About Happiness or Sadness

MEDVIEDENKO. Why do you always wear mourning?

MASHA. I dress in black to match my life. I am unhappy.

MEDVIEDENKO. Why should you be unhappy? [Thinking it over] I don’t understand it. You are healthy, and though your father is not rich, he has a good competency. My life is far harder than yours. I only have twenty-three roubles a month to live on, but I don’t wear mourning. [They sit down].

MASHA. Happiness does not depend on riches; poor men are often happy.”

The Sea-Gull by Anton Chekhov

“A sorry spectacle! I will confess to you, Marya Alexandrovna, I am very
sorry for myself. My God! my God! Can it be that I have myself so
utterly ruined my life, so mercilessly embroiled and tortured
myself!… Now I have come to my senses, but it’s too late. Has it ever
happened to you to save a fly from a spider? Has it? You remember, you
put it in the sun; its wings and legs were stuck together, glued….
How awkwardly it moved, how clumsily it attempted to get clear!…
After prolonged efforts, it somehow gets better, crawls, tries to open
its wings … but there is no more frolicking for it, no more
light-hearted buzzing in the sunshine, as before, when it was flying
through the open window into the cool room and out again, freely
winging its way into the hot air…. The fly, at least, fell through
none of its own doing into the dreadful web … but I!

I have been my own spider!”

A Correspondence by Ivan S. Turgenev

“(…) we are as silly as children, but we are not sincere
as they are; we are cold as old people, but we have none of the good
sense of old age…. To make up, we are psychologists. Oh yes, we are
great psychologists! But our psychology is akin to pathology; our
psychology is that subtle study of the laws of morbid condition and
morbid development, with which healthy people have nothing to do….
And, what is the chief point, we are not young, even in our youth we
are not young!”

A Correspondence by Ivan S. Turgenev

“(…) and I have begun (do you know how?) to notice that I’m getting old. I’ll tell you how. I try in these days to make as much as I can of my happy sensations, and to make little of my sad ones, and in the days of my youth I did just the opposite. At times, one used to carry about one’s melancholy as if it were a treasure, and be ashamed of a cheerful mood . . . ”

Faust by Ivan S. Turgenev
(translated by Constance Black Garnett)


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