Something for Le Weekend?
I am glad to report that I returned home safely last night, ahead of the then impending storm but still somewhat perplexed at the speeds some drive in heavy rain along the M4. I hope that you had a good weekend, mine was spent with good friends in my old home town of Bath and was reminded yet again of the immeasurable wealth that friends provide in life. I also had a moment to watch a new film “Le Weekend” a story about an older couple, who return to Paris to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
I have to say that whilst there were many good moments in the film, I didn’t really “get it”. This, it seemed, was a couple near to retirement, who were worn down by life’s disappointments. Their marriage is in crisis as they navigate the “empty nest syndrome”, but still manage to hold the relationship together with some tenderness and honesty… just. This is a common experience of course. Theirs seemed exaggerated, rather than an opportunity to reflect and determine the next course for their lives from the wide menu on offer… much like the indecision or disagreement about where they will literally eat their next course. This was more of an adolescent tantrum, displaying their folly in a single weekend that had presumably accompanied them on the previous 30 years and many poor decisions or at least their denial of reality and a possible sad last gasp for adrenalin, now a distant memory in their relationship.
Setting your own agenda or determined by others?
I often encourage clients to take a weekend break (or longer) to figure out what they really want from life and each other so that we can build a plan around what they really want, not what they think they should want. This isn’t a quick process and can take significant time, but it is a vital element of a good financial plan. However, this couple, wonderfully played by Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan, have deep disappointment, which neither of them properly discuss together, despite their apparent honesty and a life spent educating others about the meaning of life. There is little or no attempt to reflect how things might change…how they might be. They have a “needy son” who is described in impoverished terms, yet seems to be merely a reflection of their own inability to attend to what is important. They are profligate with what little they have, deliberately avoiding responsibility for their actions, culminating in their own dependency on an old friend (Jeff Goldblum), for whom Meg and Nick appear to have little real regard. It wasn’t the ending that I was expecting, but precisely the scenario that I help clients to avoid as they plan for their future, however long and whatever it looks like, but based upon their own values and objectives, not simply keeping up with the Blairs…as they do when they take on a “whatever it costs” luxury suite in a luxury Parisian hotel “once rented by the Blairs”. The thing is, “whatever it costs” has rather more to do with honest reflection than the ability to pay the price tag.
Le Weekend is now on general release. Here’s the official trailer.
A Class Act
Some people are a class act. Anyone that knows me, will be aware that I love the creative arts, be it music, theatre, film, art and literature and will often soak myself in it. Whilst this isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea” for me the creative arts are inspirational and sustaining in a way that little else achieves (for me). Anyway, I was delighted to be at a Martyn Joseph performance on Friday night. Martyn is someone that I have followed since 1985, he is a folk singer (and I’m not particularly into folk music). Why I enjoy his performances so much is that he comes across as a truly genuine man, full of hopes, fears and doubts. He wrestles with some of the big questions and many of the less obvious. He is a creative, writes great poems to music that seek to touch and inspire the soul. He is passionate about his music and about the world in which he resides. He doesn’t opt for the easy answers or duck the difficult, questions. As with every person, I may not agree with all of his ideas or thoughts, but he is one of those people that conveys warmth, acceptance and a truly inspiring sense of love.
It struck me in particular at this latest performance, possibly because I’m a little older and hopefully wiser, that he is also able to share and indeed give a platform to someone else, however much his junior. In my experience, there are not many performers that can do this quite as well. Perhaps this is the mark of someone that has not only kept true to himself, but also knows himself and has the self-confidence that eludes so many. By “pop” standards, he has not had huge “commercial success” yet surely exemplifies what it is to be truly successful by remaining committed, creative and inspiring. A life on the road was given new significance, apart from the obvious strain of a life performing around the world out of a suitcase and away from family and friends which I imagine to be tough; it is also the road of life, on which he is so well travelled and has many helpful insights to offer.
As a financial planner, my objective is to help money make sense for my clients. To help them live a life that is authentic to their values and work towards their ambitions. Creativity is very much part of the thinking process, not in the way some might imagine of “creative accounting” but of thinking differently, of thinking of the life you want rather than simply the one that appears prescribed by the media. This is a frequently revisited conversation with clients and of course as it is something that I’m interested in, invariably creeps into dinner table conversations as it did again this weekend. People like Martyn inspire us all to think about what we can add.