Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is the way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.
A complete stranger has the capacity to alter the life of another irrevocably. This domino effect has the capacity to change the course of an entire world. That is what life is; a chain reaction of individuals colliding with others and influencing their lives without realizing it. A decision that seems miniscule to you, may be monumental to the fate of the world.
People said that video games were bad because they made you numb to death, made you register entrails splattering across a screen as a sign of success. In that moment, Val thought that the real problem with games was that the player was suppossed to try everything. If there was a cave, you went in it. If there was a mysterious stranger, you talked to him. If there was a map, you followed it. But in games, you had a hundred million billion lives and Val only had this one.
Human lives are so deeply interconnected with each other that we can’t live in this world as an independent person of our own. Everyone in the world is an extension of the self. When others are suffering, we too can’t escape suffering. Our happiness depends on others and their happiness depends on us.
Everyone thinks that the old days were better, or that they were harder, and the modern times are chaotic and complex, or easier all around, but I think people's hearts have always been the same, happy and sad, and that hasn't changed at all. It's just the shapes of lives that change, not the lives themselves.
Too often we only identify the crucial points in our lives in retrospect. At the time we are too absorbed in the fetid detail of the moment to spot where it is leading us. But not this time. I was experiencing one of my dad’s deafening moments. If my life could be understood as a meal of many courses (and let’s be honest, much of it actually was), then I had finished the starters and I was limbering up for the main event. So far, of course, I had made a stinking mess of it. I had spilled the wine. I had dropped my cutlery on the floor and sprayed the fine white linen with sauce. I had even spat out some of my food because I didn’t like the taste of it. “But it doesn’t matter because, look, here come the waiters. They are scraping away the debris with their little horn and steel blades, pulled with studied grace from the hidden pockets of their white aprons. They are laying new tablecloths, arranging new cutlery, placing before me great domed wine glasses, newly polished to a sparkle. There are more dishes to come, more flavors to try, and this time I will not spill or spit or drop or splash. I will not push the plate away from me, the food only half eaten. I am ready for everything they are preparing to serve me. Be in no doubt; it will all be fine.” (pp.115-6)