Finding hope with Tom Foolery

Holly Branson interviewing Tom Fooley
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 3 November 2020

“Instead of dreaming ourselves back to what we had in 2019, what if we concertedly make as much effort as we possibly can to make a 2021, 2022, that's more desirable. And, that way we can look back at this moment, not as a blot in the calendar, but as a moment of realisation.”

Tomos Roberts

At the end of April 2020, the world felt very dark. COVID-19 was quickly spreading through care homes, the incredible NHS was under immense pressure with a rising death toll, and our economy took a big hit as businesses across the country began to fail. As a nation (and across the world) we were all frightened - not only about the present, but also about the future. It was at this moment that a young filmmaker and poet from Wales, Tomos Roberts, uploaded a four-minute bedtime story to YouTube called The Great Realisation.

My phone exploded – I don’t think I've ever been sent one clip by so many people. I watched The Great Realisation over and over again. I couldn’t believe that someone who had written something so powerful and so relevant had such a small following. That was to change in a matter of days, as Tom's poem spread across the world. Millions of people were moved by the message of positivity and hope contained in this beautiful film.

As a huge fan, I wanted to meet the young filmmaker and poet behind the words so I invited Tom to join me for a socially-distanced Meet The Author interview on my sofa. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Holly Branson's Tom Foolery interview

As a freelance filmmaker, Tom was left unemployed when COVID-19 spread throughout the UK and he had to move back to his family home. Tom was suddenly living with his Dad, who was working on the frontline as a doctor, and his twin seven-year-old siblings. While this wasn’t exactly part of his 2020 plans, Tom began to find joy and fulfilment in this slower pace of life and the precious moments he got to spend with his family. I think many of us can relate to this feeling, so it was great to chat to Tom about how we can emerge from this crisis without getting wrapped up in the busyness of ‘business as usual’. As Tom mentioned, we’re selling ourselves short when we say we want to go back to normal and hopefully we can use this moment to re-imagine a better future for the world. In Tom’s own words: “In the bad, we find the good.” 

I really resonated with this growth mindset and Tom’s optimistic outlook. It’s the outlook we have always had as a family - believe in the good, trust that you can make a difference, and strive to make that reality. I loved Tom’s belief that optimism exists on a sliding scale that moves on a moment-by-moment basis: “If we put in enough energy to existing on the optimistic side of the scale, I reckon you’ll have a better day and the people around you will have a better day too.” 

We also spoke about the need to find meaning in the everyday. This is something I’ve passionately discussed from a career point of view, but it applies to every aspect of our lives too. Little things like bedtime stories, your first coffee in the morning, zoom calls with your family, and sitting down to dinner together can make for really special moments if we slow down and take it all in.  

 It has also helped people to re-evaluate where we find meaning in life. As Tom said, we shouldn’t let arbitrary metrics like social media likes and follower counts impact our self-worth. Social media can be a wonderful way to stay connected, but it’s definitely a case of ‘everything in moderation’.  

Tom ends his beautiful poem with the words:  

“We now call it The Great Realisation and, yes, since then there have been many. But that’s the story of how it started and why hindsight’s 2020.” 

Seven months after writing The Great Realisation, I had to ask Tom if he thinks we’re heading towards the world he describes in his story. His answer, as articulate as ever: “Human progress isn’t linear, but we’re heading in the right directions.” Now we just need to keep sight of what matters! 

Thank you so much for this amazing insight and for sharing your hopes with the world, Tom! You can find all of his stories and order his book right here.