When they were in school, Peter used to say that everything you do is a self-portrait.
Other animals do not need a purpose in life. A contradiction to itself, the human animal cannot do without one. Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?
I am not a stupid woman. I am aware that there is a world out there that functions without regard to me. There are wars and budgets and bombings and vast dimensions of wealth and greed and ambition and corruption.
For the first time I noticed – as I would notice repeatedly during my ordeal, between one throe of agony and the next – that my suffering was taking place in a grand setting.
The day had gone by just as days go by. I had killed it in accordance with my primitive and retiring way of life. I had worked for an hour or two and perused the pages of old books. I had had pains for two hours, as elderly people do.
‘To tell the truth, I never had it so good,’ he wrote. ‘But I lacked the strength of character to bear such joy.’ That was hardly a joke. When a man’s breast feels like a cage from which all the dark birds have flown – he is free, he is light.
It isn’t a case of miracles not happening – it’s just a case of people calling them something else. Can’t you see the doctors round the dead man? He isn’t breathing any more, his pulse has stopped, his heart’s not beating: he’s dead.
Avoid confrontation, says Laborit, because its only result is to establish an order of dominance, such as monkeys seek when they fight to decide who may mate with whom.