If I were to ask myself where and when I have been happiest, I could of course give the obvious answers, as true of me as of everybody else; at some dance or feast of the romantic time of life; at some juvenile triumph of debate; at some sight of beautiful things in strange lands. But it is much more important to remember that I have been intensely and imaginatively happy in the queerest because the quietest places. I have been filled with life from within in a cold waiting-room in a deserted railway junction. I have been completely alive sitting on an iron seat under an ugly lamp-post at a third-rate watering place. In short, I have experienced the mere excitement of existence in places that would commonly be called as dull as ditch-water.
— G. K. Chesterton, “The Spice of Life“
I happened to read this passage just after having attended a biannual library sale, one of the high points of my year. There’s this small, brick retaining wall around the back of the library, near the entrance to the nonfiction room. Shaded by trees, surrounded by ivy, invisible from almost anywhere else in the vicinity and unremarkable to anyone who does happen to notice it, it’s one of my favorite places to sit while thinking about everything and nothing. I generally arrive at that sale more than two hours early just to have some time to myself, sitting on my wall, thinking about how good life can be in the most mundane circumstances. I’m already looking forward to revisiting it in the autumn.