Fernando Pessoa, Book of Disquiet (1982)

My humble attempt simply to say who I am, to set down, like a feeling machine, the tiniest details of my sharp, subjective life, all this emptied out like an overturned bucket and soaked the earth just like water. I painted myself in false colours and ended up with an attic room for an empire. Today, re-reading with a different soul what I wrote on these distant pages, my heart, out of which I spawn the great events of my lived prose, seems to me like a pump in some provincial garden, installed by instinct and set going by duty. I was shipwrecked beneath a stormless sky in a sea shallow enough to stand up in.

Vladimir Nabokov, Selected  Letters (1940-1977)

Listen: I am ideally happy. My happiness is a kind of challenge. As I wander along the streets and and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, I carry proudly my ineffable happiness. The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a street lamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal’s black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so generously surrounds human  loneliness.