Life is much like a story -a series of relationships and events that interconnect and develop into something much bigger than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the pleasures of life are not insular -they do not exist as merely singular points within a human life but are rather best appreciated and understood through memory.
At least, that is what C.S. Lewis is saying through a conversation in his book Out of the Silent Planet. Although not a theme by any stretch, in fact it only consists of about a paragraph’s worth of text, the idea hit a major chord with me. During the back and forth between the protagonist Ransom and a hross (ie ‘alien’), Ransom questions why the hrossa, if they find the begetting of children pleasurable, would not seek to beget lots of children, and the hross’s response is quite interesting:
“A pleasure is fully grown only when it is remembered […] What you [human] call remembering is the last part of the pleasure […] When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then -that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.” (Ch. 12, p. 74)
Here Lewis is painting a story-driven worldview through his characters. Denying the popular stance that life is largely a random collection of circumstances, and pleasure in its various forms is to be the ultimate pursuit, he posits rather that pleasure is most accurately found in the memories of the life/lives shaped by the event.
However, this idea is not original to Lewis, but rather an expression of his underlying Christo-centric worldview. A divine author over all things means that there CAN be a larger narrative, and seeing Him as sovereign over all supports the idea that the happenings and relationships of day to day life have a much greater long-term impact than the individual events themselves. No doubt Abraham took great pleasure in the birth of his son Isaac. How much greater, though, is the pleasure he has from seeing the faithfulness of God in the lineage that continued from Isaac to Jesus of Nazareth, and thereon to two thousand years of the gospel being proclaimed to Jew and Gentile? The Bible is full of examples of this, as are all of our lives. Let us remember the pleasures we have been given and be thankful for how much more beautiful they are over a life’s time as God has used them.