Growing up with grandparents who lived a stones throw away meant that I was fortunate enough to be privy to the tales and stories from their lives. Despite the onset of dementia, my grandmother is still a great storyteller and always ready to share stories from her childhood. Stories of loss, pain, Partition, migration and death but also interwoven with love, family, strength and hope.
My mother would always tell us the story of Jane Eyre (her favourite book as a child) and would speak of the invisible string that connected Jane Eyre to Mr Rochester. She said that there was an invisible string between our heart and hers, and so if we were ever upset or hurt – she would know. And she always did.
But, as I reflect on this idea of the invisible string that connects a mother to her child, I wonder about the connection between all of us as humankind. The last few years haven’t been easy with the pandemic and the instability that has come with it and also for those who have suffered loss, illness and pain. We only have to switch on the news to see the horrors of war, conflict, poverty and the constant exploitation of people and the Earth’s resources. If we are all interconnected to each other and to the natural world – if one part is feeling pain, it only makes sense that the other would too.
How then do we recover and rebuild a world that is just and sustainable? And how can our stories feed into imagining and recreating an interconnected world that benefits us all?
After all, we live in a world of layers and connections where, how we live here in the UK, can also affect people who live in another part of the world. And for far too long we have walked heavily on this earth in how we’ve taken, polluted and consumed.
In this new year, I hope that we can reflect on the stories of past generations who would repair and reuse with resilience and hope, and that we can tread lightly on this Earth – leaving it and ourselves less burdened, and able to breathe a little more easily.
Head of Global Learning London