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Toni Morrison has been a powerhouse of wisdom and truth ever since her first book, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. We have hung on her every word and yearned for the guidance in her novels. Fittingly, she has acquired a heap of achievements including a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. And she doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the poignant department as she approaches 84 glorious years of age. We can’t even find the right words to describe Morrison’s craft, so we’ll just let her speak for herself. Here are ten times Toni Morrison delivered us insightful and unshakable truths:

1. “At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough. No record of it needs to be kept and you don't need someone to share it with or tell it to. When that happens—that letting go—you let go because you can.” - Tar Baby

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2. “Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God.” - Paradise

3. “Anger ... it's a paralyzing emotion ... you can't get anything done. People sort of think it's an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling—I don't think it's any of that—it's helpless ... it's absence of control—and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers ... and anger doesn't provide any of that—I have no use for it whatsoever.”- Interview with Don Swaim (1987)

4. “In order to be as free as I possibly can, in my own imagination, I can't take positions that are closed. Everything I've ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book—leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, revisitation, a little ambiguity.”- Salon Interview (1998)

5. “Was there anything so loathsome as a wilfully innocent man? Hardly. An innocent man is a sin before God. Inhuman and therefore untrustworthy. No man should live without absorbing the sins of his kind, the foul air of his innocence, even if it did wilt rows of angel trumpets and cause them to fall from their vines.”-Tar Baby

6. “You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn—by practice and careful contemplations—the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.” - Paradise

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7. “The idea of a wanton woman is something I have inserted into almost all of my books. An outlaw figure who is disallowed in the community because of her imagination or activity or status—that kind of anarchic figure has always fascinated me. And the benefits they bring with them, in spite of the fact that they are either dismissed or upbraided—something about their presence is constructive in the long run.”- O, The Oprah Magazine ( 2003)

8. “You need intelligence, and you need to look. You need a gaze, a wide gaze, penetrating and roving—thats what's useful for art.”- Interview with Don Swaim (1987)

9. “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”- Black Matters (1992)

10. “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”- Beloved

Published April 27, 2015

Top photo by Angela Radulescu/Wikimedia Commons

Bee Gray is a creative writer and essayist living in Oakland, California. She loves studying contemporary culture, media, and human behavior. She thinks life is art, she thinks women are art, she surrounds herself in goddesses, she can't stop talking. Follow her on Instagram @beesuschrist.

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