Once I was having what you might call a perfect moment in Dahab, Egypt. I had left all my troubles behind me and gone to the stoner capital of the sinai with Tamzin. We smoked the wacky tabacky in a shisha, ate snacks, played shesh-pesh (backgammon) and drank pepsi all day from those frosty mini-bottles. We went for a late afternoon swim as the sun was getting orange, turning the desert mountains into a rich crayola ochre, and we put on some fins, grabbed some snorkels, and paddled to the end of the reef, where we pushed off dove down, brushing against the most phenomenal colors of fish you have ever seen. Some of the fish looked like cabaret performers, with red lips and painted eyebrows.Sometimes--maybe it was the pot, maybe it was the heat--I would get this urge to swim far, far down these shafts of sunlight that formed underwater vortexes. When that happened, I would go back to the surface, lie on my back, and stare around me. And I looked at the restaurants along the beach where reggae music was playing, the moutains that were textured like skin or animal hide, the sky above me, and me at sealevel, right at the meeting place of it all. I thought how just beneath the surface was a whole world, pulsing with life. then one of the fish stung me with an electrical shock so strong, I had to go to shore.
True story, but the telling is inspired by Spalding Gray's rant on "perfect moments."
I am personally trying to get over my quest for perfect moments: everytime I start to buy into them, I get stung. Annie Dillard writes about it in Pilgrim at Tinker creek. She is sitting outside a rural gas station on a cool summer morning, sipping her first coffee of the day, watching the sun rise over the majestic Colorado mountains and stroking a puppy's belly. As soon as she takes a moment, however, to acknowledge to herself the conflating elements of perfection, she loses the sense of wonder. The puppy, meanwhile, is oblivious to her self-consciousness, and continues to squirm happily as she rubs his belly. Sometimes I wish I were a puppy.