“[W]hatever the nature of a faith in a supernatural being, or beings, and whatever its unprovable postulates,” muses William Boyd, “I am convinced that what makes our species unique … is that we know we are trapped in time, caught briefly between these two eternities of darkness, the prenatal darkness and the posthumous one”:
“The prison of time is spherical and without exits,” Nabokov says. What to do in the face of this universal, inescapable penal servitude? My own feeling – and this again is what makes us human – is that we all yearn for one thing. Just as it’s hard-wired into our consciousness that we live between two eternities of darkness, so we search for some factor to alleviate and compensate for that brutal reality.
And the compensation we seek, I believe, is love. We want to love and we want to be loved, every single one of us. As the song says: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn/Is just to love and be loved in return.” That’s what makes our sojourn in the time-prison bearable – more than bearable: redemptive – life-enhancing, time-evading. If you’re lucky enough to experience that emotion then you’ll have savoured the best, the ultimate, that the human predicament can offer.