Diane Ackerman Quotes

Most popular Diane Ackerman Quotes

Habit, a particularly insidious thug who chokes passion and smothers love.  Habit puts us on autopilot.


History is an agreed-upon fiction.


Love is the white light of emotion.


Nature neither gives nor expects mercy.


Horses have made civilization possible.


Like love, travel makes you innocent again.


A kiss is like singing into someone's mouth.


Love, like truth, is the unassailable defense.


I don't want to be a passenger in my own life.
— Diane Ackerman
Adult bats don't weigh much.  They're mainly fur and appetite.


There is a way of beholding nature that is itself a form of prayer.


To children heaven is being an adult, and to adults heaven is being children again.


Though most of us don't hunt, our eyes are still the great monopolists of our senses.


Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.


Language is a playing with words until they can impersonate physical objects and abstract ideas.


It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.


Play is an activity enjoyed for its own sake.  It is our brain's favorite way of learning and maneuvering.


Short, potbellied penguins, whose necks wobbled with baby fat, huddled together like Russian businessmen in fur coats.


Wonder is a bulky emotion. When you let it fill your heart and mind, there isn't room for anxiety, distress or anything else.


In imaginative envy, we idealize what we don't have. The act of yearning for something transmutes it from base metal into gold.


A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.


I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it.  I want to have lived the width of it as well.


I like handling newborn animals.  Fallen into life from an unmappable world, they are the ultimate immigrants, full of wonder and confusion.

babies animals

Love requires the utmost vulnerability. We equip someone with freshly sharpened knives; strip naked; then invite him to stand close. What could be scarier?
— Diane Ackerman


People often ask me where they might go to find adventure.  Adventure is not something you must travel to find, I tell them, it's something you take with you.
— Diane Ackerman

Travel adventure

The heart is a living museum. In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, preserved forever like wondrous diatoms, are our moments of loving and being loved.
— Diane Ackerman
One of the things I like best about animals in the wild is that they're always off on some errand. They have appointments to keep. It's only we humans who wonder what we're here for.


Poetry is a kind of attentiveness that permits one both the organized adventure of the nomad and the armchair security of the bank teller, a way of dabbling without being a dilettante.


A course on creativity in the arts and sciences, my class attracted academic misfits of an enchanting sort. Typically, a student might confess: I'm in nuclear physics, but my real passion is for medieval Irish song.
— Diane Ackerman
Countless birds seem to be auditioning for their jobs. Large glossy crows sound as if they're gagging on lengths of flannel.  Blackbirds quibble nonstop from the telephone wires, where they perch like a run of eighth notes.
The brain is only three pounds of blood, dream, and electricity, and yet from that mortal stew come Beethoven's sonatas.  Dizzy Gillespie's jazz.  Audrey Hepburn's wish to spend the last month of her life in Somalia, saving children.


The brain can hold an idea in its stockroom for years, occasionally checking to see if it has changed at all, revising it a little, and then putting it back on the shelf, taking it down again when it seems to have evolved like a lemur from its original form.


An animal on a leash is not tamed by the owner.  The owner is extending himself through the leash to that part of his personality which is pure dog, that part of him which just wants to eat, sleep, bark, hump chairs, wet the floor in joy, and drink out of a toilet bowl.


Living things tend to change unrecognizably as they grow. Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? Flora or fauna, we are all shapeshifters and magical reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.
— Diane Ackerman

the self

We tend to think of memories as monuments we once forged and may find intact beneath the weedy growth of years. But, in a real sense, memories are tied to and describe the present. Formed in an idiosyncratic way when they happened, they're also true to the moment of recall, including how you feel, all you've experienced, and new values, passions, and vulnerability. One never steps into the same stream of consciousness twice.
— Diane Ackerman