Sometime after I turned forty the fathers from my childhood began disappearing; they had heart attacks during business dinners or while digging their shovels into a late April snow. Some fathers began forgetting things: their phone numbers, which neighborhoods belonged to them, which houses. They had a shortness of breath, the world’s air suddenly too thin, as if it came from some other altitude. They were gone: the fathers I had seen dissecting cars in garages, the fathers with suits and briefcases, the fathers who slipped down rivers on fishing boats and the ones who drank television and beer. Most of my friends still had mothers but the fathers were endangered, then extinct. I was surprised, though I had always known the ladies lasted longer; the fathers fooled me with their toughness; I had been duped by their jogging and heavy lifting, misled by their strength when they slapped me on the back or shook my hand. I kept imagining I would see them again: out walking their dogs on the roads near my childhood house, lighting cigars on their porches, waving to me from their canoes while I waited on shore.
“Keep the snarl open and loose at all times and do not pull on the end; permit it to unfold itself. As the process is continued, the end gradually emerges. No snarl is too complicated to be solved by this method; only patience is required.”
“If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards, in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hamsphire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not ‘studying a profession,’ for he does not postpone his life, but lives already.”
In addition, Valet quotes him as saying “The internet tricks you into thinking the world’s information is a click away, but really learning about something requires a depth of knowledge that can only be sourced from books.”
“In my case, I have tried to live outside of the fashionable trends. This has got me into trouble all the time. I make my own observations, and […] I create my own world view out of the knowledge that I derive from the world itself. When you travel on foot, for example—and I don’t mean backpacking or hiking, I mean, for example, travelling on foot from Munich to Paris—you are given a world view, an insight that is different or outside of the average knowledge. I have a dictum: ‘The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.’ I do not want to explain it any further.”