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Sorrow passes and we remain by Henry James : A good-read on FB

Sorrow passes and we remain by Henry James : A good-read on FB

Gaya’s intro:
Do you write Letters anymore...

Correspondence as in writing well-thought out letters is a thing of the past. Today its more about publication on the digital media which is instantaneous, emotive and as quickly as it reaches us, is it swallowed up in the continuous ticker of a newsfeed.

My father had a Burma-teak study desk at which he did his correspondence; the same at which I sit now in Italy having preserved it through changing landscapes and relationships. At this table he wrote letters regularly to friends and loved ones, some in faraway countries, especially in times of personal sorrow and grief. These letters were treasured by his friends and spoken of later after his death.

The thought and awareness of writing to appease another person I guess is a very enlightened human action.

I do remember my helpessness and anguish when the JVP killed my neighbour just because he refused to shut down the Anglo-Asian factory when they ordered him to. They were new neighbours and we were not friends as yet. I wrote to his wife and she came over to my mother and showed her the letter sobbing; I was seventeen.

Last week brought in some sadness on the winds and the added scare of the Tsunamis ushered in more rememberance and sadness of our Christmas in Sri Lanka 2004 when our friends escaped the Tsunamis but many others were marked by the tragic death of loved ones. Sadness or Dukkha is not unknown nor can we ignore it, though of course we cannot dwell on it for our own good.

That night of the Tsunamis scare I just couldn’t wind down and was strolling around FB reading this and that when I noticed this post on a Friend’s wall. It is a brilliant piece of literature and would like to share it with all those who treasure evoluted human sentiment and correspondence as an art. FB has its fair share of good-reads depending on who your friends are after all.

Sorrow Passes and We Remain

Excerpt :

” Only don’t, I beseech you, generalize too much in these sympathies and tendernesses—remember that every life is a special problem which is not yours but another’s, and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own. Don’t melt too much into the universe, but be as solid and dense and fixed as you can. We all live together, and those of us who love and know, live so most.

We help each other—even unconsciously, each in our own effort, we lighten the effort of others, we contribute to the sum of success, make it possible for others to live. Sorrow comes in great waves—no one can know that better than you—but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see.”

My dear Grace, you are passing through a darkness in which I myself in my ignorance see nothing but that you have been made wretchedly ill by it; but it is only a darkness, it is not an end, or the end. Don’t think, don’t feel, any more than you can help, don’t conclude or decide—don’t do anything but wait. Everything will pass, and serenity and accepted mysteries and disillusionments, and the tenderness of a few good people, and new opportunities and ever so much of life, in a word, will remain.

You will do all sorts of things yet, and I will help you. The only thing is not to melt in the meanwhile. I insist upon the necessity of a sort of mechanical condensation—so that however fast the horse may run away there will, when he pulls up, be a somewhat agitated but perfectly identical G. N. left in the saddle. ”

Read the entire letter


  1. Molly McIlwrath says:


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