The worst possible circumstance in life is this one:
- Justice must be done because there is simply no other choice left while living; no-one has left you alternatives, and what is right can no longer wait while you draw breath.
- Doing justice is easy; a simple matter of knowledge that is already at hand, but that has remained covered, obscured, unseen as a matter of intention. It is a simple matter of coming to know that which you have as yet avoided knowing.
- And yet in coming to know these things—things that have not been uncovered because all are better off not knowing them—you know, too, that the seeds of future injustice and suffering will be sown, the fruits of your own hands.
There have been multiple times in my life when I have faced such a calculation—when unavoidably doing the right thing is also unavoidably doing the wrong thing, and both (which are, after all, one and the same) fall readily to hand once the moment of truth has arrived.
— § —
When faced with this circumstance, in every case I have fought hard for alternatives. Because while right is right, surely right without harm is so, so much better. Sometimes you find alternatives. Sometimes you don’t.
Happily, this time I have.
— § —
Integrity is a bitch and will kill you if you give it the chance. You’ve got to watch it all the time, like a cagey wild animal, and prepare to both subvert it and protect it at once, like tranquilizing a noble, wild predator.
My right-now-elsewhere wife says that I live unhelpfully by principles. She’s absolutely right. But you are who you are, for better or for worse. Some things about yourself you can change. Other things are suicide, and you try to change them only if there is no point in going on as yourself.
— § —
When you’re young, you hate to hear about “gray areas.”
Later on, when you dwell in and rely on them for your breath, you realize why your elders inevitably explained nearly everything in such terms. It is because you yourself are unavoidably a gray area; the world would be both immeasurably better off and also so much the worse without you.
This is not me being maudlin, me being self-absorbed, nor me being down. It applies, objectively, to everyone.
— § —
“Just once I knew what life was for.
In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.”
— Anne Sexton