Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once. Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be! ( / )
What distinguishes an honest farewell from a cowardly one? An honest farewell from you—that would have been the attempt to come to some understanding with you about how it was with us, you and me. For that is the meaning of a farewell in the full, important sense of the word: that the two people, before they part, come to an understanding of how they have seen and experienced each other. What succeeded between them and what failed. That takes fearlessness: you have to be able to endure the pain of dissonance. It is also about acknowledging what was impossible. Parting is also something you do with yourself: to stand by yourself under the look of the other. The cowardice of a farewell resides in the transfiguration: in the attempt to bathe ‘what was’ in a less golden light and deny the dark. What you forfeit in that is nothing less than the acknowledgment of your self in those features produced by darkness.
Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier
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