When I quote something, I like to be accurate about the source. This not only gives credit where credit is due, it also sometimes helps to set a context for the idea.
I first encountered Eugene O’Neill’s line about the grace of god in Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, and copied it into my journal. In transcribing it for my electronic commonplace, I wondered exactly where in O’Neill’s work it occurred. I found the answer in a profile of the playwright in an online theater magazine. And in looking over the rest of that page, I found this:
None of us can help the things life has done to us . They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.
— Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, a play by Eugene O’Neill