Anthony Doerr’s memoir Four Seasons in Rome is tantalizing. It recalls his year of living in Rome with his wife, a gift granted by the Rome prize.
But the catch? Taking his six month old twins.
He seamlessly weaves his daily life of attempting to write, while adjusting to fatherhood with his twins, into ‘several narrative strands, like fingers feeding yard into an invisible loom’.
Never focusing too much on one narrative strand over another, he grants us a compelling and memorable experience of living his commonplace life in an uncommon living arrangement.
It is his wonder of life that so resonates with me:
Without habit, the beauty of the world would overwhelm us. The easier the experience, the more entrenched or more familiar, the fainter our sensation of it.
He nudges us to imagine what it would be like ‘if we only got to see a cumulonimbus cloud once a century’ and proclaims that there ‘would be pandemonium in the streets. People would lie by the thousands in fields on their back’.
Or,to imagine how we’d experience it if we saw-actually saw- a flower.
‘We’d pass out, every time’.
Experiencing such simple marvels can bequeath a stunning sense of well-being. While we all know that it does not and will not last, still, these moments of infinite beauty are a necessary touchstone to withstand less marvel-filled life moments.
His Rome memoir inspires us to feel his ‘infinity of perceptions’ of growing children, creative writing and amazing nature. We can vicariously experience only brief glimpses of his life ‘composed of a trillion moments’.
Yet, imagining his life and unique year releases a flood of our own moments and perceptions, inspiration moments that spill into our lives, wherever we live.
He says, the city of Rome swirls with stories.
But,every city where each of us lives swirls with stories, if we will only but imagine.