A persistent question when I read or think about the past, is ‘how did they feel?’ What was the tint and texture of how people experienced their lives? For obvious reasons historians tend not to pronounce too much on the perception of the world of people who mostly have left no record of it. But the question persists.
Adam Nicolson doesn’t shy away from surmising how people might have felt on one or another bright morning, and how, from such a feeling, countless human quests and discoveries were launched, many of which would have failed, but with some, or even many, succeeding.
‘It would have felt good, as ever, when they set out. The boat would have seemed large and capable in the calm and the sunshine. People have surely always laughed at this moment, when the sea seems kind and the future a sequence of possibilities? Then the weather turns wrong, and the experience is one of fear.’
Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea Room: An Island Life (London: Harper Collins, 2013 (2002)), p. 117-18
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