If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here-and by 'we' I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.
We want to get there faster. Get where? Wherever we are not. But a human soul can only go as fast as a man can walk, they used to say. In that case, where are all the souls? Left behind. They wander here and there, slowly, dim lights flickering in the marshes at night, looking for us. But they're not nearly fast enough, not for us, we're way ahead of them, they'll never catch up. That's why we can go so fast: our souls don't weigh us down.
Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Back, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.
I have a hundred-year-old aunt who aspires to sainthood, and whose only wish has been to go into the convent, but no congregation, not even the Little Sisters of Charity, could tolerate her for more than a few weeks, so the family has had to look after her. Believe me, there is nothing so insufferable as a saint, I wouldn't sic one on my worst enemy.
When you get down to the bottom of it, only about half of what we remember really happened. We tend to modify things to make ourselves look better in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. Then, if what we did wasn't really very admirable, we tend to forget that it ever happened. A normal human being's grasp on reality is very tenuous at best. Our imaginary lives are usually much nicer.