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The same book may sound very different if you read it years later. It can be incomprehensible in the early years, it can be annoying in your youth, or surprising and cheerful if you read it as a child.

Time flows disordered in our lives. We can only try to gather it into some sort of streamlined flow, from the first day to the last. But it will laugh, resist and confuse us — sometimes in our dreams, sometimes in reality. It will repeat the same dream over and over, decades apart.

And we will hastily write what we saw in our little notebook, seconds after waking up in the morning; then we will tell about it at dinner, then we’ll try to unravel what we saw in a dream, or grasp the reason for its constant appearance.

And we would ask ourselves, why was it so bright, that recurring dream, why we felt so utterly happy? Is it because we were, for a moment, nowhere in time?

‘The soul — the whole being,’ he explained. he hollowed his hands, as if to enclose a circle. ‘It wishes to expand; to adventure; to form — new combinations?’
The Years, Virginia Woolf

A few years ago, I have read The Years by Virginia Woolf. And at that time I did not understand the book, did not remember it.

Other Woolf’s works had left something unforgettable, vivid memories about the time in my life when I was reading it. And all the visuals, the fragments, and the moving scenes from her stories I could easily recall and would never forget.

As if some kind of elusive trick that had been hidden by Virginia deep in the book — I could not understand The Years, until I was far from the beginning of my life, enough to make the past undoubtedly past.

And here I am, she thought, looking at the china in the Dutch cabinet, in this drawing-room, getting a little spark from what someone said all those years ago — here it comes (the china was changing from blue to livid) skipping over all those mountains, all those seas. She found her place and began to read.
The Years, Virginia Woolf

Years later, I decided to read the book again, and I was finally able to see much more — how long and strange human life can be, what a tiny piece of time it is, one life we know, our life.

Three generations fly over hundreds of pages in _The Years. A_nd just the same, one life falls as a handful of sand onto the floor, lost in many constellations of Time.

One of the characters lived for almost a century, and saw the lives of generations, in the smallest details, remembered how the world has been changed. But for a man, it is a whole century, and for the world — only a century.

Reading the book, I saw how through centuries small details of all the characters’ lives were changing, replacing one another. I saw what people had in their homes, how they looked at the world in their childhood, in their early years, and later on. Then, as adulthood came, they were already changed. And, mysteriously, in some little details, their thoughts remained the same.

I saw how people moved around the city, how they went to their homes, and what they saw at the front door, in the living rooms, in their bedrooms. What words and phrases and jokes have been custom and dear for them since childhood, and how their relatives spoke about them, their spouses, their children, guests at their parties, taxi drivers, new friends…

There must be another life, here and now, she repeated. This is too short, too broken. We know nothing, even about ourselves.
The Years, Virginia Woolf

This story for me is about Time we will never understand. We cannot understand anything, even about ourselves. We are trying to convince others of what we want to believe in ourselves. We even try to lie to them, and ourselves.

But everyone is looking on a different road — every day of our lives we walk along a different street, go into a different house, see our little things at the front door, have our thoughts to ourselves.

Even when our worlds intertwine, we are still trying to understand others, but we are only able to see how they look at someone, or how they laugh or run up the steps of omnibuses.

Time flies away from our hands before we barely feel its touch, like a little bird, seated trustingly for a second on our palm.

Please, read another story about Virginia Woolf.

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