Oh my…I am now firmly entrenched in writing triple digit “Letters from the Village.” Who would have guessed? I thought, because tomorrow is one of my favourite days, I would write about other favourite things as well.
At the beginning of this letter, I mentioned that tomorrow is one of my favourite days. I am writing this letter on 21 December, and that means tomorrow is the Winter Solstice at a few minutes after midnight here. As I am sure you know, the Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and for here, that means only about 9 hours of potential sunlight. The shortest day means the least amount of sunlight of the year, and many of you might wonder how that could be something I would like. Well, it works like this…if this will be the day when we have the least amount of sunlight, that means that the following day, daylight hours begin to get longer. Okay, so this could be viewed as a highly optimistic way to view the situation, but it works for me.
I like spring too. I think for me, spring is the best season because everything begins to grow. Summer is great, because I do love having the house open and the sea breezes wafting through the windows and doors. But fall is the time that things begin to die out, even on my little island paradise. And winter? Well I do like to be able to put on a nice jumper and sometimes it is even nice to wear long pants, but the very thought of winter sends both physical and psychological shivers down my spine.
There is the whole thing about living with views of the sea each day that really works for me. On a sunny day, the sea shimmers with an intensity that is unmatched, each little ripple being able to whisper a story of what it has seen. Even on those nasty storm-filled days, just watching the sea waves come pounding onto the shore with the waves pummelling all in their paths, is an incredible site. I could spend hours just looking out toward the horizon, watching the boats slowly sail past Sol y Mar, and remembering how great it was to be able to do that myself. I truly loved living in La Antigua. The village was a very special place, but after having spent the past year being right overlooking the water, I am not so sure I could go back too easily.
Clearly high on my list of favourite things is doing things that I classify as ‘creative.’ I simply love to write, and whilst much of my writing is focused on business, over the years, I have found great pleasure in writing about just about anything. I am not exactly sure when this started, but I do remember that whilst in school, I hated writing with a passion. But I think it was when I took an assignment in higher education and was told I didn’t have access to any serious budget that writing suddenly became easy for me. I was trying to convince the college’s unions that the initiatives I had proposed were valid and worthwhile. In my mind, the easiest way to do this was to bring in a national speaker that the unions would respect who would add credibility to what I thought was important. But without a budget, there was no way I could hire anyone powerful enough, so I wrote an article and managed to get it published in a higher education journal that I knew the union leadership read. That article led to another, and another, and another.
Not that long after publishing my first book, I decided to write a monthly business newsletter. I chose the monthly timeframe, because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to come up with enough content to do them more frequently. But after identifying some topics I thought might be interesting to potential recipients, I realised that I might be able to do the newsletter weekly. That was five years ago, and I am still finding a never-ending supply of things to write about. I won’t even mention these “Letters from the Village” other than to say my intent when I started doing them, I had planned on doing about 12 per year. That was 4-1/2 years ago. Do the math.
When I am not writing, I am probably painting or making limited-edition prints of something. My Aunt Peg really drove me in this direction when I was 10 or so, and now, a few years later, I still get quite a rush taking what I ‘see,’ and putting it on paper. I am not even sure why I enjoy this so much, but being told by others that they enjoy my efforts turns work into pleasure for me.
Oh yes, of course one of my favourite things is work. “He likes work?” you might be thinking. Well, for me, each day offers up a choice. When I wake up in the morning each day, I am presented with one of two options. I could think about all the things I have to do and the limited time I have to do them in. I could stress about external or self-imposed deadlines that may plague my plans for the day. I could worry about things that are well beyond my scope of ability to do something about. I could fall into the trap of being caught up in all these things, but instead I tend to focus on the fact that I am actually waking up to an opportunity to continue to do what I like best – which is learn and share and learn and share. By putting everything in a ‘learn and share and learn and share’ mindset, time isn’t important, nor are deadlines. Several years ago I received a card from a very special person that said, ‘Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.’ To me, this mindest embodies all that is important in life.
I was going to continue unleashing my list of favourite things, but instead, as the phrase goes, I will do what I can, where I am, with what I have...and right now, that means watching a movie that stars one of my favourite actors, David Niven.
where other solstice celebrations took place
spring at Sol y Mar
a stormy day
"La Primavera," one of the recent limited edition serigraphs
a print from the 'Compound' series
the epitome of everything British
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley