Saturday, 9 January 2016

The long walk

Day 41 (Sunday 10th January 2016)
41 is a common slang term in Mexico used to refer to male homosexuality. This came about
due to the Dance of the 41 when, in 1901, Mexican police arrested 41 homosexuals who had been
attending a private drag ball at a home in Calle la Paz, Mexico City. The 41 were convicted and
conscripted into the army as punishment. Homophobia is still prevalent in much of Mexico.
Even in the late 20th century the number 41 was stigmatised across the country, with it being avoided
as a house or room number and not allocated in payrolls or as a vehicle registration number.
41 is still used as a negative way of referring to gay men, however same-sex marriage is now legal in Mexico City and a charity has been established called "Honour 41", which celebrates Latino/a LGBT role models.
“Los 41 Maricones” (The 41 Queers) by Jose Guadalupe Posada, 1901 (Wikipedia)

Today's blog is by Meg Peppin, the highly-esteemed and much-respected OD specialist and founder of the MP Partnership, which has kept her and others busy, helping people and organisations to thrive, since 2003. She is warm and supportive, very popular and active on social media (her Twitter handle is @OD_optimist ), but, take it from me, she is even better in real life. Meg writes a wonderful blog, "Halls are made for madness". She is erudite, perceptive and entertaining - a great companion to the theatre or for a swift G&T and a chat after work. It has taken Meg and I a few years to get to know each other, but I am so glad that I/we made the effort. She shared some of my highlights of 2015 and I hope that more people benefit from getting to know her and working with her during the course of this year, as she is a delight.


What trail are you leaving behind you as you/we travel through life on our long walk?  

Periwinkle trails on the beach at low tide
Is it coal dust, a smudge on a cheek, a crunch underfoot, a piece of grit that we can’t quite shift - a sinister and unseen inhalation that can poison – so volatile in the air that with the right (or wrong) conditions it can spontaneously combust? 

Coal dust explosion
Or perhaps comets, also dust – oh but when the right conditions exist that dust can shine and burst across our horizons and leave a trail that we won’t forget; a trail of sparkles that lights the way for us.  

My coal dust moment; an unexpected reaction, unwelcome, uncomfortable, unlovely.  Embarrassing.   The coal dust that exploded lingered from something old, couldn’t wash it away, a thought hidden away.  Catalysed by something completely different - an unanticipated forceful demand, an insistence. The coal dust, a soft barb, an indirect criticism, surfacing occasionally, just out of awareness but bothering me.

My comet moments; more of these, many more.

The day I didn’t turn up for work. Duty manager at the weekend for 600 reluctant workers. I was utterly committed to them and being fully there at the unpopular shifts.  And yet, once - only once, I didn’t update my calendar. When I picked up my messages I heard “where are you Meg?”.  A Sunday where I didn’t turn up.  Mortified on Monday, I arrived fully prepared and willing for disciplinary action.  The most human of managers just looked at me and said softly “Are you OK? We were worried”.  Rather than focussing on what was unlike me, he focussed on what was like me and offered tenderness into the conversation.  What did that leave me with? Knowing what sort of manager I wanted to be inspired me.  I realise now too, as I think about it - he would have been brave not to discipline me in that place. His light trail still lingers, all these years on.

Another comet that lit the way; a hand from a relative stranger, a real hand, gripping mine and saying “come with me” when I couldn’t walk on my own.  I can still feel that moment many years ago, and I often have walked towards what is painful and difficult as a result of what was left by her.   So bright, so loving.  She said afterwards she didn’t know why she did it. But, she did.

However long or short our time – I think of life as the long walk.   Sometimes we’re with people, but it’s always our own individual walk.  Alongside us, if we’re lucky, we have our loves, and other walkers at times – some of them we don’t know and we can’t choose.  Remember, the ones that leave the dust trail – they always go – you pass them, or they pass you, but they go.

Coal dust, it’s nasty stuff. Sometimes it sticks to us, and we can’t shake it off. If you’re in any type of position of power – you can choose I reckon; whether you want to deposit a piece of grit that could combust.  Or, when you are walking alongside another, you could leave a light trail to light up some of their walk.

Aren’t we all in a position of power to determine what we want left behind, as we walk?

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