Highlights from Eternal Life by Dara Horn

Cover of Eternal Life
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Highlights from this book

  • Many days and years and people had passed before she understood that the details themselves were the still and sacred things, that there was nothing else, that the curtain of daily life itself was holy, that behind it was only a void.

  • Every day of raising a child brought a rush of unwanted mourning. New parents think of each day as a cascade of beginnings: the first time she smiled, the first time she rolled over, her first steps, her first words, her first day of school. But old parents like her saw only endings: the last time she crawled, the last time she spoke in a pure raw sound unsculpted into the words of others, the last time she stood before the world in braids and laughed when she shouldn’t have, not knowing. Each child died before the person did, a small rehearsal for the future.

  • Within every person were so many other people; was there even room for a person’s own soul?

  • It still astounded her, after all these years, how much more there still was left to learn, how it never ended.

  • Everything in the world was learnable—languages, professions, technologies, skills that didn’t yet exist. The only reason that curious and intelligent people didn’t master it all was a simple lack of time.

  • “Fuck off, Elazar.” English was one of her favorite languages—the least poetic, the one where insults required no imagination at all.

  • Grandchildren and grandparents got along so well, Rachel knew, because they had a common enemy.

  • “Actually, everything in the story is kind of like a secret message,” he said, “because God has to tell everything to people, in people’s words, but people aren’t as smart as God, so everything is like a stupid version of the real story.” Rachel had not considered this. She looked at her little boy with sudden and frightening understanding: her entire life, every person’s entire life, was a stupid version of the real story, a tiny glimpse of a tiny sliver of the briefest of moments, a few days out of eternity.

  • “‘Do unto others’ is cruel, even if it sounds like kindness. It’s arrogant to think that others want exactly what you want.”

  • “All of these sages are arguing about what God wants from us. But I think God actually wants us to live an impossible life. All the evidence points in that direction.”

  • When she met Elazar in the tunnel that night, she gathered her anger together and presented it to him, a bouquet of pique.

  • “Dying is what gives life its meaning”

  • “I realized I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was afraid of no longer changing. I wanted to keep changing, keep making and seeing things change. And if you back up a bit, you see that none of that can happen without the arc of our lives, without one generation replacing another.”