First things first. Happy Valentine’s Day. May you and the object of your affections be blessed in a Readybrek-like warm glow.
Right that’s enough soppiness let’s move on swiftly.
Unbelievably the two-week warning is lit up. Where did those months and days go? Too late to worry too much now, of course.
I’m a strong believer in the power of visualisation as an aid to performance. I’ve even gone so far as to rehearse whole difficult conversations all the way through, swapping chairs to play both sides of the discussion. It greatly puzzled our office cleaner who caught me one evening leaping from chair to chair whilst arguing with myself.
I’ve been applying the same visualisation techniques to my departure. It’s not a dead-end or a brick wall or a terrible void yawning deep and cavernous at my feet. Not now anyway. Although that may have been the case at the start of this journey.
Nope, the images I am using now are all about transformation rather than an end to or suspension of development. I don’t plan to be like one of those plaster-cast victims of Vesuvius caught out of time in mid-flight. Instead, like Pliny’s uncle I am in my boat pulling for the open sea. (Albeit with better respiratory function I hope.)
So what are the most appropriate mental images for the final bend in the race to the redundancy line? Well I suppose there’s that one: the race. But this suggests everything stops at the line. Now that can’t be right.
I’ve played around before with ‘Geronimo’ and leaping out of trees or aircraft. This doesn’t seem quite right either. There’s always a landing.
A makeover? No, don’t have the legs for that. A re-birth? No, I saw the Lady Gaga pictures from the Grammies and that really isn’t me. A chrysalis then? Do me a favour, I’ve seen Spinal Tap.
Over the weekend I saw the perfect image. Something that perfectly embodies the ferocious struggle in its elemental vastness. Of course it could only be: the snowdrop.
It’s not an original thought – the romantic poets are of course there ahead of me – but I was out somewhere wild over the weekend tramping along and thinking. Walking is good for that. Anyway there’s not much stirring just now in the countryside. But there on a bank sheltered by a hawthorn hedge and dappled in the weak and milky sunlight were my old friends the snowdrops.
Back in November this spot was under a heap of snow and it felt like nothing would ever flower here again. But there they are. Tiny and fragile-seeming yet tough as old nails. And with an apparent boundless capacity to bounce back after the hardest frosts and the deepest snows.
That’s toughness. Resilience. Grace.
After the winter comes the spring. Of course it’s often hard to remember that when things are at their gloomiest. But it’s at least a cheering thought. The quiet strength of the snowdrop will always outlast the roaring present tempests.
The snow-drop, Winter’s timid child,
Awakes to life bedew’d with tears;
Mary Robinson, 1758-1800