Sunday Morning

You live a decent length you get an appreciation for the individuality of creation. You understand there’s no such thing as the common man, and certainly not woman. But even then, in those first moments beside him on the windowsill, I think I knew there was something arresting about him. Everybody carries a world. But certain people change the air about them. That’s the best I can say. It can’t be explained, only felt. He was easy in himself. Maybe that was the first thing. He didn’t feel the need to fill the quiet and had the confidence of the storyteller when the story is still unpacked, its snaps not yet released. His hair had not been barbered in some time, his beard rose into his cheeks and descended inside the collar of his shirt, around the top-button of which was grey with finger-grease. The flesh of his face had the same travelled quality as his clothes and belongings, as if cured by hot suns and cold winds. He was deep-wrinkled, like a chamois. His life was written all over him. His eyes I’ve mentioned. I can see them still. It seems to me the true and individual nature of a human being’s eyes defy description, or at least my capabilities. They’re not like anything else, or anyone else’s, and may be the most perfect proof of the existence of a Creator. Maybe that old thing about eyes and the soul is true, I can’t say, but I did wonder the first time I saw him what gave a person eyes like that.

~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

Notes: Photograph: Amanda Dalbjörn with eyes


  1. What a beautiful piece of writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. what a powerful passage. I love ‘everybody carries a world.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow – I could ‘see’ him so well, I imagined I felt his breath

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ” had the confidence of the storyteller when the story is still unpacked, its snaps not yet released.”
    Very few humans have that confidence.

    Who was the writer describing?

    It has to be true about the eyes. It has to.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So many phrases to love here! “His life was written all over him.” “He was easy in himself.” Remarkable…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At the time you’re living it you can sometimes think your life is nothing much. It’s ordinary and everyday and should be and could be in this or that way better. It is without the perspective by which any meaning can be derived because it’s too sensual and urgent and immediate, which is the way life is to be lived. We’re all, all the time, striving, and though that means there’s a more-or-less constant supply of failure, it’s not such a terrible thing if you think that we keep on trying. There’s something to consider in that.

    ~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing, December 3, 2019)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful passage, David. The first sentence pulls us in, description is authentic, and the pace is moving and easy. Message is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If these lines, given the time of year “certain people change the air about them”.”his beard rose into his cheeks and descended ” had been written by a different writer and I’d stopped reading there I’d think it was Santa! —a different take on Niall Williams, words, later…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Santa Clause … right(?)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Exquisite.

    Liked by 1 person

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