Forever a moment

Every moment speaks to us. If we chose to listen, remarkable things can be heard, seen or felt. I don't necessarily mean things of powerful significance, but quite literally remarks of any nature that are worth dwelling on: the way the river catches the water weeds, pulling and spreading them in a thread of movement in and out of countless moments; the child calling "let's have a race to nowhere" stays lightly but persistently long past the indulgent adult smile; ringing of wind bells, tolling of monastery bells across hot olive groves, chiming churches of London and English villages; the scent of azaleas across the years -- the list could fill a lifetime. When that moment has caught our attention something happens and starts to grow.

This growing is interesting. The roots reach back and curl around long-hidden feelings and images, inklings of an idea. Moments that happened long ago yearn to be felt again and they press forward with a sigh of satisfaction to link up with the present. It's good to know a completion has been reached and they were not lost. We may think we forget but they don't; they're just biding their time.

Many thousands of moments ago something in the way the setting sun shone through the feathery pale green of spring larches caught my fascination as a small child and an idea began. That impact of light was so vivid that the surroundings and the details of the particular place are still etched clear. It is there every time I walk amongst larches: more than a pleasing memory, it is an insistent force. It is there whenever I am in the woods during the afternoon and the sun shafts onto a patch of woodland grass. It is here now as I see the evening sun slide across the garden. This idea has not allowed itself to be hidden, but neither, after all this time, is it anywhere near complete. I know that. And I am never tempted to dismiss it as a childhood episode that was especially impressive.

So I want, wondering what this idea is up to, and I am beginning to think it may have something to do with continuity. The completion of an idea, I am realizing, doesn't necessarily mean the finality of conclusion. Conclusions are daunting. They imply you have to start again somewhere else, and that's worrying. When one leads a settled kind of life there is the niggling feeling that opportunities for finding new avenues to explore may not arise -- then what do you do? As that doesn't happen, I am inevitably drawn towards this glimpse of continuity. On all those occasions when, with a sigh of satisfaction, I feel the circle of ideas has been concluded, have I been insignificantly wrong? Is the circle in fact a spiral?

Now, as I consider specifically the direction of my thoughts and interests over the past years, this business of continuity becomes more apparent. The progress of an idea may not be direct. It may take a sharp turn which could be mistaken as the conclusion, though it is actually a veering off, a development towards a new fresh attitude, a different awareness. The moments that nudge or startle are finely linked, spreading through the gossamer of our most cherished thoughts. They are part of what we are, those ideas of moments, nourished by other moments.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.