I have read many books, but to place all those volumes on top of one another and stand on them would not add a cubit to my stature. Their learned terms are of little use when I attempt to seize naked experience, which eludes all accepted ideas.
Come now!…Were everything clear, all would seem to you vain. Your boredom would populate a shadowless universe with an impassive life made up of unleavened souls. But a measure of disquiet is a divine gift. The hope which, in your eyes, shines on a dark threshold does not have its basis in an overly certain world.
I was motivated to write about violence because I believe it’s not unusual. I see it as just a part of life, and I think we get in trouble when we separate people who’ve experienced it from those who haven’t. Though it’s a horrible experience, it’s not as if violence hasn’t affected many of us.
I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of southern New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Said a sheet of snow-white paper, “Pure was I created, and pure will I remain for ever. I would rather be burnt and turn to white ashes than suffer darkness to touch me or the unclean to come near me.”
The ink-bottle heard what the paper was saying, and it laughed in its dark heart; but it never dared to approach her. And the multicolored pencils heard her also, and they too never came near her.
And the snow-white sheet of paper did remain pure and chaste for ever – pure and chaste – and empty.
It is the knowledge of the genuine condition of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for living.