It’s the end of 2014. At the respectable age of 40 something, which direction will my celebrations take? That of celebrating the successful completion of another year? Or of new and exciting opportunities ahead? As an optimistic character, rarely prone to anything but enthusiasm, I would hope it to be both. Let us be thankful for what 2014 has brought and hope for similar blessings during 2015. So much to plan! Becoming a vegetarian; continuing to take pleasure in writing whatever I fancy writing instead of watching TV; travelling with my family somewhere we love and can afford to travel to…all positive and respectable wishes.
And yet this year in particular there is a vein of nostalgia beginning to break through my outlook for the future. Could I retrain to become a doctor? Not that I necessarily would want to, of course, but what if I did? No. I am now of an age considered ineligible for such an ambition. Medical schools are not the only bodies that feel that 40 something candidates have passed their “best before date”. No need to list them here, but suffice to say that new year resolutions will not, even in theory, span the ‘anything is possible’ scenario, EVER AGAIN. The world of opportunities is shrinking to a narrower lane defined by previous life choices and age, and this is a fact.
What caused this sudden turn for nostalgia in usually happy and quirky posts published on Ofglassandbooks? A book, of course. What else would feature on my blog? Glass jars? Yes, you have a point, those too, but perhaps not on this post. The book in question is The Girl who saved the King of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson, a funny and heart-warming novel starring as its main character Nombeko, a black South African girl of spectacular intelligence and survival skills. It’s a fabulous read that will not leave you disappointed, providing adorable snippets of significant historical events of the second half of the 20th century, as well as suggesting that these events could have taken a radically different turn had it not been for the accidental input of the book’s fictional characters into their course.
So what about nostalgia? Well, you will also find that the book is tinged with the resignation that life will take its course, regardless of one’s planning and hoping. One of the characters is led to alleviating her disappointment at her husband’s extreme eccentricities by chain smoking, the likely effect of which is her premature death. And then there is Nombeko’s own hope for a quiet and honest life, hampered by an engineer who, aided by a racist and corrupt state of affairs, succeeds in keeping her imprisoned within his nuclear power station for over a decade, to pay for her crime of having been hit by his car whilst drunk! The reader will find a few more examples of a similar nature brilliantly described in the book.
These events are a far cry from my life and that of those who surround me. But books are powerful instruments to make one think. The outcome of my thinking today is that it is true that some doors will no longer be theoretically open to me as I grow older, and that new year’s resolutions should strictly remain within the realm of realism. Then again life is made, by the greatest part, of small but meaningful events, as opposed to spectacular occasions, and it is the former I shall be wishing for in 2015.
My next read? It was going to be: A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, but I think that I shall give it a miss until my mood improves…
To all my fabulous blogging friends, a very Happy New Year, filled with little and wonderful events!