What the molt is for the birds, the time when they change their plumage, is what adversity or misfortune is for us humans, a difficult time. You can stay in this molting period, you can also come out of it like a new man, but nevertheless this is not something to be done in public, it is hardly a laughing matter, which is why you need to hide away. Well, so be it.
So what do you want? Does what happens on the inside show on the outside? There is such a great fire in one’s soul, and yet nobody ever comes to warm themselves there, and passersby see nothing but a little smoke coming from the top of the chimney, and go on their way.
I am not counting on it, perhaps it will not happen, but if there should be some change for the better, I would count that as so much gain, I would be pleased, I would say “At last! So there was something there after all.”
I am writing to you rather at random just what comes to my pen.
I would be very pleased if you could see me as something other than a kind of idler.
Because there are quite different kinds of idler. There is the man who is idle from laziness and lack of character, from the baseness of his nature. You can, if you like, take me for one of these.
Then there is another kind of idler, who is idle despite himself, who is consumed inwardly by a great desire for action, but who does nothing, because it is impossible to do anything, because it is as if he were imprisoned in some way, because he lacks what he needs to be productive, because inevitable circumstances have reduced him to this. Such a man does not always know himself what he could do, but he feels instinctively: nevertheless I am good at something, I can sense a reason for my existence! I know that I could be quite a different man! How could I be useful, what could I do? There is something within me, but what is it?
That is quite a different kind of idler. You can, if you like, take me for one of these.
And men are often faced with the impossibility of doing anything, imprisoned in some kind of horrible, horrible, very horrible cage.
You can’t always say what shuts you up, what walls you in, what seems to bury you alive, but you still feel some kind of bars, some kind of cage, some kind of walls.
Is all this imagination, fantasy? I don’t think so; and then I ask myself: My God, is it for long, is it forever, is it for eternity?
Do you know what makes the prison disappear? It is every deep, genuine affection. To be friends, brothers, to love, that opens the prison by its sovereign power, its powerful charm. Someone who does not have that remains bereft of life.
Sometimes the prison is called prejudice, misunderstanding, fatal ignorance of this or that, distrust, false shame.
But where sympathy is reborn, life is reborn.