New Year

February 18, 1995

Though we seem to desire knowledge of the future, the gift of prophecy appears to me to be much more a curse than a blessing. Who would want to know in advance what dreadful hurts were in store for him? What pleasure could you take from life's feast if you knew for certain that which you held nearest and dearest would be snatched from you, and exactly when and exactly how? I do not want to know what the future holds. I do not want to know what's destined to happen to me, to my friends, to my loved ones. We all know that in every joy is a sorrow, that we are born but to die, and that nothing-good or bad-lasts forever. But what we do not want to know is the specifics. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and stay away from prophets, seers and gypsy queens.

New Year (February 18) Though I have not yet unearthed the reference, I clearly recollect a literary account of a fabulous race of beings, wise and good, whose solemnity and sadness stemmed from, upon attaining their majority, learning each one of them the day and hour of his death.

"He was an outcast from life's feast."
- James Joyce, Dubliners (1916) "A Painful Case."
" . . . born but to die. . . "
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man.
"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst," is a maxim that dates at the least to 1565, and is expressed by John Jay (1745 - 1829)
"To hope for the best and prepare for the worst, is a trite, but good maxim." Correspondence (1813) IV. 367


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