To my great cost, literally, I have discovered The School of Life. Wandering into their home on Marchmont Street in central London last night I was in no mood for a pre-booked workshop on ‘How To Realise Your Potential’ but, in for a penny, in for another £55 hole in my bank account.
Earlier on in the day, attending a funeral service, I’d heard a reading from Ecclesiastes – A Time for Everything: Joy and pain, laughter and tears, speaking and silence. Each emotion has an opposite; the only thing is sometimes one loses touch with the positive ones.
I sat at the front, despite my mood, tricking myself into participating. We were given an icebreaker to start which entailed talking to the person next to us about what underlies our desire to reach our potential. My heart inwardly sank.
“Death and ageing” I reluctantly said to a smiling face sitting opposite me. “There’s so much of it about, there’s so much illness, it makes me panic about not realising my potential in time.”
“That’s beautiful” my School of Life class mate responded.
I looked at her askance. “Really?”
“Yes, it’s brave of you to vocalise it, to me a complete stranger. Mine is that I feel I’m in the wrong job and I don’t seem to be able to leave it.”
The class re-convened. “What did you feel when you just did that?” our tutor asked. I raised my hand, now more willing to be involved, but with my sense of cynicism still firmly intact: “A little bit energised?”
“Excellent” he replied. “Anyone else?”
“Connected” said another person, “Aware that other people have the same concerns as you – that you’re not alone.”
The insights and conversations shared within the group over the next couple of hours coaxed me out of my withdrawn mood. We were asked to write down one thing we’d like to become a reality and then tell someone else about it.
Every so often the tutor would re-iterate the positives of conversing and sharing with others. “You’ll find that it’s just a little bit energising” he stated repeatedly.
By the time we reached 9.30pm his point was made and I’d started to giggle. “Stop! Enough!” I cried, “I feel so guilty” as the class broke up.
“Well, it was a great vote of confidence as I started to get going.”
I exploded with laughter. “I can’t help my playful cynicism!” I said.
“The best jokes are when you run with it repetitively; you seem to find it hysterically funny – so I’m victorious!”
“It’s a win-win to be honest” I said, “The thing I wrote down that I’d like to become a reality was to find my sense of humour again.”
I smiled to myself all the way home, and woke in the middle of the night chuckling.