Would I want to be a bachelor again?

So my wife’s been away on a retreat in India these 5 weeks and I was curious how I would feel about this temporary loss over time.

Friends have commented how I must be enjoying bachelor life while the wife’s away.

In the past, I have felt excited initially (at the prospect of doing what I want without distractions), followed by weeks of loneliness (even when surrounded by family, friends and colleagues) and sadness at the prospect of returning to an empty home. Outer distractions would quickly turn into inner distractions, such as procrastination. Distractions, mostly, from facing up to my inner blockers and vices.

This time, however, it was different. Yes I got immersed in work but also intentionally carved out quality time with close family and friends, and yes some time to binge watch Netflix (!) Most importantly, I actively confronted my inner challenges – calmly, confidently, joyfully.

Doing this has shone a light on what’s truly important, has helped me to clearly define and work on my priorities, and has created more space in my life to do that which is fulfilling and joyful.

This is work in progress, of course, but what an encouraging start.

This year we’ll be married 10 years – and it’s now I see how much I value Heena’s presence in my life. Her creative spirit, her compassionate heart.

Time apart has been as enriching as time together.

Do I worry about losing her? Not so much. Do I love her presence in my life? Absolutely. Would I want to be a bachelor again? No need.

The Great Storm 30 years on: Surfacing trapped memories from childhood

It’s 3:45pm on 16 October 2017, the sky is grey, the wind is really picking up and here I am back in Wealdstone, the town I grew up in, exactly 30 years on from the great storm of ’87.

I was only six, but I recall clearly how we were walking back home from school, just mum, my brother and I, and how the Great Storm of 1987 had hurricane-force winds that caused substantial damage and 18 deaths in southern England.

It was super windy and we were walking home unprotected from the elements. I was six and my brother was four and mum was there with us, so for us brothers, it was just a fun experience – what did we care?

Before we knew it, a loose roof slate flew past our heads, narrowly missing us, and smashed into pieces onto the ground in front of us. My brother and I thought it was cool but mum must have been petrified as we hurried home to get safely indoors before the weather got really bad.

So here I am back in Wealdstone, not far from the school or the route back home to our first house. I see mothers with their young children, the kids playing and skipping and their mothers encouraging them to get into the car or quickly get home.

It’s now 11 years since mum died and it fascinates me how the memories of my youth are starting to resurface, triggered by at times striking, at times mundane moments.

It’s been known that memories prior to a bereavement can sometimes get covered up, perhaps due to the mind wanting to protect me from the pain of recollection. As I continue to let go of the need for control and as the fears built up over the decades start to dissolve, the memories calmly, clearly and lovingly come to light… and they pass.

So here I am, observing these memories, these fond memories of my youth, arising and passing, arising and passing.

I observe the seemingly real protection of our parents, the subsequent realisation that there is no-one in this world who can ever truly provide protection, and the journey taken to identify and embrace the one place where solace, then calm, then stillness and then joy is progressively uncovered.

In the midst of the storm, it is this place that draws me in, humbled with the knowledge, protection and serenity that all is and will forever be well.