Long accustomed to a life of self-indulgent solitude, he began to yearn for the beauty of giving himself to others. The nobility of the word sacrifice became clear to him. He took satisfaction in the feeling of his own littleness as a single seed whose purpose was to carry forward from the past to the future the life of the species called humanity. He even sympathized with the thought that the human species, together with the various kinds of minerals and plants, was no more than a small pillar that helped support a single vast organism adrift in the cosmos—and with the thought that it was no more precious than the other animals and plants.
Yasunari Kawabata, The Sparrow’s Matchmaking, Palm-of-the-Hand Stories, translated by Lane Dunlop