Think Spring

“Too many of the days when I record nothing in this notebook are days of despair. I know — one mustn’t let oneself go. And besides, we keep on living. We live out of habit, if that is living. We hold on, we last. But submerged by solitude and sorrow, overwhelmed by the very awareness of our own impotence. We have no temptations, no desires. Very rarely, a thought dares to spread its wings. It sinks as soon as it rises. What’s the use? The snow has melted in Paris; there’s a thaw. We merely think we’re going to be a little less cold.”

“My recourse, my refuge, is my profession. I work hard at it, I wear myself out at it, I lose myself in it. I give to it all the taste for perfection of which I am capable. I only find a bit of freshness in front of those fifty young men, my students. At the door of the lycée, before going in, I stand up straight, out of consideration for the judgment of others. My students are waiting for me in the classroom. I walk in, and immediately I am sure that all the misfortunes of this country are temporary. The hope that is merely an act of the will for me is organic, as it were, in these young men. When they offered me their season’s greetings three weeks ago, they wished me: ‘Think spring’ [Alain]. But as for them, they live spring. Nothing will prevent spring from blossoming again. So I try to describe Racine’s reverie or Pascal’s torment to them. We forget together, and for a few moments it really seems that modern idiocy has been utterly abolished.” (Jean Guéhenno, Diary of Dark Years, 1940–1944)