. . .what it is. I do not know what they are exactly–moments of grace, I suppose. They are memories triggered ever so rarely that resemble a deja vu–but they are not that. Sometimes they are triggered by a smell or an image I catch out of the corner of my eye. When it happens something connects in my brain, some circuits are made complete, some neurotransmitter released and I am flooded with memories invariably pleasant. I usually well up a bit–tears at the ready. I had one recently as I was driving out West Colonial past Winter Garden. It was where the tacky worn out strip malls and gas stations start to give way to patches of green and the rolling hills so scarce in Florida. It was only the third time in a dozen years that I have driven that stretch of road.
And then suddenly it happened. The world was born again. My eyes were innocent again, and I was reminded of other sunny days of enormous billowy clouds in times when, as in Arnold’s Dover Beach, the world seems “to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new…”
But Matthew Arnold’s poem was ultimately about angst, world-weariness and the loss of faith. And forty years ago I though it was perhaps the most profound poem ever written. It was triggered in Arnold by the relentless beat of the surf and a light that flickered across the Channel on the French coast. The images and lines that Arnold conjured have haunted me for years. However, the images and sensations given me today though fleeting were a gift. It was one of those golden times when you know with absolute certainty that, in the end, everything will be okay.