There’s a magical moment when you’ve started driving before dawn, after the moon, if there is one, has set, when the first light touches the east. It’s not enough to light your way just yet, it’s just there, a promise of things to come.
I’m always a sucker for a good metaphor, so this morning, as I drove towards Calais to the Eurotunnel, for my next trip to England, I reflected on those moments in life when we know something has changed, but nothing is really different in the world yet. The most obvious example is the start of falling in love; and a shift in business can happen in the same way. In this excerpt from Slow Time, we see both things happening at the same time:
“This is my brother,” Viv said. I felt my eyelashes flutter downwards in a way they never had before, shying from the yellow-green eyes, the faint smile.
“Caroline’s been talking about you non-stop.” He shook the hand I offered. It was a moment after he let it go that it began its slow fall back to my side. My mouth swerved upwards into a half smile and back again, not quite making it. I couldn’t think of an answer. “I’m interested in what you’re doing. I’ve just finished a development along Lake Wakatipu, an eco-hotel. Tell me about your project.”
Dan was a good audience, and I found my thoughts coming into focus as they poured into his ear. He asked astute questions, and in thinking through the answers, my plans developed, I became more and more animated. This could become addictive.
At the start I had avoided his eyes, turning my gaze from spot to spot on the spotless ceiling so I could create the visions in my head. Further into the conversation I found my eyes on his face, on his lips as he spoke, finding something there that reflected me back to myself, but altered, improved.
“What about your development. How did it start?” And now I could really watch him, see his passion. It was like watching the sky on Guy Fawkes night.
There are other moments, too, other beginnings. If you look back through life, you will probably find lots of them: the moment you read the advertisement for a job that you later got and loved; filling out the application form for university; buying a ticket to travel. Nothing has changed, and everything has.
For me, it was the moment of deciding to publish my first book; the moment of being invited to do a television interview, nervous days before I was sitting outside the studio, waiting; putting an offer on the house, and on the three apartments we have owned over time; the moment of saying yes, in theory we could move to France. Nothing changes, and everything does.
My guess is, life offers us many of these moments - it’s up to us to accept them, or not. I'll be keeping a closer eye out from now on...