I've been rereading Herman Hesse's wonderful Steppenwolf, and as these things tend to happen, it's sort of intersecting with my life as I live it. Today, and these days, are not easy ones for a lot of people: it's September 11, the devastation on the Gulf Coast has damaged and destroyed a lot of lives, the war in Iraq drags on, and the venality of the Bush Administration becomes harder and harder to tolerate. Meanwhile, we've all got our personal pains and heartbreaks to contend with. Hesse acknowledges the pain of human existence and he honors it; he makes no attempt to dismiss suffering or its value. But he also offers transcendence and transfiguration, and he reminds us of our multiplicity of souls and gives us (or me, at least) hope in forging the unity of the self.
It is possible that Harry will learn one day to know himself. He may get hold of one of our little mirrors. He may encounter the Immortals. He may find in one of our magic theaters the very thing that is needed to free his neglected soul. A thousand such possibilities await him.If you're suffering right now, take heart, take your time, and take care of yourself.