The Seine could be any of a dozen shades of mud-brown or chalky green, gleaming silver or a deep indigo, depending on the time of year, the time of day, or simply whether the sun was out. The change could be astonishing, theatrical. In the gloom of winter, sand-colored bridges and palaces could look as leaden as the skies overhead, just as in full sunshine—even in winter— the same bridges and palaces would glow with such golden warmth it was as if they were lit from within. Naturally most Americans, unlike their countryman Cooper, greatly preferred Paris in sunshine.
Nathaniel Willis, having spent his first week walking the city in drizzling rain, said that when the sun burst forth at last it so changed all his previous impressions that he had to set off and see it all a second time. “And it seemed to me another city,” he wrote. “I never realized so forcibly the beauty of sunshine. Architecture, particularly, is nothing without it.”
It was a first encounter with a great Catholic shrine, with its immense scale and elaborate evocations of sainthood and ancient sanctions, and for the Americans, virtually all of whom were Protestants, it was a surprisingly emotional experience. Filling pages of her journal, Emma Willard would struggle to find words equal to the “inexpressible magic,” the “sublimity” she felt. I had heard of fifty or a hundred years being spent in the erection of a building, and I had often wondered how it could be; but when I saw even the outside of this majestic and venerable temple, the doubt ceased."When I entered the interior, and saw by the yet dim and shadowy light, the long, long, aisles—the high raised vaults—the immense pillars which supported them … my mind was smitten with a feeling of sublimity almost too intense for mortality. I stood and gazed, and as the light increased, and my observation became more minute, a new creation seemed rising to my view—of saints and martyrs mimicked by the painter or sculptor—often clad in the solemn stole of the monk or nun, and sometimes in the habiliments of the grave. The infant Savior with his virgin mother—the crucified Redeemer—adoring angels, and martyred saints were all around—and unearthly lights gleaming from the many rainbow-colored windows, and brightening as the day advanced, gave a solemn inexpressible magic to the scene."
From Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running":
If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.
in the final analysis what’s most important is what you can’t see but can feel in your heart. To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts. But even activities that appear fruitless don’t necessarily end up so.
From Pat Conroy's "South of Broad":
“Men. Say something in defense of your sex,” she challenges me.
“We’d be fine ’cept they gave us dicks.”
From "The Tragedy of Arthur" by Arthur Philips:
I loved Venice first for its surface beauty, just like all the other suckers. But soon enough I loved its ability to hide from prying, to withdraw its essence behind those thousands of cleverly identical façades and squares, to vanish despite a billion grazing eyes, as though the tourists were all walleyed or willfully blind.