To want and achieve means to be capable of defeat and tears.

from All Men Are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir page 338 fiction ~2 min read

"Tomorrow we'll have to fight again," Armand said. "But today we're victorious. Whatever may happen, this is a real victory."


I looked at him. I looked at Spinelle and Laura. Today. The word had a meaning for them. For them, there was a past, a future. There was a present. In the middle of the river that was flowing —from north to south? or east to west? —he was smiling. I like this time of day. Isabella was walking slowly about in the garden, the sun was playing on the beautiful, polished furniture, and with a smile he was stroking his silky beard; in the center of the square stood the stakes around which a crowd had gathered, and they advanced, singing; they were pressing their whole pasts against their hearts. The people had shouted, "Down with the Republic!" and he had wept; and because he had wept, because he was smiling now, his victory was a real victory. The future could do nothing to destroy it. He knew that the next day he would have to begin wanting again, refusing again, fighting again. The next day he would begin again, but this day he was the victor. They looked at each other, laughed together, spoke to each other. They were the victors. And because they looked at each other and spoke to each other, they knew they were neither gnats, nor ants, nor stones, but men. And they knew too that it was important to be alive, to be victorious. They had risked, had given their lives to convince themselves of it, and they were convinced. There was no other truth for them.

I walked toward the door. I could not risk my life, could not smile at them; there was never a flame in my heart nor tears in my eyes. A man of nowhere, without a past, without a future, without a present. I wanted nothing, I was no one. I advanced step after step toward the horizon which retreated with each step; drops of water squirted up and fell to earth again, each instant destroyed the next, the last. My hands were forever empty: An outsider, a dead man. They were men, they were alive. I... I was not one of them. I had nothing to hope for. I went out the door.

—Simone de Beauvoir, All Men Are Mortal, p. 338