He had no cause for self-reproach on the score of neglect, or want of thought, for he had been devoted to her service; and yet a hundret little occasions rose up before him on which he fancied he might have been more zealous, and more earnest, and wished he had been. We need be careful how we deal with those about us; when every death carries to some small circle of survivors, thoughts of so much omitted, and so little done; of so many things forgotten, and so many more which might have been repaired. There is no remorse so deep, as that which is unavailing; if we would be spared its tortures, let us remember this, in time.
Cosette, do you hear? he has come to that! he asks my forgiveness! And do you know what he has done for me, Cosette? He has saved my life. He has done more--he has given you to me. And after having saved me, and after having given you to me, Cosette, what has he done with himself? He has sacrificed himself. Behold the man. And he says to me the ingrate, to me the forgetful, to me the pitiless, to me the guilty one: Thanks! Cosette, my whole life passed at the feet of this man would be too little. That barricade, that sewer, that furnace, that cesspool,--all that he traversed for me, for thee, Cosette! He carried me away through all the deaths which he put aside before me, and accepted for himself. Every courage, every virtue, every heroism, every sanctity he possesses! Cosette, that man is an angel!
When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions - such as merit, such as past, present, and future - our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.
Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.
In my terms, I settled for the realities of life, and submitted to its necessities: if this, then that, and so the years passed. In Adrian's terms, I gave up on life, gave up on examining it, took it as it came. And so, for the first time, I began to feel a more general remorse - a feeling somewhere between self-pity and self-hatred - about my whole life. All of it. I had lost the friends of my youth. I had lost the love of my wife. I had abandoned the ambitions I had entertained. I had wanted life not to bother me too much, and had succeeded - and how pitiful that was.
After each dream, Frankie woke with a start, soaked in tears. But she found no relief in the peaceful silence of her room, because there everything was real. And the guilt was too immense to bear. Each time she opened her eyes, she'd quickly shut them. And wish that she had woken up for the very last time.
You took a life and the theft went unpunished. God didn't strike you down. The sky didn't fall. The morning after, you turned on the faucet and water still came out... It was still good when you raised your arm for a cab and one came towards you out of the flow like magic. You did things that were supposed to end you and found they were only things that changed you. It was a disappointment and a revelation and a bereavement and a new thrilling nudity. It was the basic prosaic obscenity: You kept going.
My brother trolled recovery and support groups, searching for women with dependency issues, the way I frequented bookstores with the hope of finding a well-adjusted, intelligent woman. Between us, his record was more stellar, his sin more reprehensible; though, knowing my brother, he slept soundly through the night without ever experiencing the slightest remorse.