You may recall that one of my summer reads was The Luminous Solution: Creativity, resilience and the inner life by Charlotte Wood. In the book, Wood shares work that she has written – and rewritten – over many years in her pursuit of understanding other people’s creative lives.
Her astute observations about not only her own mind, but also the minds of others, coupled with her ability to uncover what lies beneath makes it feels as though you are eavesdropping in on an intimate conversation about what it means to create, to pursue truth in art and life, and to find courage during the difficult times. While the conversation may feel intimate, the themes explored are universal.
One of the chapters that has particularly resonated with me explores ‘growing old as an art form’. If that wasn’t enough to hook me in (which it was), the chapter shares insights and wisdom from those who are indeed growing old with an artistic flair.
My key takeaway, however, was much more prosaic. It’s from a letter from Mr Peter Thomson published in the Good Weekend. Noting that ageing is ‘inevitable, inexorable and interesting’, he goes on to say, ‘AAA rating for ageing: Anticipate, Adapt, Accept’.
My first thought when I read this was ‘If only my in-laws had this wisdom several years ago, maybe they wouldn’t be in the situation they are in now’. But then my ego subsided, I realised that it was not them that needs this wisdom, it is me. Anticipate. Adapt. Accept.
Taking on caring activities for one’s parents – or one’s parents-in-law – challenges you in ways I’m only just beginning to understand. But I hope that among the stress, the grieving, the frustration, the arguments, the attempts to preserve their dignity and independence, the sorrow at not always being able to do so, and the battle to come to terms with their mortality and mine, there is an understanding and learning that I can take forward with me into the next phase of my life. Anticipate. Adapt. Accept.
The Luminous Solution is a book to be read slowly. A book where you flick back and forth between the pages; where you underline, dog ear, attach sticky notes or write in the margins. It’s as luxurious as it is luminous. It’s a reference that you’ll go back to time and again because, let’s face it, there’s always something to learn, no matter how old you are.