The Rule of Four


by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason
Bantam Dell, New York 2004

  • A son is the promise that time makes to a man, the guarantee every father receives whatever he holds dear will someday be considered foolish, and that the person he loves best in the world will misunderstand him.
  • Strange thing, time. It weighs most on those who have it least.
  • Nothing is lighter than being young with the world on your shoulders; it gives you a feeling of possibility so seductive, you know there must be something more important you could be doing than studying for exams.
  • Like most prophets, he is fated to be ignored.
  • Time is the guy at the amusement park who paints shirts with an airbrush. He sprays out the color in a fine mist until it’s just lonely particles floating in the air, waiting to be plastered in place… Time is what disperses us.
  • … a pact made in passion was the only good excuse for bad judgment.
  • … every fact can be reinterpreted, that every ending can be changed.
  • The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong.
  • … life was like sculpture: a matter of seeing what others couldn’t, then chiseling away the rest.
  • … good fences still make good neighbors.
  • Leonardo wrote that a painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light… The only things people can ever know about you are the ones you let them see.
  • … never invest yourself in anything so deeply that its failure could cost you your happiness.
  • … a good friend stands in harm’s way for you the second you ask – but a great friend does it without being asked at all.
  • … faith is easier to give than life, but harder to take away.
  • Like all things in the universe, we are destined from birth to diverge. Time is simply the yardstick of our separation. If we are particles in a sea of distance, exploded from an original whole, then there is a science to our solitude. We are lonely in proportion to our years.
  • … people spend their lives wanting things they shouldn’t. The world confuses them into taking their love and aiming it where it doesn’t belong… All it takes to be happy is to love the right things, in the right amounts. Not money. Not books. People. Adults who don’t understand that never feel fulfilled.
  • … every failure becomes a reminder of death.
  • It’s better to love something that can love you back.
  • You don’t get sick if you stay to yourself… But you don’t get well that way either.
  • … a single chance that could be erased by the simplest mistake, an opportunity that could bleed into nothing beneath a single drop of water.
  • On the ceilings where I am going there will be saints and gods and flights of angels. Everywhere I walk there will be reminders of all that time can’t touch. My heart is a bird in a cage, ruffling its wings with the ache of expectation.
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