Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in breadth.
And so the most stunning delight, while perhaps brief, can be something that you savor over and over again throughout the years. You can be reminded over and over again of the short sweetness of an experience by almost anything: the way an artichoke lies in your hand before washing, a particular accent overhead as you walk past an open window, the fullness of a mid-summer moon, a broken mum stalk poking through a mound of snow, the thud of a suitcase hitting the floor, a poem.
In an instant, the years peel away and you are standing again in rapture, held by a particular moment when you felt as if your heart would burst and you knew if death took you at that moment you had lived exactly enough. The memory is real enough that you even feel the exact pleasure of that remembered moment, and there is no distance between where you are right now and the former delight.
In the moment when some disappointment threatens to devastate you it is so hard to remember that you will know that pleasure. You walk outside and you think how dare the sun shine now, why can you still feel the warmth on your arms when your heart has turned to stone. Like a blues singer, you’ll wish for rain. All you feel is that you have fallen from such a great height: like a superhero momentarily out of synch with his powers, you jumped off that tenement but then you began falling. You know you will live, but sweet Jesus, you are going to have a mighty back ache when you hit that Subaru below.
But if you are of a certain age, you know that you will, in a while, when grief has softened your heart again, walk outside and feel that sun and remember that wonderful moment when you leapt into thin air, knowing this time you could defy the laws of gravity. You will even remember the little lift as you jumped, making that remembered happiness just a little higher.