Let’s respond to these statements together
# I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, life (that) others expected of me
# I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
# I wish that had the courage to express my feelings
# I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
# I wish that I had let myself be happier
You can read the article here
I have decided to see these as quiz questions and without reading the article I’ve decided to answer them as honestly as I can and I will not be self-censoring. Seat belts fastened. Off we go.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, a life that others expected of me
My problem with my early years was that I did not know who I was and had no separate identity. My parents who were my main role models expected certain things of me and this was reinforced by telling me off or reprimanding me and very occasionally by receiving praise. Thinking about it, the main form of praise was silence. In other words, if I did something and there was no comment it means that I had done the right thing.
This is not the greatest way of motivating someone but at least it kept me on the straight and narrow behavior wise. I was a son of a vicar of the Church of England and in the 1950s and 1960s that meant something in terms of status and differences. To be a ‘vicars son’ was a significant label whereas now it is meaningless. People will say, so what?
My father and mother were not social people and to have visitors was very unusual. The only outings we had together were for post Sunday lunch walks in the Rookery which is a cultivated area at the top of Streatham Common in London. I had to learn from other people what it was to have a social life. I went to university, actually the university of Durham, between 1964 and 1967 but had very little social life and preferred to spend my time in my room on my own reading and listening to the radio. I became a great fan of classical music and I am so grateful for that to this day.
So to summarize, the first part of my life I had no idea what Society expected of me
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
To me, work is something you perform in order to earn a living in other words you exchange your time and energy for a wage. I briefly worked for the National Coal board which was 18 Albert Embankment London SE1 and the Purchasing and Stores department. This was overseen by the formidable D C Chaplain who have a huge office and a flourishing signature to match. I was very junior indeed and ran around doing menial tasks. I knew nothing else. Being bought up in a Christian environment the idea of competition and aggression was foreign.
Did I perform work at university? I was actually quite a lazy student or should I say unmotivated. I did enough work to scrape through and earned at the second attempt a bachelor of Arts grade three in other words a pass. I suppose deep down I did not know what I was doing on the planet and certainly did not understand the idea of a career.
In my late 20s I started a social network group called London Village. Unbeknown to me, this was an idea that had reached its time and it was a great success having at its peak three and a half thousand members who met four a variety of social and cultural activities. Was this work? Not really, it was the fulfillment of a vision which I undertook voluntarily. Paradoxically, I was not very good socially but enjoyed the challenge of each day. I was one of the first to introduce computers as a means of identifying and listing people with similar interests. Was that work? Again, no.
From then on I developed Kirlian photography which was about photographing the energy fields around the human being especially the hands. I became self-employed and went around various public exhibitions and shows and gave what I called readings and this went on for a number of years. Was that work? I cannot honestly say yes. It was fun, and very satisfying.
I also started a career in gardening which I continued to this day and yes, that was work. I am employed a small team of people when I was working in London and we did quite large jobs up to £15,000 which is quite small by today’s standards but two or three decades ago it was a reasonable sum.. Was that work? Yes and no. I only took as much work as I needed and as I was the boss, I worked to suit. I did not have to go in on a Monday morning.
So what is it mean to work hard? It means to apply yourself diligently. I suppose if the work is under duress or if there is no one else to do it than that sounds to me like a bad deal and for most of my life I have not performed this sort of work, let’s call it work work.
Hundreds of what I call psychic readings based on my inherent sensitivity and the use of dowsing with a pendulum and again I ask, would I consider this as work. The answer is no. It’s very much like breathing. It is part of me.
What I really don’t like about work is you are working for someone else to help them to achieve their goals and you get a small cut of the action if you are lucky. For those reason, I cannot say community work is work as such but rather activity together with other people so everyone’s goals are the same. What I’m saying is that I don’t like hierarchies I believe that people should work together in groups.
So yes, I have worked hard but under my own terms and in my own time.
The question I would also ask is that do I work to live, or do I live to work. Am I only at home when I am part of the chain of productivity or do I have enough individuality within me to enjoy living for the sake of it
I wish that I’d had the courage to express my feelings
That’s a big one for me. Like most British people and especially men I wasn’t sure what to do with my own feelings such as they were and it took me many years to realize that I was not the only person to feel in a particular way and that information could be shared with others. Even to this day, I hesitate but much less than I used to when I was a ball of embarrassment. I think courage has to do with conviction. I made very few demands on others because I prided myself on being self-sufficient, so what is the incentive to share feelings?
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
This has looked after itself. I do not think that all friends are friends for life and as we change, we change our friends and this is something that is done for the most part by mutual understanding and without acrimony. We can so-called ‘lose’ friends when during an argument we discover irreconcilable differences and there is a violent parting of the ways. More often, this can happen with people who move away physically, and that includes members of our family. It is easier to stay in touch now because of technology but the telephone and the email is a poor substitute for seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, hugging the person who you care for.
At my age friends have had the habit of dying or become victims of diseases of various sorts and more recently dying of the covid fake vaccine. As you will know by now, I am very extroverted when it comes to talking to people in public and I do my best to seek out those who have even a spark of life and engage them in what I could call a ‘5 minute marriage’. The local friends I have, where I am now in Somerset, are few. As a couple, we need to find other couples that are sufficiently aware to know what is going on in the world and also wanting to entertain it. I’m afraid such people are few and far between but they do exist.
I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is where the famous British stiff up a lip and self-depreciation comes into its own. It’s also got a lot to do with guilt, more specifically the guilt of a Catholic who has been told that they were born with original sin and are inherently sinful and this is a heavy burden to bear. I can relate to the wish because I tend to focus too much on the subject in hand and do not allow myself time for ‘me’ – pampering and all that. I think somewhere that I have regarded this as a waste of time and perhaps a little bit self-indulgent but now I am learning just to relax for the sake of it and enjoy myself.
What would I do differently?
I can now turn to the implied question – do I have any regrets about my life so far?
If I could live my life over again, would I do anything different? I think this is a false question in a way because maybe I had to ‘make mistakes’ to learn the hard way. I may have looked a gift horse in the mouth by not doing something that I could have done and thus missed out on an opportunity. I wish I had listened to others more before making decisions that proved disadvantageous.
I wish other people had spoken up more when they must have seen that I was doing something not in my best interest. In those days I guess people did not want to ‘give offense’. In retrospect I would rather they had given offense because I realized that I needed to hear what they might have had to say. I wish I had learned to ask for advice when I needed it instead of stumbling along on my own. The trouble was that I did not know enough people to trust enough to share any confidence because I was not sure how much they cared.
However, I have been very fortunate to meet a number of people who guided me on my way and had a basic impact on my life. They did so through their example not through any conscious intention on their part. They were who they were no more no less.
If you could ask me how I have managed to get through my life financially when at times I had nothing I cannot answer coherently. I remember at the age of about 40 sleeping in my office because I had nowhere to go and I did not know about signing on, income supplement, or anything of that nature so I must be a classic late developer.
However I have been blessed with meeting the right partner which I did around the age of 60 and for the past 20 years have been in a stable relationship where we own our own home. I don’t think there’s any point in learning how to catch up but I think there is a point in living a quality life and using whatever years are left to me in a productive way, helping others along their own path and passing on my experience as and when I am permitted.