I don’t know about you, but it has been another difficult week. This time there’s been pain of a different sort. Violence and death in places which, although far from me, gave rise to a sleepless night of anxiety about the world in which we live. My sleepless night was Monday and on Tuesday morning I wasn’t able to find anything very cheery to share with my I Love My Life group except my somewhat tearful anxiety that had kept me awake. I did manage to tell them:
But today the sun has arisen again, it is absolutely beautiful in this room with these gorgeous elegant windows and I get another shot at life and I am grateful for that. It is magical and miraculous. And I am writing a book and having new experiences every day and I love my work and my clients more than ever.
One sentence had saved me in the night. I found an article on the Guardian website which was about theatre director Peter Brook now in his nineties. After I sold my accountancy business in 1997 I stayed for about ten days in a room at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, somewhere which managed to be cool, trendy, arty and a bit of a roach motel all at the same time. But the hotel staff were beside themselves to let me know that mine was the Peter Brook room and that the famous British theatre director had lived in the room before me. Not just stayed there, but lived there. People tended to take up residence in the Chelsea Hotel. So, Peter and I already have a shared history of sorts.
In my life-saving nocturnal find, the journalist asked PB how we survive in a world of international crises, nuclear threats, environmental disasters and political malfunction from Trump to Brexit, all of which were very much on my mind that night. And Mr Brook answered that “We swim against the tide to achieve whatever we can in our chosen field. I have a responsibility to be as positive and creative as I can. To give way to despair is the ultimate cop-out.”
I remember the day when I realised I had been swimming against the tide all my life.
I found those words enormously inspiring, enough for me to sleep and then to get up and give the world another chance. And this was compounded later in the day by my wonderful friend and client Margaret Rode sharing this calming gorgeousness in which she reminded me that I do not have to continuously monitor all the disaster and heartbreak in the world. I am not in charge of outrage and grief. I can witness it and feel the feelings and take action. And I can remember that love is where I live.
Sometimes that’s been difficult this week, as I said.
I’ve been challenged by the news, which I know I shouldn’t watch but it gets through, doesn’t it? Pain, sleeplessness, hopelessness and dark thoughts. Tom Petty. The great makeup brouhaha on Facebook for which I have only myself to blame, blame which only makes that worse. The slightly too short haircut and the slightly too short necklace, both of which I am organising for the photo shoot this coming weekend.
And yet… and yet.
There is dancing in pretty frocks on a Saturday night, and that is the most wonderful antidote to almost everything. There’s an abundance of wonderful novels in the world, including Paul Auster’s nearly-900-pager which I bested in the spirit of my reading group and which made me feel nothing short of heroic. I got my own book off to the first willing conscript in the three-woman proofreading team. And my diary is full of wonderful people doing brave things, this week and every week, all showing up for the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life even in the face of such feelings.
I’ve written in the last couple of weeks about the incomprehensible perfection of life itself and I will say that this week that perfection has been pretty damned incomprehensible. I seem, as I age, to find all of this more difficult not less. I harden to some things but break wide open to others. I cry and I rage and I love and forgive and try to find a way to let it all go and carry on regardless. For what choice do we have, especially when love is where you live?