I stride slowly through my room, then out the door through the common hallway to the lobby of my apartment building. Then I go out, down the street to the park. I have taken this walk a hundred times, but today everything -- apartment building, street and park -- seems to echo loneliness. The wind blows cold in the brown leaves arrayed along the street gutter and brings new fleecy rain clouds in low-hovering files. I shiver with the cold. Now they are all gone. There is no one to care for, to be considerate of, no one whose presence I have to maintain my composure, and only now, in this frozen loneliness of early March, are the cares and sleepless nights, the quivering fever and all the crushing weariness borne in on me. I feel them not only in my mind and bones but deep in my heart. In these days the last shimmering lights of life and expectancy have been extinguished; but the cold isolation and cruel disenchantment no longer frighten me.
Sauntering on along the barren paths of the park, I try to follow back the threads of my life, whose simple fabric I have never before seen so clearly. It comes to me without bitterness that I have followed all these pathways blindly. I see clearly that despite my many attempts, despite the yearning that has never left me, I have passed the garden of life by. Never have I lived out an impulse, an idea, or a passion to its bottommost depths. Never until these last days. At my writing table I have known, all too late, my only true love; then I have forgotten, and risen above, myself. And now that will be my experience, my poor treasure, as long as I live: my writing.
What remains to me is my writing, my art, of which I have never felt as sure as I do now. There remains the consolation of the outsider, to whom it is not given to seize the cup of life and drain it; there remains the struggle, cool, and yet irresistible passion to see, to observe, and to articulate with secret pride in the work of creation. That is the residue and the value of my unsuccessful life, the imperturbable loneliness and cold delight of writing, and to follow that star without detours will from now be my destiny.
I breath deeply the moist, bitter-scented air of the park and at every step it seems to me that I am pushing away the past as one who has reached the shore pushes away a piece of driftwood, useless driftwood. My probing and my insight are without resignation; full of defiance and venturesome passion, I look forward to the new life, which, I am resolved, will no longer be a groping or dim-sighted wandering but rather a bold, steep climb. Later and more painfully perhaps than most men, I have taken leave of the sweet twilight of youth. Now I stand poor and belated in the broad daylight, and of that I mean never again to lose a precious hour.