Received a text from a dear friend this morning. We live in different parts of the state and haven’t lived in the same city for 8 years. He isn’t on Facebook. We have to communicate through text messages and phone calls instead of pictures and memes. When I visit Miami, we get together for Cuban coffee and croquettes. Izo introduced me to a lot of great writers when I lived in Miami. One of his favorites is Philip Roth. After Izo first told me about Philip Roth, it took me way too long before I finally read him. I started with Portnoy’s Complaint. I’ve had My Life as a Man in my library for many years and still haven’t opened it. I will today. In the text message he sent me was this quote from Philip Roth’s novel The Professor of Desire
We are born innocent, we suffer terrible disillusionment before we can gain knowledge, and then we fear death – and we are granted only fragmentary happiness to offset the pain.
I instantly had chills. I told him so. He texted back that his eyes welled up. Mine did too, but I didn’t tell him that. Writers like Philip Roth do something with their words that stop us for a moment and put this unusual experience into perspective for us. These words help remind us that we are not alone. That we are all having this experience together. At times it is overwhelming. And it is okay to be overwhelmed. It is expected. But because of those moments of “fragmentary happiness,” life becomes bearable. These words remind us to seek out and experience as many moments of fragmentary happiness as goddamn possible.