I got up, walked back and forth, and, to change my ideas, I began to think about my past life. A crowd of memories came back to me pell‐mell. There were good and bad ones ‐ or at least I called them that before. There were faces and incidents. That made me smile. How madly I ran after happiness, after women, after liberty. Why? I wanted to free Spain, I admired Pi y Margall, I joined the anarchist movement, I spoke in public meetings: I took everything as seriously as if I were immortal.
At that moment I felt that I had my whole life in front of me and I thought, “It’s a damned lie.” It was worth nothing because it was finished. I wondered how I’d been able to walk, to laugh with the girls: I wouldn’t have moved so much as my little finger if I had only imagined this. My life was in front of me, shut, closed, like a bag and yet everything inside of it was unfinished. For an instant I tried to judge it. I wanted to tell myself, this is a beautiful life. But I couldn’t pass judgment on it; it was only a sketch; I had spent my time counterfeiting eternity, I had understood nothing.
In the state I was in, if someone had come and told me I could go home quietly, that they would leave me my life whole, it would have left me cold: several hours or several years of waiting is all the same when you have lost the illusion of being eternal. I clung to nothing, in a way I was calm.
Jean Paul Sartre – The Wall