A Sport and a Pastime: Open Road - by James Salter

I am at the center of emptiness. Every act seems purer for it, easier to define. The sounds separate themselves. The details all appear.

The rest of the time they sit in boredom, polishing the gestures of contempt.

As Rilke says, there are no classes for beginners in life, the most difficult thing is always asked of one right away.

France is herself only in the winter, her naked self, without manners. In the fine weather, all the world can love her.

He no longer lives in years; he is down to seasons. Finally it will become single nights, each one perilous as a lunar journey.

I see myself as an agent provocateur or as a double agent, first on one side–that of truth–and then on the other, but between these, in the reversals, the sudden defections, one can easily forget allegiance entirely and feel only the deep, the profound joy of being beyond all codes, of being completely independent, criminal is the word.

By now they know something of each other. There is a fund they can draw on together. The encounter begins to have an essence of its own which neither can define but which nourishes them both, and happily, in the single unselfish ritual of love, they contribute to it all they can. Nor does it matter how much either takes away. It is a limitless body. It can never be exhausted but only, although one never believes this, forgot.

One hungers for nothing but her, that complaisant her which is so ready to yield.

Solitude. One knows instinctively it has benefits that must be more deeply satisfying than those of other conditions, but still it is difficult. And besides, how is one to distinguish between conditions which are valuable, which despite their hatefulness give us strength or impel us to great things and others we would be far better free of? Which are precious and which are not? Why is it so hard to be happy alone? Why is it impossible? Why, whenever I am idle, sometimes even before, in the midst of doing something, do I slowly but inevitably become subject to the power of their acts.