One of my favourite books of the last ten years is The Secret Life of Bees, written by Sue Monk Kidd. Many of you will know of it, have read it, or saw the film adaptation of the book. It is the story of a child rising from loss and grief by finding her truth, which is representative of every single life, in my humble opinion. Sue Monk Kidd inspires me with the images she paints on the page with words and phrases, but more so for me, is the fact she published this first novel when she was fifty-three years old, and she is still writing, having released The Book of Longings in 2020 at the age of seventy-two.
Another of my favourite writers is Thomas King. At the age of 77, he published Indians on Vacation, injecting his considerable wit into the serious subjects of mental health and childhood trauma and how when we travel, we bring along all the bits of our “self” with us, even those pieces we thought we might be able to leave at home. He is a wise and skilled writer. He neither preaches nor whines, yet he informs and educates.
When my soul needs soothing, when it has been piled with the hard-to-hear news that swirls around us every minute of every day, and when missing my daughters is so intense, I am paralyzed, I listen to Yo-Yo Ma play and his cello calms my longing. Yo-Yo Ma released Songs of Comfort and Hope in December of 2020 at the age of 65.
There seems to be a theme here, me thinks. There could be. As we are at the end of another year, a year we will be tempted to erase from our life story and send off with a glad to see the last of you kind of celebration, it is easy for many of us to wonder what we still have to contribute. I look to the above three creative individuals and remind myself we can all keep creating and contributing until we take our last breath.
My to-do list still has several entries remaining on the page and room for many more. Some may not see their way to completion, but others might. I have recently started to teach myself to play the guitar, wishing I still had the guitar my father played when I was young. And though my cat Finnegan can play with a skill equal to mine, I am enjoying the challenge. Further, I have a few flaws I would like to strike off my list of “things to do away with” and two that spring to mind are – fear of using the telephone and the habit of leaving dishwater in the sink long past its best before date. I would really like to see the last of these two afflictions. They are not exactly in the category of contributing to the greater good, but I am hopeful there is still time to bid them a hearty goodbye. Why would anyone be afraid of using the telephone? I have no answer, but I really wish I did.
Love Actually is one of my favourite movies and I always make sure I give it a watch at Christmas. The part of the movie I love best is the shots of people greeting each other at the airport, with big smiles, with hugs warm and tight, a thousand stories on the faces, each one brimming over with love. That’s how I plan to see this year out, thinking and remembering all those faces I would gather into my arms at an imaginary airport in my mind, with cheeks pressed tightly, memories of fun and laughter flooding my heart. The older I get, the wider my arms stretch.
So, I raise my glass to you, in celebration of the piece of the world we all still call home no matter how far away we have wandered, profoundly connected to a piece of geography that has marked us with its beauty and its residents. I wish you wonderful adventures in 2021 and will remind you again, we all have value in the collective of humanity, no matter our gender or race or religion and of course, no matter our age. I hope you find you have everything you need in your own back yard.