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New Year’s Always Comes: Quotes from the Literati to Welcome 2019

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Nancy Snyder

Staff Writer

I am a left coast native and writer; my working life began after studying at San Francisco State University; I have been an office worker and a labor organizer; longtime freelance writer covering books and labor and assorted cultural and political issues.

As 2018 slips away, I am most grateful for that redundant cliche, “nothing is permanent except change.” There is no more fortuitous time than the New Year to assess all the changes and experiences of the past year—and what you need and want to bring to next year’s 2019 journey.

2019 fireworks sparklers new year

That is why when I was thinking about New Year’s 2018, I was most motivated by writers who welcomed change and a quiet and fond farewell to the past. Here’s some of my favorite literary New Year’s quotes.

“Well, we have a whole new year ahead of us. And wouldn’t be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, a little more loving, and have a little more empathy and maybe, next year at this time we’d like each other a little more.” —Judy Garland

“People talk about this ‘bucket list’: ‘I need to go to this country, I need to skydive.’ Whereas I need to think as much as I can, to feel as much as I can, to be conscious and observe and understand me and the people around me as much as I can.” —Amy Tan

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language/And next year’s words await another voice/And to make an end is to make a beginning.” —T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

“What happens when you let an unsatisfactory present go on long enough? It becomes your entire history.” —Louise Erdrich, The Plague of Doves

“There was a smell of Time in the air tonight. He smiled and turned the fancy in his mind. There was a thought. What did time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. And, going further, what did Time look like? Time looks like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theater, 100 billion faces falling like those New Year balloons down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded.” —Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage.” —Nikki Giovanni

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —Mary Oliver

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” —James Baldwin

“Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.” —Oscar Wilde