I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence

By skiour / Posted on 10 January 2011

“Have I been in love before? Is that it?” he said, guessing my thoughts at once. “That I can tell you. No, never before — nothing at all like what I feel now.” But a sudden painful recollection seemed to flash across his mind. “No,” he said sadly; “in this too I need your compassion, in order to have the right to love you. Well, was I not bound to think twice before saying that I loved you? What do I give you? love, no doubt.”

“And is that little?” I asked, looking him in the face.

“Yes, my dear, it is little to give you,” he continued; “you have youth and beauty. I often lie awake at night from happiness, and all the time I think of our future life together. I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. And then, on the top of all that, you for a mate, and children perhaps — what more can the hear of man desire?”

“It should be enough,” I said.

“Enough for me whose youth is over,” he went on, “but not for you. Life is still before you, and you will perhaps seek happiness, and perhaps find it, in something different. You think now that this is happiness, because you love me.”

“You are wrong,” I said; “I have always desired just that quiet domestic life and prized it. And you only say just what I have thought.”

He smiled.
“So you think, my dear; but that is not enough for you. You have youth and beauty,” he repeated thoughtfully.

But I was angry because he disbelieved me and seemed to cast my youth and beauty in my teeth.

months went by and winter came with its cold and snow; and, in spite of his company, I began to feel lonely, that life was repeating itself, that there was nothing new either in him or in myself, and that we were merely going back to what had been before. He began to give more time to business which kept him away from me, and my old feeling returned, that there was a special department of his mind into which he was unwilling to admit me. His unbroken calmness provoked me. I loved him as much as ever and was as happy as ever in his love; but my love, instead of increasing, stood still; and another new and disquieting sensation began to creep into my heart. To love him was not enough for me after the happiness I had felt in falling in love. I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.

Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy


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