‘It is a chapter in life. One of those momentous, challenging ones edged in horror that just happens to bring out mankind’s instinctive traits – good or bad’Misty Debonno, in conversation with Luis Santos
Looking through my LinkedIn connections, I wanted to ask people how they were coping with all this extra time on their hands. I came across Misti Debonno, a literary agent, publisher, strategist and life coach who I had yet to strike up a conversation with. The online interaction that followed was a breath of fresh air.
Living in South Wales, Debonno has been posting some eye-grabbing fiction recently, and with that fiction she brings hope.
Debonno tells me: “My posts of late have been created with a view to entertaining others and growing thought at a time when people are dealing with the impact of isolation and fear. Or perhaps, in some self-centred way, they are a means of escape for me!”
Chapter in life
She adds: “I would say it’s a chapter in life. One of those momentous, challenging ones edged in horror that just happens to bring out mankind’s instinctive traits – good or bad.
“I tell the people I’m not one to believe everything I’m told, nor do I condemn or disobey that which I’m not professionally astute about. I choose to listen and learn and occasionally offer up carefully considered thought – however foolish it might seem at times.”
Advising everyone to follow the lock-down rules, Debonno goes further by asking people not to view them as “restrictions” but as an opportunity to “utilise time, which we never seem to have enough of, and put it to good use”.
Pursuit of knowledge in difficult circumstances
At this stage the conversation takes a leap into history, with Debonno echoing the wise words of author and lay theologian CS Lewis in which he reminds people about the “pursuit of knowledge in extremely difficult circumstances”.
Debonno quotes Lewis: “He must ask himself how it is right, or even psychologically possible, for creatures who are every moment advancing either to heaven or hell to spend any fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art, mathematics or biology.
“If human culture can stand up to that, it can stand up to anything. To admit we can retain our interest in learning under the shadow of these eternal issues but not under the shadow of a European war would be to admit our ears are closed to the voice of reason and wide open to the voice of our nerves and mass emotions.”
Debonno not only credits writers but also others such as scientists, engineers and professors of all persuasions – for they will surely have the greatest insights of all to share.
She ends the conversation with another quote from Lewis: “We can therefore pursue knowledge as such in the sure confidence that by doing so we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so.
“But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.”
Finding your inner self
I enjoyed our conversation as I strolled around the house in my slippers, as many of us do these days, sipping coffee.
I remembered that CS Lewis had devoted his life to trying to find God, which led him to found an informal literary discussion group – The Inklings – with fellow writers such as JRR Tolkien, Hugo Dyson and JAW Bennett.
Legend has it Tolkien and Lewis flipped a coin to decide which topic they would write about – space or time – resulting in Tolkien writing about time, while Lewis was put in charge of space.
Lord Of The Rings (Tolkien) and the Narnia series (Lewis) was the result. Talking to Debonno has left me not only looking for clues but looking for hope.