What elaborate misconceptions form other people’s understanding of us!

Join your hands, and put them in mine, and listen, my love.

I want to tell you, with the soft and soothing voice of a confessor giving counsel, how much our yearning to attain falls short of what we do attain.

With my voice and your attention, I want us to pray together the litany of despair.

There is no artist’s work that could not have been more perfect. When read line by line, the greatest of poems has few verses that couldn’t be improved, few scenes that couldn’t have been told more vividly, and the overall result is never so good that it couldn’t have been vastly better.

Woe to the artist who notices this, who one day happens to think about it! Never again will he work with joy or sleep in peace. He’ll be a young man without youth, and grow old dissatisfied.

And why should anyone express himself? What little he may say would be better left unsaid.

If I could really convince myself that renunciation is beautiful, how dolefully happy I would always be!

For you do not love the things I say with the same ears I use to hear myself say them. Even my ears, should I speak out loud, do not hear the words I speak in the same way as my inner ear hears the words I think. If even I, when I hear myself, get confused and am not always sure what I meant, then how much more other people are bound to misunderstand me!

What elaborate misconceptions form other people’s understanding of us!

The joy of being understood by others cannot be had by those who want to be understood, for they are too complex to be understood; and simple people, who can be understood by others, never have the desire to be understood.

Fernando Pessoa
Bernardo Soares, ''The Book of Disquiet''
(Text 328)

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