"I go into hospital today to receive my blood transfusion which has returned to fortnightly frequency since a recent deterioration in my blood count. On the way to Airedale Hospital, there is a Victorian house that always commands my attention and makes me look twice. The house is surrounded by a stone wall that has been blackened by centuries of Bradford's smoke and factory pollution of its glorious past as a textile city. Along the boundary wall of the house is a large gate entrance which encloses a white wooden gate that is more the size of a large Victorian door. The plant life and bushes which now cover half of the gate suggests that it has been many a long year since it was last opened, allowing entrance to what lies beyond.
Often as I pass this house, my wandering mind settles upon thoughts of the opportunities we take and pass up during our lifetimes. I reflect upon the opportunities I've taken, most of them gladly I'm pleased to say, and the ones I've let slip through fingers of uncertainty.
In 1963/64 I was living in Canada. You could say that I was pushing out my boat of opportunity during the height of my wildest years as I scattered my wild oats to the wind. Because of some high connections I had made, I recall being offered free tickets to see the Beatles and turning them down so I could go yachting instead with a Toronto girl between the three islands on the western part of Lake Ontario. This date had been arranged for two weeks previously and was simply too good to pass up. The Toronto Islands were formerly known as Island of Hiawatha. They are situated just off shore from the city centre and provide shelter for Toronto Harbour. It is a favourite spot for courting couples on sunny afternoons.
Ever since being a child, I'd been fascinated by the story of Hiawatha who was a follower of the Great Peacemaker (Deganawida), a Huron prophet and spiritual leader. Hiawatha proposed the unification of a number of tribes who shared common ancestry and similar languages. So when it came to choosing between yachting on the Island of Hiawatha on a peaceful sunny Sunday afternoon with a beautiful 19 year old Toronto girl who was full of promise, or being squashed between thousands of hysterical females screaming their heads off like Irish banshees, freaking and fainting in a crowded stadium to the sound of The Beatles which nobody there who wanted to could hear, could have done so anyway; there was simply no competition!
Besides, knowing I intended to return to England before the end of 1964 and believing that I could always catch up with The Beatles at The Cavern in Mathew Street, Liverpool anytime (a mere forty miles away from my parental home in West Yorkshire), I made the choice to stick with my original plans. I believed that I could probably go much farther with the Toronto girl during one boating afternoon than The Beatles would ever make out in a couple of years (this was at the start of The Beatles American tour and before they became world famous by appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964)!
There are gateways to opportunities in all our lives. Just as education is a gateway to opportunity, the gateway to being a success in life is being sensitive in soul, generous in spirit, fearless in heart, strong in mind, noble in thought and forgiving in deed.
Just as the person without imagination will never grow the wings to fly, only through true marriage with nature and the world in which we live, will our intellect flower and allow the seed of natural justice to make us fairer in our dealings with others.
So the next gateway to opportunity you come across, open and walk through it in confidence of all that awaits at the other side. Do this and failure will not be a lasting part of your experience. I never did get another opportunity to see The Beatles in the flesh, but I did have a most enjoyable time with the Toronto girl I took boating. With a love like that, you know you should be glad...yeh, yeh, yeh!" William Forde: February 3rd, 2016.