Slaughterhouse Five Quotes

When I read books, I always write my favorite quotes as I read. These are from the most recent book I read, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m so grateful that so many of those moments are nice.

That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.

There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

“Why me?”

“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Well, here we are, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Where have all the years gone?

All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. See how permanent all the moments are, and look at any moment that interests you. It is just an illusion that we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

So it goes.

But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go.

And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.


The last couple of months have been nothing short of a dream.

I used to think that traveling was about seeing new places and getting closer to being able to the world as a whole, with my own eyes instead of through pictures and imagination.  And that’s what it used to be to me.  But recently travel has become more about learning than seeing.

Learning about myself by testing my limits–you know, seeing how long I can go without sleep, or how successful I can be at convincing the Aer Lingus agent to get me on the next flight to Dublin after I missed the first one.  I learn something before, during, and after every trip.  Before a trip, I am one person.  And after, I am another.  It’s that simple, because every adventure remains with me somehow and it changes me inevitably.

Just the same, I learn about others by sharing.  Sharing earphones while they play DJ. Sharing clothes when mine are ruined by a spill in my backpack.  Sharing cabs and hostel rooms.  Sharing moments.  Hardships.  Breathtaking views.  Sunsets, walks, train rides.  Even sharing toothbrushes.  Just kidding.  That should never ever happen.  But if it did, we could learn by sharing the journey followed by the memory.

Then there is the learning about the places in the world that bring us together and put us all on the same page of desire.  Because I know we all want more sometimes.

But even further than that, is the learning that we don’t need more sometimes.  There are moments during travel in which I know I could live forever.  Half a mile up a dune in the middle of the Sahara Desert during sunrise, for example.  Or the very first second you step foot on new ground, maybe in a city that you are about to call “home” for five months.  In these moments, with what little I have in hand–a suitcase or a backpack–it feels like just enough to last forever.