I woke up early and got up early this morning. And on a beautiful blue day was soon out with my camera in The Mystery. Sounds dramatically philosophical, but it’s actually what we all call the park near to our house.
It’s a gently sloping hill and near the top of it is a patch of wildflowers.
You can now listen to two Podcast discussions by Liam, Lucy and me around subjects in his book: ‘Meet the mentors’ here and also ‘What would you do if you had a year to live?’ That looks good doesn’t it? I’ve always mildly envied people who are the ‘wise words’ at the top of chapters in a book. But not being a saint or a noted philosopher I’d never expected the words would be any of mine. But now they are. Here’s how come.
A few weeks ago I spent the afternoon in a recording studio in London. No, don’t worry, Apple Records hadn’t finally sent for me to be an unexpectedly late addition to their Merseybeat catalogue. I was there in Maple Street Studios to talk, not sing. And the talking was with two other people. Lucy Adams who, amongst many other significant things, has been Head of Human Resources at the BBC. And Liam Black, who has written a book. This one.We got on like three houses on fire, easily filling up the afternoon with conversations on three of the letters in Liam’s book. Continue reading “Talking with Liam: The Social Entrepreneur’s A to Z”
A year ago now, October 2013, I began living my life with the constant and conscious thought that this year could be my last. Questioning everything, asking ‘Would I do this work, go to this event, spend time with this person if I thought I had a year to live?’ Reasoning that one day this will be true for all of us, but that of course we mostly never know. So why not live with this consciousness for a year and see what it does?
I decided to write about it too, and you can go back and look at the posts and discussions that followed if you want. For me though, at the end of this theoretical final year it’s time now to reflect on the main things I’ve done and learned from doing it. I don’t say what follows will turn out to be all I’ve learned, but these are the first ten things that come to mind.
1. You truly never know the day.
I began this ‘Year to live’ in good health and as a theoretical exercise. Out running several times a week and fully confident in my own body. Then within weeks I was thrown into hospital land, a place from which I am yet to emerge. Continue reading “A year to live? 10 things I’ve learned”
Continuing my reflections on living as if I only have a year to go. And joining in on a ‘Blog Tour’ too.
A friend has contacted me this week and asked me to take part in a sort of blogging chain letter. Naturally my normal response to this kind of thing would be a firm ‘No.’ But the request was gently done. And pondering the questions asked in the chain letter, I thought my answers might contribute to my own chain of thoughts in my ‘Year to live’ series of posts. So I’ve decided to start writing and see where my thoughts take me. Let’s go, four questions:
Q1 Why do I write what I do?
Well I didn’t start out by writing on this blog at all. My early blogging all happened to help out my partner Sarah. She was running a blog called ‘Being Sarah’ about a book she’d written and her continuing experiences as someone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. A couple of times she’d encouraged me to contribute some of my own experiences whilst caring for her through her treatments and recoveries. And over time I became a fairly regular guest contributor, writing particularly about the walking we’d do to shake out all the hours we were spending in surgeries and waiting rooms. The walking we’d do just because we liked it.
In writing and generally helping with the editing of ‘Being Sarah’ I found myself in regular contact with Sarah’s friends in what they called ‘the Blogosphere.’ Women from all over the world who’d had breast cancer diagnoses. And it was several of them who began suggesting I start a blog of my own. Because I seemed to be enjoying writing and to have ‘found my voice.’ For a long time I resisted the idea. Having no common and binding subject to write about, as they all had, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say.
Thinking more about my ‘A year to live’ post. And a story from my friend Sarah Jones.
A response to the post from Robert Day got me thinking when, after telling his story of leaving the wrong job behind and how it was going he’d said:
“So: I take from your post something that I’ve found for myself – follow your dream. I know that’s a dreadful cliché, but it’s true.”
Now for most of the last many years I’d have agreed that this was indeed what I was getting at. But his words made me realise that my ‘Year to live’ thoughts were changing this long followed urge. I replied:
“Do you know, I’m not sure I do mean ‘Follow your dream’ anymore? I’ll write more about this when I’ve thought more about it but maybe following your dream is another form of the over-driven ambition to succeed we so suffer from?
As you can probably tell, one thing I’ve learned from many of the people I’ve worked with is the relief of letting go. Letting go of the wrong work and the wrong people definitely. But also a quietening down of the rage to succeed. Doing things you love, sure – but maybe they’re not all big things. And maybe some of them are around you anyway? Friends you’ve never spent quite enough time with, cameras just waiting to be picked up for the love of photography?
So it’s a new year and as everybody gets moving again there’s the usual talk of how determined people are to make this one different. Resolutions about personal change, ‘this is finally the year when…’, future goals being resolutely set. A world full of determination to make the best out of difficult times.
‘Determination’ – it’s a grim word isn’t it? Sums up the hard work involved in changing. And the reason why most of the changing people are talking and thinking about probably won’t happen. Because it seems like hard work, and life’s too short to add a load more hard work in on top of the hard, busy work you’re probably already doing, isn’t it?
Well no, not if the changes you want to make are really and truly what you want to do. But how would you know?