“As When One Is Too Tired To Turn Back and Walks On and On.”

“…all she felt was that she did not want to do anything or prevent anything, and her thoughts slowly wandered into the snow outside, without a backward glance, further and further, as when one is too tired to turn back and walks on and on.”

–Robert Musil, “The Perfecting of a Love”

This description of feeling of being too tired to turn back, and so walking on and on, is one that strikes such a chord with me. I could never identify it in myself until I read this passage.

  • peninith1

    One thanks God for the mere momentum that carries one along through periods of almost-despair. . . for those who are in the middle of grief, or seemingly endless unemployment, or dealing with an intractably difficult family member, or a serious illness. . . just KEEP GOING. This ‘dull momentum’ is also a form of courage and determination. Better days will come. And when they do, savor every moment!

    • deep olive

      peninith1-What an incredibly outstanding way of interpretation. I sincerely appreciate your beautiful insight! I have copied your last sentence into my diary for daily motivation since it most certainly applies to my life at the present time!

      • peninith1

        My best to you! I’ve been through those times when you can do nothing more than just put one foot ahead of another, and it’s hard even to hope. Over forever? Probably not, but savoring a long, good time will be treasure against the next slog!

    • peninith1-I couldn’t agree with deep olive more. Your analysis of the aforementioned post is an enlightening one. The passage conjures up images of hopelessness and unhappiness for me in a mechanistic, or mechanical way – like just going through the motions, as if there is no other choice. But the very notion of her ‘continuing on’ provides that glimmer of hope that persistence and fortitude will yield a positive outcome somewhere, somehow, in the future. Thank you for sharing.

    • Bridget In Oregon

      Thanks, Peninith1. I needed to read that. TwentyThirteen proved to be sucky from the very first day. I’m hopeful it gets better from here on out.

  • girl writing

    Reminds me of a Bob Dylan lyric from Tangled Up in Blue – “…and the only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on…”

  • I’m currently reading your book! really great! definitely going to start my own happiness project 🙂 I have been thinking about it for a while now and coming across your book further motivated me:)

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear it struck a chord with you. Good luck with YOUR happiness project.

  • melanie8

    yes,thank you Grecthen for this passage and also for Peninth1 comments, both truly inspiring. Sometimes we do not realize our own courage for continuing to plug along through life’s struggles that in the end, serve to edify us.

  • Cherela

    “One is too tired to turn back and walks on and on…” strikes a chord with me also. Sometimes I think that if I stop and lie down I will never get up again.
    But every day I tell myself “Keep calm and carry on.” It helps me focus and be in the moment. You’ve probably seen that saying … It’s become popular… It was originally from a poster produced by British government at beginning of Second World War to raise morale of public.

  • Ah yes! I have the same problem sometimes at the end of a very long day, when I end up staying up too late because I’m just too tired to get ready for bed! 🙂

  • BC

    What a beautiful perspective on despair.

    In my darkest moments, I wrote in my diary – “It is so dark that I can’t see a thing. But I keep moving. Not sure if if it is forward/backward/sideways – hell, up/down either.

    All I know is that I am moving.”