I pulled the shirt up over my head and off, dropped it on the floor and looked at it there, the white fabric, and I stood in my room, shirtless for the first time since early morning and I was sad.
So the first example.
You believe X. If only other people could see X then perhaps things would be better. But you know that whilst X is obvious to you, it is not to others, and this is maddening. But if you talk to them about X they might come to know it, as you do, you hope. Sometimes, though not as often as you’d like, you meet someone else who believes X. Around ninety percent of the time, though, you’ll actually find out that you only initially thought that they believed X, when in fact they believe Y, which is damned close to X, and almost there. This leads you to think that perhaps if they fully understood W, then maybe they would believe X and not Y. You have talked to them a little about W but they never really seem to get it. The persistence of X as obvious continues, until you’re almost tired of it. Lastly you meet, after several years, someone who believes X. You have extensively discussed the matter together and you both definitely believe X – and it is at this point that this other someone asks you to fully consider Z. You feel your years and X begins to seem more complicated than you had really ever considered, and you think back to Y and your thoughts about W. Perspective hits you like concrete. You meet more people, and they believe G, F and H. You begin to acclimatise to the fact that these other beliefs exist. Tentatively, though, you still really believe that other people should really try to see X. And you age. And you still really believe X.
Or, you feel A. You keep your distance from people who don’t feel A – not particularly consciously, it just seems to work out that way. You are not an unsocial person. You do not dislike people who do not feel A. You just think that A is more a matter of taste than anything else. You have tried to talk to them about A but without them feeling A like you do, it’s very difficult to get anywhere or even to begin. Through meeting more and more people, A, you realise, is incredibly important. It is difficult to reflect on A, but you have the sudden impression that perhaps the feeling you have of A is arbitrary. This seems impossible – how well distributed is the feeling of A? Sensation of and love for A burns in you, year after year. How will you make them burn like you do?
The second example, which is almost the same.
You live in a beautiful place. It is rich in culture, in history, and there are things to see and do should you wish to enrich your life further. Good people live here, and the people you know are uniquely wonderful. The grass and trees are mid-afternoon green. The streets are calming and comforting. Everything is as it should be in this place where you live.
Or, you live in an awful place. The buildings, if there are any, are broken, colourless and old in the worst possible way. Your surroundings are devoid of life, and though you are a person with a healthy degree of vitality and hunger for life, you find yourself crushed down under the weight of days. Time drags here. You walk around bored or afraid. You are in a condition of solitude. When there are people around you, they don’t come close to touching the loneliness at your core, and it seems there’s almost nothing you can do to displace it. And you wait, hoping to leave but never being able to.