“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
The expression “grinning like a Cheshire Cat” existed before Carroll’s book but it is now identified with the character in the novel. That cat appears and disappears leaving only his grin behind. Alice says that she, “has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat” and Cheshire cat says “You may have noticed, I’m not all there myself.”
The Cheshire cat can be both amusing and perplexingly philosophical. The line that stuck with me from my first reading of the book when I was in high school was “I knew who I was this morning, but I have changed a few times since then.”
I had many days where the me that went off to school was not the me that went to sleep that night.
The Cheshire cat is also poetic at times.
“When the day becomes the night and the sky becomes the sea,
when the clock strikes heavy and there’s no time for tea;
and in our darkest hour, before my final rhyme,
she will come back home to Wonderland and turn back the hands of time.”
“Somehow you strayed and lost your way,
and now there’ll be no time to play,
no time for joy, no time for friends –
not even time to make amends.”
Here are some other quotes from that rather Zen cat up in the tree.
“How do you run from what is inside your head?”
“I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours”
“You are too naïve if you believe life is innocent laughter and fun.”
“Every adventure requires a first step.”
“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.”
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”
“When you’ve understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can’t understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom.”
And in this election year, perhaps his wisest advice would include:
“I never get involved in politics” and, when asked about playing fair,
“No one does, if they think they can get away with it.”