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  • "In case nobody has told you," she said, "this is the United States of America, where nobody has a right to rely on anybody else—where everybody learns to make his or her own way.
    "I'm here to test you," she said, "but there's a basic rule for life I'd like to teach you, too, and you'll thank me for it in years to come."
    This was the lesson: "Paddle your own canoe," she said. "Can you say that and remember it?"
    Not only could I say it, but I remembered it to this day: "Paddle your own canoe."

  • “it is illusion to think that there is anything fragile about the life of the earth; surely this is the toughest membrane imaginable in the universe, opaque to probability, impermeable to death.
    We are the delicate part, transient and vulnerable as cilia. Nor is it a new thing for Man to invent an existence that he imagines to be above the rest of life; this has been his most consistent intellectual exertion down the millennia. As illusion, it has never worked out to his satisfaction in the past, any more than it does today.”

    Lewis ThomasLives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
  • “Paddle your own canoe.”
    Kurt Vonnegut