Be mindful of the moments: like atoms, they make up everything.
If we cannot capture moments, we cannot write. We can write an epic vista over the massive wastelands, but if we don’t catch the moment of the wind blowing a strand of hair across the eyes, we’re not writing.
How many times have I dug up old Jack Kerouac here? He’s just a ghost who’s squinting in the sunlight, already on his slippery slide, sat in the chair just next to me. Years before, he wrote a moment I can’t ever shake from my head:
Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the colour of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries. I stuck my head out the window and took deep breaths of the fragrant air. It was the most beautiful of all moments.
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957)
Of course we can always also sentimentalise, caramelise our feelings, because when we feel struck stuck, what else can we do? I refer to what we often term as ‘love’, or words we use that might approximate this. There are love stories to be told in atomic ways:
You keep our love hidden
like the nightdress you keep under your pillow
and never wear when I’m there
— from Love Story, Collected Poems (Adrian Henri, 1967-85)
Of course we can always write from the iron tasting otherness, where it’s devoid of sugar and where we’re driven differently. We’re honeyed and we’re rusted, both, and all textures in between:
We made love in Sissel’s copious, effortless periods, got good and sticky and brown with the blood and I thought we were the creatures now in the slime . . .
— Ian McEwan, First Love, Last Rites (1975)
How many moments have we truly really felt? Of course there’s no way to tell; yet, what we know is often more about the scene we’re in than the realisation that this, here, is significant. Do we know and feel the slime we occupy, the significance of the absence of an object or another, the fragrant air?
A strand of hair falls across the eyes as they scan the epic wasteland vista . . someone is mindful of the moments, knowing that atoms make up everything.