I had heard ever since I could remember, and believed, that adult life was to be an unremitting struggle in which the best I could hope for was to avoid the workhouse by extreme exertion. My father’s highly coloured statements on such matters had sunk deeply into my mind; and I never thought to check them by the very obvious fact that most of the adults I actually knew seemed to be living very comfortable lives. I remember summing up what I took to be our destiny, in conversation with my best friend at Chartres, by the formula, ‘Term, holidays, term, holidays, till we leave school, and then work, work, work till we die.’ Even if I had been free from this delusion, I think I should still have seen grounds for pessimism. One’s views, even at that age, are not wholly determined by one’s own momentary situation; even a boy can recognise that there is desert all round him though he, for the nonce, sits in an oasis.
—from Surprised by Joy