"True happiness and contentment with life are open to all manner of creature, great and small, who is prepared to climb the heights of greatest expectation and assured uncertainty.
If one aspires to the highest of places, it is no disgrace if you do not reach the top. Set your sights high and live in expectation of wonderful things to happen, for in our aspirations rest all possibilities. Far better to set a goal and to fall short than set no goal at all! Far better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all! Far better to walk and never reach journey's end than to resign oneself to the rocking chair of old age and regretful recall. Far, far better to struggle to live than to die in comfortable surroundings."
So enjoy life to the full and learn to laugh at life in all its excesses. Even a poor church mouse becomes enriched once they learn to laugh at life in the face of adversity and triumph!
During my life to press, all manner of action has amused and entertained me as I have gone about my daily tasks. One of the troubles with some people today is their tendency to become over-serious about essentially small things in life. They remain entrenched in their 'drama queen' role from cradle to grave, refusing to lighten up at every opportunity presented to them.
When I was a Probation Officer, one two-month experience during my probationary year of training was spent working in H. M. Prison Wakefield; a category one prison that houses Lifers. During that time, I witnessed inordinate amounts of time of their day spent by many prisoners creating and planning mischief against the Prison Officers and other inmates; all in search of obtaining 'a laugh' at someone else's expense. One prisoner told me when asked, that serving a life sentence behind bars was so demoralising and destructive to his sense of well-being that if he couldn't have a laugh during his day, he would never get through the boredom of it.
What a change in the times that fifty years brings! Today, prisons are some of the most dangerous degrading and unruly places in the world to work and too few Prison Officers are expected to manage the prison population that exceeds their numbers 30-01; working in an environment where excess drug taking and violence is a constant occurrence by prisoner upon prisoner and prisoner upon Prison Officer and vice versa I am sad to say.
When I was twenty-seven years old and still hadn't settled down fully, I foolishly got myself entangled in what could be described as a potential 'road rage' incident. One day, I was travelling along the road in my car minding my own business when another motorist in a hurry 'cut me up' (overtook me on the inside at great speed). I was enraged and without giving the potential consequences any thought, I raced after him. I didn't know at the time what I intended to do when I caught up with him, as I was fuming, but whatever it was, I didn't intend to shake his hand and invite him back to mine for tea and biscuits! My chance came as I advanced on him and saw the traffic lights ahead change to red. He was obliged to stop and when I pulled up and opened the car to give him 'what for', at the precise same moment, he jumped out of his car, presumably with the similar intent to that I had. For a few seconds, we each set off running the twenty feet distance between us shouting abuse at each other with threatening gestures of a waving fist. Then, when we both noticed each other running towards each other and the traffic lights changed back to green, a number of other impatient motorists started pipping their horns at the two of us. We automatically found ourselves angrily remonstrating with the other impatient motorists who were simply wanting to get on their way and started to turn our anger away from each other and towards them. At that precise moment, he looked at me, I looked at him and seeing the funny side of the entire incident we both finished up laughing instead of in the hospital. We calmly returned to our respective cars, giving a Harvey Smith and Winston Churchill V-sign of 'up yours' to the other honking with annoyance queuing motorists we passed as we resumed our rightful place back in the driver's seat.
This was a perfect example where breaking into an automatic smile followed by a burst of laughter simultaneously by two very angry people defused a potentially volatile and explosive situation.
I also recall when I had two six-month periods of weekly attendance at The Airedale Hospital in Keighley a few years ago for chemotherapy and blood transfusions that lasted four and five hours minimum, I would be one of a few dozen chemo patients sitting in chairs in a large lounge receiving our treatment. For the vast majority of the patients who had terminal conditions, the chemo treatment was self-enhancing and not life-saving. I have never seen such positive responses emanate from a room of living corpses waiting to happen. Yet, had one passed that lounge without knowing the reason for the patient's presence that day, one would have heard laughter and jokey banter as they walked by. A common response from room members would be ''If they didn't laugh, they'd have to cry' They didn't laugh because they were happy; they were happy because they laughed!
It just goes to show that at the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. So whatever by your present circumstances, whatever dizzy heights you may climb to, take a leaf out of my late dear friend's book, the author Stan Barstow, who once told me whilst we dined together, 'The trouble with life, Bill, is that folk take themselves too dam seriously'."
Love and peace Bill xxx