I had grown up loving art but lived far from such masterpieces; a hundred miles from the nearest art museum and about 10,000 from Vienna. The Young Hare is exquisite, and Durer clearly loved the subject – the detail and beauty of nature that extends far beyond ourselves. I had no idea it was in the Albertina, so it meant something on a random visit to be surprised by the real thing.
What we did have at hand in my childhood was something related. Iridescent Christmas beetles, mountain swallowtails, and Mountain Ash trees rising hundreds of feet above the forest floor. Broad beaches with azure waters and the middens of thousands of years of human prehistory behind. From the hills behind the town, there was a stunning view of the bay, inlets, and islands with the mountains of the promontory between. At night, it was roofed by the Milky Way, so clear really it did look like milk studded with diamonds.
This is what it was. Childhood was also trudging through mud to fish eels out of the creek, wandering all day alone in the bush, kicking a ball and carting hay. A variant of childhood for most pre-screen. Like staring at Durer's Young Hare, this was all a pointless exercise in terms of raw survival or future income generation.
It was, is, and has always been over hundreds of thousands of years of human existence, something totally different. We go to the beach because there is something in going there that fulfills us; we hear a concert or look at a landscape for the same reason. Like the beauty of love in close human relationships, there are things untouchably greater than mere survival or the accumulation of things during the fleeting moment we each have on earth.