Show today's page | Show a random page

The man who lost

A friend in Program says:

In 1886 there appeared in England a novel, a study of an alcoholic, of an unusual forthrightness for its time. Henchard is a young agricultural laborer who drinks too much at a country fair and sells his wife and child in an improvised and chaotic auction. Decades later we meet Henchard again, now sober for many years, a wealthy farmer in his own right, and the mayor of the town. But his life is about to collapse once more. His wife reappears, with what he takes to be his now-grown child. A young Scotsman, wise in the ways of new and more efficient agricultural methods, arrives in town, and Henchard manages to make an enemy of him. And his former mistress from the Channel Islands also comes back into his life. As his life unravels, he begins to drink again; and he eventually dies believing himself to be completely isolated from his daughter and from all mankind. He leaves the following will:

That [my daughter] be not told of my death, or made to grieve on account of me
& that I be not bury'd in consecrated ground
& that no sexton be asked to toll the bell.
& that nobody is wished to see my dead body
& that no murners walk behind me at my funeral
& that no flours be planted on my grave
& that no man remember me.
To this I put my name.

The self-pity of desperation -- the belief that no one can be quite as miserable as we are. We don't suffer from that any more, of course -- or do we? Isn't there still some private area of our lives we hold on to, which we are going to manage come hell or high water, and which will probably damage us if it doesn't work out the way we want? Our children, perhaps? Our spouses? Our jobs? Something, in fact, on which we badly need to work the last three Steps?

"The spiritual life is never one of achievement:
it is always one of letting go."

The text on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Photos by