What I Have Lived For
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the verge of despair.
I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy -- ecstasy so great that I would have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness -- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what -- at last -- I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men, I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds away above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberated in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and I would gladly live it again if the chance were offered to me.
Out of the darkness
Nearly a week passed before the girl was able to explain what had happened to her. One afternoon she set out from the coast in a small boat and was caught in a storm. Towards evening, the boat struck a rock and the girl jumped into the sea. Then she swam to the shore after spending the whole night in the water. During that time she covered a distance of eight miles. Early next morning, she saw a light ahead. She knew she was near the shore because the light was high up on the cliffs. On arriving at the shore, the girl struggled up the cliff towards the light she had seen. That was all she remembered. When she woke up a day later, she found herself in hospital.