It is a bad idea to live too long. Few carry it off well.
Bleak as the scene was, though, there was growing joy in Inman’s heart. He was nearing home; he could feel it in the touch of thin air on skin, in his longing to see the lead of hearth smoke from the houses of people he had known all his life. People he would not be called upon to hate or fear. He rose and took a wide stance on the rock and stood and pinched down his eyes to sharpen the view across the vast propect to one far mountain. It stood apart from the sky only as the stroke of a poorly inked pen, a line thin and quick and gestural. But the shape slowly grew plain and unmistakable. It was to Cold Mountain he looked. He had achieved a vista of what for him was homeland.
Musicians add to songs and they evolve: For as was true of human effort, there was never advancement. Everything added meant something lost, and about as often as not the thing lost was preferable to the thing gained, so that over time we’d be lucky if we just broke even. Any thought otherwise was empty pride. p. 380
Survive long enough and you get to a far point in life where nothing else of particular interest is going to happen. After that, if you don’t watch out, you can spend all your time tallying your losses and gains in endless narrative. All you love has fled or been taken away. Everything fallen from you except the possibility of jolting and unforewarned memory springing out of the dark, rushing over you with the velocity of heartbreak. May walking down the hall humming an old song—The Girl I Left Behind Me—or the mere fragrance of clove in spiced tea can set you weeping and howling when all you’ve been for weeks on end is numb.
But I believe the words entered me and changed me and still work in me. The words eat me and sustain me. And when I’m dead and in a box in the dark dark ground, and all my various souls have died and I am nothing but insensible bones, something in the marrow will still feel yearning, desire persisting beyond flesh.
When Ada disappeared into the trees, it was like a part of the richness of the world had gone with her. He had been alone in the world and empty for so long. But she filled him full, and so he believed everything that had been taken out of him might have been for a purpose. To clear space for something better. -Cold Mountain
And then she thought that you went on living one day after another, and in time you were somebody else, your previous self only like a close relative, a sister or brother, with whom you shared a past. But a different person, a separate life. Certainly neither she nor Inman were the people they had been the last time they were together. And she believed maybe she liked them both better now.
One thing he discovered with a great deal of astonishment was that music held for him more then just pleasure. There was meat to it. The grouping of sounds, their forms in the air as they rang out and faded, said something comforting to him about the rule of Creation. What the music said was that there is a right way for things to be ordered so that life might not always be just tangle and drift, but have a shape, an aim. It was a powerful argument that life did not just happen.
On thing he discovered with a great deal of astonishment was that music held more for him than just pleasure. There was meat to it. The grouping of sounds, their forms in the air as they rang out and faded, said something comforting to him about the rule of creation. What the music said was that there is a right way for things to be ordered so that life might not always be just tangle and drift but have a shape, an aim. It was a powerful argument against the notion that things just happen.