Sunday, 13 December 2015
Thank you to Anne for today's star.
It’s that time of year again. The time when I have so many lists swimming around in my head that it feels like there’s no room for anything else. But I’ve had more than 40 years to hone my procrastination skills, so on Sunday morning, I spent half an hour lying in bed thinking about stars when I should have been leaping up to get started on the frankly impossible list of tasks that I had convinced myself would be easily attainable.
Living in London is very much a choice for me. It would have been a much more prudent decision to stay in the US, and life would probably have been a lot easier if I hadn’t loved this grimy city so much. Hackney was much more of an accident, the result of trawling through Loot looking for a flat that we could bear to be in for more than 6 months. That flat led to the next and then a house, and more than 20 years later we are still here.
Hackney has changed a lot in the time we’ve been here, and when I look at Chatsworth Road I scarcely recognise the street as I first saw it. Walking down Chatsworth Road, I see layers of my history here, shops and people that have come and gone, places I’ve spent time and then moved on. There’s so much that’s new and interesting and exciting here, but not all changes are welcome, and it’s not easy for the new and the old to coexist. There may be new cafes but there are also new economic pressures and the huge quantity and variety of people trying to get along don’t always succeed. But I loved Hackney then and I still love it now - all the different sorts of people I’ve met here, all the different places I’ve explored and opportunities I’ve been lucky to have - and even the challenges that have made me a different person than I was when I first moved here. Not something I would have encountered in the small town I spent most of the first half of my life in - even if living there might well have been easier.
Lying in bed musing on stars, I thought of how you feel when you get a chance to see a clear, dark (not in London, alas) night sky and how that vast beautiful eternity of lights can make you feel tiny and inconsequential. But it can also make you feel a part of something amazing - we are all miracles, in our way and we all have a part to play in this universe we share. It’s the time of year for lists, yes - but it’s also the time of year to think about how we can make our small contribution a positive one, how we can add some beauty, love and peace to the world. Not an easy task, for sure - but surely one worth reaching for.