Define happiness, someone asked me recently. Absorption, I said instantly (it was an e-mail interview), and anything that gives me an inner life and a sense of spaciousness, intimacy and silence. The world is much better for many of us now than it was 10 years ago, and I never could have dreamed so many of us would have so many kinds of diversion, excitement and information at our fingertips.
But information cannot teach the use of information. And diversion doesn’t teach us concentration. Imagine a seven-hour-long heart-to-heart with someone who’s been saving up all her life for what she’s about to whisper in your ear. The medium that has been dying the whole century may be one way we can rebel against the hidden dictatorship of Right Now.
— Pico Iyer, on the tyranny of the moment (and why books may still be useful after all)
can we talk about mythology for a second?
Okay, world. I get it, can we move on now from this lesson?
So when my friends and I started having a conversation about the nature of monogamy, I thought I knew something about monogamy. Because, despite the fleeting nature of most of my encounters, and despite my own role in their short duration, I think what I have been seeking in some form from all of these men is permanence.
Sometimes I don’t like them, or am scared of them, and a lot of times I’m just bored by them. But my fear or dislike or boredom never seems to diminish my underlying desire for a guy to stay, or at least to say he is going to stay, for a very long time.
And even when I don’t want him to stay — even when he and I find each other as strangers and remain strangers until we stop doing whatever it is we are doing — I still want to believe that two people can meet and like each other well enough to stay together exclusively, without the introduction of some 1960s rhetoric about free love or other noncommittal slogans.
“I climb up on the cabin roof sometimes to let the stars into my eyes. But once I am up there they seem farther away than when I am on the ground. There is a constellation that reminds me of your hip bone. I think I’m trying to get closer to that bunch of light.”
“That which is and that which cannot be are both outside the realm of becoming,” writes Simone Weil.
We are sitting outdoors in the quickly waning summer heat. The candles keep blowing out. I want to get up and dance but everyone else around me is sitting down, so I try to forget that I want to get up and dance. This is how I’ve felt most of my life.
The thing about this time away from you is summed up by a line in my book: “I want to be somewhere more beautiful, I think, and also, everything is right.”