A year ago I took a month off work to take part in a TV reality show, surviving abandonment on a Pacific island, diminished in body but developed in spirit.
On our last day, the emaciated me, about to return to the comforts of “civilisation”, declared to his peers that, henceforward, the month of February would be dedicated to exploring the uncharted territory outside of normality.
There was a degree of cynicism at my promise, suggesting that the demands of modern life, work and responsibility, plus the memories of discomfort would encroach and deflate the grand idea.
As a perfect imperfectionist I am happy to report that my plans have reached partial fruition.
For three weeks in February I have no normal client meetings, no fixed schedule.
I’m not staggering off into the jungle forest again (at least not this year).
But I am working on some projects that would not otherwise have seen daylight:
• working with a vocal coach to learn how to sing • working with a coach to improve my writing • understanding poetry by reading slowly
There will also be heavy final training for the Barcelona Marathon – regular long runs to build up the miles in my legs as well as a focus on better nutrition. Plenty of headspace there.
I’m not taking a holiday from work and will still be responding to the requirements of clients and colleagues but there will be a huge reduction in the formality of my business life.
I want to explore an inner universe – and expect that 80% of that process will be fun.
The work with the writing coach has already begun – and I can tell you it’s one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever taken.
Pouring my heart out over 500 words for hours, pressing the “send” button and then reading an unsympathetic critique that points out my narcissism and demands “start again, decide what you are trying to say, use fewer words to greater effect and write for the reader and not for yourself”.
I’m already quaking in my boots about the vocal coach.
The process of moving out of one’s comfort zone is, at once, thrilling and terrifying.
“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”