“Sparrow, do you think it’s possible to love something too much?” She had grasped his hand, the way a child does.

"But each phrase it so full, if I tried to hear all its overtones and undertones, nothing would ever get played!"

What is true of music, is true too of reading: stopping to savor every word makes reading itself impossible, for reading is a kind of intentional blindness. Worry over every word, assess every phrase, and you succeed only in isolating and breaking into islands what should be continuous ground. Devote yourself to loving every word, and you lose the entire plot. The good reader knows that he's leaving gaps behind him even as he ploughs forward, gaps he hopes he can come back to, gaps he hopes he remembers.

So it is with symbols, so it is with life, the moment-to-moment passage of time: can we stop ourselves for a moment to take it all in – admire the way the light falls on a face, the colour of lamps, the distance and the closeness, sentences begun and unfinished – and still be in the moment? No, you can't stop time, time hurries you along like a train, you're watching the scenery and although you have a deep impression of its beauty, it's all a blur, just a vivid hash of colour and dream; and if you're too busy trying to hear all the overtones and undertones of a moment, you're not playing any music at all, you're a member of the audience. Every moment is full, too full, so our understanding and memory will always be ridden with holes, a word missed and a sigh misplaced, a gesture not completely understood. We live with the knowledge that we cannot know everything, that if memory is a book, its pages have had entire passages erased, figures and phrases that might have helped, that might have given comfort, or helped us understand a little more.

 

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