Tuesday 16 October 2012

Love List to Life

About this time last year I was very moved to read an article in the Sunday paper about an extraordinary woman. Marie-Therese Khan was only 35 when she suffered a catastrophic brain stem stroke, that left her with locked-in syndrome, much like Jean-Dominique Bauby who wrote The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. 

Marie-Therese had lived the last 17 years only able to communicate by blinking. Living in a nursing home as a young woman, fully dependent. She was surrounded by such a loving and supportive family and community. Living what to me seemed like a life like hell. And yet, she blinked out a Love List to Life. 100 lovely reasons why she was thrilled to be alive. Sadly Marie-Therese died just a few days after finishing her list.  

I think perhaps her most astonishing one is 

15. Daydreaming- I can still boogie board down a wave in my dreams. 

I kept thinking about Marie-Therese, and wondering if I too could find 100 things to fill out my own Love List to Life.

I've been stewing over this list for a while now, letting it spring to the surface. And now even more recently I read a Guardian interview with Haruki Murakami (who I haven't read yet, but am becoming more and more intrigued with), reprinted in the Sydney Morning Herald where he wisely suggested that "If you don't know what you love, you are lost."

So, lets see.... (and not necessarily in order)

1. My son. I was to only have one child, but he gives me such joy. And just as Aesop's Lioness states "I may only have one son, but he is a lion".

2. That I married a man who is intelligent, creative and such a great father. Who doesn't like coffee either. 

3. My family

4. My friends

5. That I live in a time where it is easy to keep in contact with friends from all around Australia and the world. Yes, facebook has it's faults, but how astonishing is it really?

6. Reading

7. To pass on a joy of story and reading to the next generation.

8. Spring flowers.

9. Paris. That it exists. That I've been there. Twice. That I will go again. 

10. Mangoes. Slurping them over the sink is still the best way to eat them. 

11. Champagne.  

12. That even though my son is eleven we still do bedtime stories, not every night, but we always have a book on the go, and more to look forward to. It's been hard work, and yet easy, to keep it going this long. 

13. Asparagus.

14. My dogs running full pelt to great me at the door when I get home. My son trying to beat them. 

15. Trying to become a bird watcher. So much to learn!

16. My son's laugh as he plays a rough-house game with his father. 

17. Listening to an audiobook in the car on the way to work. 

18. Blogging. Every new post opens up a new world of connectivity.

19. The little barks the dog does when she's dreaming. 

20. Travelling to new places.

21. That I took the circuitous path. 

22. Trying to take photos of birds, and occasionally getting one in focus.

23. Soup. Particularly pumpkin soup, and most surprisingly celery soup, but pretty much any soup. 

24. Learning, and sometimes remembering, fabulous new words.    

25. Sleeping in.

26. Even though I am one of life's procrastinators, I do love the feeling of finishing a job, especially if it's one that I've put off (again and again).

27. A nana nap of an afternoon. Although I have been known to have them of a morning too.

28. Getting time to read the papers on the weekend. Especially the weekend they were printed. 

29. Raspberries. Chocolate. Chocolate and raspberries.

30. Doing the kenken on Saturday. 

31. Doing the Stuff quiz with the family each day.  

32. The orange freesia that juts up in the middle of the footpath in my street each spring. Did someone plant it? Was it blown there by the wind?

33. My quest to read 1001 Children's Books. I'm somewhere above 190/1001 now.

34. Those precious times I can be home alone. 

35. That if you eat enough asparagus in the spring, you will have a supply of purple rubber bands to last you throughout the year

36. Lemon desserts

37. Watching the French news on SBS and pretending that I understand most of it.

38. Eating Maltesers at the movies. 

39. Chatting on the phone with a friend.

40. Skype

41. Eating dinner outside in the summer

42. A picnic lunch with the family, or anyone for that matter.

43. Berthillon

44. Gospel music even though I'm not religious at all.

45. Meeting internet friends

46. Having days off mid-week

47. Reading Paris blogs, although they only fuel the fire. 

48.  Walking the dogs

49. The Northern Lights. I haven't seen them in decades, but their memory is strong, and I hope to see them again sometime, and maybe the Southern Aurora too. 

