Schrödinger’s Alice In Wasteland— Part 1

I’m cycling into town. My eyes start to fill with tears. I cycle faster to clear my eyes. It’s working. Momentarily. But then I feel a dark hand clutch my heart and squeeze. I gasp and come to a stop at the traffic lights on Camden High Street. I feel the guilt inside my heart attempt to rip it’s way out of my heart. I panic, look left and right for an escape but there is no escaping this. I know this feeling. It’s a panic attack. I haven’t felt this since that bike accident several years ago. I take a breath. Then another. I breathe deeply and fill my lungs which feel heavy and constrictive. I fix my eyes on the road ahead and start cycling again. Movement seems to help. Motion is my key. I cycle harder, faster as the tears threaten to spill down my cheeks. Don’t you *dare*, I scold myself.

I redirect my thoughts back to the track playing on the phone tucked into my bra strap so I can still have a personal soundtrack to each day without the use of earphones. A track I’ve listened to hundreds of times triggered this unsually intense response. Music is my eternal saviour. The soundtrack to a life constantly on edge. Yet it still surprises me and today takes me on an unpredictable journey. It has only been 5 minutes since I left my front door. Another beautiful sunny day in London. It’s been consistently warm for weeks now with an average of around 20 degrees. Rare for London, so I am grateful. Yet beneath this natural reaction, I am hyper aware of the trend in global temperature as it increases month on month breaking new records, locally and globally. And it scares me. So I push it down every day. Every moment. As I left home, I picked a track I have listened to many times, yet somehow, under bright blue skies, it takes on a new meaning, unleashing emotions and reactions I thought I had surpressed as best as could be expected. My mind latches onto a line which resonates with the current state of flux that is my so called life…..

I had this thing to call my own
Just one slip and it was gone

A minor flaw and then it fell,
I brought this house down on myself

I didn’t know just what i’d done
I didn’t know just what i’d done

I don’t remember anymore
what i used to be
Where is the quiet piece of home where i could breathe?

Just like a razor to my soul
When i’m alone
Oh, i had this thing to call my own

I’m so confused, i cannot see
This wave of guilt is drowing me

It feels like blood is on my hands
I’d give it all for a second chance

I don’t remember anymore what i used to be
There was a fire burning strong inside of me

Just like the soothing loving warmth of summer sun

I’ve never meant to let you go
I’ve never meant to let you go
I’ve never meant to let you go

My heart and soul locks onto the second half of the track and trips the tears and panic that ensue as I hurtle towards Camden. It suddenly mirrors and amplifies the confusion which has been building up inside for some time. I recently read a statistic which I have been unable to shake from memory. 200 million children are trying to survive this tough world without parents or a guardian. 200 million. My head and heart threaten to explode. I want to reach out and hold every single one close and tell them they are loved, protected, safe. When I hold my baby niece or nephew to me, they feel so delicate and fragile. I feel helpless and want oblivion to swallow me whole as I do not want to live in a world where there is even one child trying to survive alone or in danger or hungry and afraid. My head cannot fathom 200 million children trying to exist alone in this world today. This is before the impacts of war and refugee crisis are added to the complicated feelings crushing the life force out of me. The belief that we, as adults, should aim to be responsible for the protection of every child; why can’t protecting a child’s life be at the centre of all we do and create as humans. That’s your child. Mine. Our neighbours. Our kids. The guilt that I am not doing more intensifies and I feel the blood on my hands as sung by a collaboration of two of my favourite artists.

The words, “I never meant to let you go” reverberate around my head fuelling the hot tears and I feel overwhelmed. Distraught. Climate impacts theorised decades ago are here and yet the world pleads blind.

Flashback to the night before and leaving a friend at the bus stop in Trafalgar Square following an inspirational night exploring the challenges and opportunities of an impact career with like minded people on a similar journey. Usually, I leave such events feeling inspired and with a renewed focus on my purpose, yet last night I left feeling defeated. Lost and alone.

It’s been six months since I resigned. A decade at a world leading global university. Number One in the education league table. It was not an easy decision but I finally accepted some home truths. The business of education was now firmly entrenched thanks to the policies of the ruling government over recent years. This was no place for the likes of me anymore. It was a decision a long time coming but looking back, defined by a series of moments where I followed my intuition and heart as I tried to make sense of the world around me and my part in it.

Back when my career was in its infancy, I tried on a role at a global bank for a year and half and realised the corporate world was not for me. It felt fake. Steeped in conformity and rigidness, managers managing expectations, crushing aspirations, hopes and dreams. The goal — to profit from profit from profit for the sake of profit. I took a step back and thought long and hard about where I wanted to dedicate my time and effort. Students. The university sector. Social change. Emerging and future world leaders. Students once helped drive apartheid. Students tore apart entrenched injustice. They could do it again. Students are the leaders of tomorrow. And so it began.

The evolution of a decision — tbc

Thank you Jamie and Royksopp for helping me make some form of semblance out of nonsense.