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Norman Maclean quotes (showing 1-30 of 52)

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”
Norman Maclean
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don't know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them - we can love completely without complete understanding.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful even if it is only a floating ash.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It: And Other Stories
“The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren't noticing which makes you see something that isn't even visible.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“Slowly we became silent, and silence itself if an enemy to friendship.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say "more perfect" because she said if a thing is perfect it can't be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us. You can love completely without complete understanding.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“Yet even in the loneliness of the canyon I knew there were others like me who had brothers they did not understand but wanted to help. We are probably those referred to as "our brother's keepers," possessed of one of the oldest and possible one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting instincts. It will not let us go.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“So it is that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
“Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“If our father had had his way, nobody who did not know
how to fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.”
Norman Maclean
“I knew that, when needed, mountains would move for me.”
Norman Maclean, Usfs 1919: Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky
“Unless we are willing to escape into sentimentality or fantasy, often the best we can do with catastrophes, even our own, is to find out exactly what happened and restore some of the missing parts.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire
tags: life
“As I get considerably beyond the biblical allotment of three score years and ten, I feel with increasing intensity that I can express my gratitude for still being around on the oxygen-side of the earth's crust only by not standing pat on what I have hitherto known and loved. While oxygen lasts, there are still new things to love, especially if compassion is a form of love.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire
“I had as yet no notion that life every now and then becomes literature—not for long, of course, but long enough to be what we best remember, and often enough so that what we eventually come to mean by life are those moments when life, instead of going sideways, backwards, forward, or nowhere at all, lines out straight, tense and inevitable, with a complication, climax, and, given some luck, a purgation, as if life had been made and not happened.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“The hardest thing usually to leave behind, as was the case now, can loosely be called the conscience.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Throught It
“It is very important to a lot of people to make unmistakably clear to themselves and to the universe that they love the universe but are not intimidated by it and will not be shaken by it, no matter what it has in store. Moreover, they demand something from themselves early in life that can be taken ever after as a demonstration of this abiding feeling.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire
“As for my father, I never knew whether he believed God was a mathematician but he certainly believed God could count and that only by picking up God's rhythms were we able to regain power and beauty. Unlike many Presbyterians, he often used the word "beautiful.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
“...life every now and then becomes literature...as if life had been made and not happened.”
Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
“I, an old man, have written this fire report. Among other things, it was important to me, as an exercise for old age, to enlarge my knowledge and spirit so I could accompany young men whose lives I might have lived on their way to death. I have climbed where they climbed, and in my time I have fought fire and inquired into its nature. In addition, I have lived to get a better understanding of myself and those close to me, many of them now dead. Perhaps it is not odd, at the end of this tragedy, where nothing much was left of the elite who came from the sky, but courage struggling for oxygen, that I have often found myself thinking of my wife on her brave and lonely way to death.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire
“Probably most catastrophes end this way without an ending, the dead not even knowing how they died...,those who loved them forever questioning "this unnecessary death," and the rest of us tiring of this inconsolable catastrophe and turning to the next one.”
Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire

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