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Abraham Verghese quotes (showing 1-30 of 176)

“The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“You live it forward, but understand it backward.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: life
“God will judge us, Mr. Harris, by--by what we did to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings. I don't think God cares what doctrine we embrace.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look to the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: life
“Make something beautiful of your life.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“We come unbidden into this life, and if we are lucky we find a purpose beyond starvation, misery, and early death which, lest we forget, is the common lot. I grew up and I found my purpose and it was to become a physician. My intent wasn't to save the world as much as to heal myself. Few doctors will admit this, certainly not young ones, but subconsciously, in entering the profession, we must believe that ministering to others will heal our woundedness. And it can. but it can also deepen the wound.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“I spent as much time as I could with Ghosh. I wanted every bit of wisdom he could impart to me. All sons should write down every word of what their fathers have to say to them. I tried. Why did it take an illness for me to recognize the value of time with him? It seems we humans never learn. And so we relearn the lesson every generation and then want to write epistles. We proselytize to our friends and shake them by the shoulders and tell them, "Seize the day! What matters is THIS moment!" Most of us can't go back and make restitution. We can't do a thing about our should haves and our could haves. But a few lucky men like Ghosh never have such worries; there was no restitution he needed to make, no moment he failed to seize.

Now and then Ghosh would grin and wink at me across the room. He was teaching me how to die, just as he'd taught me how to live.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: life
“We are all fixing what is broken. It is the task of a lifetime. We'll leave much unfinished for the next generation.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“She died chasing greatness and never saw it each time it was in her hand, so she kept seeking it elsewhere, but never understood the work required to get it or to keep it.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“I chose the specialty of surgery because of Matron, that steady presence during my boyhood and adolescence. 'What is the hardest thing you can possibly do?' she said when I went to her for advice on the darkest day of the first half of my life.

I squirmed. How easily Matron probed the gap between ambition and expediency. 'Why must I do what is hardest?'

'Because, Marion, you are an instrument of God. Don't leave the instrument sitting in its case my son. Play! Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can play the 'Gloria'?

'But, Matron, I can't dream of playing Bach...I couldn't read music.

'No, Marion,' she said her gaze soft...'No, not Bach's 'Gloria'. Yours! Your 'Gloria' lives within you. The greatest sin is not finding it, ignoring what God made possible in you.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Pray tell us, what's your favorite number?"...
"Shiva jumped up to the board, uninvited, and wrote 10,213,223"...
"And pray, why would this number interest us?"
"It is the only number that describes itself when you read it, 'One zero, two ones, three twos, two threes'.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: math
“To be around someone whose self-confidence is more than what our first glance led us to expect is seductive.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Tell us please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?"....I met his gaze and I did not blink. "Words of comfort," I said to my father.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“The key to your happiness is to...own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. [Otherwise] you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”
Abraham Verghese
“Life is like that. You live it forward but understand it backward.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“There is a point when grief exceeds the human capacity to emote, and as a result one is strangely composed-”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: grief
“No blade can puncture the human heart like the well-chosen words of a spiteful son.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“We come unbidden into this life, and if we are lucky we find a purpose beyond starvation, misery, and early death which, lest we forget, is the common lot.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“Life for the Italians was what it was, no more and no less, an interlude between meals”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
tags: life
“...guilt leads to righteous action, but rarely is it the right action.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“It was a tale well known to children all over Africa: Abu Kassem, a miserly Baghdad merchant, had held on to his battered, much repaired pair of slippers even though they were objects of derision. At last, even he couldn't stomach the sight of them. But his every attempt to get rid of his slippers ended in disaster: when he tossed them out of his window they landed on the head of a pregnant woman who miscarried, and Abu Kassem was thrown in jail; when he dropped them in the canal, the slippers choked off the main drain and caused flooding, and off Abu Kassem went to jail...

'One night when Tawfiq finished, another prisoner, a quiet dignified old man, said, 'Abu Kassem might as well build a special room for his slippers. Why try to lose them? He'll never escape.' The old man laughed, and he seemed happy when he said that. That night the old man died in his sleep.

We all saw it the same way. the old man was right. The slippers in the story mean that everything you see and do and touch, every seed you sow, or don't sow, becomes part of your destiny...

In order to start to get rid of your slippers, you have to admit they are yours, and if you do, then they will get rid of themselves.

Ghosh sighed. 'I hope one day you see this as clearly as I did in Kerchele. The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“You are an instrument of God. Don't leave the instrument sitting in its case, my son. Play! Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can can play the 'Gloria'? No, not Bach's 'Gloria.' Yours! Your 'Gloria' lives within you. The greatest sin is not finding it, ignoring what God made possible in you.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“A rich man's faults are covered with money, but a surgeon's faults are covered with earth.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“According to Shiva, life is in the end about fixing holes. Shiva didn't speak in metaphors. fixing holes is precisely what he did. Still, it's an apt metaphor for our profession. But there's another kind of hole, and that is the wound that divides family. Sometimes this wound occurs at the moment of birth, sometimes it happens later. We are all fixing what is broken. It is the task of a lifetime. We'll leave much unfinished for the next generation.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds. They regret the bitterness they'll leave in people's hearts. They realize the no money, no church service, no eulogy, no funeral procession no matter how elaborate, can remove the legacy of a mean spirit.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“When you win, you often lose, that's just a fact. There's no currency to straighten a warped spirit, or open a closed heart, a selfish heart...”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
“He was teaching me how to die, just as he'd taught me how to live.”
Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

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