Today I was reading Jan Fortune’s blog and was reminded how important it is not to get bogged down in the stresses and tribulations of our world. It is so easy, too easy, to get depressed about how the politicians are behaving, what is being done or not done. We feel powerless to change things, we fret about how long it takes for things to happen, when we really need to focus on the present and remind ourselves of the simple joys in being alive.
Jan writes – As writers we care, passionately, about what animates and motivates other people, about the conditions of our planet, about life in all its colours and nuances. It’s zest for life itself that is one of the things that keeps us writing.
Zest is a way of living that embodies hope. It’s the opposite of living from fear and helps us to get out of our own way so that we can be more outward-looking, grateful and generous.
There are times when we do need reminding that even in the darkest times when we struggle to come to terms with a string of obstacles that life seems to put in our way, it is still possible to find joy and discover our zest for life.
Along with a group of others, I’m about to embark on studying Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Compared to Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad, Metamorphoses seems to be an easier read. It differs from the familiar epic in that there isn’t one narrator and one main protagonist, there are many stories told by many characters, They are all linked however by the theme of metamorphosis.
In a way this is a good time to be reading this book. We are living through a very strange time – unprecedented is a word I have heard so often in the last four months. We have all been forced to change our lives in a number of ways. Many feel that they have been changed into hermits. Our towns and villages have taken on quite different appearances – once bustling streets are now eerily quiet. We have changed character in the way we relate to others – staying two metres apart, not touching. Yes, our world has indeed been transformed and we can only wonder how it will look in the future.
Even our country’s climate has morphed into a different guise. We have had the wettest February followed by the driest spring and now some of the trees have leaves that are beginning to take on the colours of autumn. Our seasons seem to have lost their distinctive characteristics – another change we are experiencing. At least we haven’t woken to find ourselves as cockroaches like Gregor in Kafka’s novel!
Amor fati – found in the novel by Kate Atkinson ‘Life After Life’
Kate Atkinson isn’t the only one to have quoted amor fati. I came across it again when reading Richard Holloway’s latest book Waiting for the Last Bus, Reflections on Life and Death. This book, like much of his writing, is thought provoking and inspiring. In addition to Nietzsche*, Richard Holloway quotes extensively from many writers and philosophers. Have you ever read a book that you hesitate to lend to anyone because you don’t want to part with it? Then you’ll know the feeling I have about this one. I just want to make a bulk buy for some of my closest friends!
You’ll find the following in Waiting for the Last Bus on p150
* ‘…I hope I have enough time left at the table to get better at what Nietzsche called amor fati, love of the fate I was dealt, the life that wove itself on the loom, the person I was.’
What a man he is – and thankfully, he’s still writing.