Quotation by Alastair Reid

The principal difference between childhood and the stages of life into which it invariably dissolves is that as children we occupy a limitless present. The past has scarcely room to exist, since, if it means anything at all, it means only the previous day. Similarly, the future is in abeyance; we are not meant to do anything at all until we reach a suitable size. Correspondingly, the present is enormous, mainly because it is all there is.... Walks are dizzying adventures; the days tingle with unknowns, waiting to be made into wonders. Living so utterly in the present, children have an infinite power to transform; they are able to make the world into anything they wish, and they do so, with alacrity. There are no preconceptions, which is why, when a child tells us he is Napoleon, we had better behave with the respect due to a small emperor. Later in life, the transformations are forbidden; they may prove dangerous. By then, we move into a context of expectations and precedents of past and future, and the present, whenever we manage to catch it and realize it, is a shifting, elusive question mark, not altogether comfortable, an oddness that the scheme of our lives does not allow us to indulge. Habit takes over, and days tend to slip into pigeonholes, accounted for because everything has happened before, because we know by then that life is long and has to be intelligently endured.
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