As 2020 ends, we received a gift. We have a vaccine; it’s a wonderful achievement; a hopeful weapon in suppressing the deadly virus.
But this disease isn’t yet corralled, as 2020 ends.
So, I won’t be laying down my paintbrushes any time soon; nor, will I be closing my audio books. I just finished Rules of Civility: A Novel, by Amor Towles. (He wrote A Gentleman In Moscow, which I also enjoyed.)
Seeing the cover of the book, I thought the plot might unfold one way. Listening to the protagonist describe one year, 1938, in New York City reminded me, don’t judge a book by its cover.
It was time well-spent. Amor Towles packs a lot of insight, humor, and common sense into his character’s conversations and reflections.
In 1938, when friends went out for drinks or dinner – – wait, I remember doing that — they asked questions to engage each other in conversation. I remember that too. A snippet from one repartee seems pertinent to our predicament as we anticipate a new year:
If you could relive one year in your life, which one would it be?
[…] The upcoming one. Amor Towles p.50
As I listened, this week I worked on five or six paintings, mostly small canvases – incorporating some seasonal themes. It is a way to keep breathing; thinking, and reflecting.
So, is writing . . . and digging up quotes from others whose thoughts confirm I am not such an original thinker. Like this —
The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, “I was wrong.” —Sydney J._Harris (1917-1986) Pieces of Eight.
In The Rules of Civility, the protagonist, Katey, does all three, and observes that
“Right choices are the means by which life crystallizes loss.”
As 2020 ends this is handy proverb to remember. So, too is:
For better or worse, there are few things so disarming as one who laughs well at her own expense.
By the way, reading George Washington’s Rules of Civility (that sometimes seemed like a character in the novel!) isn’t a bad use of time in these most un-civil days, as 2020 ends.