There’s nothing that so intimately reveals and so perfectly conveys the substances of my innate misfortune as the type of daydream I most cherish, the personal balsam I most often choose to allay the anxiety I feel for existing. The essence of what I desire is simply this: to sleep away life. I love life too much to want it to be over; I love not living too much to have an active craving for life.
That’s why, of all my dreams, the one I’m about to write down is my favourite. Sometimes at night, when the house is still because the landlords have gone out or fallen silent, I close my window and its heavy shutters; wearing an old suit, I sink down in my easy chair, and I slide into this dream in which I’m a retired major in a small-town hotel, hanging on after dinner in the company of several other guests who are more sober than I – the lingering major, sitting there for no reason.
I imagine myself born that way. I’m not interested in the boyhood of the retired major, nor in the military ranks through which he ascended to arrive at the place I yearn for. Independent of Time and of Life, the major I imagine myself to be doesn’t have any kind of past life, nor does he or did he ever have relatives; he exists eternally in the life he lives at the small-town hotel, already weary of the jokes and the talk of the other guests who linger there with him. (Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet)