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Friday, December 4, 2009

Moments: an end-of-year quote

One of the best books I read this year was Wanting, by the Australian novelist Richard Flanagan. The story has three historical threads, and one of them features a fictional Charles Dickens. In this passage, Flanagan's Dickens is speaking to Ellen Ternan.

"We have in our lives only a few moments. A moment of joy and wonder with another. Some might say beauty or transcendence. Or all those things. Then you reach an age, Miss Ternan, and you realize that moment, or, if you are very lucky, a handful of those moments, was your life. That those moments are all, and that they are everything. And yet we persist in thinking that such moments will only have worth if we can make them go on forever. We should live for moments, yet we are so fraught with pursuing everything else, with the future, with the anchors that pull us down, so busy that we sometimes don't even see the moments for what they are."