"How can you live....How do you bear it?"
He moved closer, not explicitly smiling, but all his face and body, his very hands, expressing something of a smile. "It's not hard," he said.
"I've always known," he said, " -- no, not always, but since I was a child -- I've known that we live on quicksand....on the side of a volcano....on an earthquake fault. You know that any minute of any day or night the roof can fall on your head, the floor can open below your feet, the earth itself can suck you down. And somehow when you know this -- when you know you always live surrounded by unappealable forces so much stronger than you -- then you are not the slave of those forces. When you must build your house on quicksand, you don't count on its standing. You find your security in yourself; because your self is all you have. And if you're a Buddhist you know that even your self is quicksand. In a way I don't exist, I'm an illusion. This self is only an accumulation of particles and forces interacting, clinging together for a second or a century. But this accumulation, this tension, this equilibrium that I call Philippe Montoya -- this is all I have. When it falls apart, then Philippe Montoya has no more problems. But until then, Philippe Montoya exists -- and what difference does it make what happens outside? Philippe Montoya exists."
Philippe Montoya could never speak to her like that in the flesh, she knew. But if he could have spoken, that was what he would say.