Word-Precipices

by solitary walker

“A little child had fallen into a well, said the story. There it found a marvellous city, flower-gardens, a lake of pure honey, a mountain of rice-pudding and multi-coloured toys. As I spelled it out, each syllable seemed to take me further into that magic city. Once, at midday, when I had come home from school, I ran into the garden, rushed to the rim of the well beneath the vine-arbour and stood fascinated, staring at the smooth black surface of the water. I soon thought I could see the marvellous city, houses and streets, the children and the vine-arbour loaded with grapes. I could hold out no longer. I hung my head down, held out my arms and kicked against the ground to push myself over the edge. But at that moment my mother noticed me. She screamed, rushed out and caught me by my waistband, just in time . . .

As a child, then I had almost fallen into the well. When grown up, I nearly fell into the word ‘eternity’, and into quite a number of other words too — ‘love’, ‘hope’, ‘country’, ‘God’. As each word was conquered and left behind, I had the feeling that I had escaped a danger and made some progress. But no, I was only changing words and calling it deliverance. And there I had been, for the last two years, hanging over the edge of the word ‘Buddha’.

But I now feel sure — Zorba be praised — that Buddha will be the last well of all, the last word-precipice, and then I shall be delivered for ever. For ever? That is what we say each time.”

Nikos Kazantzakis Zorba The Greek