The sensations of the moment give us a little jolt of happiness. But how often do we take the time to dive in and relish them?
Even those who have never read Marcel Proust’s immense In Search of Lost Time are familiar with the famous scene in which a bite of madeleine pastry dipped in tea ricochets the narrator’s memory back to his childhood, and the sounds, sights, and smells of the country village of Combray.
I have read Proust, but right now I’m thinking of him and that “Proustian” elision between present and past, because I’m reading a book of essays on translation by Lydia Davis, who recently translated Swann’s Way, the first of the seven-volume novel. In fact, I was sitting in bed on this pre-dawn first day of the new year, reading Davis’s book, when I slipped into a reverie of my own. I had put the book down and laid my head back against the pillows to reflect on something I’d just read. I felt very cozy, my bare feet warm in the flannel sheets and a large mug of hot tea on the table beside me. Outside, silence curled in the dark trees, yard, and street. The lamp made a circle of light around the book and me. Another faint brush of light emanated from beyond the bedroom, for I had left the lights of my little Christmas tree on throughout that last night of the year and, though I could not see the lights themselves, I saw their warm, radiant glow.
And I was acutely aware of my own contentment. I was reading a book I liked. Today was a holiday. Usually, I get up very early and begin my writing immediately, but today, was special, so I was lingering in bed. I had no appointments until a call with a friend at noon. Later in the day I planned to make a big pot of split pea soup. I would probably take down my little Christmas tree. The day stretched ahead, leisurely and capacious. But right now, it was the moment that felt spacious—warm, interesting without being taxing, and roomy enough to accommodate all my physical and and mental pleasures.
I vow to continue not only to be aware of the pleasures of the moment, but also to luxuriate in them.