Mary Catherine Bateson came into my life in the early 90s, when I picked up her book, Composing A Life, and discovered that she is the daughter of Margaret Mead, whom I met during my freshman year at Rice. The musical connotation of the title appealed to me. After reading and re-reading it, I bought several copies for friends and helped select it as one of the first books for my new book group to discuss.
Life, says Bateson, is a work in progress, like this blog. She details how five women, including herself, managed to weave and reweave the fabric of their lives through many challenges. She helped me realize that I could connect all the many threads of my life into a coherent tapestry. I’m still working on that, but at least I succeeded enough that my three children delivered a poem to me on at my 60th birthday celebration entitled “A Well-Composed Life.” Here’s a partial video: Ending of Well-composed Life.
I’ve also read Peripheral Visions: Learning Along the Way, which has a beautiful passage about the color blue in a New York City cathedral, and With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Once, I was lucky enough to hear Bateson and her daughter, actress Sevanne Martin, do a dramatic presentation of her works.
Then, just when I needed new directions last year before I retired, Bateson published Composing a Further Life: the Age of Active Wisdom–more detailed examples of people making the most of their 60s, 70s and 80s. Thank you, Mary Catherine, for helping me compose my life.