For the past few months, I have been feeling a little out of sorts. I attribute it to all that is happening in the world: the unexpected invasion of Ukraine, the horrible pictures we see daily from Ukraine, the economic and market turmoil, and the continuing incivility by people on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I think all of these factors contribute to heightened anxiety.
Last week, a friend of mine died, and the funeral was this past Sunday. It was a beautiful service where his brother and three sons eulogized him. He was an accomplished man and led a very interesting life. As they told stories about him and his life, each of them returned to two common themes. He was known for helping others and family was the most important thing to him. When he had the opportunity to continue a career in London in the late 80s, he decided that he had already had enough money. He quit that job and opted for more time with his wife and family. His son, Jeffrey, said “it would have been understandable if he’d chosen to stay at the bank for a few more years. Many of us feel the need to always keep striving for just a little more – more money, more success, more power. But a wise man learns to be happy with what he has. A wise man figures out what is important before it’s too late. Dad was a wise man.”
As I left the graveside service, I reflected on the words that his family had spoken, especially about recognizing what is important and focusing on it. The service and those words grounded me and brought me back to where I should have been all along. Even now, I continue to learn from my friend. Thank you, Arnie. Rest in peace.
This week’s selection is:
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There--after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes--Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles. A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates--and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times--collide.