It didn’t come from clear reflections, but a state that seemed to be made of perceptions too organic to be formulated as thoughts. Sometimes at the bottom of the feeling wavered an idea that gave her a vague awareness of its kind and color.
The state she slipped into when she murmured: eternity. The thought itself took on a quality of eternity. It would magically deepen and broaden, without any actual content or form, but also without dimensions. The impression that if she could remain in the feeling for a few more instants she’d have a revelation—easily, like seeing the rest of the world just by leaning from the earth towards space. Eternity wasn’t just time, but something like the deeply rooted certainty that she couldn’t contain it in her body because of death; the impossibility of going beyond eternity was eternity; and a feeling in absolute, almost abstract purity was also eternal. What really gave her a sense of eternity was the impossibility of knowing how many human beings would succeed her body, which would one day be far from the present with the speed of a shooting star.
She defined eternity and explanations were born as fatal as the blows of her heart. She wouldn’t change a single term, such were they her truth. No sooner had they germinated, however, than they became logically empty. Defining eternity as a quantity greater than time and greater even than the time the human mind can sustain as an idea didn’t allow you, however, to fathom its duration. Its quality was precisely not having quantity, not being measurable and divisible because everything that could be measured and divided had a beginning and an end. Eternity was not an infinitely great quantity that was worn down, but eternity was succession.
Near to the Wild Heart (excerpt) by Clarice Lispector