19 Sep Inspiring women
It’s difficult to walk past the local Waterstone’s bookshop without dropping in. It has two doors, one at each end of a generous frontage on the High Street. So, it caters for the strong-willed prone to second thoughts.
OK, so you might manage to get past both doors without going in. But avoiding eye-contact is impossible. It’s not an arresting or artful display. In fact, it’s pretty ordinary as window displays go. But if you like books you’re bound to look. There are always books about inspiring women. Extraordinary women. Books written for women (and men) and for girls – Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls; Girls who Rocked the World. Lately, A History of the World in 21 Women.
The little bit of me that’s a sceptic sometimes wonders if it’s all a cunning ploy on the part of the local store to get the punters in. Based on my experience, footfall along the High Street during opening hours must be 75% women, possibly more. And don’t women buy more books than men anyway? Or is the manager a feminist making a point where she/he can? Whatever! I love it. Find it impossible not to be thrilled by this outpouring of words to colour in amazing women’s lives. It’s as if the secret is finally out. The publishing world is catching up with us as we find our voices.
Inspiring women are not hard to find. I had a coffee with one only this morning. It’s a regular chat-date – at least we usually manage to meet every few weeks, though lately it’s been longer. Stuff got in the way – trips, viruses, families. We both order the americano, hot milk on the side. However long the gap since the last time, we somehow manage to dive deep into the big themes in life before the coffee’s cool enough to sip. When I say ‘big themes’ I don’t mean Brexit or Trump, nor any Politics with a big P. I mean the proper big themes. Of the soul and the self.
I’m hoping that doesn’t sound too fancy, for we are not fancy people.
Tomorrow she starts a Master of Fine Art degree course, aged 72 (or near enough). To prove herself? To find knowledge? To train her mind, her eye, her hands? To reap further skill from those hands, seasoned as they are by decades of moulding and shaping clay? I don’t feel I need to ask her why. I think I know well enough. In any case, it’s not her motivation that intrigues and inspires me. It’s her courage.
For this is not blasé. It’s not a case of having the time and the money so, why not? This springs from thinking deeply, looking inside, seeing there’s more to explore, knowing it might be hard, grasping that vulnerability may come with this project in there among the young who arrive seemingly with confidence fully formed.
She’s reaching in to mould herself and reaching out to shape her destiny. It’s brave and very wonderful.