How it began

It happened eleven years ago. The flash of inspiration came and would not leave. I was sat in bed on a Sunday morning drinking tea. Tea features in many critical moments in my life, like when an angry man reversed his car into mine, and after hurling abuse at me (for apparently being in his way, which, for the record, I wasn’t) and driving off, I called my Dad, who’s first words upon hearing my shaken voice were, “have you had a cup of tea?”

On that Sunday morning, the revelatory thought was flavoured by awe. It had the whiff of wonder. It was like a spring day, when you breathe enlivening scents and marvel at new growth and feel the mild, fresh air that is filled with promise and possibility. In that moment, I had connected with the miracle that is our capacity to cope. It mirrored the Buddhist thought that life is suffering, but instead of guiding me to a rigorous suite of practices, lifestyle guidance and philosophy, I felt connected to all people through all time, who had coped with bereavement, illness, job loss, uncertainty, injury and natural disaster. Yes, it was a recognition of the challenge of being human and alive, but it was also pure amazement at the biological, psychological, and sociological coping strategies we use to survive.

These ideas floated around but did not go. They began to mature, to form into concrete questions, to guide my reading, and be endlessly absorbing. Eleven years on, through all the thinking, learning, reading, listening, and writing, I am still fascinated by our coping capacity. And the book about it is forming. It’s not quite ready for you, dear reader, but will be soon …