So: the world turns. And with it, change is the only consistent thing. Last month, my father suffered a stroke. It shook our foundations as a family. We cried. We wondered. We googled information incessantly. We feared. We have since happily learned that, with determination, my father will make a full recovery. I have never been so appreciative of the NHS – and the fine people who work within the system. They took rapid action to help my father and have turned a crisis around for us. I am so grateful to them.
The heartbreak of this unjust assault on his otherwise stellar health – one that came from nowhere, it seemed – has contributed to a notable positive: a renewed appreciation of our family unit, for all of us. It’s brought us closer together and reminded us that nothing lasts forever. Enjoy and love in the moment. Do the things that make you better. Focus. For my father, it’s been an important reminder of how cherished he is by his family and friends. For me personally, it’s also been a reminder of how great a man my father is. His courage and tenacity in the face of such calamity has been truly inspirational. Should one need reminding of the greatness of the people in our lives? It seems that we do; so much we take for granted. We assume. And we believe that others know. We do not say the things that should be said. It’s been a terrifying lesson for me, but I intend to learn from it.
In the midst of all of this, I made a career decision. There were many aspects to this, but one crucial issue was focus. I decided that I wished to spend my time from now on focused not simply on things I can do or enjoy. But to engage with those things that can actively develop me as a person and make me, forgive the new-age swagger, grow. And part of that entails a movement back to a focus on the art that has always motivated me and connected me best creatively. The art that set everything rolling: poetry. My time for now will be a critical and creative engagement with poetry. I intuit already the great happiness that will come from this focus. And I feel it has a truth to it.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about creative obstacles. Those that are thrown in our path and those that we engineer for ourselves, sometimes without even realising we are doing it. Obstacles can be nuisances; that’s for sure. But you can also enjoy them, even as you may seem to deplore them; you can hide behind them – fearful of the bigger challenges that lie ahead on the path and the demands they may place on you creatively, and as a person.
The tragic lover Abelard once famously wrote that thought is a great magnet. And so I have been offered to travel to Kathmandu, as part of a literary festival. I will be exposed to a culture radically different, and I hope to make new friends from across the world and discover new pathways to creative thinking. I note that Lord Ganesh, the great remover of obstacles, is especially revered in Kathmandu. I must thank him.