The office was one of those open planned - everyone’s a team and we’re all equals - concepts. The reality meant all telephone calls or private conversations could be listened to, and possibly gossiped about. My workspace was an after thought, crammed between the constantly buzzing server room and the filing system. My grey computer faced a beige wall and I detested every moment spent there.
People kept saying that I was lucky, that I had it made, that I was a success. And outwardly my life may have looked that way. At
twenty-seven I was the Spa Manager at the Park Hyatt, considered the best hotel in Sydney. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Mosman, and had travelled the world working previously in the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Maldives and the Seychelles. It was easy to make my life sound impressive.
The reality wasn’t glamorous. My soul was being eaten away by remaining in a career that I no longer wanted but felt trapped to give up. I had scarified time with family and friends to work six days a week overseas usually consisting of ten to twelve hours day. My body craved sleep and no matter how much I slept, I always felt drained of energy. I was an unsmiling, robot that was too stressed to enjoy or cherish life.
Something in my life needed to change; I couldn’t keep slogging through life carrying this load of never-ending misery. Life wasn’t
meant to be this hard.
I looked at a postcard I had been given earlier that morning at my ferry stop. One side of the card was matte black with an image of
a welcome mat on it. On the other side were the service times for the Anglican Church at the end of my street. I was raised a Christian but as an adult my faith had expanded to become more spiritual and I hadn’t been to Church in a very long time. Maybe this was a sign, I thought. I had been praying for help and perhaps this was the answer.
On Saturday night, before going to sleep I prayed, “Universe, if you want me to go to Church please wake me up at 8am.”
The next day my mobile sang me awake (Pink’s Get the party started). Feeling more rested than usual I didn’t feel the need to push the snooze button. I reached over for my LG mobile, chosen because it had a handy mirror - essential for applying lipstick. I looked at the time - it was exactly 8am. Weird.I sighed, Guess I was meant to go to Church.
The Church was pretty typical for Australian churches: high ceilings, wooden pews, strained windows, and unfortunately lacked heating. The priest strode out in his pristine white robes and I was surprised to see he was a youngish priest, in his thirties. He welcomed us with a lot of warmth and energy and I was happy to be there. That was until he began ranting about the wrath of God, Old Testament style. He proclaimed that when Jesus returned all the sinners and unbelievers would be sent directly to hell etc etc.
His hell and damnation sermon had a different impact than he would have hoped. Something within me rebelled. If Jesus returned, he wouldn’t be like that at all, he would continue preaching his message of love, peace and tolerance. Then a stronger idea bloomed, wouldn’t that be a great idea for a novel.
This was my lightning strike, my light bulb, my ah-ha moment. Stunned, I sat there – completely tuning out the priest and his old
school warnings. I left the church but the idea haunted me.
I can’t write a novel, I scoffed. But the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. Finally out of desperation to get rid of the idea, I began to write. And I fell in love. The creativity, the art of perfecting a sentence, the beauty of word combinations – it nourished my soul with every minute I spent thinking about writing or actually writing. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.
After months of desperate prayer to the Universe about what was my life purpose, the Universe had answered. My life purpose was to write.
Penelope Jane Jones.