“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

Edgar Allan Poe

I have been wondering what it is about a quote that people love. As I type this, I have 2 sources of quotes on my desk, so I am no different.  And therefore, I find it a reasonable assumption that an answer lies within my own feelings. To me, those quotes that speak most directly fall into one of three categories: inspirational, insightful and introspective.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Barack Obama

Inspirational quotes provide that most important, sometimes elusive, characteristic of humanity: hope. They humanize the titans of the world by giving us a glimpse into their philosophies, and through those words, I catch a glimpse of a brighter future and believe it is possible.

“Every now and then it helps to be a little deaf… That advice has stood me in good stead. Not simply in dealing with my marriage, but in dealing with my colleagues.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Insightful quotes are those that ground me with the truths of the world. They contain wisdom that could just as easily have come from a particularly sage forebear. They bring a smile with their candor, and warm my soul with the way they simplify humanity’s challenges.

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

Malcolm X

Introspective quotes challenge me the most. On a first read, they feel either inspirational or insightful. Then I read it again. And the words pull at something deeper. They force me to ask big questions. “What is freedom to me? Do I have it? If not, am I working to get it?”

Whether a quote is inspirational, insightful, or introspective, they contain a surprising amount of power for scratches of ink on paper.

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