Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Six o’clock in the morning. A student sits in his room at university, wearily trying to complete the essay he abandoned late the previous night, having fallen asleep over his desk. Forever sidetracked, finding ever-increasing difficulty in maintaining focus, having lost the spark of interest in the subject he once found so fascinating; now it’s become a drudgery from which he desperately wants to escape.

Fast forward 30 years...
The surroundings have changed; the room is now an office, paper is superseded by computer, essays are replaced by technical papers, yet what I experience now in my work – and only in my work, not in any other arena - is that same inability to focus, a shutter that comes down in my mind creating paralysis of thought and deed.

That shutter is like a science fiction force-field, an invisible, impenetrable barrier between mind and work, and it’s a common feature of both scenarios, then and now. At last, I think I see its source and its purpose – it’s my heart’s way of telling me that this is emphatically not how it wants to be engaged; this is not its purpose, not its plan. It doesn’t belong here, and if head wont listen to it, continuing to ride roughshod over its desires, then this mental barrier is the only way heart has of communicating, throwing up road-blocks that I cannot ignore.

It may not be coincidence that there is also a common factor to those things that distracted me then and now; always, there has been a creative element. In university days of course it was too easy to swap minute by minute between study and creation. I remember hours spent constructing a sophisticated wire framework to hold bread for toasting in front of the gas fire; a tiny matchbox jack-in-the-box made as a Valentine’s Day gift for my girlfriend ( now my wife); sketches – none very good, but all the result of that drive to create. It’s harder now in the office – not much call for wire toasters or jack-in-the-boxes, but once in a while there are some intranet pages to design or some systems diagrams to produce. And in the intervening years, every single work achievement of any significance (not that there are many of those) has been an act of creation in some form, something that bears the stamp of my unique self.

I only half understood my heart’s message 30 years ago, and so was only half committed to acting upon it. So if indeed I’m now finally waking up to it, will I also now act?

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