“What is there I can give you? Love, it is true.”
“And is that so little?” I asked looking into his eyes.
“Yes, my dear, it is little to give you,” he went on. “You have beauty and youth. Often now I cannot sleep at night for happiness: I lie awake and think of our future life together. I have lived through a great deal, and I think I have found what is needed for happiness: a quiet, secluded life here in the depths of the country, with the possibility of doing good to people to whom it is easy to do good which they are not accustomed to receiving; then work – work which one hopes may be of some use; then leisure, nature, books, music, love for a kindred spirit – such is my idea of happiness, and I dreamed of none higher. And now, to crown it all, I get you, a family perhaps, and all that the heart of man could desire.”
“It should be enough,” I said.
“Enough for me whose youth is over, but not for you,” he pursued. “You have not seen anything of life yet. You may want to seek happiness elsewhere, and perhaps find it in something different. At present you believe that this is happiness because you love me.”
Happily Ever After
Leo Tolstoy 1859
Cribb Comment: I am extremely fond of this passage. Tolstoy reveals the hard to tell truth about love that most do not want to hear or even come close to contemplating; it must be grandiose and dramatic, fervent and uber passionate, and a thrill ride of unending emotional hype, stimulation, and volatile exchange, never just basic, simple, easy, and quietly profound in its energy and transcending bond. He also touches on the attainment and understanding of happiness in life which requires a security and willful stability in individual perspective and contentment of purpose. His promotion of the importance of untainted and unhypocritical good will towards his fellow man is also captured elegantly and succinctly by “doing good to people who are not used to such things and doing so without forcing this “good” upon them in an overstep of intent.” Lastly, his point of youth and its hunger, aware or unaware, for more than love, for more than genuine happiness, is presented with the unselfish tenderness and empathy of a saint. It is an undeniable truth that most youthful “old souls” can’t quite accept about themselves and their overriding desire. They seem unable to digest that real happiness and real love might just be too pure, obtainable, and stable, for the premises and constructs they have anchored into their psyche as defining a normal existence.
I would have preferred for Tolstoy to postulate a manner or theory in which these two characters could have worked together to address and resolve the youthful subconscious yearnings (their burden of misunderstood nervous and excitable egocentric energy) of the wife more effectively and profoundly. It would seem that Tolstoy might believe such a transition utterly impossible without the context of further life experience to curb and temper such youthful yearning.