After John died, I started to take the books from the shelves of his study and pack them into boxes. I didn’t know him that well but it made me sad somehow to touch the things he’d left behind, to start the process of emptying the world of another life. It got me thinking about all the books I’d read in my own time and then I wondered what the point of all that reading was. The more I thought about all those novels and poems and biographies, the less I could remember about them. Only bits of plot, a character here and there and, every now and again, a line of particular beauty. That’s not much for all those milliions of words, I thought. So many thousands of dollars and hours invested in books and now the words mostly gone, the scenes long faded and only a faint impression of the pleasure of it all remaining. That’s a bit like life, I guess; so many minutes and hours and days of precious existence, the detail mostly forgotten and in the end only the sense of it all lingering. That’s all that’s left, before memory itself ceases,just the suggestion of a life, left behind like the beautiful pools of a vanishing tide.