How good it is as you draw the curtains on the working day, bringing it to a close, to look back and know that despite its trials, its frustrations and difficulties, that nothing about the day has damaged you. That the best is still to come. A family dinner in the kitchen, the room still warm from cooking and the light pooling onto the table, just so, that it draws you instinctively towards each other. Tales are told, stories shared, burdens are lifted, problems dissected and there is laughter, perhaps, good food, a sense of gathering, the small frustrations and meagre triumphs swallowed down along with the meal. Plates are cleansed, the mind is too. Then a cuddle from your daughter, a conversation with your son. Sinking down on the sofa and watching the news, a favoured TV programme, reading a chapter of a book. Maybe a game or two. The cleansing rush of a bracing shower. More cuddles, more stories. The feel of clean pyjamas and soft, fresh bedding. Then later, in bed, the body of your partner etched into its usual position, curled up against your back. Shared warmth, the softness of flesh on flesh, sinking into a blissful sleep; the two of you snuggled close, braced together against the dark.
Imagine you’re on a train travelling home. You’re reading a book as you always do. It’s been a long day, a day that has tested your resilience. Maybe there’s a storm brewing, a convergence of circumstances. You concentrate on the book, letting the words form in your mind and suddenly there’s a passage, a sweet configuration of words, that mysteriously draw you in. It touches you. Simple words that barely explain the reality of what you feel. Your eyes become a pair of simmering pans about to bubble over, and you remember what a miracle it is, this thing called empathy. That despite everything, despite the numb routine of the days, the ways in which you have steeled yourself against the world, the blank repetition of it all, that something inside you can still feel. You look up from the book across the seats, the tables, the people tapping at their phones, and for a moment you can see them all as they are, caught in their own worlds; living their days in the best way they can, trying to connect, trying to be good, to be loved, to be meaningful. In the distance, over the grey waters of the river, the sun’s light spreads like molten bronze along the horizon. The world is beautiful, and for once you can really feel it. You blink away the tears and marvel and the naked wonder of the world.