I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then. (*)
Seems so abstract, doesn't it? How old do you need to be to realise how true and profound it is. We take things for granted. Not just the things we already have, but even the things we imagine we will have in the future.
Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don't know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It's that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don't know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well.
Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless. (**)
It usually does, doesn't it?
There was this moment, both of them fastened neatly in their little seats in the back of the car, covered with sand from the beach, sticky from the coconut yogurt we just had, asleep the way only little people sleep. Sandy sticky heaven.
(*) Mrs Dalloway, The Hours.
(**) Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky.