Fernando Pessoa

Portugal
13 Jun 1888 // 30 Nov 1935
Poet

I Longed for a Great Self-esteem

My susceptibility to some kinds of fright (fear) was great. In the street, a man walking towards me, that is to say, in a contrary direction, pulled out a handkerchief in front of me; I started violently, believing, unconsciously, I think, that he was pulling out an arm or revolver.
My short sight - not one the whole very short, but excessively short in what relates to features, to gestures in other people aided my unbalanced brain. My imagination misinterpreted the character of their glances. I distorted, I knew not how, the value and the gist of their gestures.

My very sense of hearing was weak; the words I caught I applied, contorting them, to myself. I saw in every word a term to slight, in each phrase, badly snatched, the shadow and the glimpse of an insult.
The people in the street laughed: it was at me. My weak sight did not allow me to kill the illusion. The eye glasses I had in my pocket I dared not put on, for I feared to find my suspicion true.

I longed for a great self-esteem, that I might forget myself in myself. I desired, oh, how I desired! - an impulse all to benevolence that I might forget me in others. I longed to die, to drop my personality, to let life drop away. I longed to be freed from everything, far away, very far. I wished to look no more upon the faces of men.

In these hours of intense pain I often desired a friend, one that might well comprehend me: my richest dream was of a dog. I often dreamt of having for companion a little child, one picked up stray from the streets. But in my greatest agonies, in the acutest trances of my woe, I desired naught save to forget. Earth, nature, men, ants, beasts, birds - I longed to be at rest from these. I pined for a sleep that nothing within life can give. My thoughts were of death, of the complete mortality of the soul.

As I walked along the pavements it seemed that all laughter was of me, that I was the object of all ridicule.
(...) My ear, halfway weak, appeare to prove supersensitive to conversations not read behind me. The words I caught I misinterpreted for my own pain and suffering.

Fernando Pessoa, in 'Manuscript'
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