The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

  • You were born on a moving train. And even though it feels like you're standing still, time is sweeping past you, right where you sit. But once in a while you look up,and actually feel the inertia,and watch as the present turns into a memory —as if some future you is already looking back on it. Dès Vu. One day you’ll remember this moment, and it’ll mean something very different. Maybe you’ll cringe and laugh, or brim with pride, aching to return. or notice some detail hidden in the scene, a future landmark making its first appearance or discreetly taking its final bow. So you try to sense it ahead of time, looking for clues, as if you’re walking through the memory while it’s still happening, feeling for all the world like a time traveler. The world around you is secretly strange: some details are charming and dated, others precious and irretrievable, but all fade into the quaint texture of the day. You try to read the faces around you, each fretting about the day’s concerns, not yet realizing that this world is already out of their hands. That it doesn’t have to be this way, it just sort of happened, and everything will soon be completely different. Because you really are a time traveler, leaping into the future in little tentative steps. Just a kid stuck in a strange land without a map, With nothing to do but soak in the moment and take one last look before moving on. But another part of you is already an old man, looking back on things. Waiting at the door for his granddaughter, who’s trying to make her way home for a visit. You are two people still separated by an ocean of time, Part of you bursting to talk about what you saw, Part of you longing to tell you what it means

    The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
  • We take it for granted that life moves forward. You build memories; you build momentum.You move as a rower moves: facing backwards. You can see where you've been, but not where you’re going. And your boat is steered by a younger version of you. It's hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way. Avenoir.You'd see your memories approaching for years, and watch as they slowly become real.You’d know which friendships will last, which days are important, and prepare for upcoming mistakes. You'd go to school, and learn to forget.One by one you'd patch things up with old friends, enjoying one last conversation before youmeet and go your separate ways. And then your life would expand into epic drama. The colors would get sharper, the world would feel bigger.You'd become nothing other than yourself, reveling in your own weirdness.You'd fall out of old habits until you could picture yourself becoming almost anything. Your family would drift slowly together, finding each other again. You wouldn't have to wonder how much time you had left with people, or how their lives would turn out.You'd know from the start which week was the happiest you’ll ever be, so you could relive it again and again.You'd remember what home feels like,and decide to move there for good. You'd grow smaller as the years pass, as if trying to give away everything you had before leaving.You'd try everything one last time, until it all felt new again. And then the world would finally earn your trust, until you’d think nothing of jumping freely into things, into the arms of other people.You'd start to notice that each summer feels longer than the last.Until you reach the long coasting retirement of childhood.You'd become generous, and give everything back.Pretty soon you’d run out of things to give, things to say, things to see.By then you'll have found someone perfect; and she'll become your world.And you will have left this world just as you found it. Nothing left to remember, nothing left to regret, with your whole life laid out in front of you, and your whole life left behind

    The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
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