When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calender that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Every day I felt less. Is that growing old? Or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.
Literature differs from life in that life is amorphously full of detail, and rarely directs us toward it, wheras literature teaches us to notice. Literature makes us better noticers of life; we get to practice on life itself; which in turn makes us better readers of detail in literature; which in turn makes us better readers of life.
Somewhere int he flesh of the earth the dreadful earthquake shuddered, the tide walked to and fro on the leash of the moon, rainbows formed, winds swept the sky like giant brooms piling up clouds before them, clouds which writhed into different shapes, melted into rain or darkened, bruised themselves against an unseen antagonist and went on their way, laced with forking rivers of lightning, complete with white electric tributaries. Out of this infinite vision an infinity of details could be drawn, but Sonny had settled on one, and from the endless series a particular beach was chosen and began to form around Laura - a beach of iron-dark sand and shells like frail stars, and a wonderful wide sea that stretched, neither green nor blue, but inked by the approach of night into violet and black, wrinkling with its own salty puzzles, right out to a distant, pure horizon.
The affair seems absurdly trifling, and yet I dare call nothing trivial when I reflect that some of my most classic cases have had the least promising commencement. You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.