I realised yesterday evening that I’d signed off on my New York trip without mentioning the beautiful wedding of my dear friend in Connecticut. That’s not because the wedding wasn’t a memorable occasion. It’s more to do with the fact that I have a policy of writing only about my life and not divulging the intimate details of my friends’ lives – unless they give me express permission. I know not everyone is happy to share their innner most thoughts and their daily activities with the world and I try to be respectful of other people’s privacy. But I do want to mention how beautiful my friend’s wedding was. The ceremony took place in glorious sunshine down by the Connecticut River, not far from Haddam, which describes itself as “a quaint town nestled in the hills of the Lower Connecticut River valley, one of the hidden treasures of Connecticut”. It really was picture-postcard quaint.
I love weddings. I love them for the same reason that I love the arrivals’ gate at airports. I love to see so much love on display – it really moves me. Remember the opening scene from Love Actually, and the closing scene for that matter? The film opened with a scene from Heathrow Airport – travellers of all ages emerging through the gate and running to hug their loved ones. In the words of Hugh Grant, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals’ gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion has started to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere … fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends … if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find love, actually, is all around.”
OK, so maybe this is a rather naive and idealised way of looking at the world considering everything that’s going on. Nor am I under any illusions about the realities and difficulties of relationships and family life – although I admit I might still have a tendency to idealise marriage and children, since I’m not married and don’t have children. But if you’re a regular to this blog, you’ll know by now that I’m quite sentimental and slushy and I’m not ashamed to say that I love that Love Actually opening scene. It brings me back to what’s important in life – love and relationship. I can quite easily forget that’s what it’s all about when I’m stressing about my work, worrying about my future or pondering whether I lost or gained weight on my New York trip.
Maybe that scene touches me so much because that’s what I want for my future. There have been some tear-filled hellos and goodbyes at airports involving parents or former boyfriends over the years but they haven’t been that frequent. Generally, I seem to be arriving by myself in some big metropolis or other and taking a train/tube/subway or getting a taxi. Or if I’m on a business trip, there’ll be a friendly driver waiting for me with my name scrawled or printed (depending on the country) on a piece of paper or card. It’s nice to be met, but it’s much nicer to be met with a big hug.
So my friend’s wedding, for me, was all about love. The bride and groom were both from very large families and there were so many relatives present – nieces, nephews, grandparents and grandchildren, cousins, uncles, aunts. They’d both also experienced a lot of grief and loss – there were some significant family members absent – and it was clear their families had been of great support to them. So much love was on display. And as the maid of honour said in her speech, which I’m paraphrasing very roughly, weddings touch everyone: they remind those already married of the commitment they made, they give hope to those who aren’t as yet married and want to be, and they show the children present what they’ve got to look forward to. I’m in the middle category – hoping and looking forward to some emotional airport scenes with my own family in the future.
The significance of 40
Moving on, I heard something on the radio this morning that reminded me of the significance of turning 40. Sarah Joseph, editor of Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel, was delivering the Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans’ breakfast show on BBC Radio 2. You can hear it or read a transcript of her broadcast by clicking on the link. Sarah Joseph is turning 4o this Saturday and she reminded me what an important number it is culturally – particularly in the Bible and also in the Quran (or Koran, however you prefer to spell it). In the Bible, we read how it rained for 40 days and nights with Noah, how Moses spent 40 days with God on the mountain, how the Israelites spent 40 days in the wildnerness and Jesus fasted for 40 days, among other examples. As Sarah pointed out, these Biblical examples all relate to trials and tribulations so 40 is a number also associated with testing. No kidding! But since trials bring perception, Sarah also says it’s considered an age of wisdom, which is good to hear. In the Islamic traditions, 40 is also a significant number, according to Sarah (I have to defer to her greater knowledge of the subject here). Apparently, the Quran describes reaching 40 as “full maturity”. I’m pleased it doesn’t say anything about that in the Christian tradition (or I don’t think it does) as I don’t feel I’m quite there yet, even if I do feel this will be a significant year of growth. I liked how Sarah ended her pause for thought and I echo her sentiment.
“As I enter 40, I am fearful that I have not yet acquired the wisdom I need; worried that I have not enough learning; sad about the wasted time to this point. Yet, I am also hopeful that the blessings of people, experiences, journeys, even trials so far will grant me a reserve from which to draw for whatever time lies ahead.”
Totally awesome bodies
On a separate topic – back to body image – I love this video, Totally Awesome.
It’s a great reminder that we are all different shapes and sizes and that while we might be wishing we had someone else’s skinny legs or straight hair, they might also be wishing they had our curves or curls. I stumbled across this thanks to Jenny of Zero Gravity Living. Jenny’s motto is ‘Ditch your diet without eating your fridge’ and she describes in her blog how she gave up on dieting to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
And finally, I was blogging yesterday about sleep, glorious sleep and have since come across an article in Red Magazine on the importance of rest that mentioned Dr. Matthew Edlund, known as the Rest Doctor, and his book The Power of Rest, Why Sleep Alone is Not Enough. Looks like it could be worth a read – once I’ve finished all the other self-improvement books that are lying half-read at my bedside!