From Richard Ford's The Sportswriter:
A lot happens to you in your life and comes to bear midway: your parents can die (mine, though, died years before), your marriage can change and even depart, a child can succumb, your profession can start to seem hollow. You can lose all hope. Any one thing would be enough to send you into a spin. And correspondingly it is hard to say what causes what, since in one important sense everything causes everything else.
. . .
I have relinquished a great deal. I've stopped worrying about being completely within someone else since you can't be anyway -- a pleasant unquestioning mystery has been the result. I've also become less sober-sided and "writerly serious," and worry less about the complexities of things, looking at life in more simple and literal ways. I have also stopped looking around what I feel to something else I might be feeling. With all those eighteen women, I was so bound up creating and resolving a complicated illusion of life that I lost track of what I was up to -- that I ought to be having a whale of a good time and forget about everything else.
When you are fully in your emotions, when they are simple and appealing enough to be in, and the distance is closed between what you feel and what you might also feel, then your instincts can be trusted. It is the difference between a man who quits his job to become a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout, and who one day as he is paddling his canoe into the dock at dusk, stops paddling to admire the sunset and realizes how much he wants to be a fishing guide on Lake Big Trout; and another man who has made the same decision, stopped paddling at the same time, felt glad he was, but also thought e could probably be a guide on Windigo Lake if he decided to, and might also get a better deal on canoes.
Another way of describing this is that it's the difference between being a literalist and a factualist. A literalist is a man who will enjoy an afternoon watching people while stranded in an airport in Chicago, while a factualist can't stop wondering why his plane was late out of Salt Lake, and gauging whether they'll still serve dinner or just a snack.
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