Many dogs can understand almost every word humans say, while humans seldom learn to recognize more than half a dozen barks, if that. And barks are only a small part of the dog language. A wagging tail can mean so many things. Humans know that it means a dog is pleased, but not what a dog is saying about his pleasedness.
I suddenly knew that religion, God - something beyond everyday life - was there to be found, provided one is really willing. And I saw that though what I felt in the church was only imagination, it was a step on the way; because imagination itself can be a kind of willingness - a pretense that things are real, due to one's longing for them. It struck me that this was somehow tied up with what the Vicar said about religion being an extension of art - and then I had a glimpse of how religion can really cure you of sorrow; somehow make use of it, turn it to beauty, just as art can make sad things beautiful. I found myself saying: 'Sacrifice is the secret - you have to sacrifice things for art and it's the same with religion; and then the sacrifice turns out to be a gain.' Then I got confused and I couldn't hold on to what I meant - until Miss Blossom remarked: 'Nonsense, duckie - it's prefectly simple. You lose yourself in something beyond yourself and it's a lovely rest.' I saw that, all right. Then I thought: 'But that's how Miss Marcy cured her sorrow, too - only she lost herself in other people instead of in religion.' Which way of life was best - hers or the Vicar's? I decided that he loves God and merely likes the villagers, whereas she loves the villagers and merely likes God - and then I suddenly wondered if I could combine both ways, love God and my neighbor equally. Was I really willing to?
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I don't intend to let myself become the kind of author who can only work in seclusion - after all, Jane Austen wrote in the sitting-room and merely covered up her work when a visitor called (though I bet she thought a thing or two) - but I am not quite Jane Austen yet and there are limits to what I can stand.
Now, paper and pencils, " said Miss Marcy, clapping her hands. Writing paper is scarce in this house, and I had no intention of tearing sheets out of this exercise book, which is a superb sixpenny one the Vicar gave me. In the end, Miss Marcy took the middle pages out of her library record, which gave us a pleasant feeling that we were stealing from the government, and then we sat round the table and elected her chairman.
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And what I thought most about was luxury. I had never realised before that it is more than just having things; it makes the very air feel different. And I felt different, breathing the air: relaxed, lazy, still sad but with the edge taken off the sadness. Perhaps the effect wears off in time, or perhaps you don't notice it if you are born to it, but it does seem to me that the climate of richness must always be a little dulling to the senses. Perhaps it takes the edge off joy as well as off sorrow.
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He stood staring into the wood for a minute, then said: "What is it about the English countryside - why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?" He sounded faintly sad. Perhaps he finds beauty saddening - I do myself sometimes. Once when I was quite little I asked father why this was and he explained that it was due to our knowledge of beauty's evanescence, which reminds us that we ourselves shall die. Then he said I was probably too young to understand him; but I understood perfectly.
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he talked quite naturally while we ate - about the difficulty of finding words to describe the luminous mist, and why one has the desire to describe beauty. "Perhaps it's an attempt to possess it, " I said. "Or be possessed by it; perhaps that's the same thing, really. I suppose it's the complete identification with beauty one's seeking." The mist grew brighter and brighter.
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I didn't make any mistake. I know that when he nearly asked me to marry him it was only on impulse It is part if a follow-my-leader game of second-best we have all been playing - Rose with Simon, Simon with me, me with Stephen and Stephen, I suppose, with that detestable Leda Fox-Cotton. It isn't a very good game; the people you play it with are apt to get hurt.
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