My song today is, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ which was originally recorded by Johnny Nash as a single from his album of the same name. It achieved success in the United States and the United Kingdom when it was released in 1972, reaching Number 1 on the US ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and ‘Cash Box’ charts. It has been covered by many artists throughout the years, including a hit version by Lee Towers in 1982, and another hit version by Jimmy Cliff in 1993, who re-recorded the song for the motion picture soundtrack of ‘Cool Runnings’, where it also reached the top 20 at Number 18 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart.
This song was first released in 1972 when I had just commenced my career as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Ever since early childhood, I had this ‘feeling’ inside me that I had been born for a special purpose. My mother had told me that ‘I was special’, ever since I could understand the meaning of her words. She had been initially informed of my ‘specialness’ by a peg-selling traveller in the Irish village of my birth, two months after my conception!
When my mother was two months pregnant with me in Portlaw, County Waterford, Ireland (I would be her firstborn of seven children), she had a visitor to my grandparent’s house one afternoon who changed my life; despite the fact that my mother showed no visible signs of her pregnancy.
The house visitor was a peg-selling traveller of Romany origin. Now, let me explain. In Ireland, it is considered extremely unlucky if one refuses to buy any wares from a travelling Romany who makes a house call. Indeed, Irish superstition says that one will be either ‘cursed to damnation’ or ‘blessed with good fortune’ following such a visit. The Irish believe three things about their Romany travellers. Allow the Romany traveller to leave your house without the purchase of their modest wares and you will have 7 years bad luck. However, buy from them, and your household will be blessed for 7 years. However, should the traveller be of true Romany origin, they possess the ability to prophesise your future.
After my mother had purchased a few wooden pegs from the Romany, the traveller smiled and said, “If you cross my palm with a silver shilling, missus, I’ll tell you about the child you are expecting.” Being a mere two months pregnant, and not yet visibly displaying her maiden indiscretion, my mother was somewhat taken aback; but she was naturally intrigued to learn more. Mum had not even told her husband-to-be or her own parents of the child she was carrying, Indeed, my mother had only found out that she was pregnant one day earlier.
My mother opened her purse which held a small amount to purchase necessary food for the remainder of the week and placed a silver shilling in the hand of the Romany traveller. The Romany took hold of my mother’s hand, opened her palm, and stared at it pensively for a few minutes as she stroked it gently with her finger. Then, after a minute or so she said to my mother, “Your firstborn will be a son, missus, and he will be a ‘special’ child”.
The Romany then made to leave, but the term ‘firstborn’ had whetted my mother’s appetite to hear more and she asked, “How many children will I have?” The Romany smiled and replied, “Before I can tell you that, missus, you will have to cross my palm with another shilling. So, being already in for a shilling, my mother decided to outlay her second shilling and learn how magnificent her history of motherhood would be.
The Romany traveller opened her hand again and after looking closely at her palm once more told her, “I can see that you will have seven surviving children, missus”. Having decided that there was no more money to be had, the Romany traveller left the house where I would be born seven months later.
Not one day passed between my childhood and leaving home to live in Canada for a few years at the age of 21 years when my mother failed to tell me that I was a ‘special’ child. Hearing my mother speak those words, I naturally knew them to be truthful. From the first day I learned that I was a ‘special child’, everything unusual or exceptional I did thereafter, any significant achievement I attained, or any inexplicable experience I encountered and navigated against the odds, was only possible because I was, indeed, ‘special’.
Thus my ‘specialness’ was first announced to my mother by a peg-selling Romany traveller in Ireland for the price of one shilling. It was reinforced every day of my life thereafter by my mother reminding me of my ‘specialness’, and any subsequent significant life experience of mine simply confirmed my ‘specialness’. It was only natural that in time, I came to believe that I was indeed ‘special’.
For the first twenty-five years of my life, I believed I was ‘special’. I then spent the next twenty-five years learning that while I had indeed been born a ‘special’ child with a ‘special purpose in my life’, so has every other person who is born into this world! I have spent the past twenty-five years telling every person I communicate with daily that they are also ‘special’ and have ‘a special purpose’ in their life.
Each of us possesses a talent that embraces our ‘specialness’, which, when used, displays our ‘special purpose in life’. It is up to us individually to discover what our unique talent is and to use it as often as we can to improve the lives of others. I eventually discovered in my thirties, what my own ‘special purpose in life’ was.
This was after I had encountered many inexplicable experiences; and after changing occupations many times, and after recognising that I had enabled many people to establish healthier, happier, and more hopeful lives.
I was in my early thirties before it dawned on me that my own talent and strength lay in my ‘belief system’; my belief in God, my belief in self, and my belief in the goodness of others. The strength of my own conviction and personal beliefs essentially made me ‘a hope giver’. When I look back on the number of things I have managed to achieve in my life, I know with certainty that what I have done could not have been done without the presence and power of the belief I held that ‘it was possible’. I can now see that whatever clothes I wore, whatever words I spoke, or whichever philosophies, principles and working methods I espoused, it was essentially ‘being myself’ that made it all possible. I had somehow been able to transfer my own positive beliefs to the belief systems of others as a consequence of my involvement with them.
My life had become one of learning to put into effect the words which Shakespeare’s character Polonius spoke to his son, Laertes, in the play Hamlet: “This above all to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
When I examine everything I have ever experienced in my life, what I have overcome, and the things I achieved, however else anyone may think it had come about, I know what made it happen! I know what my ‘special purpose in life’ was. It became as clear as crystal to me. I had become a ‘dispenser of hope’ during my journey and travels through life, and this talent of mine had enabled many people to believe in their God, believe in their families, believe in their friends, believe in their neighbours, and to believe in themselves! I now know that I spent a large part of my earlier life trying to show people how to live better, and ever since I developed a terminal blood cancer eight years ago and had a number of additional cancers since, I have tried to help many people to die better.
Believe me when I tell you that this is no fairy tale I weave, for I know that we can all learn to live and to die better. I have also come to know that though my body may be in ill-health and much pain, that my attitude and state of mind can remain robustly positive. Over the past thirty years of finding it increasingly more difficult to walk with the passing of each year, I know that though many avenues of mobility and pain-free existence are now closed to me through old age, my inability to exercise sufficiently, and the onset of various cancers and debilitating conditions, my heart remains open to the plight and the suffering of others, and my ears to their entreaties. I know that although my life span is limited, I was, I am, and will forever be, that ‘special child’ my dear mother gave birth to, as did all our mothers! I know that the greatest power on earth is the greatest of all talent everyone possesses; the ability to love our neighbour as ourselves.
I have had 64 books of mine published over the years (books for children, young persons and also adults). The very last book I had published a few years ago (and most probably the last book I will ever write), has as its central theme, the ‘specialness’ of the firstborn of seven children. The novel is called ‘The Postman Always Knocks Twice’ and it deals extensively with my mother’s encounter in the village of my birth with the peg-selling Romany when she was two months’ pregnant. I regard that novel as being the finest of my fourteen romantic novels in my ‘Tales from Portlaw’ series of books. It is available in either e-book format or hard copy from www.smashwords.com or www.amazon.com. As with the sale of all my books ever since my first publication, every penny profit goes to charitable causes in perpetuity (over £200,000 given to charities since 1990). You can also read ‘The Postman Always Knocks Twice’ FOR FREE. by accessing the link on my website below: http://www.fordefables.co.uk/lsquothe-postman-always-knocks-twicersquo.html
Love and peace Bill xxx