Friday, June 29, 2007

no safety or surprise

From Orson Scott Card's Children of the Mind:

"I find out what I really want by seeing what I do," said Ender. "That's what we all do, if we're honest about it. We have our feelings, we make our decisions, but in the end we look back on our lives and see how sometimes we ignored our feelings, while most of our decisions were actually rationalizations because we had already decided in our secret hearts before we ever recognized it consciously."

It was wrong of me to value my own pain so highly that I thought it gave me the right to inflict more on him.

Have I lost my mind?
Or have I, finally, found my heart?

"But part of the purpose is now, is the moment. And part of it is the web of connections. Links from soul to soul. If the purpose of life was just to continue into the future, then none of it would have meaning, because it would all be anticipation and preparation. There's fruition, Grego. There's the happiness we've already had. The happiness of each moment. The end of our lives, even if there's no forward continuation, no progeny at all, the end of our livese doesn't erase the beginning."

"But it won't have amounted to anything," said Grego. "If your children die, then it was all a waste."

"No," said Olhado quietly. "You say that because you have no children, Greguinho. But none of it is wasted. The child you hold in your arms for only a day before he dies, that is not wasted, because that one day is enough of a purpose in itself. Entropy has been thrown back for an hour, a day, a week, a month. Just because we might all die here on this little world does not undo the lives before the deaths."

Grego shook his head. "Yes it does, Olhado. Death undoes everything."

Olhado shrugged. "Then why do you bother doing everything, Grego? Because someday you will die. Why should anyone ever have children? Someday they will die, their children will die, all children will die. Someday stars will wind down or blow up. Someday death will cover us all like water of a lake and perhaps nothing will ever come to the surface to show that we were ever there. But we were there, and during the time we lived, we were alive. That's the truth – what it is, what is was, what it will be –  not what could be, what should have been, what never can be. If we die, then our death has meaning to the rest of the universe. Even if our lives are unknown, the fact that someone lived here, and died, that will have repercussions, that will shape the universe."

"So that's meaning enough for you?" said Grego. "To die as an object lesson? To die so that people can feel awful about having killed you?"

"There are worse meanings for a life to have."


posted by Jennifer at 6/29/2007 07:47:00 AM

Anonymous Bryan said...

That was really cool. I didn't have a "must read list" before now, but now I do, and there's a book on it!!

6/29/2007 08:53:00 PM  

Blogger Jennifer said...

Glad you liked it! I highly recommend the entire Ender's Game quartet, along with the Ender's Shadow series. It's great reading.

6/29/2007 09:12:00 PM  

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