Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
I remember being 10 and sitting in the back seat of the car (a town car), my parents were up front, and I asked them why they thought they should have had children. Evidently I was The Children I was referring to. They thought the question was funny, so they laughed. I rephrased:
“So you and you (I was pointing at them) decided you should be together and have a child? Just like that? What was this, some sort of gift to the world?” My mother answered that life is a gift. I thought it was a rather ridiculous answer then, I still think so now. It takes an extraordinary degree of courage to inflict life on someone. I was born on March 23rd, 1978, Maundy Thursday; I found it an imposition then as evidenced by the need for forceps. I still find it an imposition now- as evidenced by my distaste for mankind.
I leave you with Herman Hesse’s Stufen as I fill a glass with genever.
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.