There was the charm, as we went on, of running out into evening sunlight, but still in a deep gulley – as if the train were swimming in earth instead of either sailing on it like a real train or worming beneath it like a real tube. There was the charm of sudden silence at station I had never heard of, and where we seemed to stop for a long time. There was the novelty of being in that kind of carriage without a crowd and without artificial light. But I need not try to enumerate all the ingredients. The point is that all these things between them built up for me a degree of happiness which I must not try to assess because, if I did, you would think I was exaggerating.
But wait. ‘Build up’ is the wrong expression. They did not actually impost this happiness; they offered it. I was free to take it or not as I chose – like distant music which you need not listen to unless you wish, like a delicious faint wind on your face which you can easily ignore. One was invited to surrender to it. And the odd thing is that something inside me suggested that it would be ‘sensible’ to refuse the invitation; almost that I would be better employed in remembering that I was going to do a job I do not greatly enjoy and that I should have a very tiresome journey back to Oxford. Then I silenced this inward wiseacre. I accepted the invitation – threw myself open to this feather, impalpable, tingling invitation. The rest of the journey I passed in a state which can be described only as joy.
From Present Concerns
Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays. Copyright © 1986 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.