If a human being closes her eyes hard enough and for long enough, she can remember pretty well everything that has made her happy. The fragrance of her mother’s skin at the age of five and how they fled giggling into a porch to get out of a sudden downpour. The cold tip of her father’s nose against her cheek. The consolation of the rough part of a soft toy that she has refused to let them wash. The sound of waves stealing in over rocks during their last seaside holiday. Applause in a theater. Her sister’s hair, afterwards, carelessly waving in the breeze as they’re walking down the street.
And apart from that? When has she been happy? A few moments. The jangling of keys in the door. The beating of Kent’s heart against the palms of her hands while he lay sleeping. Children’s laughter. The feel of the wind on her balcony. Fragrant tulips. True love.
The first kiss.
A few moments. A human being, any human being at all, has so perishingly few chances to stay right there, to let go of time and fall into the moment. And to love someone without measure. Explode with passion.
A few times when we are children, maybe, for those of us who are allowed to be. But after that, how many breaths are we allowed to take beyond the confines of ourselves? How many pure emotions make us cheer out loud, without a sense of shame? How many chances do we get to be blessed by amnesia?
All passion is childish. It’s banal and naive. It’s nothing we learn; it’s instinctive, and so it overwhelms us. Overturns us. It bears us away in a flood. All other emotions belong to the earth, but passions inhabits the universe.
That is the reason why passion is worth something, not for what it gives us but for what it demands that we risk. Our dignity. The puzzlement of others and their condescending, shaking heads.
from Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman