One has to make a sacrifice. I chose the freedom of long unscheduled afternoons in which nothing happens but the slightest shift in mood as captured in a semicolon. Yes, work was that for me, an irresponsible exercise in pure freedom. And if I neglected or even ignored the rest, it was because I believed the rest conspired to chip away at that freedom, to interfere and force upon it a compromise. The first words out of my mouth in the morning spoken to S, and already the constraints began, the false politeness. Habits are formed. Kindness above all, responsiveness, a patient show of interest. But you also have to try to be entertaining and amusing. It’s exhausting work, int he way that trying to keep three or four lies going at once is exhausting. Only to be repeated tomorrow and tomorrow after that. You hear a sound and it’s truth turning in its grave. Imagination dies a slower death, by suffocation. You try to put up walls to cordon off the little plot whee you labor as something apart, with a separate climate and different rules. But the habits seep in anyway like poisoned groundwater, and all you were trying to raise there chokes and withers. What I’m trying to say is that it seems to me you can’t have it both ways. So I made a sacrifice, and let go.

Great House, Nicole Krauss, p. 44


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