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>4. Promises Made She folded the papers neatly and placed them in the drawer of the nightstand. Brooks set his pen down and stretched. “Are you still awake?” he asked. “I thought you were sleeping.” “I’ve written a letter to Mother.” “Good for you!” He stood and eyed her as if expecting a verbal synopsis of its contents. She held out her arms. “And, how is your next philosophical masterpiece coming along?” He crawled into the bed beside her and pulled her into his strong embrace. “It’s not, actually. I haven’t discovered exactly the right angle on what I want to research and explore.I’m not technically developing a book as of yet—just contemplating on paper.” “What about?” “You know I hate to discuss what I’m working on.” “But you’re not actually working on anything.You can tell me what you’re contemplating. It might even help you to refine your approach.” He grinned. “I was thinking about what we sang this evening.” She pinched his ribcage.“You were in rare form.” “Ouch! Made rather an ass of myself, did I?” “No.You were charming, really.” 29 He kissed her and sang out in his painfully flattened bass, “A-nd tidings of com-fort and joy, comfort and joy! A-nd tii -dings of co-omfort and joy!” “You should join the Saengerrunde,” she jested. “Think they’ll have me?” “Undoubtedly.” He changed his tone as he caressed her cheek with the back of his hand.“Think about it though, Camille, the concepts of comfort and joy.” She sighed. “Must you qualify and quantify everything so?” “Listen—honestly, I’m finding an important connection between the two. My hypothesis is—between them is a philosophical web that forms the basis for all mortal endeavors . I’ve been sitting at the desk trying to come up with just one human motive which does not have its foundation in either of the two, and try as I might, I can’t.” “It’s natural to seek happiness,” she said. “Sounds like more of a psychological issue; you should discuss this with Thomas.” He ran his fingertips down her spine and tickled the small of her back.“You said you wanted to help me work this out, and you’re not getting out of it now. Can you think of anything you’ve ever done for any essential reason other than for the comfort or joy of yourself or someone else?” She rolled away from him and looked up into the ceiling spackling. Shapes appeared and faded like miniature ghosts in the wavering light of the lamp.“Comfort is a form of happiness , is it not? Aren’t they essentially the same?” “I thought about that, too, and I decided it’s not necessarily so. He rolled on his back and put his hands under his head.“We tend to assume comfort is something we somehow just deserve.We still work for it—desperately—but it’s differ30 Comfort and Mirth ent in character. Our desire for joy is something extraneous in our minds. It exceeds the expectation of a certain level of comfort.” Her arm tingled, still under his weight, and she struggled to pull it out from under his back.“It’s hard to be joyful when you’re not at least tolerably comfortable.” “True,” he conceded.“But it’s not impossible.” She thought for a moment. “You’re right, some people have their most euphoric experiences during their greatest times of suffering.” “And many times we’re comfortable and not joyful,” he continued. She watched her mother’s face appear and disappear in light and shadow. “Camille?” He turned and put his arm around her. “Now I’m contemplating.” She felt his breath on her temple. “Surely other reasons exist for all the things people do—what about good health?” “Comfort—ultimately.” “Of course.Wealth?” “Pursued under the assumption it will produce joy.” “I suppose that’s true—home?” “Comfort.” “Food and drink?” “Comfort—and joy, too.” “Power,” she said. “People seek power ruthlessly, and it usually brings them anything but comfort or joy.” He rolled on top of her.“No, but they still assume it will, which is the reason they do what they do.” “Love?” His arms tightened around her.“Great joy.” “Marriage?” she teased. “Comfort and great, great joy.” 31 Promises Made “Not joy, mirth.” She kissed his neck. “What?” “I much prefer the term mirth to joy, especially when...


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MARC Record
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