Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. How to Stop Time is about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change, about the perils of love and about the mistakes that humans are doomed to repeat.
Human beings, as a rule, simply don’t accept things that don’t fit their worldview.
You were always living within the parameters of your personality. No expanse of time or place could change that. You could never escape yourself.
The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.
The idea that you have one true love, that no one else will compare after they have gone. It’s a sweet idea, but the reality is terror itself. To be faced with all those lonely years after. To exist when the point of you has gone.
It occurred to me that human beings didn’t live beyond a hundred because they simply weren’t up for it. Psychologically, I mean. You kind of ran out. There wasn’t enough self to keep going. You grew too bored of your own mind. Of the way life repeated itself. How, after a while, there wasn’t a smile or gesture that you hadn’t seen before. There wasn’t a change in the world order that didn’t echo other changes in the world order. And the news stopped being new.
If you live long enough you realise that every proven fact is later disproved and then proven again.
The key to happiness wasn’t being yourself, because what did that even mean? Everyone had many selves. No. The key to happiness is finding the lie that suits you best.
All you can do with the past is carry it around, feeling its weight slowly increase, praying it never crushes you completely.
You need to learn the art of discretion. Of speaking about a thing without actually speaking of it. Truth is a straight line you sometimes need to curve, you should know that by now.
Music doesn’t get in. Music is already in. Music simply uncovers what is there, makes you feel emotions that you didn’t necessarily know you had inside you, and runs around waking them all up. A rebirth of sorts.
The first rule is that you don’t fall in love. There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay. [...] You are, of course, allowed to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books, but the love of people is off limits. Do you hear me? Don’t attach yourself to people, and try to feel as little as you possibly can for those you do meet. Because otherwise you will slowly lose your mind ...
No one was ever a native of Britain. People arrived here. The Romans, the Celts, the Normans, the Saxons. Britain was always a place made of other places.
I need to get over her. I need to get over everything. I need ‘closure’ as people say these days. Though you can never close the past. The most you can do with it is accept it. And that is the point I want to reach.
Time, I realise, is a weapon these days. Nothing weakens people like having to wait.
You are not the only one with sorrows in this world. Don’t hoard them like they are precious. There is always plenty of them to go around.
As you get older, you realise that you never get away with things. The human mind has its own ... prisons.
The lesson of history is that ignorance and superstition are things that can rise up, inside almost anyone, at any moment. And what starts as a doubt in a mind can swiftly become an act in the world.
I feel a swell of pride. This. This right here is why I wanted to become a teacher. To know that it is possible to change the world for the better, in however small a way.
Incessant apologising is never an attractive trait.
Any truth that people aren’t ready to believe sounds like science fiction. The earth going around the sun. Electromagnetism. Evolution. X-rays. Aeroplanes. DNA. Stem cells. Climate change. Water on Mars. It is all science fiction until we see it happen.
It is the simplest, purest joy on earth, I realise, to make someone you care about laugh.
Life has a strange rhythm. It takes a while to fully be aware of this. Decades. Centuries, even. It’s not a simple rhythm. But the rhythm is there. The tempo shifts and fluctuates; there are structures within structures, patterns within patterns. It’s baffling. [...] But if you stick with it, the elements of familiarity become clear.
This is so often the way with life. You spend so much time waiting for something – a person, a feeling, a piece of information – that you can’t quite absorb it when it is in front of you. The hole is so used to being a hole it doesn’t know how to close itself.
There comes a time when the only way to start living is to tell the truth. To be who you really are, even if it is dangerous.
As far as I can see, this is a problem with living in the twenty-first century. Many of us have every material thing we need, so the job of marketing is now to tie the economy to our emotions, to make us feel like we need more by making us want things we never needed before. We are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have been to only ten other countries. To feel too old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photoshopped and filtered.
That’s the thing with getting older. You run out of new things to try.
People you love never die. [...] They don’t die. Not completely. They live in your mind, the way they always lived inside you. You keep their light alive. If you remember them well enough, they can still guide you, like the shine of long-extinguished stars could guide ships in unfamiliar waters. If you stop mourning them, and start listening to them, they still have the power to change your life.
That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.
Sometimes, the world is not how we wish it to be. Sometimes people can disappoint us. Sometimes people can do terrible things to others. You must be careful in this life.
As you get older you not only get a certain aptitude for people, you also get an insight into time itself. [...] there are moments where the understanding is so profound that you see time both ways. Forwards and back.
We aren’t just who we are born. We are who we become. We are what life does to us.
That is the whole thing with the future. You don’t know. At some point you have to accept that you don’t know. You have to stop flicking ahead and just concentrate on the page you are on.
I can’t right now think of a better purpose in life than to be a teacher. To teach feels like you are a guardian of time itself, protecting the future happiness of the world via the minds that are yet to shape it.
That is the nature of things. History was - is - a one-way street. You have to keep walking forwards. But you don’t always need to look ahead. Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.
Everything is going to be all right. Or, if not, everything is going to be, so let’s not worry.