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SNW006: Is this YOUR life?

Is this YOUR life?

Episode Summary:
This episode tells a story of a man, seriously ill, looking back and reflecting on his life. He wonders if he has led a passionate, fulfilling, joyful life?
Had he grasped life… or did he let it pass him by?
He even has a shocking realisation, that it wasn’t actually him in control of his own thoughts, beliefs and decisions.
I hope you find the following story both thought-provoking and inspirational.

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Episode Transcript:

As I sit here on my 68th birthday…

looking out of the window on to the courtyard below, I’m trying to recall my earliest memory.
I’m struggling to go any further back than when my younger brother, Charlie, was born. I vaguely remember my mum and dad bringing Charlie home for the first time.
And him laying in a cot placed in the corner of our living room.
How old was I then? Let’s think, I must have been around three and half years old.
After that, the next strong memory I have was my 7th birthday party. I would remember that… I was sick everywhere!
You see, rationing had just ended and it was the first time in my life where sweets were readily available.
If I close my eyes, I can see it now…
There’s our small, round, wooden dining table. Neatly covered with a yellow patterned tablecloth that was only used for special occasions.
And in the middle of the table there’s a huge bowl of sweets. Neatly wrapped in this bright red bow, with a happy 7th birthday badge stuck to the front of it.
I remember I kept pleading to my mum, “let me have just one toffee, just one then that will be it. Please mum!”
But she wouldn’t buckle. This was a special event and if one toffee was missing from the sweet bowl showpiece, then – in her mind – it would have spoilt it.
So, I waited… impatiently. And when the party finally started, I stuffed my face with a many toffee’s and chocolate bars as my mouth could handle… until I was physically sick!
But it didn’t spoil anything for me, it was a wonderful day.
Looking back now, I got the sense that it was more than a birthday celebration. More like a whole family celebration, fuelled by new hope and optimism for a brighter future.
Unfortunately, my memory can’t recall much before that day, but I do remember that money was tight. And – items that we would consider essential today – were luxuries then, and hard to come by.
I also remember my dad being unusually jovial that day.
He was a manual labourer. I don’t remember seeing much of him during the week. He was a grafter. He worked long, hard hours.
He was the breadwinner and I think he took pride in being able to provide for his family.
He didn’t have many vices, he couldn’t afford them!
He didn’t drink much, he rarely gambled, but he was a heavy smoker.
I knew he loved me, I don’t doubt that.
But he was not the type of man who would come home and give his children a hug.
We didn’t argue much.
But when we did, it was usually because I had some hair-brained moneymaking scheme to buy a new bike, or to pay for summer camp. I’d present my  idea to him and he’s instantly state that my plan was flawed and I wasn’t to try.
I would try to change his mind of course, but he would hit me with his ‘look, this is not up for discussion’ phrase, which was:
“Don’t get ideas above your station, son”
He believed the only way to earn money was to go out and get a honest ‘Proper Job’ and work hard. Not sure why, but he distrusted business people.
My mum worked hard keeping the family home going. I remember Mrs. Tindle from next door would often pop round for a cup of tea and a chat.
But apart from that, she had few friends.
A quiet woman. I think Charlie and I were her life.
But I do remember sensing sadness from her sometimes.
Maybe sadness is the wrong word. But, almost an emptiness about her – like she was just going through the motions.
As a couple, as far as I can recall, my parents got on well during my younger years.
But around the time I moved up to secondary school, they started arguing frequently about money.
Ironically, it was an offer of more money that started the arguments.
My dad had been offered a higher paid job in management, with this other company.
My mum was so excited. I remember her speaking at the dinner table about her plans for re-decorating the house and maybe even going on holiday next year.
She was so thrilled with the prospect, I’m sure she was speaking twice as fast as normal.
But then my dad would warn, “I’ve not even took them up on their offer yet.” – “Yes, but you will? Of course you will.”
Well, he didn’t. I never learned the reason he didn’t take the opportunity…
I guess he was just scared of change.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes… secondary school.
I liked secondary school to begin with. Although, admittedly, the place soon drained all the enthusiasm out from me.
