But we are so pushed for time, aren't we, so fleet of foot and mind in this flawless and wired modern society to stop and reflect as much as might be wise
Our 16-year-old, gentle son is justifiably impatient, wishing time to fly. I am the opposite, naturally, yearning for it to stop. He is keen to set sail. I want to anchor.
What a mind-bending month. Two excursions far from the sanctuary of the Priorat hills and the nourishment of uncivilised realities, have stretched me to extremes; the fundamental issue in both cases being the relentless thing none of us ever have enough of and constantly struggle to manage.
First I wandered with the hordes along worn away vias deep into classical history. Rome was a tumultuous muddle of truth, not least what Marcus Aurelius defined - that time is a violent torrent. The stoical, philosophical Emperor penned much we should heed. But we are so pushed for time, aren't we, so fleet of foot and mind in this flawless and wired modern society to stop and reflect as much as might be wise.
Staring at the broken monuments (not the litter) I was also mindful of his portentous comment, scribbled at the height of that seemingly unbreakable Roman authority – “Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too”.
Two weeks later and I was gazing into the future.
By some comical quirk my entrance pass to the Mobile World Congress dangling from the neck of my threadbare shirt read INVESTOR. It was bold green whereas everyone else's thronging Barcelona's Fira seemed to be blue (VISITOR) or white (EXHIBITOR). Every time I approached someone on a stand to ask for directions their eyes lit up. I was an investor, of sorts, but not the deep-pocketed variety they were looking for.
Somewhere in the melee was our son, Joe, freshly returned from a whirlwind four-day trip to Paris and London and back to Barcelona on the Imagine Express project, and about to co-present his student team's technological innovation to a packed hall. With him were Marina and Esteve, the two other Baccalaureate teenagers chosen from 2400 young Catalans to take part in the Dreamer challenge along with 29 adults. And they did it, with confidence and belief.
It was bewildering to me, frankly, but to them it was utterly emboldening, igniting and unforgettable. Travelling on a train, 12 creative minds, 12 software engineers and 12 entrepreneurs who had not meet each other in advance, were challenged to form groups of 3 and generate ideas to change the world. It will also change their lives.
The energy that Xavier Verdaguer (photo) and his team at the Imagine Creative Centre (Barcelona/San Francisco) foster through their innovative projects is palpable and brings me enormous hope of a better world that makes the most of what little time any of us have - especially if every young person is given moments to recognise that we all are good at something, and that everyone deserves a chance and the encouragement to find out what that is.
We are grateful to Xavier and Imagine, and also to directora Magda Blasco and the teachers at IES Priorat, the small but open-minded and achieving institute here in this little comarca. It was Madga and her team who saw merit in their students attending the Barcelona iFEST just before Christmas, La festa de la tecnologia, la ciència i la innovació, the catalyst for Joe.
Check out iFEST and Imagine Creative Centre, both worldly, Catalonia-based vessels of change and opportunity. It is a challenge for the likes of me, but I look forward more than ever now.