To whet the appetite of those who have been reading my blog and those who want to join me in my many, many adventures in the world of books, here are some unforgettable moments…
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“And in my classes, I will talk most of the time, and you will listen most of the time. Because you may be smart, but I’ve been smart longer.”
“I would love to spend my remaining breath chatting with you about the finer points of Islamic history, but our time together is short. I must talk, and you must listen, for we are engaged here in the most important pursuit in history: the search for meaning.”
She looked at me and smiled widely, and such a wide smile on her narrow face might have looked goofy were it not for the unimpeachably elegant green in her eyes. She smiled with all the delight of a kid on Christmas morning and said, “Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”
The next day, Dr. Hyde asked me to stay after class. Standing before him, I realized for the first time how hunched his shoulders were, and he seemed suddenly sad and kind of old. “You like this class, don’t you?” he asked.
“You’ve got a lifetime to mull over the Buddhist understanding of interconnectedness.” He spoke every sentence as if he’d written it down, memorized it, and was now reciting it. “But while you were looking out the window, you missed the chance to explore the equally interesting Buddhist belief in being present for every facet of your daily life, of being truly present. Be present in this class. And then, when it’s over, be present out there,” he said, nodding toward the lake and beyond.
Conversation between Pudge and Mr. Hyde
“Sometimes I don’t get you,” I said.
She didn’t even glance at me. She just smiled toward the television and said, “You never get me. That’s the whole point.”
Conversation between Pudge and Alaska
Just like that. From a hundred miles an hour to asleep in a nanosecond. I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase.
“Don’t you know who you love, Pudge? You love the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks wine with you. You don’t love the crazy, sullen bitch.”
And there was something to that, truth be told.
Alaska, as said to Pudge
People, I thought, wanted security. They couldn’t bear the idea of death being a big black nothing, couldn’t bear the thought of their loved ones not existing, and couldn’t even imagine themselves not existing. I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.
The Great Perhaps was upon us, and we were invincible. The plan may have had faults, but we did not.
More than anything, I felt the unfairness of it, the inarguable injustice of loving someone who might have loved you back but can’t due to deadness, and then I leaned forward, my forehead against the back of Takumi’s headrest, and I cried, whimpering, and I didn’t even feel sadness so much as pain. It hurt, and that is not a euphemism. It hurt like a beating.
He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth.
And so that is the question I leave you with in this final: What is your cause for hope?
When you stopped wishing things wouldn’t fall apart, you’d stop suffering when they did.
Someday no one will remember that she ever existed, I wrote in my notebook, and then, or that I did. Because memories fall apart, too.
We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
Pudge’s Final Paper
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PhoenixFire, if it was just about surviving, getting by, and keeping things the way they are, then how would you explain imagination?
If it was just about sacrifice, selflessness, and altruism, then how would you explain desire?
And if it was just about thinking, reflection, and spiritual stuff, then how would you explain the physical world?
Get the picture, PhoenixFire? Want it all. That’s what it’s there for.
Vroom, vroom –
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I love him.
One day, we will meet.