for thousands of years. You took the kindness offered, letting it seep as far in as it could go, and the remaining dark crevices you carried around with you, knowing that over time they might change into something almost bearable.

People like to think the younger generation's job is to steer the world to hell. But it's never true, is it? They're hopeful and good—and that's how it should be.

A lot of people don't have families. . . . . But they still have homes.

And they undoubtedly think that will last, the way new couples do. They think they're finished with loneliness, too.

It was the sound of my mother's voice I most wanted; what she said didn't matter. And.

Nothing's a long time ago.