Thought for today:
"As I grow older, I find it just a little bit harder to find the child in me. I need to always have that child close by because he knew that he learned by making mistakes and he was never afraid or not bold enough to test out the waters. I think that as we get older, we become less tolerant when we both make or encounter mistakes.
My mother constantly told me, 'Billy, never allow making a mistake ever stop you trying! There is no shame in making a mistake, but there is shame in being afraid to try!'
As the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce remarked, 'Mistakes are the portals of discovery.'
During my lifetime I have never allowed my mistakes to define me, and I've made as many as most folk. I have instead reflected upon them, accepted them as a learning curve in my advancing years and benefited from them.
Were I to live my life all over again, I know that there would be as many mistakes to be found in my future actions as there were in my past ones; not because I refuse to learn from my mistakes, but rather that I don't fear them occurring whenever I try out something new. When I look back on my life, I now know that the mistakes I made, along with every experience I ever had, were the making of me.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what we know best, by being the person we truly are. I know of so many people who either struggle at their work, don't get any satisfaction from their job and are essentially clock watching from the start until the end of their daily shift; or are even working out their time until they get their bus pass and pension! For a person in their middle years and prime of life, it saddens me when all they look forward to is retirement and old age.
Everything I ever did, both good and bad, right and wrong, was meant to happen to me in the way it happened in order to produce the person I now am. As a child, I stole quite frequently. I eventually became a good thief and after life's graduation, I turned from poacher to gamekeeper and became a Probation Officer for twenty-five years. I would never be able to deny that my previous weakness of dishonest character became one of my greatest strengths as a Probation Officer whenever I needed to identify with and help offenders who'd stolen and whom I was now charged to help.
As a teenager, I was a very angry young man who often found it impossible to control my temper. I had a proneness to hit out at anything or anyone that angered me. At the age of 32 years, I founded the process of 'Anger Management' which I freely gave to the world. Within a matter of a few years, 'Anger Management' had mushroomed across the English-speaking world and has since helped more people than I could ever count or was ever angry with.
Though I have been married more than once, I'd have to confess that my greatest need was probably to be a 'father' more than a 'husband.' Being reared in a large, Irish Catholic family, I was brought up with the expectation that every good woman was a good mother to her children. I have since learned that there are many reasons that can prevent a good woman being a good mother, particularly an illness that temporarily robs them of their capacity and inclination to display maternal instincts.
Unfortunately, my first wife suffered from post-natal depression. This was a condition not then defined as such by the medical profession which resulted in behaviour that I found unnatural and inexplicable at the time. As a consequence of experiencing post-natal-depression, she found herself unable to behave motherly towards our two young children immediately after their respective births and for a period of over four years, she effectively wanted little contact with them. During this protracted period, I undertook both the roles of father and mother, believing I was helping my wife as well as looking out for the welfare of our two children. While I may have been coping with the unsatisfactory situation that I found myself in, I wasn't helping the family situation as much as I thought I was! It was only after we'd separated and divorced that my ex-wife started to behave like a 'mother' towards them for the first time. Only then did I realise that she hadn't been a 'bad mother,' but an 'ill mother.' It was only in later years did it dawn on me that my own concern for our children at the time, which led to me performing the dual roles of both 'father' and 'mother,' had effectively slowed down her potential progress and had denied my wife exercising her role as 'mother' to our children for a much longer period than otherwise might have been necessary.
After an acrimonious marital separation and divorce, my first wife, who'd been an unwell woman stopped being ill and became a healthy, but very unreasonable woman instead. She denied me access to our two children for over two years and refused me any form of contact with them; even preventing me having any contact by letter or phone and returning presents I sent them for their birthdays and Christmas. Unable to have contact with my own children, I found myself unconsciously seeking consolation through my contact with thousands of other children of their age.
Over the following years I became a children's author of some renown, publishing 67 books and allowing the £200,000 profits from their sales to go to various charitable causes. Between 1990 and 2002, I visited over 2,000 Yorkshire schools, holding assemblies to raise awareness of pressing child issues and bringing over 860 famous names and celebrities to read to them from my books in a bid to make the school children feel special.
At the age of eleven years, following a traffic accident from which I was not expected to survive, a life-saving operation was successfully performed on me by an African surgeon at Batley Hospital. Despite being reared in a more racist country than England is today, I later went on to spend a large part of my life actively working to fight racism wherever I encountered it. As the country's youngest shop steward at the age of eighteen in 1961, and at a time when blacks and dark-skinned people were barred openly from certain jobs, accommodation, clubs and were widely discriminated against, I brought hundreds of workers out on strike because my employers refused to let a South African job applicant fill a vacant post for which he was qualified, simply because he was black. In early 2000, I worked in liaison with the Jamaican Education Minister to set up a pen-pal project between all thirty-two schools in Falmouth (the old slave capital of Jamaica) and thirty-two schools in Yorkshire, in a bid to reduce racism between black and white pupils and increase a greater understanding of each other's cultures.
Throughout my life as a young man, I fell in love with life and every good looking woman in it that came my way. I was in short what my late mother would have accurately described as 'a lad about town' and 'a romantic fool.' Around 2003, I put up my pen, having decided that I'd written enough books and due to ill-health factors, I retired early. After I met my wife Sheila in 2010, I fell in love with the thought of being in love all over again. She saw the romantic in me and persuaded me to start writing once more. Since that date, I have had an additional dozen books published; all romantic novels, of course, making 67 publications in total. (All profits will continue to go to charitable causes in perpetuity).
During my earlier life, one of my traits would have undoubtedly been stamina. While defying the medical prognosis as an eleven-year-old boy by walking again after three years of being unable to walk, many would have mistakenly viewed me as being 'courageous.' It would be closer to the truth to say that I genuinely feared the prospect of never walking again and I didn't possess the courage it would require to live out the remainder of my life as a crippled person from the seat of a wheelchair! In my 74th year of life, I am now obliged through lack of mobility to use a wheelchair when out occasionally.
It is only during recent years that I've had both courage and inclination to look behind the mask of my past and to see the unvarnished truth head on, particularly relating to my failings and mistakes along with my many successes. It is only since I was told of my terminal illness a few years ago that I've experienced a fullness of life I've never felt before. It is only since I have found the strength to genuinely make myself vulnerable by revealing my daily thoughts on this page that I've found the real 'me' I've always been and for whom I've searched so long.
We do not become what we are by accident and there are no insignificant or meaningless coincidences in one's life. Not only do our failures and successes spring from all our actions, but the reasons for them are also to be found in our life's experiences. Fate has much more to do with fact than we will ever know. So fear not the making of mistakes and know that they are there to be learned from; not repeated! Know also that they will be the making of you!
All through my childhood I tried to be the 'me' I most wanted to be. It was only when things had settled down in my old age that I could see more clearly the 'me' I have been and now am, warts and all!" William Forde: February 27th, 2017.