What pleasure there is in sitting up on the couch in the small hours of the morning, sipping hot milk, looking out the window, where strings of orange bulbs on the horizon gleam like self-assurance, reading Whitman’s sublime Leaves of Grass, steeped in Chopin’s sweet Nocturnes, watching doctors on the silent tv fight to save a man from Ebola, remembering what somebody once said: that we live in a world of abstraction. “The order of life,” he’d told me, “is shaped by death. Battling against creation as one finds it yields only victories that cannot last; it’s an exercise of never-ending defeat.” That’s not a good reason to give up the struggle, I recollect replying. Soon, I glance up from Whitman’s live oaks in Louisiana to see two people making love in a field of wildflowers. I am jealous of their abstract passion, trapped as they are inside a television screen, just as we are trapped within our own characters and interpretation and plot. Sitting here with my legs stretched long I listen to Chopin’s liquid voice, the improbable mystery of his vocabulary, meandering expressions so limpid there is no translation. I turn to his language of eternity at this time, a language that will see us through the myriad joys and sufferings in our unreal, messy, transitory world.