“It is hard to be angry when one has seen the sun rise,' she said.
It seems to be true,' he admitted. 'I wonder why.'
Because it makes one feel so small and insignificant. It has been rising forever and will rise forever no matter what we do or do not do. All our problems are as nothing to the sun.”
“Not one of the creatures of blood can escape death. We all face it, and succumb to it. It follows us like a dark shadow. Yet if we live in terror of it, then we do not live at all. Yes we are born alone, and yes we will die alone. But in between, Tae, we live. We know joy.”
“It is said a man doesn’t get old while his mother lives. I think it’s true. You are always a child in her eyes. It is irritating in the extreme. But you know, when they have gone, you’d give the earth just to hear them treating you like a child once more.”
“Hatred is like a plague. It is all-consuming, and it springs from man to man.”
“Yes, it would have been good, he thought, to spend quiet years with his family, waiting for his diseased heart to fail as he sat in his chair staring at the mountains. But this was better. This was life! Not the killing and the terrified screams of dying men suddenly facing the awesome spectre of their own mortality. No, but to face his fears as a man, to stand at the brink of the abyss and refuse to be cowed or beaten down.”
“The tree bark began to move, forming a face of wood.”
“Stories are a kind of thing, too. Stories and objects share something, a patina. I thought I had this clear, two years ago before I started, but I am no longer sure how this works. Perhaps a patina is a process of rubbing back so that the essential is revealed, the way that a striated stone tumbled in a river feels irreducible, the way that this netsuke of a fox has become little more than a memory of a nose and a tail. But it also seems additive, in the way that a piece of oak furniture gains over years and years of polishing, and the way the leaves of my medlar shine.”
“Yet I believed then and I believe now that there is something in the universe that brings people who need each other together. There is something that helps two wildly disparate people somehow forge a bond. Maybe it is precisely the thing that haunts us most that makes us reach out to others we think can provide some solace.”
“I look at people in a different
perspective. I saw you differently. Shy
with a smart-ass mouth. Reserved, but you
know exactly how to cut loose. Girls like you
I have to watch out for. Girls like you are the
“We feel that our actions are voluntary when they follow a decision, and involuntary when they happen without decision. But if decision itself were voluntary, every decision would have to be preceded by a decision to decide–an infinite regression which fortunately does not occur. Oddly enough, if we had to decide to decide, we would not be free to decide. We are free to decide because decision “happens.” We just decide without having the faintest understanding of how we do it. In fact, it is neither voluntary nor involuntary. To “get the feel” of this relativity is to find another extraordinary transformation of our experience as a whole, which may be described in either of two ways. I feel that I am deciding everything that happens, or, I feel that everything, including my decisions, is just happening spontaneously. For a decision–the freest of my actions-just happens like hiccups inside me or like a bird singing outside me. Such a way of seeing things is vividly described by a modern Zen master, the late Sokei-an Sasaki: One day I wiped out all the notions from my mind. I gave up all desire. I discarded all the words with which I thought and stayed in quietude. I felt a little queer–as if I were being carried into something, or as if I were touching some power unknown to me … and Ztt! I entered. I lost the boundary of my physical body. I had my skin, of course, but I felt I was standing in the center of the cosmos. I spoke, but my words had lost their meaning. I saw people coming towards me, but all were the same man. All were myself! I had never known this world. I had believed that I was created, but now I must change my opinion: I was never created; I was the cosmos; no individual Mr. Sasaki existed.7 It would seem, then, that to get rid of the subjective distinction between “me” and “my experience”–through seeing that my idea of myself is not myself–is to discover the actual relationship between myself and the “outside” world. The individual, on the one hand, and the world, on the other, are simply the abstract limits or terms of a concrete reality which is “between” them, as the concrete coin is “between” the abstract, Euclidean surfaces of its two sides. Similarly, the reality of all “inseparable opposites”–life and death, good and evil, pleasure and pain, gain and loss–is that “between” for which we have no words.”
“I’m not chasing after some chick I want to fuck. I’m chasing after a woman I love who isn’t letting me in.”
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