Slings and arrows on life’s great expedition

YESTERDAY afternoon, at about 3.30 pm, covered in paint and surrounded by folders, sketchbooks, lesson plans and artist biographies, I realised I was happy.

It has been a long time since I have been able to immerse myself in something that I feel real passion for (and no, George Clooney does not count).  Just one week into my new job and I know I have made the right decision.  How often can one say that (and mean it!)?

The moment my son was born, the day I told Alex to sling his hook, leaving the UK for Gibraltar, moving to Lancaster, making the heartbreakingly difficult decision to give up the quest to encourage my son’s father to become a part of his life (I did that for my own sanity) and the one that enabled me to exorcise a particularly demanding ghost thus being able to move forward with my life, have all ultimately been good decisions.

How wonderful it would be if decisions were made for us by a third party or one of those answer balls played with enthusiastically on Christmas day and never again. Unfortunately, as I have commented on before, it is part of the human condition to face certain dilemmas that require a response in the affirmative or negative.

Unlike a quiz show the wrong answer can lead to an experience far worse than having to listen to Noel Edmonds for an hour or so (which segues effortlessly into a little known fact that my headmaster at secondary school was Noel Edmond´s father).

In order to live in a free society we must be leaders of our own expeditions, taking into account winds and tides and all manner of rocks and glaciers, knowledge of which have thankfully been charted by brave souls before us, either in our own lineage or those of friends (one should always listen to mother, she knows best).

We can choose to ignore the maps and charts and throw caution to the wind setting off blindly and unprepared, or we can mull and muse and pay attention to the bold text that declares “Here be dragons.”  I don’t know about you but if I can avoid dragons then avoid them I will.

The expedition can be gloriously exciting, branching off in all directions with little aforethought or planning, or it can be a gentle meander down a well charted river on board a yacht filled with beloved people.

For some the trail may lead into the depths of a tangled decomposing jungle and like Kurtz, in Conrad´s Heart of darkness end with madness and murder.  However the expedition ends, it will take us into the unknown because there will always be dragons and mermaids and magical mountains of ice to deter or to distract us from our path.  No chart can ever fully explain all the dangers and pitfalls awaiting us on our journey but one can always, as Conrad writes,” …come to and wait for the turn of the tide.” So enjoy your journey make your decisions and relish the outcomes, good or bad.

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