He Was Amazed
He was amazed by the curve of his life. What he thought unique had made its arc like any other, as if life had conspired to deny him his genius. His differences, finally, were very slight—like a man preferring chocolate to vanilla. His youth, education, career, his friendships, ties to his family, even illnesses—there was nothing exceptional. And as he neared his end, he saw that even here he would yield to a statistical norm more offensive than death itself; a grave in a row of graves, his ashes mixed with the ashes of others. In his youth, he had written poetry, worn black, spoke of the avant-garde— no trace of that person remained. But he imagined him still walking the streets of some city, pursuing his passions. These days, as he puttered about, he liked to tote up the young man’s fabled successes: the women who sat at his feet, the men who stepped aside as he entered a room. Then all would look toward him as he prepared to speak. A hush would fall. And that was the problem, wasn’t it? For when he called up his deepest thoughts, the rich complexity of his convictions, what could he have said?