Help Me Make It Through The Night: Quotes for Long Evenings

What lines are running through your head on the eve of the 2020 election?

Posted Nov 02, 2020

Sherry Louise, once a student at the University of Connecticut and a former officer in the United States Air Force, said that the lines getting her through the day before the 2020 U.S. elections are these: "It's all right, it's okay/I'll live to see another day/We can try to understand/The New York Times' effect on man."

You can hear the song, right, the one written and performed by The Bee Gees and playing during the opening scene of 1977’s "Saturday Night Fever"? Can you see the scene, with Tony walking to the beat down the streets of Brooklyn? I don’t think Sherry was even born in 1977, but as a student of culture, popular as well as literary, political, and military, she has always been able to find the best lines for any occasion.

That’s why she always got an “A” in class. That’s also one of the many reasons she is a success in life—and by “success in life,” I mean resilient, wise, funny, generous, and compassionate.

An ability to match a moment—especially a moment of stress, anxiety, worry, panic, fear, or dislocation-- with a quotation that’s meaningful to us personally can help us feel attached to a larger sense of community while also providing a sense of context.

From the earliest rites, rituals, and performances, repeating to ourselves what we've heard is a way to comfort ourselves, center ourselves, and remind ourselves we're not alone.

Sherry was responding to the question I posed on my personal Facebook page (Facebook remains my favorite social media platform despite recent caveats). I asked my friends, “What lines sums up how you feel? What lines from a song, poem, book, play, movie, TV show or companion will get you through the next two days?”

Within an hour, more than a hundred folks wrote comments. Barbara Cooley, who lives pretty far north, said that the upcoming election has her thinking that we’re “Skating away on the thin ice of a new day,” and she credits Jethro Tull. Knowing that others have felt the same sense of risk, trepidation, and need to keep moving—putting it into perspective and into figurative language-makes us feel less alone.

Linda Roy quotes, even as she mourns the loss of, brilliant rocker Tom Petty, attributing her two election lines to him: “The waiting is the hardest part,” and “God, it’s so painful, something that’s so close but still so far out of reach.” I know how she feels. And I can hear the bass line.

Songwriters capture our emotions not only with their melodies but also with their language. A line of Canadian poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” chosen by Christine Arvanetaki Tarrio, is one of my favorites as well: “There’s a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in” is the song’s refrain. Cohen’s song urges us to ring the bells that still can ring, and to remember, “Every heart to love will come/But like a refugee.”

Others chose passages from screenplays or adaptations. Dr. Niloufar Rezai, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, chose an exchange from her favorite movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to illuminate up her psychological state: Holly Golightly: “You know the days when you get the mean reds?”Paul Varjak: “The mean reds. You mean like the blues?” Holly Golightly: “No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”

Kristina Dolce, a seasoned instructor in English and the Humanities, decided that the words of a more contemporary writer inspired her. Ms. Dolce’s quotation gets directly to the point of how the current political moment involves—or should involve-- our own individual psyches: quoting activist and author Adrienne Maree Brown, we are emboldened by the words, “Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”

Columnist Bonnie Jean Feldkamp picked a passage she sees as “especially potent in these lockdown pandemic times; I’m doing what I can with what I have in the time allotted to me.” From Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” Feldkamp reminds us that we cannot “kill time without damaging eternity.”

Some chose straightforward sayings as their mottos du jour.

Robin Hauser Franklin, a gardener, insists that “The more shallow the brook, the more it babbles,” (guess who she’s voting for) and storyteller Catherine Cariste Conant reduces everything to a clear set of possibilities: “My mom always said: “you can laugh or you can run screaming through the streets. Your choice.”

And, finally, Ann Martin might have regretted her choice to offer me her most treasured inspirational quotation.  When Emily Dickinson’s famous poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul” appeared in my thread, without even pausing, I asked Ann if she remembered a great bit from Woody Allen: “How wrong Emily Dickinson was! Hope is not "the thing with feathers. The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew. I must take him to a specialist in Zurich.”

Ann’s reply to me? “THANKS, Gina, for ruining my inspirational quote.”

That’s the line I can’t get out of my head, because it made both of us laugh (I checked with Ann).

Let’s all help each other make it through the next couple of nights, weeks, months—and years. With humor, with a sense of friendship, with the recognition that we have more in common than we realize, let’s keep stayin’ alive.