One thing that never fails to surprise me is the power of words, especially in the hands of a good author. They sum it up - say it all - in one deft turn of phrase, and that can be so motivating, even when the message itself has nothing to do with motivation. I guess the essence of the superb phrase or quotation is that in some way it enables one to see the 'thing as it is' - we glimpse reality so to speak. Part of that too might well be Pope's observation: 'what oft was thought but never so well expressed' - a sense of recognition that they have helped us to.
So the first question might be who are those favourite authors for you? Which special writers resonate in your mind? Speak truths, perhaps, too subtle, too bold for others to utter? Which writers speak to your soul? There are in this category many well known and famous writers and speakers - ranging from William Shakespeare (who is quintessentially quotable) to great religious leaders and teachers.
And then for each of us there may be the more obscure writers - the forgotten ones. Well known, may be, once upon a time, but now their fashion is ended, and they exist in some marginal footnote somewhere.
One of my favourite's in this latter category is the prolific author GK Chesterton, perhaps best remembered today for his Father Brown series of detective books. In fact GKC was one of the pioneers of this whole genre in the same way we think now of JRR Tolkien pioneering the fantasy genre. Strange to think there was a time when detective fiction, and fantasy fiction, did not exist. But GK Chesterton was much more than just a detective fiction writer.
He had a brilliant and incisive mind that could superbly turn a phrase or two. My all time favourite of his is: "the difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to be credible". What an astonishing wake-up call to re-examine the world, and to see the wonders and the absurdities that are really going on. If someone, for example, had written a fictional book that had as its heroes a group of senior bankers who were utterly unqualified to do their work, and had no concept of risk, the book would have been deemed unrealistic; if someone had dared write a fictional work on the workings of Parliament and included the extent of the expenses claimed by our Members of Parliament, they would have been judged extreme and delusional - or worse, negative and cynical.
In short, GKC's expressions invites us to understand that life is so unpredictable, so bizarre, that its outcomes are far more extreme than we could imagine, or that could be envisioned in John Lennon's pithy remark: "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans".
As we watch the outpouring on the death of Michael Jackson, and see people on our TV screens claiming now that 'music has died', we do well to remember GKC's other great quotation - "the truth is the modern world has had a mental breakdown".