I lost a friend last week to Covid 19. A real friend, a blow to the heart, knock the wind out of your sails, close to home, terrifying reality of a loss type of friend. He left behind a beautiful wife, and 2 small children, it is hard to believe he has gone.
Funnily enough, the absolute knowledge that I had lost all income, all projects and that I had no ability to predict how my future looked, had not, until that point, had the devastating impact that it might have. What happened was the life-sized hole that had been left by this man, brought everything to the forefront. At that point the harsh reality of this disease and its effects brought me crashing to my knees.
January 2020 was like all my stars had aligned and my fledgling new company Park Lane Live was flourishing. I had been awarded a Golden Visa from the country I call home to cement the fact that my contribution to developing this countries Arts and Culture industry was to continue and that it was appreciated at the highest levels. I was working on incredible events with people I admire, on subjects that are important, and my creative license was at full throttle. We had plans through until 2021, my road map was set. I turned down an incredible dream job offer because I believed that this business and my plan was the way forward.
At the start of Covid 19. I think we all began with that slight ‘gosh this is quite bad’ laugh, lightly delivered with a little sliver of niggle in the background. However, we were fairly safe in the knowledge that this wouldn’t affect us. It was too far away. It was far enough away for us to look on in horror and say things like ‘isn’t it awful?’ and ‘Can you IMAGINE?’ Looking back, I have asked myself, if I could have known, if I could have planned, what would I have done differently? My answer now on this very day is, nothing. I wouldn’t have changed the way this has played out for me.
My daily question became ‘do we keep on working? Do we do PE with Joe Wicks every day and get abs of steel? Do we become online course gurus? Do we try and change direction and work in a new industry or hang on until ours comes back online? Do we just bake? What’s the answer?’ What became frighteningly apparent to me was not one single person knew, and the real truth was their isn’t one, nor, more terrifyingly to me, was their a plan.
So how do I cope? How do you plan when you can’t plan? I don’t know when the world of events will open again here, but I do know that I can be ready for it. I have a new brand, my website has had a refresh. My plans for all the things I have thought about in the wee small hours of 4am are on paper. I am learning, online and offline, how to be ready for things like this in the future, how the events industry is rapidly evolving almost overnight to deal with this challenge. But most of all, I have become a part of things. My sole focus has now become wider. Way, wider.
I have built relationships I didn’t think I would build or knew that I needed to. This pandemic has led to epic people forming brain trusts and communities and groups. Delivering hope and the solid foundations for plans that when we come out of this we will continue to work together for a more unified industry. I have been uplifted by people who I previously didn’t know. I have created projects based around passion for no other benefit than to lift peoples spirits, and out of that has come real joy but also, unbidden, opportunities I had never considered before.
Then it all came to a halt and the grief washed over me, grief for my friend, grief for my business, for the plans and the events that will never come to fruition. I was floored. How do you start again despite all my joy and work over the last few weeks? I felt all was lost and the last few weeks of work were also pointless. My community picked me back up, they put me back on track, they showed me how to refocus, how to cope, how to grieve and how to get back on track.
The communities that are forming now are everything, they have taught me it is very ok to say, ‘I am not ok today’, and that people who you know, and people who you don’t, will lift you up. You learn that you too can be that person for someone else. They are giving me ideas on top of my ideas, they are driving plans to the next level. Collaboration is becoming an integral part of the future, unified and not in competition with each other. It’s exciting, there is so much knowledge coming out the other side of this. So many brains put together to work in the same direction can only bring change, good, creative change. It’s life affirming to be a part of that future, despite not knowing exactly what it will be.
I don’t know what will happen ‘next’. I don’t know if more grief will come. What I do know is that I am focused on what I can do today, for my own tomorrow and for everyone else’s.