Willa Cather on Happiness

Photo by Lila Cheekytree

I’m currently reading the book My Ántonia by American writer Willa Cather. Written in 1918 it depicts the early American push to expand westward.  I came across this beautiful passage and dog-eared the page so that I could come back and read it again:

The earth was under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermillion, with black spots. I kept still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

I had not heard of Willa Cather until recently when I listened to this CBC podcast on Ideas with Paul Kennedy, it’s worth listening to. She was an exceptional woman and a great American writer. If you’re already familiar with her, here are 10 things You Probably Didn’t Know about Willa Cather according to Publisher’s Weekly.