25/05/2011 § 1 Comment
“There is no human life that is great and meaningful unless it is risked in the service of a greater cause…. The greater cause to which one must give oneself up if one’s life is to be meaningful is not really a greater cause but a greater person.” Karl Rahner.
I read an article some time ago by a lady who had spent many years in hospices, providing palliative care to the dying. She questioned them about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, and found certain themes kept recurring. In the article she shared her list of “top five regrets of the dying”. Top of the list was the following: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
What are we to make of this, as we struggle along worrying about mortgages and careers and keeping up appearances?
Let me share my dream with you. I suspect to many it will sound pretty mad or, worse, terribly mundane. Still, part of the original purpose of writing this blog was to take risks, to expose myself through writing and see what comes back. So here goes.
I dream of setting up a community-owned, community run hotel. It is an old dream really, only in a new guise. 14 years ago I seriously contemplated buying a hotel on the island of Iona, in the Inner Hebrides, which was for sale at the time I visited it on holiday. And several years earlier I had been looking into setting up a backpackers lodge somewhere in northern Scotland. This all came out of having stayed in many hotels, youth hostels and guest houses around the world and being convinced that I could provide a really welcoming and homely environment to guests.
More recently Dasha and I had talked about doing something like this sometime in the distant future, perhaps once Lucas has left school, which we might reasonably expect to happen in 2021. But I have decided not to wait. After all, if you wait too long, they remain just that – a dream. So I am following my dream now.
I made this decision last month when I was on holiday in Germany. I was reading a book called “Beyond thoughts and words” by Joel Goldsmith. In the book he recommended, in times of uncertainty, to simply focus on being receptive, and to trust that the universe will provide all the answers you need at the right time. Sounds good, I thought.
The next day I took my usual early morning wander through the vineyards, not thinking about anything very much, and this idea came into my head. I live next to a hotel and had idly contemplated what I might do if I were to take it over. Now the notion of taking it over and running it in an unconventional way came into my head and simply wouldn’t leave. I pictured the hotel as a real home from home. Not just comfortable and welcoming, it would offer a real taste of the local community. And it would all be run without hierarchy.
As this idea invaded my consciousness more and more, I became appalled. I knew I was meant to be receptive but I wasn’t ready to receive this! What do I know about running a hotel? Where would I find the money? Could I really earn a reasonable living in this way? What does it mean to run a hotel without hierarchy anyway?
Yet my mind quickly provided answers. I have worked in a hotel before (many years ago admittedly), and besides, having experience in something isn’t always the best preparation for doing it. There is plenty of money in the world and the New Forest has many wealthy people who might well be persuaded to invest in such a project. Other people earn a living from running a hotel, why shouldn’t I? And we will learn what it means to run it without hierarchy – that will be part of the adventure.
One month on, I feel more and more certain that this is going to happen. I have roped in a couple of friends, have shared the idea with a number of people, am writing a business plan. What started off as just an idea, buzzing around in my head, is all starting to feel more and more real, and I am very excited about it. Having bored myself and others for years with what is wrong with the way most businesses are run, this is my chance to demonstrate what I have been talking about (and of course gain some humility when I realise that things are not as simple or easy as I thought – but that is part of the fun too).
Anyway, there you have it. I feel glad to have shared it. Actually I feel that is the first step in making a dream real – sharing it with others (and thus being willing to be laughed at). No, that’s wrong. The first step is making the commitment to follow your dream, come what may. The universe hears this and responds accordingly. At least I think it does….
I will report further as this all unfolds.