Most of us have public figures, celebrities, authors, someone, who we are fans of. We enjoy their work, or their ideas, or in the case of celebrities, the idea of what their life must be like. I have been a fan of Louise Penny’s work for many years. Ever since I stumbled upon her first book, Still Life.
Admiring a public figures work is lovely, but commonplace. What is rare, is admiring them for their personal life choices. Often, public figures choose to keep their private life, private. And usually, that’s a wise decision. Sometimes a public figure decides to make details of their private life known because they feel deeply about a subject. They are able to use their platform to further a cause. And while that is also admirable, that is not my point today.
What is so inspiring about Louise Penny is the candor and honesty with which she shares details of her struggle with alcoholism, depression, and despair. And while it’s easy to admire her life now, jet-setting to exotic locations, her work consistently on the New York Times Bestseller List, I find it’s her personal journey and the bravery she embodies, every day, to be inspiring.
Living a life of service can take many forms. Often people mistake a life of service with one of deprivation and martyrdom. Michael, Ms. Penny’s husband, suffered from dementia in the later years of his life. She was his primary caregiver for many years until his death last year. Caregivers are a very special group of people. And Ms. Penny is one of millions of people who fulfill this role every year. It is difficult and heart wrenching work. Yet through it all you can feel her love and satisfaction of a job well done. In our loved ones final hours it is the devotion of care that blesses our final farewell with grace.
What is so inspiring about Ms. Penny is the joy that pervades every written word she writes, both personal and professional. It’s a joy only those who have experienced loss and trauma and hardship can feel. The inspiration is the joy. And the hard work and patience it takes to get there.