“All right,” cried Allbee. “Now let me explain something to you. It’s a Christian idea, but I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to understand it. ‘Repent!’ That’s John the Baptist coming out of the desert. Change yourself, that’s what he’s saying, and be another man. You must be and the reason for that is that you can be, and when your time comes here you will be. There’s another thing behind that ‘repent’; it’s that we know what to repent. How?” His unsmiling face compelled Leventhal’s attention. “I know. Everybody knows. But you’ve got to take away the fear of admitting by a still greater fear. I understand that doctors are beginning to give their patients electric shocks. They tear all hell out of them, and then they won’t trifle. You see, you have to get yourself so that you can’t stand to keep on in the old way. When you reach that stage–” he knotted his hands and the sinews rose up on his wrists. “It takes a long time before you’re ready to quit dodging. Meanwhile, the pain is horrible.” He blinked blindly several times as if to clear his eyes of an obstruction. “We’re mulish; that’s why we have to take such a beating. When we can’t stand another lick without dying of it, then we change. And some people never do. They stand there until the last lick falls and die like animals. Others have the strength to change long before. But repent means now, this minute and forever, without wasting any more time.”
“And this minute has arrived for you already?”
Fear is consciousness plus life.
Regret is an attempt to avoid what has already happened.
Toast is bread held under direct heat until crisp.
The present tense of regret is indecision,
The future tense of fear is either comedy or tragedy,
And the past tense of toast is toasted.
-Episode 23, Eternal Scouts
“PRIDE is a sense of worth derived from something that is not organically part of us, while self-esteem derives from the potentialities and achievements of the self. We are proud when we identify ourselves with an imaginary self, a leader, a holy cause, a collective body or possessions. There is fear and intolerance in pride; it is sensitive and uncompromising. The less promise and potency in the self, the more imperative is the need for pride. The core of pride is self-rejection.
“It is true that when pride releases energies and serves as a spur to achievement, it can lead to a reconciliation with the self and the attainment of genuine self-esteem.”
“I ran right through the front door
Like a hobo sailor does,
But it was just a funeral parlor,
And the man asked me who I was.
“I repeated that my friends
Were all in jail, with a sigh.
He gave me his card.
He said, ‘Call me if they die.’ “
“But what I want to know is this: couldn’t somebody of that type moderate his physique, by the right kind of diet and exercise, and general care?”
“To some extent. Not without more trouble than it would probably be worth. That’s what’s wrong with all these diets and body-building courses and so forth. You can go against your type, and probably achieve a good deal as long as you keep at it. Look at these Hollywood stars–they starve themselves and get surgeons to carve them into better shapes and all that because it’s their livelihood. Every now and then one of them can’t stand it any more, then it’s the overdose. The body is the inescapable factor, you see. You can keep in good shape for what you are, but radical change is impossible. Health isn’t making everybody into a Greek ideal; it’s living out the destiny of the body. If you’re thinking about yourself, I guess you could knock off twenty-five pounds to advantage, but that wouldn’t make you a thin man; it’d make you a neater fat man. What the cost would be to your nerves, I couldn’t even guess.”
“In short, be not another if thou canst be thyself.”
“He’s dead right. But it isn’t simple, being yourself. You have to know yourself physiologically and people don’t want to believe the truth about themselves. They get some mental picture of themselves and then they devil the poor old body, trying to make it like the picture. When it won’t obey–can’t obey, of course–they are mad at it, and live in it as if it were an unsatisfactory house they were hoping to move out of. A lot of illness comes from that.”
– Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels
Happy 101st Birthday, Mr. Davies.