I think it’s part of the nature of man to start with romance and build to a reality. There’s hardly a scientist or an astronaut I’ve met who wasn’t beholden to some romantic before him who led him to doing something in life.
Darwin was the kind of romantic who could stand in the middle of a meadow like a statue for eight hours on end and let the bees buzz in and out of his ear. A fantastic statue standing there in the middle of nature, and all the foxes wandering by and wondering what the hell he was doing there, and they sort of looked at each other and examined the wisdom in each other’s eyes. But this is a romantic man — when you think of any scientist in history, he was a romancer of reality.
What makes humans human is precisely that they do not know the future. That is why they do the fateful and amusing things they do: who can say how anything will turn out? Therein lies the only hope for redemption, discovery, and-let’s be frank—fun, fun, fun! There might be things people will get away with. And not just motel towels. There might be great illicit loves, enduring joy, faith-shaking accidents with farm machinery. But you have to not know in order to see what stories your life’s efforts bring you. The mystery is all.
How is it possible to live when … the elements of this life are utterly incomprehensible to us? If we are continually inadequate in love, uncertain in decision and impotent in the face of death, how is it possible to exist?
Every friendship travels at sometime through the black valley of despair. This tests every aspect of your affection. You lose the attraction and the magic. Your sense of each other darkens and your presence is sore. If you can come through this time, it can purify with your love, and falsity and need will fall away. It will bring you onto new ground where affection can grow again.
Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night’s sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too.
If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy’s trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one … he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent.
The aspiration to distill and transmit the secrets of the heart can attain a moment of matchless lucidity within a novel, a play, a short story, a poem. Through a symmetry as compact and surprising as the equivalence between matter and energy, love’s poetry and its science share an unexpected identity. Each avenue uses the tools of the intellect to reach beyond; each seeks to lay hold of the ineffable and render it known, with the warm shock of recognition that truth so often carries. Now that science has traveled into the realm of the poetic, the efforts of one endeavor can inform those of its twin.
The poetic and the veridical, the proven and the unprovable, the heart and the brain – like charged particles of opposing polarity – exert their pulls in different directions. Where they are brought together the result is incandescence.
Within that place of radiant intersection, love begins to reveal.
Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.