I don’t think love is always a huge, cataclysmal emotional event. I think sometimes it sits in front of you for a very long time until you glance over and say, oh, there you are. I don’t think it’s your saving grace. I think it’s the hand that you hold while you save yourself. I don’t think it’s someone who sweeps you off your feet. I think it’s someone who stays right beside you and lets you walk on your own. I don’t think it’s always a blazing but temporary insanity of racing hearts and hormones. I think that’s the love that changes us. The love that should stay with us is the calm, deep, thorough knowing that you want to be with someone despite logical objections. And what may be even more important than anything is that I think you find your own love at the very edges of where other people’s love pushes you.
Of course, you never really forget anyone, but you certainly release them. You stop allowing their history to have any meaning for you today. You let them change their haircut, let them move, let them fall in love again. And when you see this person you have let go, you realize that there is no reason to be sad. The person you knew exists somewhere, but you are separated by too much time to reach them again.
~ Chelsea Fagan, How We Let People Go
Whichever way man may look upon the earth, he is oppressed with the suffering incident to life. It would almost seem as though the earth had been created with malignity and hatred. If we look at what we are pleased to call the lower animals, we behold a universal carnage. We speak of the seemingly peaceful woods, but we need only look beneath the surface to be horrified by the misery of that underworld. Hidden in the grass and watching for its prey is the crawling snake which swiftly darts upon the toad or mouse and gradually swallows it alive; the hapless animal is crushed by the jaws and covered with slime, to be slowly digested in furnishing a meal. The snake knows nothing about sin or pain inflicted upon another; he automatically grabs insects and mice and frogs to preserve his life. The spider carefully weaves his web to catch the unwary fly, winds him into the fatal net until paralyzed and helpless, then drinks his blood and leaves him an empty shell. The hawk swoops down and snatches a chicken and carries it to its nest to feed its young. The wolf pounces on the lamb and tears it to shreds. The cat watches at the hole of the mouse until the mouse cautiously comes out, then with seeming fiendish glee he plays with it until tired of the game, then crunches it to death in his jaws.
Hatred we can manage. The tension of human nerves during noise, danger, and fatigue, makes them prone to any violent emotion and it is only a question of guiding this susceptibility into the right channels. If conscience resists, muddle him. Let him say that he feels hatred not on his own behalf but on that of the women and children, and that a Christian is told to forgive his own, not other people’s enemies. In other words let him consider himself sufficiently identified with the women and children to feel hatred on their behalf, but not sufficiently identified to regard their enemies as his own and therefore proper objects of forgiveness.
~ Letter 29
As if it were an ostinato providing the bass accompaniment to a musical composition, she kept silently repeating to the rhythm of her motion: I will fight, I will fight, I will fight, and she was sure that she would win. Just open any dictionary. To fight means to set one’s will against the will of another, with the aim of defeating the opponent, to bring him to his knees, possibly to kill him. “Life is a battle” is a proposition that must at first have expressed melancholy and resignation. But our century of optimism and massacres has succeeded in making this terrible sentence sound like a joyous refrain. You will say that to fight against somebody may be terrible, but to fight for something is noble and beautiful. Yes, it is beautiful to strive for happiness (or love, or justice and so on), but if you are in the habit of designating your striving with the word “fight”, it means that your noble striving conceals the longing to knock someone on the ground. The fight for is always connected with the fight against, and the preposition “for” is always forgotten in the course of the fight in favor of the preposition “against.”
~ Milan Kundera, Immortality,(1990)
Watching the children, he noticed two things especially. A girl of about five, and her sister, who was no more than three, wanted to drink from the pebbled concrete fountain at the playground’s edge, but it was too high for either of them, so the five-year-old…jumped up and, resting her stomach on the edge and grasping the sides, began to drink. But she was neither strong enough nor oblivious enough of the pain to hang on, and she began to slip off backward. At this, the three-year-old…advanced to her sister and, also grasping the edge of the fountain, placed her forehead against her sister’s behind, straining to hold her in place, eyes closed, body trembling, curls spilling from her cap. Her sister drank for a long time, held in position by an act as fine as Harry had ever seen on the battlefields of Europe.
But, Catherine, everything’s that true despite us - the things they’re talking about, natural laws - will always remain true despite us. What matters is what’s true because of us. That’s what’s up for grabs. That’s where the battle is. One remembers and values one’s life not for its objective truths, but for the emotional truths…The only thing that’s really true, that lasts, and makes life worthwhile is the truth that’s fixed in the heart. That’s what we live and die for. It comes in epiphanies, and it comes in love, and don’t ever let frightened people turn you away from it.
~ Mark Helprin