To The New Year! N M Browne

Ethel Louvain Andrews 1914 -2016
So this is the fag end of the year and what a year it has been: so many deaths of notables, so many political catastrophes. I am not optimistic about world peace, the economy or the publishing industry. It is too easy to be depressed. Tomorrow I will travel to my grandmother's funeral. Perhaps it is perverse to draw solace from that, but I do. She died at 102 having endured two world wars, the deaths of two husbands, a brother, a sister and a daughter and still she went down fighting. I'm very sad of course because I loved her dearly, but I am all too aware of my privilege. I knew my great-grandmother, who didn't die until I was sixteen, and I had my grandmother as a wise and witty presence in my life until my own middle age. Perhaps my generation of women in the UK is uniquely privileged in that we have not yet experienced the kind of massive loss of life that dogged my grandmother's generation. We have the privilege of grieving for Bowie and Cohen and all those many others because for us death is not an every day fact of our living. Relatively few of us get to the end of every day grateful for our continued survival. I find this oddly comforting.
So maybe we live on the end of the precipice: global warning may get us yet or Trump may push the button. I write dystopian fiction and it is not beyond my imagination to see this Christmas as our last. If that's the way it is going to be let's live as if this year is the only year we will ever have. Let's write every book as if it is the only chance we'll ever have to say what we most want to say. Let's hug our loved ones close; delight in every sunset and celebrate every dawn. Every generation has feared the end times. What fuels art but rebellious joy in the face of fear and desperation.
And yet my grandmother made it to 102. Let's live each day as joyously as if it is our last and as hopefully as if we have a hundred years still in us. Happy New Year!


Sandra Horn said…
Wonderful! Thank you! Peace, joy and health to you in 2017.
Wendy H. Jones said…
A great age to live to. I think you are right for our grief about public figures
Bill Kirton said…
An excellent rallying call in the face of this year's political absurdities. It's hard to be optimistic but we have to try.
Fran B said…
With all the WW1 commemorations these past two years, I've found myself often comparing the 'luxury' we have to mourn individual losses. If the deaths resulting from an accident/war event/natural disaster reach double figures, we talk of a major tragedy. Then we are told again of the millions -literally - of young and very young men who were simply wiped out, mere cannon fodder, in the 'war to end all wars'. Perspective is everything. Life is always precious, the most precious gift we have. And it's not the length of a life that matters really; it's what that individual did with that gift.
Umberto Tosi said…
Joy to you as well in the coming year: May we all make this a better year for ourselves while making it as difficult as possible for those of evil intentions. Condolences on the loss of your grandmother - an extraordinary woman you describe, beautiful in every way.

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