Michael is not in love at this time. Much of his own lasting puzzlement is due to trust misplaced in the wake of failed romance. All the same, he stakes his chances on the risk of personal betrayal, even when safety lies in petty mistrust. As Beckett says, repeat failure is a given; the challenge is to fail better each time. His problem with settling is that routine wear and tear make daily failure ever worse. So following the flow is not his strong suit. He is not sure whether to count himself as happy, but a lasting sense of integrity allows him to defer this question past the span of his petty sorrows. As the Greeks said, let no man be called happy in his lifetime. Maybe the legacy of his finest failure will suffice as the final answer.
Michael would like to continue this conversation. He asks the woman to tell him about her curious experiences.
Georges de La Tour, Woman Catching Fleas, 1630s
Oil on canvas, Musée Historique, Nancy, France