Thursday, February 17, 2011

"The King of the Future"

There is a time in the life of every boy when he 
for the first time takes the backward view of life. 
Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the 
line into manhood. The boy is walking through the 
street of his town. He is the king of the future and 
of the figure he will cut in the world. 

Ambitions and regrets awake within him. 
Suddenly something happens; he stops under a 
tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. 
Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; 
the voice outside of himself whisper a message 
concerning the limitations of life. 

From being quite sure of himself and his future 
he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative 
boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks 
out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched 
in procession before him, the countless figures of men 
who before his time have come out of 
nothingness into the world, lived their lives 
and again disappeared into nothingness. 

The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. 
With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf 
blown by the wind through the streets of his village. 
He knows that in spite of all the stout 
talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, 
a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like 
corn to wilt in the sun. He shivers and looks 
eagerly about. The eighteen years he has lived seem 
but a moment, a breathing space in the long march of humanity. 
Already he hears death calling. 

With all his heart he wants to come close to some other human, 
touch someone with his hands, be touched by the 
hand of another. If he prefers that other to be a 
woman, that is because he believes that a woman 
will be gentle, that she will understand. 
He wants, most of all, understanding.

            -Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio