That means “Thank you to Life”.
It’s a song, a memory, a gift from a beloved friend, and a feeling – the feeling I experience most frequently when I walk, and the feeling that overwhelms me in waves just now.
That is the beach at Aireys Inlet. That’s where I’m going.
I’m packing my bag for the Lighthouse Literary Festival, curated by Hannie Rayson and produced by Nicole Maher at Great Escape Books, two women of extreme dynamism and heart. They have brought together a group of writers and thinkers of eloquence and wisdom, and to top it off, Paul Grabowsky will come and play a baby grand on Saturday evening. Unfortunately, the weekend is sold out, but if you want to peek at the line-up, have a look here:
Grateful? Me? Si! Si!
Waves of gratitude.
And not just for Aireys.
This week has been all gracias.
Grace and thanks.
My book has been talked about, read from, conversed with, written of, and finally…set free. It is out there in the wide world, making its way. I am learning to let it go, to wave it goodbye for this next stage, and to trust that it is stronger than me and knows the way.
On Monday just gone, I read aloud from it for the first time in public. Thankfully a few of the actor muscles still work, because I could not have anticipated the fear about standing up and putting my words into the air.
I also could not have anticipated the pleasure! Or the gratitude I felt to the those who came in support of me. Looking out into the book-lined walls of the Moat Cafe at the Wheeler Centre and seeing loved faces nodding and smiling encouragement – that will get you over any broken bridge. Gracias gracias.
On Tuesday night, the incandescent Hannie Rayson and I were In Conversation at Readings Bookstore in Carlton. I had no idea what that might mean, even though Hannie had prepped me about timings and topics, and insisted that when she asked me to read, I must select a passage that spoke about some of the hardships of the journey, because of my tendency to be a Pollyanna! I didn’t know that an In Conversation could surprise me with joy, or that it could wake me to wonder…or move me to song!
I know. The unthinkable. The mountain I thought I would never ever have the courage to climb.
I sang in public.
Only a few lines. But I did it.
Hannie asked me to speak a little Spanish so people could hear that language I so love. I thought I’d explain something of my road anthem, Gracias A La Vida, a song given to me on the Camino Frances by my compañero. A song that now lives in my cells, and marks my steps. Instead, I felt so overwhelmed by gratitude for the people who had come to wave the book into the world, that I decided to offer them something truly brave – an attempt at words with the tune!
I got through a few lines before crumpling, but I think it’s safe to say my cabaret career won’t be kicking in any time soon! That said, I climbed over the top of my personal Everest and have lived to tell the tale. Gracias a la Vida, and gracias to Hannie, to all who came along in support, and to that song of songs…
If you want to hear it at its best, look at this link. The late (great is too small a word and too sad to contemplate) Mercedes Sosa sings it. Take a few minutes to listen. Maybe google the lyric in English so you know what you are hearing. It will own you forever once you hear it.
Then on Wednesday, my day began with celebratory words in The Age newspaper. Suzanne Carbone outed a few sinners and then went on to sing the praises of the book. It has made a new friend, and once again, I give gracias. Her words are here:
And now I have a bag to pack. I will be in company with heroes and compañeros, friends and strangers, books and readers, writers and actors and a maestro. I will be in salt air and on hilltop paths. I will inhale and I will sing my solitary thanks to the salt-heavy air and the high high sky…el alto cielo.
Gracias, Mercedes. Gracias, mi compañero. Gracias, my true north. Gracias my friends, for being with me on the journey. Here, there and beyond.
Gracias a la vida.
Again and again and again.