The Deathly Compromise

Kathy, one of my colleagues spoke quietly to me. "I have a message from Chris. She says, 'Tell Steve. Tell him. Beware the deathly compromise.'"

The words were incredibly poignant. At that time Chris was very ill with the brain tumour that would later claim her life and the intention behind her remark felt crystal clear to me. Chris knew her time was limited whereas I was behaving as though mine was infinite. Business was good and I was taking on more and more exciting projects where I might be able to helpfully effect some kind of change. Yet all was not well.

As one of my faculty friends at Ashridge, Chris had always been able to see deeply into my creative process and knew the compromise required of the big consulting projects was that development of my own work was put on hold. The recent absence of blogs here on the VI website is a symptom of that condition. I have been doing helpful, valuable, even lucrative work. But it's often not my work.

It wasn't the first time that Chris had pulled me up. A few years previously she said to me, "I've come to realise that supporting others in their creative work is not the same as supporting ourselves in our creative work."  Again, the words resonated loudly with the challenges I faced.

When Chris and Geoff asked me to photograph their wedding a couple of years ago I was absolutely delighted. It was a phenomenal, joyous 'hand-fasting' and, at that time, the implications of Chris's illness were still unclear. Last week, over 200 friends gathered at the wedding venue again last week to celebrate Chris's artful and highly energetic practice. Chris's life and work had been curated  into a beautiful set of artefacts by another Ashridge friend and colleague, Chris G. As before, there was singing, dancing and merry making - there were even a few versions of Chris hanging out with us to keep a check on the proceedings - making sure, perhaps, there would be no compromises.

It was all fabulous. Just like Chris.