The Happiness of This World

"The Happiness of this World"

To have a house that is commodious, clean and beautiful;
Tapestried with fragrant espaliers, a garden;
Fruits; excellent wine; a small retinue; few children;
To have, without commotion, a wife who is loyal.

To have no debts, no dalliance, no lawsuits, no quarrel;
No obligation with parents to make division;
To content oneself with little, to hope for no attention
From the great; to scale one's plans to what is manageable.

To live with candor and without ambition;
To give oneself to piety without hesitation;
To damp the passions and make them obedient,

Cultivating branch and graft, telling one's Rosary
While preserving a free spirit and strong judgment:
This is to wait at home for death comfortably.

--from the French of Christophe Plantin (1514-1589)

....Though it was westward, my progress from Saipan to Cambodia to India returned me eventually to the family I had left, to a family altered by death but still substantially intact and miraculously alive. I traveled in the direction of death, but returned to the only life I have been able to make. For unlike both my uncle and my brother, I am a householder. That is my place.

--Karl Kirchwey