Quote on life

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Once he raised his arm to show his friends the back of his hand, where the veins were laid out in the shape of a tree, and he broke out in the following improvisation:

“Here,” he said, “is the tree of life. Here is a tree that tells me more about life and death than the flowering and fading of tree gardens. I don’t remember when exactly I discovered that my wrist was blooming like a tree…but it must have been during that wonderful time when the flowering and fading of trees still spoke to me not of life and death but of the end and beginning of the school year! It was blue then, this tree, blue and slender, and the blood, which at the time I thought of not as a liquid but as light, rose like the dawn over it and turned my metacarpus’s entire landscape into a Japanese watercolor…

“The years passed, I changed, and the tree changed, too.

“I remember a splendid time; the tree was spreading. The pride I felt, seeing its inexorable flowering! It became gnarled and reddish brown—and therein lay its strength! I could call it my hand’s might rigging. But now, my friends! How decrepit it is, how rotten!

“The branches seem to be breaking off, cavities have appeared…It’s sclerosis, my friends! And the fact that the skin is getting glassy, and the tissue beneath it is squishy—isn’t this a fog settling on the tree of my life, the fog that will soon envelop all of me?”

~  Yury Olesha

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