photograph by Dominic Kamp
Often during the most difficult times in my life—bleak nights when I realize that whatever outcome I've been fighting against is inevitable, and I fall out of myself, helpless—my mind wanders back to this passage from Yann Martel's Life of Pi.
It's one of my favorite passages from all contemporary literature, in part because it reminds me of what I have always known: that this world is wild and unpredictable and enormous and ultimately beautiful and good. Oddly, in reminding me that I am insignificant, it makes me feel powerful enough to carry on.
The moon was a sharply defined crescent and the sky was perfectly clear. The stars shone with such fierce, contained brilliance that it seemed absurd to call the night dark. The sea lay quietly, bathed in a shy, light-footed light, a dancing play of black and silver that extended without limits all about me. The volume of things was confounding—the volume of air above me, the volume of water around and beneath me. I was half-moved, half-terrified. I felt like the sage Markandeya, who fell out of Vishnu's mouth while Vishnu was sleeping and so beheld the entire universe, everything that there is. Before the sage could die of fright, Vishnu awoke and took him back into his mouth. For the first time I noticed—as I would notice repeatedly during my ordeal, between one throe of agony and the next—that my suffering was taking place in a grand setting. I saw my suffering for what it was, finite and insignificant, and I was still. My suffering did not fit anywhere, I realized. And I could accept this. It was all right.What quotes do you return to again and again?