While our outlook on life seems so very set, it can be changed in one swift moment. Something unexpected happens and abruptly all that we took for granted is swept away. And in hindsight we can see clearly how flawed our previous perception was. How privileged we were, and how unappreciative. It’s very sad to realise that it often takes a tragedy to remind us of our good fortunes.
On my way back to New Zealand in November a dear friend came up from Provence to meet me in Paris. We had dinner, we laughed. And we made plans to meet again in Paris in April. On December 30 he died after a short illness. And abruptly my outlook on the past and the future changed. I am able to relive the past and I bask in the warmth and light, and the many happy occasions. But the future is hard to envisage.
This year, I have made no New Year’s resolutions. I celebrated the first New Year’s Eve ever with no company but my own. I was reminded of the deadly quiet summer weeks that my family used to spend in the city while the neighbours disappeared for their summer holidays. I remembered the feeling of abandonment. A sense of being the only ones left behind. But now that was a fleeting feeling, quickly dissolved. Today, I am where I am because of my own decisions. If I am alone on New Year’s Eve it’s because that is how I have arranged for it to be. I did have some champagne – or quite a bit of champagne. I looked at the stars. And I did not feel abandoned, rather strangely connected. And the only New Year’s wish I made was for my ability to retain this perspective to persist. I do want to be able to feel in charge of my life. Inevitably, things will happen that will be beyond my control. But my reaction to these things is mine to develop. So, if there was a resolution it was about perspective. About refusing to become a victim.
Often, when despair looms and I struggle with negative thoughts, something positive seems to happen. And the other day as I was – again – packing to move (having lived out of a suitcase for a year now, I resent this), I received an e-mail from my agent with the cover of the Israeli edition of ‘Sonata for Miriam’, which is due to be released in Israel next month. I think it is a sensitive and very beautiful cover and I wish my publisher success with the book. I hope to be able to visit Israel on my way to Europe in April. It feels strange not to have met many of my publishers and not know the people who bring my words to the readers.