I am aware of my own inadequacies, of course, but if this happens, no one will be adequate: to be adequate requires a prior act of the imagination, and this is impossible. We are armed; they are armed; someone will take the terrible, the unimaginable vengeful step. And so we think in images of all that we have known to be the worst. We think of cold, of heat, of heaviness. But that is not it; that does not begin to be it. A mother thinks: how will I carry my children, what will I feed them? But this is not it, this is not it. There will be no place to carry them, food itself will be dangerous. We cannot prepare ourselves; we have known nothing of the kind.

But some days I think: I should prepare, I should do only what is difficult. I think: I will teach myself to use a gun. I hide behind the curtain and when the mailman comes I try to imagine his right temple in the gun sight as he goes down the sidewalk. How sure one must be to pull the trigger, even to kill for one’s own children, for their food, their water, perhaps even poison. The imagination is of no use.

The imagination is of no use. When I run two miles a day, I make myself run faster, farther, make myself feel nauseated, make myself go on despite my burning ribs. In case this one day will be a helpful memory, a useful sensation. Of endurance and of pain. My daughter comes and asks my help in making clay animals. On days like this, I want to say: no, no clay animals, we’ll dig, we’ll practise digging, once your father was a soldier, he will teach you to use a gun. But of course I cannot do this; I cannot pervert her life so that she will be ready for the disaster. There is no readiness; there is no death in life.

Quantum Jumps
The Bridge