A study last year at Harvard suggested that spouses are at an increased risk of dying in the first few months after their partner has died. As I sat in York Crematorium on August 16th, remembering and celebrating the life of Michael Scott, only a few months after sitting near Michael as we remembered the life of his wife Eileen, I reflected on how much I had seen Michael and Eileen as a constant pair, a blend, a balancing of many differences and similarities.
I first met Michael and Eileen in the mid-eighties when they were very supportive of the early days of the Oasis experiment. Over a number of years they individually and collectively brought their extensive business experiences (both had been senior executives in an ICI subsidiary), but at a deeper level a profound sense of the inner journey that establishing any new venture entailed. A journey that they recognised as embracing a transpersonal quality as people attempted to transform an idea into a manifest reality. Whether through their articulation of the elements of marketing, the need for clarity of purpose, or the human insights gained from working the enneagram, they aimed to work with ‘what is’ and ‘what can be’ and we benefited greatly. They wanted to see us develop and we did.
Different people and groups at Oasis played a role in their development as they did in ours, and we found ways to encourage their artistic, spiritual and creative flourishing as they encouraged our ability to thrive in a business context. Bryce, for instance, was always able to find the best in their writing (however dense it could sometimes be) and shared their commitment to finding a wider audience for their individual discoveries of the esoteric through their publications and group work. We continue to share their writings, and to exhibit a flavour of their paintings.
I said goodbye to Michael in what is the oldest non-conformist chapel in York, how fitting. There seemed nothing Michael enjoyed more than the cut and thrust of a robust meeting of mind and spirit. As I write it is easy to bring to mind the challenges to the status quo, and the unexpected questions that he offered with such strength (and often a powerful ‘sniff’) woven with a certain mischievousness at workshops with the remarkable Eric Cassirer. He didn’t like to conform.
It wasn’t just the work that they influenced, we also considered living together! They were both supporters of the Oasis sojourn into shaping a living and working community in the nineties, joining us on trips to explore possible houses. I think now, many years later, we are all relieved that after the initial three years we decided to focus on the working community. Whilst we had many points of connection, Oasis people tend to be reluctant joiners, and most of us value our own space and freedom, an attribute that seems to have become more pronounced as we all became older.
Michael and Eileen wanted to leave a legacy and they have done this through establishing the Scott Creative Arts Foundation to share their artistic commitments and encourage others to develop. It was touching to meet many of the people who have been so close to them in the latter part of their individual and mutual discoveries and inquiries, whether through the transpersonal, the creative, voice or drama.
During the eulogies given by friends at the Unitarian Chapel in York, I sat next to Sasiki, another person who both Michael and Eileen Scott had influenced and supported in the early days of her own pioneering venture – who knows where YUMI or Oasis would have been without their early support. I realise that their legacy is in the people and organisations they have encouraged and supported over the years and that continue to sustain themselves and thrive in an often difficult and demanding world.
I have no doubt the Foundation will continue to find ways to support the artistic and creative long into the future ensuring ways of working that challenge the norm and question the usual.