Ocassionally a nerve of memory would be touched – a puddle reflecting the blue sky after rain, a pack of thumbed cards, the fumbling with a shoelace, the smell of a new car, the sound of a stiff wind through trees, the smells and colours of a toyshop, the taste of milk and prunes – and a fragment of forgotten experience would be dislodged, isolated, puzzling. In a northern land, in a time of new seperations and yearnings, in a library grown suddenly dark, the hailstones beating against the windows, the marbled endpaper of a dusty leatherbound book would disturb: and it would be the hot noisy week before Christmas in the Tulsi Store: the marbled patterns of oldfashioned balloons powdered with a rubbery dust in a shallow white box that was not to be touched. So later, and very slowly, in securer times of different stresses, when the memories had lost the power to hurt, with pain or joy, they would fall into place and give back the past.
~ A House for Mr Biswas, V S Naipaul
Is it not both the first token of power and its supreme triumph to inspire in others the emotions of love, devotion and fear? Is it not the sweetest fare for our vanity to be the cause of pain or joy for someone without the least claim thereto? And what is happiness? Pride gratified. Could I consider myself better and more powerful than anyone else in the world, I should be happy; were everybody to love me, I should find in myself unending wellsprings of love. Evil begets evil; one’s first suffering awakens a realization of the pleasure of tormenting another; the idea of evil cannot take root in the mind of a man without his desiring to apply it in practice. Someone has said that ideas are organic entities: their very birth imparts them form, and this form is action. He in whose brain the most ideas are born is more active than others, and because of this a genius shackled to an office desk must either die or lose his mind, just as a man of powerful physique who leads a modest, sedentary life dies of an apoplectic stroke.
~ A Hero Of Our Time, Mikhail Lermontov
God has prepared a life for you (though who knows, maybe it will also pass like smoke and nothing will happen). What matter that you’ll be passing into a different category of people? You’re not going to miss your comforts, are you, with a heart like yours? What matter if no one will see you for a long time? The point lies in you, not in time. Become a sun and everyone will see you. The sun must be the sun first of all.
~ Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
We immortals do not like things to be taken seriously. We like joking. Seriousness, young man, is an accident of time. It consists, I don’t mind telling you in confidence, in putting too high a value on time. I, too, once put too high a value on time. For that reason I wished to be a hundred years old. In eternity, however, there is no time, you see. Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke.
~ Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse
Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know
Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
Look what thy memory cannot contain
Commit to these waste blanks,and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.
~ Sonnet 77, William Shakespeare
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before;
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,
Crookèd eclipses ’gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
~ Sonnet 60, William Shakespeare
By embracing the inescapable, I lost my fear of it. I’ll tell you a secret about fear: it’s an absolutist. With fear, it’s all or nothing. Either, like any bullying tyrant, it rules your life with a stupid blinding omnipotence, or else you overthrow it, and its power vanishes in a puff of smoke. And another secret: the revolution against fear, the engendering of that tawdry despot’s fall, has more or less nothing to do with ‘courage’. It is driven by something much more straightforward: the simple need to get on with your life. I stopped being afraid because, if my time on earth was limited, I didn’t have seconds to spare for funk. Lord Khusro’s injunction echoed Vasco Miranda’s motto, another version of which I found, years later, in a story by J. Conrad. I must live until I die.
~ The Moor’s Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie