I loved watching my husband and my son walking together to the Temple, and I loved waiting behind to pray before setting out to the Temple alone, not speaking, looking at no one. I loved some of the prayers and the words read from the book aloud to us. I knew them and they came to mean soft comfort to me as I set out to walk home having listened to them. What was strange then was that in those few hours before sundown a sort of quiet battle went on within me between the after-sound of the prayers, the peace of the day, the dull noiseless ease of things, and something dark and disturbed, the sense that each week which passed was time lost that could not be recovered and a sense of something else I could not name that had lurked between the words of the book as though in waiting like hunters, or trappers, or a hand that was ready to wield the scythe at harvest time. The idea that time was moving, the idea that so much of the world remained mysterious, unsettled me. But I accepted it as an inevitable aspect of a day spent looking inward. I was glad nonetheless when the shadows melted into darkness at sundown and we could talk again and I could work in the kitchen and think once more of the others and of the world outside.
– Colm Toibin, The Testament of Mary
In the whole of your absurd past you discover so much that’s absurd, so much deceit and credulity, that it might be a good idea to stop being young this minute, to wait for youth to break away from you and pass you by, to watch it going away, receding in the distance, to see all its vanity, run your hand through the empty space it has left behind, take a last look at it, and then start moving, make sure your youth has really gone, and then calmly, all by yourself, cross to the other side of Time to see what people and things really look like.
— Celine, Journey to the End of the Night (tr. Manheim)
I don’t know what time is. I don’t know what its real measure is, presuming it has one. I know that the clock’s measure is false, as it divides time spatially, from the outside. I know that our emotions’ way of measuring is just as false, dividing not time but our sensation of it. The way our dreams measure it is erroneous, for in dreams we only brush against time, now leisurely, now hurriedly, and what we live in them is fast or slow, depending on something in their flowing that I can’t grasp.
— Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (tr. Zenith)
A foggy day, like a pause in time. A chill that gets under your clothes, under your skin. The rows of cabbage slope out of sight under the mist. A cow moans in the distance.
All this cant about the everyday… When what you really want is to escape the everyday, its endless tedium. To go home, play with your phone, drink beer, watch your friends’ TV.
You used to be able to concentrate, didn’t you? You used to be able to read a book to the end. The more distracted you get the heavier the everyday becomes, the less strength you have to face it.
The sun comes out, the mist lifts and little birds emerge from their places in the trees, hopping and tweeting. You take off your jumper and put it in your backpack.
You veer off the public footpaths, lose your way for a time in wild meadows, find the stream and try to get your bearings. A brief fear of straying from civilisation.
To see your life from the point of view of the everyday – to let the everyday live in you. Only then, perhaps, would these complaints and indignities stop. But that’s precisely what you fail to do every day, what you can’t but fail to do.
You hear road traffic and feel relieved.