Niall Williams

He smiled, quoting himself: ‘This is happiness.’ It was a condensed explanation, but I came to understand him to mean you could stop at, not all, but most of the moments of your life, stop for one heartbeat and, no matter what the state of your head or heart, say This is happiness, because of the simple truth that you were alive to say it. I think of that often. We can all pause right here, raise our heads, take a breath and accept that This is happiness,

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5 Responses to Niall Williams

  1. shinichi says:

    This Is Happiness

    by Niall Williams

  2. shinichi says:

    “How can you be happy now?” the book seems to ask, and it has a point. The catastrophe of climate neglect, the toxic politics, the tangible sense of so many things worsening in your own lifetime, along with a sense of your obscure or outright complicity, all combined to make the idea of any possible happiness seem at best childish, at worse willfully blind…

    When I came to write the new novel, I remembered a moment from our early days in Clare. We had left commuter Monday-to-Friday lives in New York to come to a rural farming community, seeking a simpler life that was truer to our natures, not yet knowing what exactly that was…

    One of those first welcomers was Michael Dooley, a silver-haired farmer, turf cutter, man of the land of the old kind, who into his 80s, pedaled his big bicycle into the village.

    Because Michael seemed to be working on the land all day every day, into the fall of darkness and beyond, and never complained, I once asked him if he ever took a holiday.

    “A holiday?” He looked at me like the innocent I was.

    “I mean, what do you do to be happy?”

    The question was a novelty to him and he considered it from all sides before answering.

    “When I want a holiday,” he said at last, “I go over the road as far as the meadow. I go in there, take off my jacket, and lay down on it. I watch the world turning for a bit, with me still in it.”

    He smiled then, and held me in his blue Atlantic eyes, full of the ordinary wisdom of a well-lived life, a wisdom that saw the many failings of the world but our still breathing and dreaming in it, and with a conclusive nod that defeated all arguments said, “That’s happiness.”

  3. shinichi says:

    In a twist of fate preserved for lovers, loneliness was more profound now, as well as darkly delicious.

  4. shinichi says:

    Sounds mad when you say it. Seems sane when you feel it.

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