Reading Virginia Woolf, while standing in spitting distance of the age of fifty…

Image 8

…and a little strip of life presented itself before her eyes, her fifty years.  There it was before her — life.  Life:  she thought but did not finish her thought.  She took a look at life, for she had a clear sense of it there, something real, something private, which she shared neither with her children nor with her husband.  A sort of transaction went on between them, in which she was on one side, and life was on another, and she was always trying to get the better of it, as it was of her and sometimes they parleyed (when she sat alone); there were, she remembered, great reconciliation scenes; but for the most part, oddly enough, she must admit that she felt this thing that she called life terrible, hostile, and quick to pounce on you if you gave it a chance.  There were always the eternal problems:  suffering; death; the poor.  There was always a woman dying of cancer even here.  And yet she had said to all these children:  You shall go through with it.  To eight people she had said relentlessly that (and the bill for the greenhouse would be fifty pounds).  For that reason, knowing what was before them — love and ambition and being wretched alone in dreary places — she had often the feeling:  Why must they grow up and lose it all?  And then she said to herself, brandishing her sword at life, nonsense.  They will be perfectly happy…. 

— To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

Advertisements