I wonder if these keys work.

My laptop is open, and a blank page awaits, I have not written a blog for a few weeks now. I can hear the computer fan whirring away as if the engine is running, but not yet in gear.

Writing has always been my way out of darkness. Sometimes, seemingly from nowhere, an idea will swing into view, flooding the page with light and I have to quickly scramble over what it shows me in case the light dims. Sometimes there is only a flicker of something that might be a half thought somewhere in the distance, and I have to trust that if I walk towards it, the light I think I can see will become worthy of words.

For a while now, too long, I have not seen much light. I have worked normally (for the times we are in) but my world has been dark. I have wondered if it was time to stop. I have had a good run and been lucky beyond my imagining. Perhaps it is time to fade away and be content that others will now have their time, as I have had mine.

But here I am, writing some words again because last week I stood on a stage and welcomed delegates and friends to our first residential event for two years.

I began, as I did two years before, with a Terry Pratchett quote. His words invite reflection, and offer the hope of fulfilment and growth:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours… And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

In this moment, being with people who had come away, my darkness lifted a little. I knew we would see the colours of ideas and feel the rhythm of conversation. I knew we would share again, and I felt able to learn again. Most of all I felt the strength of being beside people who care. Learning doesn’t happen just because we receive information; learning happens when we open our minds to the possibility of our growth and trust others to help us on our way.

Our world talks of “pivot”, and “hybrid”, and challenges our sense of relationship with video calls where we look at people but may not see them. Life moves fast. Innovation and change are part of our lives forever, and part of what it means to be us in our world. To learn however, is to pause and the perfect place to learn is together.

Through this time of our lives, defined by the challenges of a pandemic, we have all been away from what we knew and found familiar, as we come back I hope we will see extra colours and find opportunities in them to make our difference to the things we care about and for the people we love.

Take care. Paul x