On an average day, the busyness is palpable. Hours are filled with obligations, to one party or another or your offspring. The sun rises and sets, and you try to get through it – from one point to another – while trying to find little moments of respite.
You count the little victories, and if it’s a special day, you have to use two hands. Usually one will do.
“The last year in the mountains new people came deep into our lives and nothing was ever the same again. The winter of the avalanches was like a happy and innocent winter in childhood compared to that winter and the murderous summer that was to follow…”
If you’re lucky, if you have the presence of mind enough for that day, you might remember to notice things. Like the taste of your food when you make yourself breakfast. Or the woman who’s afraid to ask you for your seat on the train. Like how the peaking sun mixes with the chill January air to create a sensation of brisk warmth.
Numbers occupy most of the space of the day. The number of tasks accomplished. (The greater number unaccomplished.) The balance of your checking account. Budgets. Train numbers. How many emails. How many meeting minutes. How much productivity.
“In the mechanics of how this was penetrated I have never tried to apportion the blame, except my own part, and that was clearer all my life. The bulldozing of three people’s hearts to destroy one happiness and build another…”
At the end, the meetings accomplished, the children put to bed, the time for the two of you. The twilight hours for rest, or romance. But usually rest. The day has stolen your energy, your will to make an effort. Decision fatigue has left you incapable of doing the right thing. Or of doing anything.
“Any blame in that was mine to take and possess and understand.”
In A Moveable Feast, this is what Hemingway knew all too late. How happiness is penetrated one day at a time.
You don’t let it be. You put up a fortress, brick by brick, around each other. You look into each other’s eyes. You fight, tooth and nail, bloody, injured, for the other person. You see each other, daily. You count the little victories together.
“The only one, Hadley, who had no possible blame, ever, came well out of it finally and married a much finer man than I ever was or could hope to be and is happy and deserves it and that was one good and lasting thing that came out of that year.”