Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common.
There is, of course, always the personal satisfaction of writing down one’s experiences so they may be saved, caught and pinned under glass, hoarded against the winter of forgetfulness. Time has been cheated a little, at least in one’s own life, and a personal, trivial immortality of an old self assured. And there is another personal satisfaction: that of the people who like to recount their adventures, the diary-keepers, the story-tellers, the letter-writers, a strange race of people who feel half cheated of an experience unless it is retold. It does not really exist until it is put into words. As though a little doubting or dull, they could not see it until it is repeated. For, paradoxically enough, the more unreal an experience becomes…translated from real action into unreal words, dead symbols for life itself…the more vivid it grows. Not only does it seem more vivid, but its essential core becomes clearer. One says excitedly to an audience, ‘Do you see…I can’t tell you how strange it was…we all of us felt…’ although actually, at the time of incident, one was not conscious of such a feeling, and only became so in the retelling. It is as inexplicable as looking all afternoon at a gray stone of a beach, and not realizing, until one tries to put it on canvas, that is in reality bright blue.
Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.