Starting to write has taken me quite a while to get around to it. Some 50 plus years to be precise! To use an obvious cliche, life has been a journey so far.
Most journeys start in an obvious place, where we are, and then end when we arrive at our pre-determined destination. But life is made from a spaghetti field of multiple paths with a multitude of destinations so far into the distance that we could be going anywhere. I remember being told at an early age that people with a plan, generally achieved, but those without, were rudderless and destined for obscurity.
I had a plan in my teens. It changed in my twenties as life moved on and I’d achieved some early goals. My thirties and forties, unfortunately, became a journey through a pea-souper of a fog. By the end, I was exhausted and deflated with nowhere to go.
Much of my early plans were to get away. My childhood wasn’t dreadful but it was pretty miserable. I cycled a lot in my teens. I use to pack my saddle bags with everything I valued and left home. After cycling throughout the lanes of Cheshire I would return at dusk, back at home. My problem was that I knew I had to go, but I had no final destination. It dawned on me eventually that, since I was good at my schoolwork, my destination was going to be University. Slight problem. I had not idea what subject or how to go about it. No one in my immediate family had gone to Uni. The comprehensive school I attended in the late 1970’s/80’s was rather run down. It was an overflow school and closed after my O level year. A change of schools for my A levels helped, as did my first girlfriend. Her parents had been to University and I loved to hear them talk about their time there. This intensified my need to go to University.
My studies enabled me to sit in my room with the excuse to study, but I often just laid on my bed listening to Beatles songs and daydreamed. I’d watched ‘All creatures great and small‘ TV series about a vet and that inspired me to think more realistically about what I wanted to do. My Biology teacher (who’s name escapes me, unfortunately) was quite inspirational. I am indebted to him, and to Jonathan Miller’s book & TV series ‘The Body in Question’, for establishing my first destination – Leeds Medical School.
Where are am I going with this? Mindfulness is about being in the moment. Living life now. I’d spent by life rushing to the next destination. What had I forgotten to do? Live in the moment.