As a newcomer to the ritual of writing a regular blog, I am developing fresh ways of evaluating my daily experiences. The mundane has become a possibility. An ordinary event may just be an opportunity. What would in the past been passed off as mundane has now become a possibility for creating a worthy piece of writing. I am discovering that unexpected opportunities lie in many unlikely places as long as one retains an “appreciative eye”, and exercises an open mind to experiences as they happen.
Whilst it is New Year’s Eve today in Cape Town, and a hot summer day I decided to drive into the city because I had a library book which had become due, and I was in danger of having to pay a fine. I had a serendipitous experience as I bumped into two acquaintances with whom I had been friendly during my days at the University of Cape Town some 60 or more years ago. They suggested I join them for lunch – an invitation I gladly accepted.
Whilst I had seen both Marilyn and Rona around at various local functions during the intervening decades, and I had had numerous casual chats with both of them, this was the first time for many years that I was actually joining them for a meal which presented the opportunity to catch up with their activities.
It was with some degree of pride that I opened the discussion by reporting on my visit to the Isle of Lesbos in June a few months ago, where I attended a memoir writing course. “Oh”, says Rona, “you are writing your memoir as well. Everybody seems to be doing that these days. Marilyn has already published her book of family reminiscences “A somewhat dismissive comment.” I thought and felt, but decided to proceed unabashed with my next question. I had been told by my writing teacher that 60,000 words are a necessary tally for an adequate memoir. “So,” I asked, “how many words did you write for your publication?” That question threw her out a bit. “I don’t know how many words it was,” she said, ‘but it was 200 A4 pages when it was completed.”
I changed the subject with my next question. “What was the name of your book?” “Many Lives,” she answered. Her story had started with a letter written by her grandfather, followed up by recounting information of her father’s generation, and subsequently a history of her husband’s family, as well. To finish it off her children had each added their reflections. I was aware during this conversation that this comparing of our personal attempts at articulating our story was a novel and somewhat challenging experience for me.
I went on to say that I am intending to set up a website and create a blog so that I can arouse some interest in the work I do facilitating small groups in which we discuss Conscious Ageing for Seniors. “But, blogging is something anyone can do!” says Marilyn. “True,” I retaliated, ‘but anyone can write a book, as well.” Marilyn defended herself, “But a book needs an editor and a publisher.” “Not so,” I responded, “today anyone can write a book. No editor is needed and no publisher is required if you create an ebook.”
Marilyn graciously agreed with my rationale and offered her apologies. It was no problem for me to acknowledge her ability to rectify the situation, and in turn, I had the opportunity to follow up with a story I had received on WhatsApp that morning. “If a man apologises when he is right, that means he is “honest.” If he apologises when he is not sure, it means he is “wise.” And, if he apologises when he is wrong, that means he is “husband”
At the same restaurant, I met a friend who had just celebrated her 80th Birthday. I am still getting used to the idea that I have been around for such a long time. “Am I an old woman yet?” I am wondering.