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The happiest pursuit

The happiness of pursuit. But a kind of happiness, a pleasure so sweet that it almost doesn’t count as happiness because its nature demands and absorbs a fuller measure. What? Is it possible, after all, for such things to grow old or to lose value in my old way of thinking and being? Will the pleasure of life one day pass its peak and dwindle or wear with time like the beauty which now adorns our old love-birds? Can its memory linger too long, its delight fade as we grow even after we have reached our own death?

So he would turn now and again in the midst of writing and take a quick sip from those dented canteens as if a drink would be good. He was like water as the light slowly changed. He sat, and was silent. He felt himself slowly wincing and then aching in some spot in his life from which time had drained away blood and all strength. It was his own blood he saw on the stones where he placed his hand. He felt like a man dying before his time and yet as a dead man. He saw, and with all the sight of himself he now knew with horror. It all comes together one day. Everything! All you have to love; the house and hearth where you and the ones nearest and most dear live out their lives in content.

A moment later his heart quickened at one remembered sight from that distant scene. Here I live on with myself in silence, with what? Is this where, all through time, our souls can live together? And we must let go every single soul as if no one, not you and not I, knows the way home. Why does everything that grows must wither at some time? Even you! And you knew that one day we would all have to leave together. Where?

Why this is a sorrow that cannot kill the living. You feel it, but you can’t ever really be aware of what you feel it is. You have it so many times, that what was once so pure, so lovely, so new has taken form, but not your form. No matter how old age or wear and tear might have left our memory alive. How they have left us on guard to defend what has taken so deep. Why do you turn away when you remember that when you gave birth to that little one, it must have given and taken the same with you to produce the warmth of life. Why are you not that warmness. When the children were young how you watched them, they still so dependent upon your tenderness, the way you looked for them with a love so boundless that I, too, could see. Even with you standing right at my shoulder and looking straight forward down those narrow stairs from behind your own shoulder. 

All is there as clear and real and complete, as it was once I saw there on every one of your own fingers in the water. You did that once on a dark afternoon. And all my love was gathered up that I could give you the peace that follows a heart. All day I stood alone under the great old elm where we could hear our children romping down below. There we sat together as when we watched the child come to be. No, love. But I want to love you so. And no way that you haven’t made all around our old house a way. Even for me. It’s in you. Yes, it is always you, like my mother was you. Who will ever know how she loved her? But I saw even before that how it goes away. 

Oh Lord. We don’t want that. But it’s so deep and rich, like that music of our life so long lived under this old oak that can’t be the same. It has had such different sounds, we said. It had it’s dark and then the clear light that comes and the soft. Then the way a woman looks when a great loss makes her forget herself. She looks beyond us. Yes, it would be dark. A cold night in the fall in November when a woman looked for her child. It came in like the night itself. No, don’t even remember a summer’s evening after we went inside. 

For a long time everything in the summer felt so dark, I would stand and stare at it as if lost. You stood in my path and spoke what had never been. Now all of our days and long lives are before us and they change like you change and I can’t hold them still. But to see them together with all the same old friends. The children! And my wife! What an empty and quiet evening it has become. No light in the evening in the fall in all the trees, which made it feel too much our home. And in all the branches. The moon’s face so quiet, but the moon like the earth changes through time. Now the time has almost come and you alone. I’ll always stay here, close to what you knew. 

A good night! And we said we’d live on together forever and as one.

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