I was quite a bright kid. Not top of the class, but not the worst either.
I was passionate about cars. It all started when I began collecting cards sets of sport cars.
My dad used to get them in his packet of cigarettes.
I also ended up with a huge collection of those little model Dinky cars. The Porsche 911, The Jaguar E Type… The Ferrari 250 GTO – my wall was covered with their posters!
I left school, with a mixed bag of exam results and no ideas on what I wanted to do with my life. So I decided to go to this new college they opened in my home town.
By then, things had quietened down between my parents.
My dad seemed tired in his relentless pursuit of his hard earned wage and my mum… well, she seemed resigned to the fact that this was going to be her life.
Then on June the 6th 1968, at the age of 54, my dad died suddenly.
A heart attack. My mum, was devastated. We all were.
My dad had only been retired a year.
Mind you, he didn’t stop moaning about it! He got bored you see. Worked hard all his life and for what?
He had little financial wealth to show for it and even less passions in life he wanted to pursue.
My mum later joked that it was the year of retirement that killed him, not the 20 cigarettes a day habit!
I thought, “I hope you’re right…” Because I was then smoking 20 a day myself!
When I left college, my first proper job was as a postman.
I enjoyed it in the summer, but wasn’t so keen during the winter.
The pay wasn’t brilliant, but it was enough to rent my first flat. Well, bedsit would be more accurate.
Then, in my mid-twenties I switched careers. I became a salesman, selling insurance. I figured I could earn more money in that profession.
I didn’t sell much insurance to be honest, but I did meet my future wife, Sandra. She was the receptionist of the company I worked for.
Our first daughter, Carol, was born in April 1979.
You think you know what love is and then…. BAM! You have your first child.
It changed me. I think it changes everyone.
In a blink of an eye, I was now responsible for the life and well-being of this gorgeous, new human being.
I vowed to knuckle-down at work and provide a secure future for my family.
Two years later Tim was born. I don’t know where those two years went… it flew by.
Sandra and I were thrilled to have Tim, of course we were.
But money was tight before, and we knew times we’re going to get tougher.
Inevitably, with the stress of caring for two young children, no social life and a straining bank balance we argued. A lot.
I dreamt about starting my own business restoring classic sports cars.
I would have loved that… but I’m not a businessman. And, besides, I needed a stable job with a steady income – I had a young family to support and a mortgage to pay for.
I put in more and more overtime at work, to bring more money in.
It paid the bills, but it meant I sometimes went days without seeing my kids.
By 1990, I became sales manager at the insurance company. You know, it was alright.
It was nice to be recognised and promoted after all my years of hard work.
The pay was better, not amazing, but it certainly helped!
Carol and Tim we’re doing OK at school.
Not top of their class, but did ok.  Carol was always the more academic one – Tim struggled at times, he was shy.
Life was alright. You can’t grumble can you? We used to enjoy Christmas and, most years, we saved enough for a family holiday down in Devon or Cornwall.
And then… before you know it… our children had both left school and in college.
It only seemed like yesterday when they were born.
Unfortunately, both of them had started smoking! And they weren’t too old to still receive a right old rollicking from me, let me tell you!
But they were good kids…. I love them dearly.
Maybe I should have told them that more when they were growing up?
Of course, they both left home a long time ago.
Both in the same year….
And then  a few years later Carol gave us our first grandson Billy.
What a character he is… just a bundle of energy and joy.
Carol is doing well. She’s got a real passion for interior design and she keeps saying she wishes she could start her own business doing that. But she has Billy to look after for now, maybe she start when he’s older?
But her husband Jason, he’s a good, sound lad.
He works hard and provides for his family.
As for Tim, well… he has no time for relationships!
He’s working hard as some kind of sales consultant, working all the hours god sends.
But it’s a steady job.
He’s not loaded, but he makes enough to look after himself and pay the rent on his flat.
Me? Well, I retired last year.
I didn’t want to – couldn’t really afford it, but I’ve got my heart problems.
That’s what’s bought me here now… in hospital.
Looking out of this window, down onto the courtyard below.
In a short while, I’m having a bypass operation.
That’s what prompted me to start thinking about my life.
And, you know, my life has been alright. I don’t want to sound ungrateful.
