The Phoenix Factor


September 27th 2012


I have decided I can no longer move without a pen and paper to hand. The intensity of the process of building the school carries into every nook and cranny of one’s life. From the pained look on the postman’s face as he delivers yet another parcel, to a phrase overheard in a supermarket, right through to odd dreams and sudden realisations when driving… the focus of the school pervades everything and an inner dialogue of ideas is a constant background to my thoughts.

My day starts around six am, if I’m lucky, and with the best will in the world I seldom get to bed before midnight. When I do, my bedtime reading is a final check of the emails before running the gamut of dreams that look like a ‘to do’ list.

I forget to eat… indeed, I frequently forget to buy anything for dinner and more often than not find myself with a bowl of Frosties at half past ten on the general principle that I ought to eat. My son generally force feeds me salad at lunchtime and occasionally sticks me on his scales with a critical eye on the BMI monitor. On a purely mundane level this is not a bad thing, of course, as my much abused waistline has been restored to its former glory almost behind my back… and being a woman, I am rather pleased with that.

The dog, of course, ensures I get out in the fresh air, and keeps a watchful eye on the time. She will allow me to overrun her meal times by half an hour… but that is as far as she will permit before insistently tugging at my sleeve to get my hands off the keyboard.

Of course, it is all about passion and commitment.

The latter is self-explanatory really. One cannot agree to take up a responsibility like this without the awareness that it will, and must, take over one’s life for the rest of one’s life. It is a steep learning curve at a purely practical level as I delve deeper than I ever expected into the technical wonders of the digital world, learning its language of acronyms and beginning to understand them in practice.
Bringing the school forward involves so many practical things that one would not expect. Today, for example, when not at the computer I will be at the sewing table, buried under mounds of glowing silk and double knit jersey. This from a woman whose grandmother always said sewed ‘with burnt thread’.
It is a hugely exciting and stimulating process, and instead of feeling tired, it is energising… until the sledgehammer effect takes over and one crawls upstairs like a limp rag. Because we must, we attempt many things that we would never have expected to tackle or believed we would try or could achieve, and find that, after all, we can do these things.

Passion is, I think, often overlooked in our daily lives, yet we have only to glance at the great ones of this world to see that without it little gets done. Whether it is the passion for a partner or child that moves mountains when they are in need, or the passion for a cause or ideal that drives through all obstacles to achieve a dream, it moves us when we see it in action in others. But we have, I think, almost lost the knack of it in our fast paced lives.

We tend to think of passion, on the whole, solely in terms of emotion and sexuality. This is, of course, one manifestation of it. Yet it is only one level. Passion and commitment go hand in hand, driving each other forward towards a distant vision that is fixed like a guiding star on the horizon. It is almost mystical in itself, as it both consumes and creates, bringing the symbolism of the phoenix to mind as it burns and finds renewal in the purifying flames of sacrifice.

Without passion life becomes rather flat and we lose a luminous dimension of Being. And the saddest thing is that we don’t even notice until passion grips us once more and we see what we have been missing as we plodded along. How much richer would our lives be if we lived with passion, in constant awareness, embracing life and experience as we would a lover?

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