“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs.”
~ Charlotte Bronte.
Last weekend I attended the celebration of life for a musician. It was held in a church, because he was a believer and church member, but despite the traditional service there were a number of beautiful musical tributes from those who had worked with him. He even performed one of his songs, via video from a prior event many years before. The saxophonist wailed his lament of the singer who sang a good song, who could drum your pain with his fingers. The guitarist skillfully accompanied and led when necessary. It was beautiful.
The night before we had gone to the musical ‘Three Little Birds’, based on the music of Bob Marley. Having done very little research into it, sparked only by a photo on Facebook from an attendee, I had bought tickets and off we went. I don’t know how I didn’t know that it was based on a children’s book (by Bob’s daughter Cedella), so I was unprepared for an audience of families! But it was an enjoyable romp through Jamaica as seen through the eyes of kids, duppies and birds with enthusiastic performances by all of the actors and a talented back-up band. And the diverse audience loved it.
This week I heard of the death of the writer of the theme song for the James Bond movies – everyone knows that iconic sound. But did you know it was based on a song the composer Monty Norman originally wrote for a musical based on the novel of Trinidadian V. S. Naipaul ‘A house for Mr. Biswas?’ The book is acclaimed as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. I don’t believe the musical ever came to life. But the song, originally called ‘Good sign, bad sign’ had a distinct Hindu flavor, with the Sitar in the background. It was totally reimagined to give it that suspenseful sound that we all know so well. Who would have thought that a V.S. Naipaul book would have inspired the sound we recognize in the first ‘dan diddy dan dan’ of the James Bond theme!
It is amazing how you can go from 6 to 60ish in the blink of an eye. Don’t ask me why, perhaps it is because all funerals make you think of those you have lost, but this week I had a memory of my mother from when I was very young. Somewhere around Easter time she surprised me with a gift, one I couldn’t tell my siblings about at the time (sorry guys) because she hadn’t bought a gift for everyone. It may not sound exciting but it was a ‘full slip’ – an item of clothing seldom worn any more. It was a brand new underskirt, to be worn under a dress (I hardly wear those any more!), not a ‘half slip’, and best of all it was a silky nylon material, with sparkles in it, to wear under my Easter dress. Funnily enough, I am not sure what the dress looked like! At that age most of my clothes were inherited (gently preworn?), either from my sisters (who in turn may have received them from their cousins), or even from the boxes of clothes sent from the US. Even after the war ended, some churches in the US kept sending generous packages of preworn clothes for those recovering from the ravages of World War II.
I am sure many of us females well remember having to wear ‘slips’ under our dresses, especially our church clothes. More recently, a co-worker of mine walked into work one day, confident and smart in her uniform, not realizing she was sashaying in missing her uniform skirt! She had been fully dressed (with a slip on) as she ironed her skirt, then had walked out of her home without it! Or the other co-worker who dressed up to go to the opera, dressed in her evening gown and wearing a nice shawl which she had pulled out of the dryer before heading out. After the event she walked out of the theater when a gentleman tapped her on the shoulder and handed her something she had dropped – a pair of panties! It had been attached (by static electricity) to the shawl as she had pulled it out of the dryer and adorned her outfit for the whole evening!
When I heard the phrase ‘at the speed of life’ this week, it seemed particularly appropriate. With so many reminders of how brief our lives on earth truly are, it is important that we don’t sweat the small stuff – like skirts, or dangling items of underwear. The pictures from the Webb telescope of clusters of galaxies filled with stars, and dust which will become stars puts things in perspective. We so often see ourselves as the center of our own universe, when in reality we are just a tiny random assortment of cells given an amazing ability to think, to love, to be.
This Friday morning, I encourage everyone to make the most of every moment, for we have no idea when our own musical will come to an end. For those who write, or paint, or create, please keep doing so. For all you know your work may last far longer than you, and who knows what may be inspired as a result. And for all of my fellow stars, keep shining. For the family of my cousin Linda, whose candle blew out this week, I hope you can always hear her saying ‘You gotta laugh’ no matter what life throws your way. Have a wonderful weekend, Family!