09/06/2023 by Dave Robson 0 Comments
"O Brave new world, that has such people in it..."
"O brave new world, that has such people in it..."
Getting high on Shakespeare
Hello again folks
I am delighted to say I survived The Tempest! I’ll explain in a minute.
When, almost five years ago, my wife and I decided to leave London, our home town where I’d lived for almost 70 years, to move to the country village of Quidhampton, about two miles West of Salisbury in Wiltshire, my friends and acquaintances all asked if I’d gone mad and lost the plot.
“Do you know anyone who lives round there?”
“Isn’t it a bit of a risk at your age?”
“Yes, but you’re never too old for a new adventure, and that’s just what we need. Anything worth doing has risks attached to it.”
There was a resounding silence.
We knew there was a risk that we might hate it, or we might feel lonely or isolated, but at the same time I’m a firm believer that if you follow your heart without compromise, you won’t ever go wrong. And now I feel vindicated in every respect. Anyway, I was convinced we’d make new friends.
In the beginning things were a bit slow. I got to know a few odd people here and there, then someone started running folk music session in our local pub which I attended with my trusty old guitar and my rather rusty vocal chords, and I participated in one or two other sessions in other local villages, but not a lot was happening. Then Covid 19 struck and everything came to a grinding halt.
After writing and publishing my first novel during lockdown (I’d already published two non-fiction books), finally last year things began to open up gradually and we started travelling rather gingerly, and now you’d never believe there had ever been anything wrong.
Finally in February or March of this year I saw a call for volunteers to get involved in an open air production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and I joined because it involved a lot of singing in a chorus. An intense schedule of rehearsals and performances was outlined to us and we were asked for a significant commitment, to which I hesitatingly agreed.
I have to admit I had my doubts at first, as I listened as Gareth Machin, the play’s director at Wiltshire Creative, outlined his vision of audiences of 300 for each performance traipsing across Churchill Gardens in Salisbury from one location for the next, a journey of approximately one kilometre. “Yer, in your dreams,” I thought. But I decided to suspend my disbelief and gradually as rehearsals got underway I could see that the brilliant people at Wiltshire Creative knew exactly what they were doing. Well, at least they seemed to Meanwhile the marketing department went into overdrive in their efforts to sell tickets.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather and to my amazement many of the performances were sold out, while the others were not far off. There was a nucleus of ten professional actors, who entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the event, and the company of volunteers, some 80 adults and 80 children, divided into two teams, were all terrific. In the end we were blessed with wall to wall sunshine for every performance and the whole thing was a raging success!
However, for me the project was not without it’s challenges, number one of which was my mobility problem. I can walk, but only slowly, and after a short while I have to stop for a rest, so how would I get from location to location quickly enough? It seemed an impossible demand, until I discussed it with assistant producer, Sara, who quickly solved the problem by borrowing a mobility scooted on my behalf. It’s not an exaggeration to say this little machine completely changed my life by taking all my stress and anxiety away in one fell swoop and putting a huge smile on my face.
To be honest, I’ve always been a bit sceptical about health and safety and political correctness and even inclusiveness, but now I was subject to all that myself and I have to admit it was one element that made the whole event utterly joyful for me. I could not have coped without that mobility scooter and I would have had to drop out.
As I have said on many occasions, if you sincerely want a solution to any problem from deep in your heart, if you want it enough, if it means everything to you, there is always a way. This is a classic example.
Other elements were working with great material (Shakespeare), a really excellent technical team and seriously good professional actors, but the thing that really made it great was the people, all of whom volunteered wholeheartedly to get involved to make this a success.
As a life coach, especially when I lived in London, I became accustomed to hearing people wingeing and making excuses as to why they could not achieve their dreams, complaining and blaming and simply refusing to make the effort to open up, grab life by the throat and live it to the full. Finding every excuse never to be their best selves and refusing to shine.
By blissful contrast, every person involved in The Tempest just naturally opened up and as time went on, they simply flowered, each and every one of them. I did not hear one single negative word spoken. Nobody complained about their ailments or anything else, though there were plenty of them, for most of us were of a certain age. But all were young at heart. Nothing was going to stop this life affirmative bunch of people. It was like a breath of fresh air, a real tonic.
At first I felt a bit self-conscious whizzing about on my little scooter, but soon I was beaming from ear to ear as I realised I could participate to the full without stressing myself to hell and back. And I never heard a word of complaint or jealousy, nor any judgement from anyone, just simple acceptance and helpfulness.
Bottom line: do I regret leaving London? You’ve got to be joking. London is my home town and I love it dearly and I won’t hear a word spoken against it, but I’ve never felt like this in London. Just totally accepted, warts and all. No judgements, no competition, no rushing, just genuine warmth, acceptance, many acts of kindness that I witnessed, and above all, time to connect. At last it felt safe to be who I am, with all my human frailties. No need to pretend. And boy, did I learn a lot about myself? Yes siree, I certainly did and I still am.
So if you are reading this, thank you beautiful people of Wiltshire for a truly touching and heart warming experience which I shall never forget.
Finally, with my Life Coaching hat on, all this has come from patiently following my heart. My message is, don’t be afraid to follow your heart and your true path will eventually be revealed to you. You’ll be surprised how wonderful life is when you surrender, give up the struggle and just follow your path.