…so, as it happened, when I stood up to start my awaited celebratory speech to the people who were seated beneath those 50 balloons, I knew that, this time, winging it was probably not going to be the best choice but I tried it all the same. I tend to do that kind of thing sometimes.
And it wasn’t that I hadn’t thought long and hard about what I wanted to say (though I can imagine that it might not have seemed that way for most of them there) but because I knew once I started to talk, the tears would roll fast and my face would crinkle and I just didn’t feel like a crinkled face and smudged eyes. So I just gabbled on and tried to read the bits of illegible scrawl I had penned in the car on the way there (despite at least 5 attempted drafts) and finally sat down, knowing that I had stuffed it up.
‘Cos in the end, if you truly consider this whole weird thing we call life, if you try to snatch at the thing and hold it in your hands for a time, to look at its shape and consider its style, you’ll find it has none.
It’s simply a mixture of moments and memories, most often not even noticed as it moves you along and then you get to a point (let’s say 50) and suddenly it seems the right time to find the words for your own brand of song.
So we try to capture life in different ways. We say moving speeches at significant events when we’re dressed up ‘in our best genes’ or we write about it somewhere…in a book or a blog or a letter. Maybe a journal, or scribbled down in a poem. Maybe we try to capture it by doing something extreme, to test our stamina and strength, to will more of this life into our aging bodies.
But if we have to sum it all up or even pare it all down to its strict core, those moments and memories are richer and deeper when you share them with people who mean something to you. And that’s all.Family. Friends. Which makes it even more strange to me that most of our time we chose to spend life searching for truths in other places called Recognition, Reassurance and Reinforcement. And generally from people we really don’t care much about, people in the work place who barely know us at all , people in our other spheres of influence that care little about us.
Sorry that this is such a soppy snippet.
It’s just that my June has been full of 50ths and friends and family. But also a sad farewell. And at each one of these, the theme was invariably the same: overwhelming gratefulness. For life. And for friends and family.
So to end off this one in soppy style, I thought I’d add the words of this song which, of course, did bring tears and crinkled my face when I heard George Benson play, at the age of 72 and still so strong, at the end of a celebratory weekend, The Greatest Love of All.
Surely, this must be the beginning of family and friendship.
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all