Wisdom of Life

Franz Kafka: On the Wisdom and Meaning of Life

“A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die.”

“He is terribly afraid of dying because he hasn’t yet lived.”

“The meaning of life is that it stops. Only the moment counts. It determines life.”

The truth is always an abyss. One must — as in a swimming pool — dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again — laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things. Follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.

Paths are made by walking. I do not see the world at all; I invent it. By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired. Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

Most men are not wicked… They are sleep-walkers, not evil evildoers. There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: impatience and laziness.

I usually solve problems by letting them devour me. From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached. Do not waste your time looking for an obstacle — maybe there is none. There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction.

Nothing is as deceptive as a photograph. Photography concentrates one’s eye on the superficial. For that reason it obscures the hidden life which glimmers through the outlines of things like a play of light and shade. One can’t catch that even with the sharpest lens.

Books are a narcotic. We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.

I want in fact more of you. In my mind I am dressing you with light; I am wrapping you up in blankets of complete acceptance and then I give myself to you. I long for you; I who usually long without longing, as though I am unconscious and absorbed in neutrality and apathy, really, utterly long for every bit of you. I can’t think of any greater happiness than to be with you all the time, without interruption, endlessly, even though I feel that here in this world there’s no undisturbed place for our love, neither in the village nor anywhere else; and I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more.

All language is but a poor translation. I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. I’m tired, can’t think of anything and want only to lay my face in your lap, feel your hand on my head and remain like that through all eternity.

“Every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”

“Anything that has real and lasting value is always a gift from within.”

“Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old.”


~Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic.

Excepts from Franz Kafka’s works.

©2022 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Wisdom of Life

1 reply »

  1. Hi Nicolae, I hope things are going well for you.  Say, a while back, I suggested that your “links” include a separate heading for GoldenRuleism/Golden Rule. I continue to feel that would be a really good addition; given the fact that the Golden Rule, in it’s “original” form, is Humanity’s Number One Rule; known to and respected by approx. 5 billion people the world over. However, the “original” begged to have a higher-and-better version of itself come to the fore, and hence GoldenRuleism arrived on the scene. You have the link to GoldenRuleism already, but for convenience’s sake, I’m including it here: GoldenRuleism/Living…Life. Please let me know if you’d consider adding this link to the others.  I think it’s going to be a fruitful and worthy addition to the current mix.  Thanks! Craig P.S.  You may recall that GoldenRuleism got a healthy boost of national and international standing by being the lead-off link to the Charter For Compassion’s “22 Day Compassion Campaign.”  The CFC is in over 50 countries and over 70 cities, so it occurs to me that if CFC is “for” the spreading of the overarching ethic of GoldenRuleism, Excellence Reporter should be “for” it, too!    


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