Anywhere Out of the World
Life is a hospital, in which every patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed. This one would prefer to suffer in front of the stove, and that one believes he would get well if he were placed by the window.
It seems to me that I should always be happier elsewhere than where I happen to be, and this question of moving is one that I am continually talking over with my soul.
“Tell me, my soul, poor chilled soul, what do you say to living in Lisbon? It must be very warm there, and you would bask merrily, like a lizard. It is by the sea; they say that it is built of marble, and that the people have such a horror of vegetation that they uproot all the trees. There is a landscape that would suit you — made out of light and minerals, with water to reflect them.”
My soul does not answer.
“Since you love tranquillity, and the sight of moving things, will you come and live in Holland, that heavenly land? Perhaps you could be happy in that country, for you have often admired pictures of Dutch life. What do you say to Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts, and ships anchored at the doors of houses?”
My soul remains silent.
Perhaps Batavia seems more attractive to you? There we would find the intellect of Europe married to the beauty of the tropics.
Not a word. Can my soul be dead?
“Have you sunk into so deep a stupor that only your own torment gives you pleasure? If that be so, let us flee to those lands constituted in the likeness of Death. I know just the place for us, poor soul! We will leave for Tornio. Or let us go even farther, to the last limits of the Baltic; and if possible, still farther from life. Let us go to the Pole. There the sun obliquely grazes the earth, and the slow alternations of light and obscurity make variety impossible, and increase that monotony which is almost death. There we shall be able to take baths of darkness, and for our diversion, from time to time the Aurora Borealis shall scatter its rosy sheaves before us, like reflections of the fireworks of Hell!”
At last my soul bursts into speech, and wisely cries to me: “Anywhere, anywhere, as long as it be out of this world!”