The other day I wrote a long piece in response to a reader who said I seemed miserable because I often write critically about this and that. Part of what I said was that it’s hard to write about the things that bring me joy. Perhaps that is a sign of my limitations as a writer. It almost certainly is.
Just now, I had an example of what I mean. I’m sitting here in my leather armchair. The kids are in bed. I’m drinking Calvados (French apple brandy) in coffee, stroking the dog on my lap, listening to Tallis, and reading Roger Scruton on religion and T.S. Eliot. I remembered that I had figs cooking down on the stove, and shooed the dog so I could get up and turn off the flame. In the moment before I decided to leave my reverie to attend to the figs, I thought, “Could life get any better than this?”
And then it struck me: this is exactly the joy I’m talking about. I have these moments a lot, but they seem so intensely personal, and so small, and therefore so difficult to convey to strangers. I suspect if I took a few hours, I could find the words to tell you why this confluence of elements conjures magic within my heart and mind. But when do I ever have hours to spend trying to tell people why Tallis, Calvados, Scruton, coffee, Eliot and a smelly black lapdog are my idea of transcendent?
I’m not a good enough writer to do this with dispatch. Yet.
UPDATE: A reader asked for a photo of my dog. Here is Roscoe P. Coltrane, in a shot taken about four years ago. He’s older, grayer, and fatter now. Like me: