"Louis XVI was executed because they said he was dishonorable and a criminal," came into Pierre's head, "and from their point of view they were right, as were those too who canonized him and died a martyr's death for his sake.
There's no way out of this, it's stark: live or die. Every given moment a bubble that bursts. Step on, from one to the next, ever onwards, a rainbow of stepping stones, each bursting softly as your foot touches and passes on.
How do you get there? Death, I mean, wherever it was the wild thing dropped you: you, breath-stopped, amazed. Will I fall there or drift? When would be the moment of knowing? What sound? What sight? The sky, dark or light? The side of the boat?
It needs scarcely to be told, with what feelings, on the eve of a Nantucket voyage, I regarded those marble tablets, and by the murky light of that darkened, doleful day read the fate of the whalemen who had gone before me.
There he’d been, in extremely cold salty water, his lungs half-full and his heavy legs cramping and his shoulder useless in its socket, and all he would have had to do was nothing. Let go and drown. But he kicked, it was a reflex.
There was once a villager who was very poor, so poor that he did not have enough money to pay for his daughter’s wedding and had nothing to borrow against. He was in despair.
Humans achieve their peak in different ways. But whoever you are, once you’re over the summit, it’s downhill all the way. Nothing anyone can do about it. And the worst of it is, you never know where that peak is.
They flock together like ants, hurry east and west, run north and south. Some are mighty, some humble. Some aged, some young. They have places to go, houses to return to. At night they sleep, in the morning get up.