I know we’re told we should appreciate what we got and there’s always someone else worse of than us.
And they’re right of course.
I love, and I am grateful for my family and my friends.
But, still,  I can’t help thinking that I’ve let life pass me by.
Could I have been braver and done more?
After all, what was the worst that could have happened?
I wished I could have worked with vintage sport cars, but I didn’t because of my family.
But is that true?
Or, was that just an easy excuse?
Did I lead a truly passionate, fulfilling, joyful… happy life?
Maybe I occasionally did… but did I really grasp life?
I was thinking to myself just last night, how outrageously lucky I am to have been given the gift of life.
To even know and experience what being alive actually ‘is’.
But I’ve never appreciated what they meant…  not until now, now it’s probably too late.
Of course I had my dreams.
I would never completely let go of them. Just delayed them… suppressed them.
Because hoping that maybe one day I might live my dreams – was better for me than no hope at all.
Now, I realise that they weren’t even dreams.
They were just wishes.
Just my imagination helping me escape from the real life now and again.
inspiration, inspiring, super now wowThey never grew beyond ‘wishes’, because I lacked courage.
I was scared of failing… how daft.
But why was I scared of failing?
Was I scared of what others might say, or was I scared of myself?
Was I scared that if I failed, I’d be admitting to myself I wasn’t the person I thought I was.
I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.
So, was it my own ego controlling my life?
Was it my own ego trying to protect me by telling me I wasn’t good enough to achieve my dreams?
But then why did I believe I lacked the ability, knowledge and skill to go and do what I was so passionate about?
Where did those beliefs come from? Were they even true?
I thought about that last night.
Now, I realise my life has been a continuation of my parents lives and the lives of the people who I grew up with.
There’s been a few changes…
but my parents lives, and the lives of the people I grew up with, have been remarkably similar to mine.
Money was tight for them and it was tight for me most of my life.
I was bought up to believe you had to work hard, long hours to money – and that’s what I did
I even continued with their habits.
Just like my dad, I smoke and just like my dad… well he died young from a heart attack, leaving two young adults behind.
Never seeing them get married or experiencing the love of their grandchildren.
At least I’ve seen one wedding and loved Billy.
But, do you know my biggest regret is?
Just like a family heirloom being passed down through the generations…
I now realise that I have passed on my self-limiting beliefs to both my children.
My beliefs are affecting every unconscious decision they make in their lives. My beliefs are dictating to them what they can achieve or cant achieve in life.
I hope they break this cycle. I hope I’m around to explain to them that what they believe IS possible or NOT possible is not THE truth…
it’s just their perception.
But not only that,  it’s not even their perception!
There Sandra’s and I, and our parents, and our grandparents perceptions.
Time for me to go down for the operation in a moment.
Now, before I go, you’re probably wondering who I am?
I could be you… I could be your future self.
I urge you to start looking back on your life and start questioning why you believe, what you believe.
Because the time to change is NOW.
Change now for your own sake, and your families sake.
Yes, adopt and treasure the good beliefs you inherited from your parents.
But, at the same time, start challenging and changing your limiting beliefs.
And if you’ve had ideas or wishes – that seemed so outrageous, you wouldn’t even dare tell anyone about them.
Then start thinking about it again? Why can’t you do it?
Starting developing your ‘wishes’ into dreams.
Have your dreams and then start trusting that you can realise them.
Because if you trust in your dreams enough, it is inevitable you will achieve them.
It’s inevitable you will achieve them, because you will always prove yourself right.
I believed I couldn’t achieve my dreams and I proved myself right.
I believed money should be hard earned and hard to come by – I proved myself right
I believed you would suffer disease at a young age if you smoked – and I’ve proved myself right.
What ever you believe, you will be right. So, why not choose better beliefs?
Look… you’re here now.
Right in this very moment in time – lucky enough to know, feel and sense what even being alive is.
Don’t let me be your future self.  Surely you owe it yourself to live the life you want and you deserve?
Get INSPIRED. Be BRAVE and Get Going. Do something NOW.
Because as you know this week, these days… this now is going to pass anyway.
So make this now a Super Now, a Super Now that makes you go WOW!

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