Thursday, 29 May 2014

on gratitude and grief and a little bit of Hamlet...

I have been completely overwhelmed by the reponse to my library appeal. So much so, I am not sure I can express my gratitude sufficiently. But I will try. Thank you everyone so so so much. Just when it all seemed be going nowhere, you all stepped forward and are making it happen. I was worrying that this project was going to be the proverbial straw, frantically trying to come up with Plan B, questioning my sanity (in fairness, I do that a lot), and then the money started flooding in. And not just the money but ideas, ideas, ideas. As I type, two gorgeous souls are organzing other fundraisers for the library: an art show (June) and a film night (September). Proper invites to both will be hitting your in-boxes in time.

The challenges do continue. I am off to Shropshire this weekend to meet up with some Kili friends and hike round Wales. In the rain, I am quite sure. But there will be laughter, I am also sure of that. It will also be a chance for me to do some thinking. And I have been doing a lot of that recently, specifically on the theme of generosity and why people do what they do. Why are people generous? Why are all these people supporting the library? Why are we building something for children we don't know in a country far away? Why do we help those we know and love AND those we don't.  Why do we open our hearts, knowing full well that it often leads to grief? 

Beautiful Buttons
The last question particularly hit home the night before last when I attended what was essentially a doggy wake.  I am famously NOT a dog person. In fact, I am not much of an animal lover at all. But even my stoney heart couldn't help but be moved by the sheer grief of the family. Their 9 year old chocolate lab, Buttons, got into some snail pellets and died an agonizing death on their kitchen floor, in the middle of the night.  All the emergency vet could do was counsel them through the final stages. And as I sat with Ange, listening to her tell the story over and over, I couldn't help but think "why would anyone get a dog?" knowing that at some time they are going to be reduced to pieces when they die. Why would anyone sign themselves up to that?? But of course, that is makes life worth living.  We are always willing to risk the grief for the reward of love, and in the case of dogs, unconditional love. My friend Mark (a dog lover) likes to tell this (not funny) joke: "Lock your dog and your wife in the boot of the car. After an hour, which one is happy to see you?" To have someone always happy to see you, regardless of the circumstances,well, I guess I do understand the point of dogs. But dog lovers don't just receive love from their dogs, they love, love, love them back. Every few months a newspaper runs an expose on how dog sitters make more money than baby sitters. A quick stroll through the pet department of Harrods shows how many people have more money than sense. Karl Lagerfield has not one but two nannies for his cat. Many a marital bed includes at least one dog (of the actual canine variety) and I am not spilling any secrets when I write that dog is frequently loved more than husband and, on any given day, more than teenager. But why??? 

Because we all need to be loved and we all need to give love. And as we are a complicated lot, we need to do it various and varied ways. We donate to MacMillan Cancer Fund, we lavish dogs with affection, and we support friends who are building libraries.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What a piece of work is a man, 
how noble in reason, 
how infinite in faculties, 
in form and moving how express and admirable, 
in action how like an angel, 
in apprehension how like a god! 

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