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535 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1995
Perhaps you’ll warn us of the hard work that lies ahead for each one of us if we’re ever to re-discover the happiness we once had. (p. 115)
“My ‘training sessions’ had come about quite unplanned. I had been playing by myself out in the lane one grey afternoon—absorbed in some fantasy, climbing in and out of a dried-out ditch running between a row of poplars and a field—when I had suddenly felt a sense of panic and a need for the company of my parents. Our cottage had not been far away—I had been able to see the back of it across the field—and yet the feeling of panic had grown rapidly until I had been all but overcome by the urge to run home at full speed across the rough grass. But for some reason—perhaps I had quickly associated the sensation with immaturity—I had forced myself to delay my departure. There had not been any question in my mind that I would, very soon, start to run across the field. It was simply a matter of holding back that moment with an effort of will for several more seconds. The strange mixture of fear and exhilaration I had experienced as I had stood there transfixed in the dried-out ditch was one that I was to come to know well in the weeks that followed. For within days, my ‘training sessions’ had become a regular and important feature of my life. In time, they had acquired a certain ritual, so that as soon as I felt the earliest signs of my need to return home I would make myself go to a special spot along the lane, under a large oak tree, where I would remain standing for several minutes, fighting off my emotions. Often I would decide I had done enough, that I could now set off, only to pull myself back again, forcing myself to remain under the tree for just a few seconds more. There was no doubting the strange thrill that had accompanied the growing fear and panic of these occasions, a sensation which perhaps accounted for the somewhat compulsive hold my ‘training sessions’ came to have over me.”