books, quotes

a mere expression of something

“You and I,” said Ames – “what are we? We don’t know where we came from nor where we are going to. Tomorrow you might die and dissolve and I could search high and low in all the winds and waters and not find you. Here you are a mere expression of something – you know not what. It so happens that you have the power to act. That is no credit to you. You might not have had it. It isn’t an excuse for either pride or self-glorification. You paid nothing to get it. But now that you have it, you must do something with it.”

He paused again.

“What must I do?” said Carrie.”

“Every person according to his light,” said Ames. “You must help the world express itself. Use will make your powers endure.”

– Theodore Dreiser, SISTER CARRIE