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Wisdom from John Adams

For a long time now I’ve been reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. Because the book has collided a little bit with vacation and with some “necessary” reading, it has taken me a long time to get through it, even though it is a very enjoyable read. Within the book I’ve found a couple of great quotes from the pen of John Adams—quotes that have stuck with me. Adams is in some ways a man after my own heart and he shows it in these words:

“I want to see my children every day. I want to see my grass and blossoms and corn … But above all, except the wife and children, I want to see my books.”

Those words resonate with me. My books are among my greatest pleasure and when I find I do not have time to read, I miss it a lot. There is pleasure to be found both in the books and in the experience of reading them.

And again:

“The only way to compose myself and collect my thoughts is to set down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand. This apparatus takes off my attention from other objects. Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking.”

I, too, find that I can get very little thinking done, and cannot hold my attention for long, if I do not do my thinking with the assistance of pen, ink and paper.


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