The Gift of a Beautiful Life: A Love Story

Many moons ago, when I was but a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed university student, I was faced with the case of Virginia Woolf. In preparation for a lecture, we were to watch The Hours for a semblance of insight into the life and times of the writer. I had read Mrs Dalloway and Orlando, and found myself floored by them both. It was all too easy to fall in love with her writing. But I was ill-prepared for the movie and for the reality of her suicide. For some, I imagine life is a colourless thing. Nothing but numbness and shades of grey. And for these cases, I understand the sway that Death might hold… The dark temptation of that final kiss goodbye… The hopeless wish to surrender to that last breath… But the case of an artist’s pain is a tricky one. To read the words of Virginia Woolf, so full as they are with the beauty in life, so rich in even the most seemingly mundane, and to imagine that still, the ugliness, the pain, the unrelenting ache, was all too strong in the end. I confess, I was inconsolable afterwards. I arrived for class my face puffy and my eyes wet and tired from crying.

It’s little wonder that I myself have been called sensitive from time to time. And no, it wasn’t meant as a compliment. But it’s okay.  A close friend once told me that it is our gift, and that this gift is why we write. That we feel. So deeply. And yes, we hurt. A great deal. I suppose that is our cross to bear. But I am lucky. After my dark nights of the soul, as Thomas Moore would say, I awake always to the arms of a beautiful life. Each and every time. Even when I find myself hiding behind closed curtains, a part of me knows what a joy it can be to see the sun rise on another day. This is what art has done for me. I sprinkle it generously in my home, and I surround myself with the kind of people who know all too well its worth. Many of them so very talented. And my mother is one of them.

So today, for this belated Wednesday Appreciation post, I would like to thank her for the way of the artist. I will keep this short and sweet and say only that we may not have had much money once upon a time, but our homes were always beautiful. As were the clothes on my back. I had a charmed childhood, dancing to the patterns on worn Persian rugs, while you tinkled away on your piano and sang me to sleep with Golden Slumber. You taught me to seek out beauty… And to cherish beauty, once I’d found it…. In myself, in others, in art, you name it, but most importantly, in life. I am the writer, the friend, and finally, the human that I am today because of you. And, again, it’s because of you that I find myself leading a beautiful life. You’re my true-story Gilmore Girl. Forever and amen. Xx


Me Mum, the one and only Janet Fryer

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Feature image: Cy Twombly’s School of Athens

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