As for conforming outwardly, and living your own life inwardly, I don’t think much of that.
If A says to B, “Lend me your scythe,” and B refuses, and the next day B says to A, “Lend me your shovel,” and A replies, “I won’t because yesterday you refused to lend me your scythe” — that is revenge.
If A says to B, “Lend me your spade,” and B refuses, and the next day B says to A, “Lend me your scythe,” and A replies, “Here it is, for I am not like you, who would not lend me your spade” — that is bearing a grudge.
I’ll tell you about a dream I had recently. When I was a schoolboy in Bucharest, my father used to come into my room in the evening and check my homework. He would open my drawers and find nothing but bits of poetry, drawings, and papers. He would get very angry and say that I was a lazybones, a good-for-nothing. In my dream, he comes into my room and says, “I hear you have done great things in the world. You have written books. Show me what you have done.” And I open my drawers and I find only singed papers, dust, and ashes. He gets very angry and I try to appease him, saying, “You are right, Daddy. I’ve done nothing, nothing.”
The human heart dares not stay away too long from that which hurt it most. There is a return journey to anguish that few of us are released from making.
Many a man who has known himself at ten forgets himself utterly between ten and thirty.
We learn, as the thread plays out, that we belong Less to what flatters us than to what scars. . . .
I think of the story about the trainee who came to Anna Freud and said, “What do you do if you evaluate a child you don’t like?” “Arrange to evaluate a second time,” said Anna Freud. “But what if after the second session you still don’t like him?” “I see the child a third time,” she said. “But if it’s still there, the dislike, after the third session,” asked the student. “What do you do then?” “I don’t know,” said Anna Freud. “It’s never happened to me.”
Once you accept the existence of God — however you define Him, however you explain your relationship to Him — then you are caught forever with His presence in the center of all things.
During the past thirty years, people from all the civilized countries of the earth have consulted me. Among all my patients in the second half of life — that is to say, over thirty-five — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that everyone of them fell ill because they had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers; and none of them has been really healed who did not regain a religious outlook.
I write because, exacting as it may be to do so, it is still more difficult to refrain, and because — however conscious of one’s limitations one may be — there is always at the back of one’s mind an irrational hope that this next book will be different: it will be the rounded achievement, the complete fulfillment. It never has been: yet I am still writing.
Once, a year ago, Robert said he thought God surrounded Himself with paradox to keep us from approaching Him in any way but by faith.
People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass themselves by without wondering.
Imagine you are dead. After many years in exile, you are permitted to cast a single glance earthward. You see a lamppost and an old dog lifting his leg against it. You are so moved that you cannot help sobbing.