We lost touch when I moved to London, as I lost touch with other people in that circle: Andy, Sue, Julia, Rose, Paul. Some years ago I heard that he had become a counsellor in Keighley, and easily tracked him down via the internet and we exchanged a couple of friendly emails. In a recent telephone call to one of that group – Rose – I heard that John had died just a month before. He was in his early sixties. Another search found his website and a reference to a book he had written about both his illness and his work. I ordered it, and have just read it. Fields of Freedom: Breaking through fear in personal and professional life.
Whether correctly attributed to Socrates, the claim that the ‘unexamined life is not worth living’ rings true for many of us. I also value John Ruskin’s claim that ‘The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way’. John’s adult life and his book – testament is the right description – pay honour to both these insights. Early experiences of humiliation (father, school teachers, another boy) left their mark. As an adult his response to these appears fundamentally creative: professional work first with wayward youngsters, then becoming a counsellor and therapist. His book records a near constant interest in ‘personal development', taking in group encounter (some with the men’s movement) and a good deal of study of various schools of thought and practice from radionic healing to transactional analysis.
The book was written with death on the horizon. It is a worthy testament to a life lived with the intention of turning trauma and hurt into a life authentically lived in the service of others. John, I am so sorry that life was cut short.