Today is my birthday. I’ve never been daunted by the number of candles on the cake. I am the age I am, I’ve always thought. Twenty, thirty, forty – they were just numbers. But July 10 is always New Year’s Day for me. How I take stock of the year has evolved over the years, though.
Several years ago (perhaps more than several now – that’s what birthdays do to you!), we experienced the Broadway musical Rent while traveling in New York. More specifically, my husband and I were dragged there by our then-seventeen-year-old son, the dancer (the one who made me the ballet mom I wrote about in my memoir published a couple of years ago). For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Rent is a modern-day version of the opera La Boheme (sort of). It is set in an artistic ghetto-like area of presumably New York that’s populated by a variety of down-trodden artists…well, you really had to be there.
The most memorable piece of music in it is a song that you’ve probably heard since. It’s called Seasons of Love and it asks the question: How do you measure a year in a life? There are 525,600 minutes, but that’s not enough, is it?
I measure my years in the things that inspired me: the people in my life, the places we traveled, the things we accomplished, and by the legacy I’ve left. So, this past year has been full of inspirations – inspirations that should begin to populate my writing and my other work.
I could write a book about a trans-Atlantic ocean liner, since I started my year on a Queen Mary 2 voyage. Or perhaps I could pair this with the historical Queen Mary which I visited in California later in the year, and write about a stowaway in the late 1930’s. Or maybe I could write about a Canadian dancer in Europe (heaven knows I traveled part of this year’s journey with one). Maybe I could write a travel book about cruises – it seems to be the subject so many web surfers are interested in. Or maybe I’ll write about an accidental university professor – because that’s what I am!
In the end, I think I’ll spend today thinking about all of this and contemplating Murray McLauchlan’s song The Second Half of Life. Because as he says, that’s when the fun begins. “The most important time may not be from nine-to-five…” Oh, he is so right! Now that’s a great name for my new book.
4 thoughts on “Measuring a year – In a [writer’s] life”
Ohhhh, Happy Belated Birthday, PP! I hope you have a year filled with good stories, much music, and adventurous travel.
Happy Birthday, Patti ! My birthday was July 12 and I read the late great Nora Ephron’s last book ” I Remember Nothing” in which, of course, she remembers a great many wise and witty things. I always think of a birthday as the true beginning of a new year too. And also a time for reflection.
Thanks, Chitra! And Happy New Year to you as well. Yes, even when Nora Ephorn remembered nothing — she remembered more than many of us ever will!