2014 in review: not enough reading but plenty of creativity

I sat down to log my favourite books and films for 2014. It’s a mark of how busy the year has been that my list is so short.

Of the few novels I did manage to read, my favourite was The Martian by Andy Weir: an astronaut gets stranded on Mars and has to figure out how to survive. The Martian is essentially MacGyver in space. It’s great fun. The main character, Mark Watney, would be the world’s most likeable celebrity in real life.

I have also been geek-festing my way through a book called Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice and the Socratic Way. It appeals to my dual nerd/philosophical nature. And almost more fun than the book itself is a list of other books from the same series, with titles like The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer and Monty Python and Philosophy: Nudge Nudge, Think Think!

What about films? I only made it to the cinema three times this year. Two of those trips were for school holiday movies, but I loved them regardless, in particular The Lego Movie which was my favourite for 2014.

In terms of music, surely the defining song of 2014 has been Pharrell Williams’ Happy. It’s not my favourite song but it just won’t go away. It’s hard to imagine a time when that ubiquitous ditty didn’t exist.

Happy has become my children’s theme tune. It’s our family’s go-to tune for spontaneous dancing and general mood enhancement. There’s even a local version on Youtube: Happy – We are from Tauranga.

Speaking of Tauranga, I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet more of the local creative community this year.

I found myself at a house concert being swept away by the musicianship of Alice Sea and Aaron Saxon. Alice and Aaron are the sort of people who, if you scratch them, bleed music of the highest calibre. Their performance made me weep into my artistic insecurities while at the same time inspiring me to aim for greater heights.

Alice Sea and Aaron Saxon. Photo: James Stanbridge
Alice Sea and Aaron Saxon. Photo: James Stanbridge

And that is the thing about the arts. The more we are exposed to, the more we are inspired; the more we are inspired, the more we are empowered to explore our own creativity.

In the same way that every good book leads to another good book, every piece of creativity generates more creativity.

We have a whole lot going for us in the Bay. For all the glum-dumbery and nonsense that can drag people down, there are passionate people who are making things happen. The Incubator and the Mauao Performing Arts Centre are two local labours of love that are already starting to serve and nourish the creative community in significant ways.

A highlight of my year was getting to play Michael Parekowhai’s ornately carved grand piano at the Tauranga Art Gallery. In that moment I was all ablaze with classical music.

A few months later, over the road at Creative Tauranga, I saw an exhibition by Timo Rannali and Richard Smith, which propelled me to rush home and mess around with an acrylic paint set. Can I paint? Nope. But I had a good crack at it.

This is something else I’ve been reminded about through 2014: everyone else is better than me at doing what they do. But I am better than everyone else at doing what I do.

I am the best there is at being me. And you are the best there is at being you.

On that note, here’s a snippet from Superheroes and Philosophy, quoting Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

Indeed. Have a relaxing Christmas and then be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous in 2015.

superheroes and philosophy

First published in Bay of Plenty Times 19 December 2014. Reproduced with permission.