Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Coal Dust and Comet Tails

Day 37 (Wednesday 6th January 2016)
37 seconds - the time it took for the Hindenberg to be utterly destroyed in 1937.
She was a German-built, 800 ft long Zeppelin airship, considered the height of sophisticated travel.
It was her first Frankfurt to New Jersey flight of the season. She had capacity for 70 passengers but
on this occasion had only 36 plus 61 crew - 35 of them died. The reason for the explosion remains a mystery.
Today's post is by Andrew Jacobs a respected Learning and Development expert who works in the public sector in London. He became the Organisational Learning and Talent Manager for the London Borough of Lewisham in October 2014, having previously done a great job, in a similar role, for Lambeth (the Borough in which I live). He is active on Twitter (his handle is @AndrewJacobsLD ) and he writes an excellent blog, "Lost and Desperate" that is often, but not always, about Learning and Development. Andrew is passionate about the value of training and the need for it to be an integral part of business, resulting in both personal and organisational improvement.

Here we are again. A year after the last advent blog and I don't know what to write, so I'm telling you now, at the start, that this post is written under duress. It's been forced and cajoled; Kate pigeonholed me at a recent tweet up and told me that I needed to write a post for this series. That’s why it’s late...I can’t type so quickly with one hand held behind my back.

Why wouldn't you put a post together Andrew? It's just a few hundred words. It’s a bit of simple writing that can be put out there for people to read and forget. But, as I've found this year especially, words have meaning. Their use ought to be considered and evaluated. The meaning you attach to them when you produce them may not be what the reader interprets. I’ve seen this in the posts in this series to date; they’ve been emotional, reflective, inspiring and touching. They’ve been courageous, insightful, engaging and original. This isn't a competition yet I find that I set myself an expectation of crafting a post which engages and provides interest to a diverse readership.

Not being able to find meaning is hard.

In the workplace, even if we don't always know what to do, we know the why. Away from work we live for the meaning. Should I anticipate a Damascene moment when I am able to find the appropriate relationship?

So I sought it out. I worked on it. I talked through a series of words on my journey to and from work. On my motor scooter, my helmet protects me from the elements and gives me a private space to ponder and consider my thoughts, free from interruption and other voices for over 30 miles each day.
I wrote words and deleted them. Too contrived.

I wrote words and saved them for another post. Too difficult to complete and too personal to share. Yet.
I wrote words and adapted them for a piece of work elsewhere. Not formed enough to make sense.

I wrote words elsewhere and saw a shimmer of recognition. A dim light that had meaning to me.

My son was born on 21st December, 15 years ago. He shouldn’t have been here; he had decided that the space he had been occupying in my wife’s belly wasn’t for him and so, at 28 weeks, decided to show his face. He weighed just over a kilo - 1.038. That’s a bag of sugar in old money. 

He was swept away from us, via resuscitation tables, incubators, UV lamps, and a range of medical equipment that wouldn’t look out of place in the new Star Wars film. We didn’t see him for a few hours although we knew he was there. When we did set eyes on him our breath was taken away; we named it the sharp intake of breath (SIOB). This tender and precious little bundle was wired up like Neo in the Matrix, each limb dotted with cables, lines, and pipes bringing life to a tiny life with translucent skin and transparent limbs.

We were able to get him out the incubator four days later, on Christmas Day, for a few minutes. A first hold for a mother, father and brother which 96 hours before we hadn’t dared hope would happen. We’d gone past the SIOB stage - after 4 days waiting in a dimly lit Special Care Baby Unit we’d got to the point where we just wanted to be connected to him and to see him less connected to the machinery which was keeping him alive.

What we hadn’t understood, enveloped in the warmth and comforting drip of medical information and outstanding nursing and medical professionalism, was how everyone else who came to meet him for the first time hadn’t had a SIOB moment.

First reactions to him were always entertaining. Some laughed, some cried. Some spoke with furious abandon, others went silent and contemplative. Some visited many times, others couldn't (wouldn’t?) until he was home.

3 months later he was home, near to the time when he should have been and he’s now a strapping lad with a sense of justice and effort that I have to attribute to his fighting spirit.
As we move into the New Year, remember the wonder of seeing a comet for the first time. Think again about the last time you did something which truly took your breath away.

And promise to do it again in 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Only one word comes to mind...'beautiful' Andrew