Well EmbroideredA recent text message from a dear friend put me in a reflective state of mind.

24 years ago I bought my friend a poetry book called ‘I will build you a house’.  The book was given as an expression of friendship and support from one angst ridden teenage girl to another.  The book describes itself as a poetry house full of love and joy, sadness and laughter shared through the magic of words. Sounds girly I know but we were girls then, so girly was just fine.

My friend and I are now both 43 and the headlines from our parallel adult lives are two marriages, one divorce, three children, cancer (from which she is fully recovered) and the death of a parent. The subtext however has been rich with experiences and shared moments, some triumphs and some disasters.

At 43 we would struggle to get away with calling ourselves girls now but when we are together – which is less often than it should be – the 24 years that have slipped by, fade away and we are girls again.

24 years ago she was at University studying to be a Jewellery Designer and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Now, she has just become a mother for the first time after a successful career in Marketing, and I too work in Marketing (in a job that I love) but still haven’t really figured out what I want to do with my life.  As a mother I understand that if I pull it off, my greatest achievement will be to leave behind two happy healthy children but I also still feel that there’s something that I haven’t achieved yet – I just need to figure out what it is.

After watching Vincent and Flavia dance the Argentinian Tango on Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday evening I was pretty sure that I had found my calling and that I wanted to be a professional dancer but with hindsight I’m thinking that I might have left it a little later than is wise to embark on this particular career choice.

I admire people who know very early on what they want to do with their lives but for those of us who don’t enjoy such clarity of thought I guess the key is to enjoy the journey whilst you make up your mind but most of all to stick two fingers up at those who say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The dog is only old if it thinks it’s old and it’s the energy and tenacity of the dog that determines the success of the new trick not the dog’s age.

In 24 years I will be 67 and my greatest fear is – as my friend and I share memories on our Iphone10s – that I still won’t have decided what I want to do with my life. My greatest hope however, is that I will have had as much fun as possible trying to figure it out.

After receiving the note from my friend I was moved to order a copy of the book on Amazon. It’s now out of print but I managed to buy a slightly dog-eared copy, which was stamped as ‘St Martins College Library – Discarded’ – a sad statement in itself.

It’s a sweet book, which, when read through the optimistic but tortured eyes of a 19 year old would have given comfort and solace at a tempestuous time. Reading it as a more cynical and world-weary soul it now looks a little twee but still has a certain charm.

Hold Fast Your Dreams
Within your heart
Keep one still, secret spot
Where dreams may go,
May thrive and grow –
Where doubt and fear are not.

Oh, keep a place apart
Within your heart,
For little dreams to go.

Louise Driscoll

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