My friend Anna tells really good ghost stories. There’s one in particular that I always love her recounting. She learnt it from a tour guide South America and it involves a lone traveller seeking refuge in an old church: The traveller wakes in the night to hear the swelling hum of a church service. He descends the steps of the sanctuary and overlooks the pews packed with people. The priest is on the alter giving full sermon. The parishioners are rousing with their hymns. And as the traveler creeps further towards the balcony the priest quickly turns to look up at him. The priest…. ‘ IS A SKELIGNTON’ he points with a single boney finger .The parishioners turn to look up. And that’s when he realises that ‘EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CONGREGATION IS A SKELINGTON’
That’s the kind of ghost story I like. A bit jumpy. Completely ridiculous.
But, you know, it stays with you.
The last few months have really made me re-think what I consider scary. I now casually say things like ‘I think I would be scared to go on a bus’ or ‘ I would just be a bit scared to go the toilet in a pub’. I have whole conversations with my family where the word ‘scared’ is just bandied around as an adjective. What I think I mean is ‘apprehensive’ or ‘nervous’ but I’m committed to the drama of scared. And I’m not sure that’s a good mind set to have.
I’m sure I’m not alone - global pandemics will do that. But what scares you? Has it completely changed in the last 3 months? Are you scared of others? Scared of change? Scared of being honest or truthful or raw?
Scared of risk?
I was really scared of business risk. Before ‘all of this’ I wanted the business to be steady and sustainable and as risk adverse as possible. But then lockdown happened and I began embracing the things I was scared of. I became more honest about my decisions. I started sharing feelings - not just with friends or family but like now, in emails to strangers. I used to be so scared of wanting things too much that I didn’t even try for them.
But then I just stopped.
And that’s how I have a brand new beautiful bakery. I stopped being scared. Lockdown happened, an opportunity came up, I felt brave, emboldened, squeezed my eyes shut and was ready. So here I am.
It has a beautiful beamed roof, swathes of natural light, far too much floor space, room for all my mixers, an organised larder, a walk in freezer.
All those absolutely blissful non-essentials that make coming into my work every morning a complete joy.
Yes, I’ve doubled my rent just as we plunge into a recession (shhhh- do NOT tell my accountant) but I’ve only been in here for a month and I now realise that, for me, the fallout of this pandemic will be risk taking, rule breaking, life changing upheaval.
And that doesn’t scare me one bit.