Notebook

Shall I say some ominous aunt-like words about peace? I think I will. It is a subject that I have really thought and worked on, you know. So: no one besides yourself will ever help you get to it; everyone, even with the best will in the world, will nibble and shred it. You have to fight for it, yourself, and it is perhaps the most essential thing there is. If you haven’t got (and keep clinging to, through every reverse) a hard kernel of your own private peace, perhaps no bigger than a pea, you cannot be, do or give any real thing. Practically, I find it works like this:  one learns what conditions one needs, for oneself, to bring back or foster one’s interior nugget of certainty and calm and happiness. For me, it’s absolute solitude and silence, in the country; long walks, no timetable of any kind, no telephone, no mail, no newspapers. Long mooning walks, reading, sleeping a great deal. No booze, simply because booze makes me nervous. And then, after a longer or shorter cure of this (depending on how much my peace has been eaten away) I can start to work: and that sets it firmly. I have no idea what you need, but you must, by now, have learned for yourself. No other person gives it, you know; though anyone can take it away. Sex has nothing to do with it either.

Martha Gellhorn, letter to Leonard Bernstein, 14th January 1959, “The Leonard Bernstein Letters”.

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