forgetfulness of living

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There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.
~ Jack London
(The Call of the Wild)

10 thoughts on “forgetfulness of living”

  1. Thank you, Sybil, Laurie and Robin! 🙂

    When I was reading The Call of the Wild several years ago I found myself turning back to this paragraph to read over again – it was when I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Prodigal Summer, that I began to have an appreciation for the sacred in the life of a predator.

  2. Hi. At your suggestion, I read ‘Prodigal Summer’ and liked the various approaches to appreciation of the wild. We don’t have wolves but some nights the coyotes roam nearby and fill the night with their odd song. We are so lucky to share our lives in a time when the wilds are still part of life. Jane

    1. I’m pleased to hear that you liked the book, Jane. One very late night a few years ago, we were returning home when there was no traffic on the interstate. A coyote was standing quite still in the middle lane and eyed us cautiously as we slowed way down to have a good look at him. Recently we’ve had moose sightings in Connecticut, too. The wilds aren’t as far away from us as we might have thought.

  3. Yes, pondering it now. Is it right though? Who knows what peaks lie ahead. Life may not by a single ascent and decline.

    1. I don’t think the author was implying that there is only one peak of ecstasy in a lifetime. The experience of forgetfulness of living. flow, being in the moment, it occurs many times, and I’m sure Buck felt it almost every time he lead his pack in the hunt, doing what he was meant to do.

    1. I’m with you, Kathy, I don’t have it in me to be a hunter but I don’t judge hunters, unless they’re doing it just for the sport of it. I plan to use this quote on my blog some time in the future: “To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.” ~ Wendell Berry

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