Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The present, we assume, is eternally before us, one of the few things in life from which we cannot be parted. It overwhelms us in the painful first moments of entry into the world, when it is still too new to be managed or negotiated, remains by our side during childhood and adolescence, in those years before the weight of memory and expectation, and so it is sad and a little unsettling to see that we become, as we grow older, much less capable of touching, grazing, or even glimpsing it, that the closest we seem to get to the present are those brief moments we stop to consider the spaces our bodies are occupying, the intimate warmth of the sheets in which we wake, the scratched surface of the window on a train taking us somewhere else, as if the only way we can hold time still is by trying physically to prevent the objects around us from moving. The present, we realize, eludes us more and more as the years go by, showing itself for fleeting moments before losing us in the world’s incessant movement, fleeing the second we look away and leaving scarcely a trace of its passing, or this at least is how it usually seems in retrospect, when in the next brief moment of consciousness, the next occasion we are able to hold things still, we realize how much time has passed since we were last aware of ourselves, when we realize how many days, weeks, and months have slipped by without our consent. Events take place, moods ebb and flow, people and situations come and go, but looking back during these rare junctures in which we are, for whatever reason, lifted up from the circular daydream of everyday life, we are slightly surprised to find ourselves in the places we are, as though we were absent while everything was happening, as though we were somewhere else during the time that is usually referred to as our life. Waking up each morning we follow by circuitous routes the thread of habit, out of our homes, into the world, and back to our beds at night, move unseeingly through familiar paths, one day giving way to another and one week to the next, so that when in the midst of this daydream something happens and the thread is finally cut, when, in a moment of strong desire or unexpected loss, the rhythms of life are interrupted, we look around and are quietly surprised to see that the world is vaster than we thought, as if we’d been tricked or cheated out of all that time, time that in retrospect appears to have contained nothing of substance, no change and no duration, time that has come and gone but left us somehow untouched.

—  Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North: A Novel (Hogarth (July 13, 2021)

Comments

  1. wow – and we never fail to be surprised by it

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good morning, Dave – are you reading a book a day??? I can’t keep up…This need of ours to control something – anything, and as we try to hold on, or morph into something, we are reminded of the time we waste desperately trying to grab onto the now…fabulous excerpt.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “…the next occasion we are able to hold things still, we realize how much time has passed since we were last aware of ourselves, when we realize how many days, weeks, and months have slipped by without our consent….” Dear Lord, this man is my muse of the moment! This passage so beautifully captures my desperate dance with time of late.

    Was out by our pool yesterday, relaxing and listening to music when I was suddenly so completely overwhelmed by gratitude for the moment—that very moment—that I jumped up and began to dance. It seemed the only possible response, a means of saying THANK YOU to the universe for snapping me out of my trance, if you will….

    Sounds like an amazing book, and Mimi’s right, you are a reading machine! 😳

    Liked by 4 people

  4. an extraordinary talent, he catches us with a narrative of incredibly mature processes, how possible, he is too young. Fascinated me. Thank you dear David, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like a very good writer indeed! He reminds me that I’m most present in the present when I’m not trying to fulfill anyone’s expectations (including my own)!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Exquisite writing (as has been noted above)… I’m on my second reading of this quote and am still finding crumbs the size of sandwiches.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And another thing, young David! The pile of books near my bedside has the table grumbling at you for finding yet another damn good read! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OH wow! I just posted my blog and then came and read this — oh my. While I wrote along a similar theme today, his depth of understanding and his imagery are incomparable! Oh my.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautifully stated. Yes. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sensing that “so that when in the midst of this daydream something happens and the thread is finally cut, when, in a moment of strong desire or unexpected loss, the rhythms of life are interrupted” this beautiful thinker was inspired to write this book. (If my eyes hold up, I’ll have join everyone and read A Passage North.)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “remains by our side during childhood and adolescence” then the life of Responsibility for more than oneself can consume..Not having read the book or any reviews of this book: Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North…I wonder if Anuk Arundpragasam is heading into His True North?…

    Like

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