50. Reading the French Classics. Oh so different to the rather staid worlds of the Austen and Bronte brigade. 

51. A scalp massage at the hair dressers. Definitely the best part of a hair cut. 

52. Holidays. Even if you don't go away. 

53. Anticipation.

54. The wit of Oscar Wilde

55. African drumming

56. Reading the obituaries. 

57. Pinot noir. Five appellations of Syrah from the Upper Rhone.  

58. Listening to old daggy 70s songs in the car. 

59. Friday night movie and pizza night. 

60. Doing the school run. I don't get to do it that often- it's special.

61. The wildlife I get to see on the school run now- goats, birds, often kangaroos.

62. That I live in a world where I can medicate my hayfever.

63. A quiet night in watching the ABC or SBS. 

64. That digital cameras make a photographer (of sorts) of all of us. 

65. Learning family history and the surprises it has brought so far. And the many, many new relatives.  

66. Colours. Jacaranda blue. Yves Klein Blue. Purple and Yellow. Learning to appreciate red.  

67. Seeing Sydney Harbour, it's a thrill every time still, even now. 

68. Rainbows, in the sky, or made by those prisms you hang in the window.

69. Movies made before I was born.

70.  Wrapping presents (as long as they're easy shapes)

71. Dr Seuss. Still. I think he was a genius.  

72.  Watching a funny tv show.

73. Those movies that even though they're on tv all the time, if you see 3 minutes of it- you're sucked in to the end. A Few Good Men. You've Got Mail. 

74. Waynes' World. Possibly still my favourite movie ever. Will I ever grow up? 

75. Ordinary household objects that have a special history. The pie dish that was my grandfathers. The trivet I bought in Paris. The red silicon spatula a friend sent me. 

76. Yum Cha. My record is 5 days in a row in Melbourne. A great time with friends, a mix of old favourites, and always something new. 

77. Japanese food. Agedashi tofu. Chawan mushi. Edamame. Sushi. Sashimi. Asahi. Aaaah.

78. Slide nights. I always liked them. Facebook albums are the modern non-daggy equivalent. 

79. Organising a surprise for someone.

80. Doing a jigsaw with my son. 

81. Having favourite charities that I donate to regularly. Knowing that two people somewhere get their cataracts done every month, and by that simple act they regain their sight using money I don't notice. 

82. Sponsoring a child. Knowing a child in Colombia is having a better life because of it. 

83. Listening to some of my favourite shows on Radio National. 

84. Curiosity. 

85.  Stroking a cat. I miss that actually. Dogs are nice, but not the same. 

Poor Maxy. Best cat ever. 

86. Sending and receiving postcards.

87. Attending writers festivals.

88. Opening the windows for the first time in spring, to air the house out properly.

89. The sun on my back.

90. That I live in a place and at a time where food, shelter and access to health care can be taken for granted. 

91. The smell of sheets and bedding line dried in the sun.    

92. Taking the audio tour.

93. Laughing. 

94. Perfume.

95. Playing card games or board games with the family.   

96. Hearing birdsong. 

97. Stopping at a lookout. 

98. The look on my dog's face as she asks you to throw the ball.

99. Learning that it's all in the story. 

100. Not knowing what will thrill me next.   

There are some special moments that happen at my work, but I chose not to include them. 

I'm glad to finish this list. It's taken me too long really. I'm sure if I was to start it today, it would come out differently. And that's fine.  I thought of it again recently after meeting someone who was in a very fragile way. Life's not all bad, we have a lot to be grateful for. 

What about you? Can you write a Love List to Life? I'd love to see your list too.


Hannah said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous post. xo

Dr. Mieke said...

Absolutely wonderful post, so inspiring. What a lovely thing to share. Thank you, Louise!

MedicatedMoo said...

What a beautiful list you have!

You've inspired me to think about writing one too (although procrastination is one of my stronger qualities).

bermudaonion said...

What a lovely reminder to be grateful.

Brona said...

101. I love your post!
Having read so many of your blogs now, I've felt that we had a lot in common - this list proves it.

It could be my list except for a few minor points like I've only ever had pet cats, not dogs, I can't eat celery (it makes me gag!), I've never seen the point of Wayne's World, I have 2 teenage stepsons and my husband and I LOVE coffee.

And I would add gardening to my love list as well as swimming, singing and cross-stitching.

Thank you for reminding me of all the wonderful things to love in my life :-)

Louise said...

Thanks for all your comments Ladies. They make me so happy too. We all do have a lot to be grateful for really. I hope you get to writing one too Kath, I've no doubt it would be worth the wait.

Brona- I don't like actual celery either (in fact I've long said that if I'm ever found choked to death on celery then I want the coroner called, because I didn't put it there myself), but celery soup is actually sublime. It's hard to believe I know.... I first saw Wayne's World soon after returning to Australia from 2 years in Canada. It was like my life, but on the big screen. I suspect that is part of why I love it so. I really do need to watch it again. My husband doesn't understand my affection for it either.