Wednesday, 9 December 2009

WORDS TO LIVE BY

Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting holy shit what a ride!

REFLECTIONS IN THE MIRROR

If the person you want to be meets the person you are now, what advice would they give you?

Would you take it?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

MY DREAM RACE WITH THIERRY HENRY

It was four o’clock in the morning when I awoke, suddenly. My mind quickly began to shake off the groggy effects emersion from sleep brings about. Funny, because as my mental faculties came online, I realized I had just finished a foot race with current Barcelona striker and Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry. To add realism to the oasis my mind created, I ran my fingers across my forehead and actually felt tiny beads of sweat. The memory was so fresh in my head it truly felt real.

I am a die-hard Manchester United fan. So why in my dream did I race Thierry Henry instead of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or possibly Eric Cantana or even the genius himself George Best? I suspect because the only love I have above Manchester United is my love for the game of football itself. Henry in his Arsenal days was my first introduction to the game. The first match I ever saw was Arsenal against West Ham. Henry was a glorious blend of speed, power, and fluidity heavily endowed with a quality I can only describe as majestic. He scored on a wonderful cross from Ashley Cole. After he coolly chipped the ball into an open corner of the net, he trotted away as if he’d simply taken in a breath of fresh air. The great ones, while being great, always seem to maintain an air of calmness about themselves. I followed Henry’s on pitch exploits from that day forward. He is truly one of the games greats.

In my dream Henry is young, maybe eighteen. By age definition I was a man, 30. We both held in common one single thought. We must win this race. The glorious prize for finishing first was the chance for a special life, a real chance. Is a special life big time football? For Henry yes, big time football and a better life go hand in hand for him. For me, it was the chance to be a writer, to have my words effect positive change in someone’s life. Two totally separate walks of life but both just as valuable to the other.

The two of us stood in an open field on what had been a beautiful day. Now, the sun had begun to set, a splattering of clouds painted the sky. Nightfall was probably forty-five minutes away. We both stood a few yards apart from the other and looked straight ahead. Our thoughts in tune with the other, this is my time. Make or break.
We both descend into the classic four point stance adopted by Olympic runners. Our heads and eyes locked straight ahead staring at some unmarked finished line we both knew existed. I don’t why, but at that moment we were as brothers. Separate in age, separate in life, but together in desires.

There was never a “go” or gunshot but we both took off simultaneously, our minds in sync to the task and stakes at hand. After our initial burst, Henry surged ahead by a half yard. As a professional, many a defender has fallen victim to that burst. After twenty yards I made up the deficit and we were neck and neck. Our nostrils flared, arms were pumping, legs, moving like pistons and sweat oozed from our pores. Dirt and blades of grassed kicked up behind us. We were flying! Fifty yards and nothing had changed, we were inexorably tied. But ten yards later something did change. I slowly pulled ahead, to the tune of two full body lengths. My lead was never relinquished. Remember, it is my dream. Like we started, we ended, no finish line crossed no tape was broken, but we stopped knowing the race was over and had been won.

I stood without celebrating my victory and solemnly turned to my brother whose desires to live a special life matched my own. He collapsed in my arms howling tears of despair, “I want a shot!” He believed this moment in time was his single chance, be it first or last he knew it to be his only. I can identify. I don’t rightly remember how this bet was consummated but as he cried in my arms I knew his dreams were at and end and mine were about to begin. But even in Thierry’s tears I could feel a small sense of warmth emanating from him, a genuine compassion for a fellow dreamer moving forward. As I held Thierry’s quivering body, I silently thanked him. For that is what fellow dreamers do. It was a simple foot race, what seemed to be a 100 yard dash. But it decided the fate of two men. I awoke from this dream at 4:12 am on Wednesday March 19, 2009. My Dream with Thierry Henry.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

INTERNATIONAL VAGABOND - MY LIFE

A good friend once expressed that he had great respect for me as a person because my convictions remained steadfast even though my life situations oscillated through various extremes. He gave me too much credit.


I am going to tell you a story, a special story, my story. One may ask, “Why would anyone want to hear such a tale?” My response, “I didn’t know only famous people lived interesting lives.” Are all the most intriguing lives lived by the rich and famous? If they are, the ninety eight percent of us who are in neither category might as well call it quits now because our lives are a waste. My intention is not to act as though I know more than anyone else. These are simply experiences and lessons I’ve learned that I am arrogant enough to think can be valuable to others. For a time now, I’ve believed I have lived one of the truly special lives. A life filled with varying experiences few would ever encounter nor imagine and in some cases that would be for the best. I’ve been poorer than anyone should ever be and I’ve been exposed to more money than any prince would ever need. The disparity in these experiences I believe few have truly tasted and trust me for better or for worse I reaped the most out of both of them. Both almost killed me but for very different reasons.

I heard a man say, “There is nothing stronger than the human soul. Its resilience is all powerful.” At the time I believed the words carried about as much weight as a strippers promise to meet for lunch the next day. As life began to happen I found those words to be eerily true even when I didn’t want them to be. There were days when the most prevalent thought in my mind was how I was going to kill myself. I thought about jumping off of a building, buying a gun and blowing my head off or simply walking out into the ocean. I can’t swim so that would have definitely done the trick. At one point I even set a deadline. I told myself by the end of the year if I didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel for a better life then I was going to check out. Well at the end of the year I’m not sure if I saw the light more than that human spirit part started to kick in. Life has a way of extending your want to see what the rest of your existence holds.

Very much the same as a man lost in the wilderness I became lost in life. I remember a time when I thought the most important things in the world were a good party and a ten thousand dollar a night hooker. All absolute rubbish and I learned the folly of these thoughts from the most unlikely of sources but one who would leave a colossal footprint on the rest of my life. Somewhere along the way I allowed a person and a lifestyle to rob me of a belief in myself and my dignity but I was never a victim, never. A victim is a person deceived or cheated by their own ignorance. I wasn’t ignorant. I saw what was occurring. I was simply too lazy and comfortable to do anything about it, at least for awhile anyway. I allowed myself to be taken advantage of, not by bad people, simply those lost a little more than I.

I write this in the knowledge that I’ve made more mistakes than most.

Part of my time I spent homeless.

Part of my time I spent in London learning the most important lessons in life.

Part of my time I spent in the Middle East chasing fools gold.

Part of my time I spent partying my ass off.

I’ve been low sometimes. So low there were days when I never thought I’d rise again. I’ve been high too. Sometimes so high I thought the euphoria was permanent. Sometimes when I was flying high I was really riding low but my mind was in such a delusional state I couldn’t tell the difference. The high feelings that were real, concrete, so often came right after times were at there worst and I was sure couldn’t get any better. But that’s the beauty of life. Success really is one step after failure. It usually never comes exactly how you want it or when you want it but if you persevere it does come. That’s what makes life worth it, the voyage itself. It’s all a learning process with everyone learning at a different rate. The low times make the good times taste so sweet. Instead of relishing only one I say enjoy them both because they are equally rewarding. How can a person experience true joy without knowing utter defeat? Defeat, pain, sorrow, these are what drive us to be better, to recoup success from failure. I would even argue that there is no such thing as true failure. Failure is simply a check mark on a list of things that won’t make us better. The sooner you check one off the list the closer you are to achieving your goals. I have numerous checks on my list but this is the ecstasy and pain of real life and I find enjoyment in both.

So if there’s ever a question why I’m telling this story, it’s for the regular guy, not all of us are going to be rich. But bear with me a little in the retelling of this time in my life. I used to consider myself a writer until experience taught me I was merely a storyteller. There is a difference and it took some time to figure this out.