"There is no shame in making a mistake. 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 to extend my range of possibilities by trying to learn 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, made me.
The biggest mistake 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 until the end of the shift or working out their time until they get their bus pass and pension. For a person in their 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 me 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. 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 three 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. I wasn't! It was only after we'd separated and divorced that she started to behave like a 'mother' towards them for the first time. Only then did I realise that she wasn't 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 etc. 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 dozens of books and allowing the £200,000 profits from their sales to go to charity (mostly children's charities and causes). Between 1990 and 2002, I visited over 2,000 Yorkshire schools, holding assemblies to raise awareness of pressing child issues and bringing over 800 famous names and celebrities to read to them from my books in a bid to make the school children 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. As the country's youngest shop steward at the age of eighteen in 1960, 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 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) 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 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 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 65 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 '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!
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 are not so or do this as the result of 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 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 if you can learn from them. 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: January 28th, 2016.