She fit her head under his chin, and he could feel her weight settle into him. He held her tight and words spilled out of him without prior composition. And this time he made no effort to clamp them off. He told her about the first time he had looked on the back of her neck as she sat in the church pew. Of the feeling that had never let go of him since. He talked to her of the great waste of years between then and now. A long time gone. And it was pointless, he said, to think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell, Inman said, for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you are. All your grief hasn't changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You're left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not. But if you go on, it's knowing you carry your scars with you. Nevertheless, over all those wasted years, he had held in his mind the wish to kiss her on the back of her neck, and now he had done it. There was a redemption of some kind, he believed, in such complete fulfillment of a desire so long deferred.
I'm ruined beyond repair, is what I fear...And if so, in time we'd both be wretched and bitter. I know people can be mended. Not all, and some more immediately than others. But some can be. I don't see why not you. Why not me?
His spells portrayed the spirit as a frail thing, contstantly under attack and in need of stength, always threatening to die inside you. Inman found this notion dismal indeed, since he had been taught by sermon and hymn to hold as truth that the soul of man never dies.
I cannot decide whether it is an illness or a sin, the need to write things down and fix the flowing world in one rigid form. Bear believed writing dulled the spirit, stilled some holy breath. Smothered it. Words, when they’ve been captured and imprisoned on paper, become a barrier against the world, one best left unerected. Everything that happens is fluid, changeable. After they’ve passed, events are only as your memory makes them, and they shift shapes over time. Writing a thing down fixes it in place as surely as a rattlesnake skin stripped from the meat and stretched and tacked to a barn wall. Every bit as stationary, and every bit as false to the original thing. Flat and still and harmless. Bear recognized that all writing memorializes a momentary line of thought as if it were final. But I was always word-smitten.
How would you ever come to know God’s name for that star? – You wouldn’t, He holds it close, the boy said. It’s a thing you’ll never know. It’s a lesson that sometimes we’re meant to settle for ignorance. Right there’s what mostly comes of knowledge [boy tips his chin at the battlefield]
He saw with sorrow that hers was a life he could step right into and keep working at hard from tonight until death. If he allowed himself to ponder it for a minute, he saw all the world hanging over the girl like the deadfall to a trap, ready to drop and crush.
He tried to name which of the deadly seven might apply, and when he failed he decided to append an eighth, regret.
They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!
They say this war is a cloud over the land! But they make the weather and then they stand in the rain and say, ‘Shit, it’s raining!
She had been struck by the figure of a woman's back in a mirror. She stopped and looked. The dress the figure wore was the color called ashes of roses, and Ada stood, held in place by a sharp stitch of envy or th woman's dress and the fine shape of her back and her thick dark hair and the sense of assurance she seemed to evidence in her very posture.Then Ada took a step forward, and the other woman did too, and Ada realized that it was herself she was admiring, the mirror having caught the reflection of an opposite mirror on the wall behind her. The light of the lamps and the tint of the mirrors had conspired to shift colors, bleaching mauve to rose. She climbed the steps to her room and prepared for bed, but she slept poorly that night, for the music went on until dawn. As she lay awake she thought how odd it had felt to win her own endorsement.
And she [Ada] thought momentarily that she ought to worry about losing her beauty, about having become brown and stringy and rough. And then she thought that you went on living one day after another, and in time you were somebody else, your previous self only like a close relative, a sister or brother, with whom you shared a past. But a different person, a separate life.
If you are in the mountains alone for some time, many days at minimum, & it helps if you are fasting. The forest grows tired of its weariness towards you; it resumes its inner life and allows you to see it. Near dusk the faces in tree bark cease hiding, and stare out at you. The welcoming ones and also the malevolent, open in their curiosity. In your camp at night you are able to pick out a distinct word now and then from the muddled voices in creek water, sometimes an entire sentence of deep import. The ghosts of animals reveal themselves to you without prejudice to your humanity. You see them receding before you as you walk the trail their shapes beautiful and sad.
There in the highlands, clear weather held for much of the time. The air lacked its usual haze, and the view stretched on and on across rows of blue mountains, each paler than the last until the final ranks were indistinguishable from the sky. It was as if all the world might be composed of nothing but valley and ridge.
We are not strong enough to stand up against endless grief, And yet pain is the constant drone of life. So if we are to have any happiness at all, it is only in the passing instant.
