Few pleasures, for the true reader, rival the pleasure of browsing unhurriedly among books: old books, new books, library books, other people's books, one's own books - it does not matter whose or where. Simply to be among books, glancing at one here, reading a page from one over there, enjoying them all as objects to be touched, looked at, even smelt, is a deep satisfaction. And often, very often, while browsing haphazardly, looking for nothing in particular, you pick up a volume that suddenly excites you, and you know that this one of all the others you must read. Those are great moments - and the books we come across like that are often the most memorable.
Ah, clever clogs, but it have happened in one of my alternative lives. You know--the lives hot-shot scientists tell us we are living at the same time as this one we know about. Which being so, how do you know that what happens in one of your alternative lives doesn't sometimes leak through into your consciousness in this life, and make you sad that you aren't living that particular alternative life instead of this one? Don't you sometimes feel depressed for no reason you can think of? I do. And maybe that's why. We've had a leak from an alternative life and want that life now. Like wanting an ice cream when you were little, which you knew was in the freezer, but your mom wouldn't let you have it.
It is not growing like a treeIn bulk, doth make Man better be;Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:A lily of a dayIs fairer far in MayAlthough it fall and die that night;It was the plant and flower of Light.In small proportions we just beauties see;And in short measures life may perfect be (Ben Jonson)
She was--I keep using the past tense; I ought to say she is--one of those people who, at first sight, look plain, are quiet, unassertive, unmemorable even. But who, when they start to talk and you get to know them, become more and more attractive and impressive, and you see that in fact they are beautiful. Not conventionally beautiful, not celebrity beautiful, but beautiful all through.