Inner Strength for the Outer World.
No more doubts. No reservations. I knew where I was going now. I knew for certain that my Centre was do-able. There would be hoops and hurdles, hundreds of them – but now I knew it was possible to create a Centre here in the UK.
My calling had changed of course. It had adapted to time and place. It had first found its voice in Australia, where you could build from scratch in the open-hearted spirit of that land. But Britain is a world away, a different country with different land values. So where should I start? And what should I be looking for?
I could have searched for a property in Wales, surrounded by hills and trees and rural peace. I could have built an escape from the stresses of this world. But I didn’t. I felt that would be too easy – almost like taking people on holiday. I felt that if my work had value, it should prove itself in the mildly chaotic urban bustle where most of us now live. It should happen in the real world. Inner Strength for the Outer World was what I would offer people – a strength developed here in the world where they live and work.
And so the search began. I sold my flat and moved into rented accommodation. I viewed some weird and wonderful properties, and came close to buying at auction twice. I built a fantastic team of surveyor, valuer, builder and estate agent. And finally I found a property in the heart of Bristol with a big light room looking onto a quiet leafy square.
Number 27 Portland Square was a world away from my original “calling”. My Australian Centre would have been a low corral of buildings around a central courtyard, simple and unpretentious. But this place – this place was a five-storey Grade I-listed Georgian town-house! This was a million miles from what I’d pictured!
But this was the one. This place had rooms the right size, proportions to die for, and potential to make the heart race! It had an amazing past and an exciting future too. The cantilevered staircase was like a thermal current spiralling buoyantly up to a conical skylight. To stand at the bottom and look right up was to sigh with awe and wonder. And the landings as you climbed were more generous and welcoming than most houses’ living rooms. This was definitely a place I could work with and in!
There were downsides. The building was shabby and unloved, and the area had a bad reputation – but that’s what made it affordable! And by now my “calling” was not some separate voice of warning and instruction. It wasn’t some nagging Tom-Tom of the soul. I’d listened to its call and it was part of me now. I could use my instincts. I could use every ounce of judgement and experience to weigh up the options – and I knew in my heart I could make this work!
We learn as we go through life. We stumble along, picking up tips, making mistakes and finding things out. And I think a lot of this learning happens under the radar. We learn without knowing it. Certainly I was about to face challenges that would demand skills I didn’t know I had! I would need skills of planning, management and budgeting – and I would need the skills required when all those plans go belly-up! Where do they come from? And what gives us the confidence to call on skills we don’t know we have? And what about the skills we never reach for? Are we a reservoir of “uncalled” skills? Let me know your thoughts!