“It is right that I should pick my words most carefully, and meditate over every comma, because I am describing miracles too great for careless utterance.  If I had died after my first breath, my history would still be worth recording.  For before I could lie on my mother’s breast, the earth had to be prepared, and the stars had to take their places; a million races had to die, testing the laws of life; and a boy and girl had to be bound for life to watch together for my coming.  I was millions of years on the way, and I came through the seas of chance, over the fiery mountain of law, by the zigzag path of human possibility.  Multitudes were pushed back into the abyss of non-existence, that I should have way to creep into being….Such creatures of accident are we, liable to a thousand deaths before we are born.  But once we are here, we may create our own world, if we choose.  Since I have stood on my own feet, I have never met my master.  For every time I choose a friend I determine my fate anew.  I can think of no cataclysm that could have the force to move me from my path.  Fire or flood or the envy of men may tear the roof off my house, but my soul would still be at home under the lofty mountain pines that dip their heads in star dust.  Even life, that was so difficult to attain, may serve me merely as a wayside inn, if I choose to go on eternally.  However I came here, if is mine to be.”
– Mary Antin, The Promised Land


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