You know those moments. When your senses sharpen and your belly warms and something, either you, or the earth or both are shaking and you are indescribably delighted to be alive.
I just came across a passage in Steinbeck’s East of Eden describing such a feeling and it reminded me a similarly visceral experience reported by a character in one of Saul Bellows novels. Both texts below:
John Steinbeck in East of Eden:
“Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then -the glory- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men. ”
Saul Bellow in Henderson The Rain King:
“I began to feel the sensation in my gums warning of something lovely, and with it a close or painful feeling in the chest. People allergic to feathers or pollen will know what I’m talking about; they become aware of their presence with the most gradual subtlety. In my case the cause that morning was the color of the wall with the sunrise on it, and when it became deeper I had to put down the baked yam I was chewing and support myself with my hands on the ground, for I felt the world sway under me and would have reached, if I were on a horse, for the horn of the saddle. Some powerful magnificence not human seemed under me . And it was this same mild pink color, like the water of watermelon, that did it. At once I recognized the importance of this, as throughout my life I had known these moments when the dumb begins to speak, when I hear the voices of objects and colors then the physical universe starts to wrinkle and change and heave and rise and smooth, so it seem that even the dogs have to lean against a tree, shivering.”