PC 204 A First Step (part one)

Actioning something new, anything to stretch and give sense and structure to your day during enforced (UK) lockdown restrictions, always starts with a first step.

But how do you see where you might want to go, what you need to do? In PC 124 I scribbled about darkness. “….. My friends lived in a little village in the middle of nowhere five miles outside Barnard Castle in Northumberland. It was night-time when I was ready to go home. I opened the front door to walk to the car which I’d parked about 50 metres away. Wow! Couldn’t see a thing, nothing to differentiate shapes, one from another! Hesitatingly I edged forward, arms outstretched, towards where I thought the car was parked ….” What I needed was a lamp or torch; there was one in the car, so that was no use, and this was before the answer would have been the torch app on my mobile ie before mobile phones!

Another story comes to mind, one heard during my Philosophy Course in 1995 at the London School of Economic Sciences (Note 1) This was recorded from conversations with Adi Shankaracharya. He was born in 700AD in Kalady, India and consolidated the Advaita Vedanta, a school of Hindu philosophy.

A certain man had to go out to another town nearly ten miles away. It was pitch dark and all he had was a tiny little lamp, which could at most light a couple of steps. Since the journey was long he became depressed and was not sure of reaching his destination with the help of his little lamp. He stood by the door in utter disgust and helplessness.

A holyman happened to appear (Ed: As they have a habit of doing!!) and asked him why he was standing by the door with his ridiculous looking lamp. The man replied he did not know what to do; he was all set for his journey but it was a long journey and the lamp was so small.

The holyman then said it was not necessary to have a light stretching all over the way. “As you proceed the light will also proceed and the way will always be clear for you. All you need do is to hold on to this light and keep walking.  You will reach your destination in full light.”

Illuminates the issue quite well, I think! Maybe at the start of the first UK lockdown you had a bucket list? Well, not a bucket list as that’s a bit of a cliché, but a list, in your head, on paper, rocking around inside your mind: “I must try and …., I wonder if I could ……, I’ve got time to focus on ……, maybe now’s the time to complete/revisit/restart ……”. And now, here we are again! When I was working with those who were looking for another role in the 1990s, I asked them to write down 30 things they wanted to do, wanted to be, wanted to accomplish. Often the result did nothing more than sow a seed or two, that over time they fed, watered and warmed with their zest for life.

Some of us will tell our friends and loved ones: “Oh! I am planning to walk every day/run every day/work out in that little gym in the spare bedroom every day” and often in the telling one sets oneself up to fail. Others just commit themselves silently ……. to read more, to walk twice a day, to research a local choir to see if that long held personal belief in one’s voice has traction, to write something every day. You shouldn’t be surprised that successful writers and artists and musicians practise, practise, practise every day.

For some of you the prospect of a lockdown might suggest more laziness in the morning. I use the word laziness as I am a morning person and simply love the first light of day, the freshness of the time of sunrise; staying in bed is just a waste of everything that’s out there, so a first step is actually putting your feet onto the bedroom floor.

 For some only a little light, our own light, on actioning something is necessary, certainly not a spotlight, and as we fulfil our own personal commitment so we become more confident about sharing the achievements. “I have been drawing/painting/sketching a bit and wondered whether you’d like to see what I’ve done?”

My first London flat was ‘below stairs’ on Cavendish Road SW12

I have dabbled with pencils, pen & ink and with oil paints at various times in my life. With the former I even took a few commissions to draw others’ houses. As with everything, they started with a first pencil stroke, a tentative line, a curve.

My side entrance. The Yellow Palette was my business coaching company

 I was reminded of this the other day on my way back from Rami’s, a newsagent where I buy my paper copy of The Times first thing in the morning. There on Kingsway, a main thoroughfare into Brighton, on a cold, sharp morning and in the rays of the rising sun, sat Stephen (Note 2), on an old milk crate, pencil in hand, drawing the beautiful building opposite. He told me he had drawn every building from the statue of Queen Victoria up to the King Alfred Leisure Centre (Ed. Some 500m) and was on his way back. Why? Because he loved the challenge, loved being alive, in that moment, focused. He did it for pleasure, pure and simple. Nice, that!

One of the houses on Kingsway Hove Stephen drew

Back in March 2009 I asked a neighbour whether she knew anything about ‘yoga in the heat’. “Oh! That’s Bikram Yoga. Do you want to go? Come with me on Wednesday to the Balham Studio?” So on the 12th March, eleven years ago, I took my first step into the hot class; been a few steps since then huh!

…… to be continued

Richard 13th November 2020

Note 1. Delightfully I remain in touch with my facilitator Robin Mukherjee.

Note 2. Not sure of the spelling; could have been Stephen or Steven?

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