With the snow piling up outside, the warm dry cabin hidden in its fold of the mountain felt like a safe haven indeed, though it had not been such for the people who had lived there. Soldiers had found them and made the cabin trailhead to a path of exile, loss, and death. But for a while that night, it was a place that held within its walls no pain nor even a vague memory collection of pain.
… she claimed it’s a sign of God’s mercy that He won’t let us remember the reddest details of pain. He knows the parts we can’t bear and won’t let our minds render them again. In time, from disuse, they pale away. At least such was her thinking. God lays the unbearable on you and then takes some back.
Where had he been? Drinking, obviously. Then she started cataloging all the ways he was worthless. On fool impulse, as his most potent available argument against Lily, Bud stuck his hands into his coat pockets and pulled out the many bundles of hundreds and threw them on the bedspread. If you were honest and stupid, you worked a couple of lifetimes for that kind of money, doled out by the hour in pocket-change amounts by asswipe bosses.
One thing he discovered with a great deal of astonishment was that music held for him more then just pleasure. There was meat to it. The grouping of sounds, their forms in the air as they rang out and faded, said something comforting to him about the rule of Creation. What the music said was that there is a right way for things to be ordered so that life might not always be just tangle and drift, but have a shape, an aim. It was a powerful argument that life did not just happen.
Ruby said there were many songs that you could not say anybody in particular had made by himself. A song went around from fiddler to fiddler and each one added something and took something away so that in time the song became a different thing from what it had been, barely recognizable in either tune or lyric. But you could not say the song had been improved, for as was true of all human effort, there was never advancement. Everything added meant something lost, and about as often as not the thing lost was preferable to the thing gained, so that over time we'd be lucky if we just broke even. Any thought otherwise was empty pride.
Musicians add to songs and they evolve: For as was true of human effort, there was never advancement. Everything added meant something lost, and about as often as not the thing lost was preferable to the thing gained, so that over time we'd be lucky if we just broke even. Any thought otherwise was empty pride. p. 380
From inside the tavern came the sounds of a fiddle being tuned, various plucks and tentative bowings, then a slow and groping attempt at Aura Lee, interrupted every few notes by unplanned squeaks and howls. Nevertheless the beautiful and familiar tune was impervious to poor performance, and Inman thought how painfully young it sounded, as if the pattern of its notes allowed no room to imagine a future clouded and tangled and diminished.
In his mind, Inman likened the swirling paths of vulture flight to the coffee grounds seeking pattern in his cup. Anyone could be oracle for the random ways things fall against each other. It was simple enough to tell fortunes if a man dedicated himself to the idea that the future will inevitably be worse than the past and that time is a path leading nowhere but a place of deep and persistent threat. The way Inman saw it, if a thing like Fredericksburg was to be used as a marker of current position, then many years hence, at the rate we're going, we'll be eating one another raw.
...I had always believed prayer ought to be conducted on our feet rather than on our knees, since God seems in all other departments of life to require us to stand upright and account for ourselves.
Back then, he'd have to leave at the end of August for the start of school, so the week before Labor Day became it's own tiny season of gloom, like a hundred Sunday nights crowded together.
He was himself a case in point, and perhaps not a rare one, for his spirit, it seemed, had been burned out of him but he was yet walking.
The flame of urgent coupling burned hottest against the woman, no matter how romantic and high and heartsick the anguish of the man might be pitched in retrospect.
Still, Luce held firm to the belief that quiet and solitude were good for you, offering peace, or at least hope for peace.
And it was pointless...to think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and for the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell...for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you were. All your grief hasn't changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You're left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is to go on or not. But if you go on, it's knowing you carry your scars with you.
You try your best to love the world despite obvious flaws in design and execution and you take care of whatever needy things present themselves to you during your passage through it. Otherwise you're worthless.
How embarrassing that she ever did something that silly. But, good God, she was seventeen. At that age, we're mostly high-pitched and crazy. All urgent chemicals raging around the blood course. And that's why we do dangerous and embarrassing things, as if simultaneously we're immortal and going to die tomorrow. And that's why we look back on that time so fondly from the dimmer years to come. Remembering the days when we were like Greek gods. Mighty and idiotic.
They were both at such an age that they stood on a cusp. They could think in one part of their minds that their whole lives stretched out before them without boundary or limit. At the same time another part guessed that youth was about over for them and what lay ahead was another country entirely, wherein the possibilities narrowed down moment by moment.