Country Path Conversations [225–226]

Younger Man: Or rather, only one who can at least know [wissen] of death. And if indeed death is what waits upon us, this is possible only for one who can, according to his essence [Wesen], wait on that which, like death, waits upon our entire being [Wesen].

Older Man: The human is, as that being which can die, the being that waits.

Younger Man: This is what I think.

Older Man: You have thought something beautiful. However, with this interpretation of the older definition of the essence of the human, now I don’t really see any relation to the younger one.

Younger Man: Yet if you consider that in λόγος, as the gathering toward the originally all-unifying One, something like attentiveness prevails, and if you begin to ask yourself whether attentiveness is not in fact the same as the constant waiting on that which we named the pure coming, then perhaps one day you will sense that, also in the allegedly younger definition, the essence of the human as the being that waits is experienced. To be sure, this waiting essence of the human remains here, as it does there, in what is unspoken. And I would not like to assert that what was just now said was already specifically [eigens] thought by the ancients—just as little as I would like to decide which of the two definitions, thought out toward their truth, is the older. It seems to me that they are both equally old, because equally originary and in their origin equally concealed. Yet take what was said only as a surmise.

Older Man: You know what?—

Younger Man: What?

Older Man: I am glad that I confessed to you my thoughts about the supposed priority of the supposedly younger definition of the essence of the human. [226]

Younger Man: And I am thankful that I was able to explain something in that regard. Yesterday I would not yet have been capable of this.

Older Man: Because early this morning that which heals was first granted to you, that which is beginning to heal you and—as I now experience—me as well, by letting us become those who wait.

Younger Man: Those for whom everything far is near in the nearness of what is held in reserve, and everything near is far in the farness of what is dear.

Older Man: And so for those who wait, the near and the far is the selfsame, although precisely for them the difference of the near and the far holds itself open most purely.

Younger Man: Hence, those who wait will also guard themselves against straightaway inquiring into what that which heals is in itself. Throughout this entire day I still felt the urge to ask this. And

Country Path Conversations (GA 77) Evening Conversation by Martin Heidegger