Today I had one of those thoughts that glues the soles of your feet to the ground and freezes you in your tracks. My motionless body stood there covered in goosebumps as my mind traversed time.
It was like pressing the rewind button on a remote control. I saw faces, bodies, movements and colours. I heard familiar sounds and I inhaled the memories through my nostrils.
Nostalgia was ruffling up all of my senses until I pressed play again.
I was back in 2017, sat on a stool in the coffee bar at work.
I was wearing a cream and pink floriental trouser suit – which, yes, looked like something you’d see the Von Trapps frolicking around the hills of Austria in. My hair was in a high pony tail and my lips were champagne pink.
In front of me I had lukewarm cappuccino and a piece of paper.
I was due to meet with a Hero – a friend, mentor and director who had given me that piece of paper, and on it was a chart with five columns and five rows that I was supposed to have filled in as my homework. My Dream Map.
In the first column I had to list out five things I’ve achieved so far in my career, the second column was what I’m doing or achieving now and in the third was things I want to achieve within the next year.
All of those things I’d scribbled out at pace, but the columns four and five were left empty. Those columns asked what do I want to be doing and achieving in three years, and in five.
I found it an impossible task and one that I didn’t actually want to complete.
I’ve learned through experience that careers are no longer one ladder with several rungs; they’re a climbing net, and who knows where you’re going to put your next foot on your way to the top.
I’ve always loved the idea of my future being a misty haze of opportunity and I didn’t like the idea of seeing into the future so clearly. So I hesitated and took a sip of my then barely tepid cappuccino.
As my nib hovered over those empty boxes, there was a word that was trapped inside my pen and screaming to escape.
It was a word that had been etched in my mind a few weeks prior after watching a Ted Talk by Steve Clayton. A plastic Scouser (from the Wirral but claiming to be from Liverpool), who, through a combination of luck and opportunity, had landed his dream job at Microsoft.
He talked about the serendipitous moments that led him there and how he’s getting paid to do something he loves. And in a similar way to Richard Branson, he talked about how good it is to turn what excites you into life capital.
His talk left an impression but it was his title that made my body quiver with excitement.
So as I sat there waiting for Kate to arrive, my pen hit the top right corner of those boxes and those screams fell onto the page. And as the ink glided in neat loops and swirls spelling out my dreams, I couldn’t help but smile.
Fast forward to this evening and my heels were glued to the wooden floor I was standing on.
I was stood in the centre of a white-walled gallery with two hundred and nine framed photographs of female politicians and activists involved in the fight for electoral equality.
I was at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool attending a literary event called The Other and it was almost time to take to the stage.
I could feel my heartbeat matching the manic fall of raindrops pelting down into the dock waters outside.
It wasn’t nerves and it wasn’t excitement. It was something else.
I hadn’t thought about that silly little piece of paper until that moment – and I definitely hadn’t gone in search of what I’d written down in that empty box.
But it was there right in front of me – my colourful reality, the one I’d penned down in black and white just less than two years ago.
I was, or rather I am, indeed a Storyteller.