"One of my favourite and oft repeated sayings to my wife, Sheila, is 'Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.' I once read that we each display a different form of neurosis and that the secret to enjoying life without experiencing too many hang ups was to choose a neurosis that is more socially acceptable than most and less harmful than others. My own form of neurosis is one of 'tidiness' and not allowing things to build up and up without dealing with them on the spot. Indeed, I cannot remember the last time I received a bill through the post that I didn't make a point of replying to that same day. The same is true of all things in my life, If a person needs to talk things over, then there is no better time than the present to lend them your ear.
When I was a Probation Officer who was supposed to see each client on supervision one-hour weekly, but it soon became apparent that I didn't have enough time in my working week to do this. So rather than see them weekly for a perfunctory five-minute chat, I assumed two things. Firstly, I assumed that most didn't want to be on Probation Supervision anyway and resented having to report weekly to some stranger and answer their stupid questions. Secondly, I surmised that during their two or three year Probation Order, the times that they truly needed my presence and might benefit from my help could be counted on one hand. I believed that however many times an Officer saw their client mattered little, as when evaluating their Probation Officer's value in the future, all the client would recall would be, 'Were he/she there when I really needed them; the few times I could really have benefited from a listening ear?'
So, instead of jumping the weekly statistic hoops, when they really wanted to see me I was there for them and this mattered much more than the many occasions they didn't want to see me and would much prefer to have been somewhere else!
There is a time to do and a time to observe, and the distinction will often determine 'how much' a person misses out on life. I know that each generation has a special time that is meaningful to their lives and experiences; a time that appears once and does not return after the decade has passed. In my day, that special decade was the 60's when free love was set in daily competition against the daily risk of nuclear war and having to get married to your pregnant girlfriend too early in your young life.
I will never forget first meeting the 'flower power' people in 1960's America who just wanted to press a flower of peace into the hand of passing strangers, and if possible, persuade them to join their happy commune as the outer world blew itself up with power madness. During the 60's, I have often heard about the way that youngsters experimented with psychedelic drugs, especially LSD, that produce hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness. Often, such hallucinogenic states would be characterised by distortions of perception, altered states of awareness and occasionally states resembling psychosis. On the less harmful side of drug taking then was the occasional use of cannabis.(Please note, that according to my understanding, the cannabis in more common use then is not as harmful as is the cannabis used today).
I very much suspect that these drug-taking episodes and practices were initially, largely the domain of the middle classes and those students who attended university, as I never once personally experienced anyone taking drugs on the estate were I grew up or heard of this practice entering the working classes until later decades when drugs started to run riot throughout the cities and estates of the working classes.
There was a liberty of spirit with the 1960's that I had never experienced before. It was a kind of urging indulgence that encouraged the young to try out new things. Until then, all working-class boys and girls stayed living in the family home until they got engaged and married. Suddenly, getting one's own rented flat became the 'in thing' that set one apart from the flock and established one on the road to independence. I remember going to Canada in 1963, which was unheard of in my time. People thought me brave to travel thousands of miles alone to live to a strange land in the cold of December, but to me, it simply reflected a mark of the times; a time to push the boat out, a time to do or die!
The one thing that I have never done and probably regret not doing is never attending a Glastonbury concert, or any open-air rock concert for that matter. I would have loved to have slipped and slid in the mud with all the other nude attenders having fun. Naturally, I would have remained a 'gentleman' and given any fallen lassies there a helping hand back to their feet. This would naturally have been in my twenties and thirties when I possessed a muscular body to live for and which others were prepared to die for, instead of the happy paunch that has accompanied me beneath my waist since my early forties and insists upon staying there until seen more prominently as my only body part able to touch my coffin lid!
In my life, I have often come across people, whom, whenever they are asked to do something or participate in some occasion will automatically say, 'Later' or ''I'll make sure I come the next time.' When I reflect on my past and I think about the many different opportunities and particular offers that came my way, I am so glad that I took advantage of the moment and did not let them pass me by.
The one thing I know about 'opportunity' is that it favours the bold. Opportunities never go wanting; the ones you miss, you can be sure that someone else will take. How much I would have missed from life had I been afraid of missing out on life? I have invariably found that the people who manage things are born leaders and that things just don't happen to them; they make them happen! Positivism and hope for the future will always trump gloom and despair; in fact, 'positive anything' trumps 'negative nothing' everyday of the week.
So get out there and take all the opportunities that come your way as you'll find in later life that hurt doesn't always stay with you; only regret! With my terminal illness and never quite knowing one day to the next how poorly I may feel, I am so glad that I take every opportunity to get myself out and about whenever I can. As my dear mother often told me as a child, 'Billy, the person who is always waiting for their ship to come in misses their boat.'
So seize the opportunity now as, 'Sometime later' has this unfortunate habit of becoming 'Never.'" William Forde: April 2nd, 2017.