My song today is ‘Truly’. This the title of the debut solo single by singer-songwriter Lionel Richie. Richie wrote the song and co-produced it with James Anthony Carmichael. ‘Truly’ made Number 1 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ chart in November 1982. In addition, ‘Truly’ made the Top 10 in the United Kingdom, where the song peaked at Number 6. This song won a Grammy Award for Richie in the category ‘Best Male Pop Vocal Performance’.
The truest thing a person can ever be in this life is themselves. Shakespeare knew this when he placed the words in the mouth of his character Polonius when giving advice to his son Laertes on how to behave whilst at university: “ 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.” Hamlet: Act 1: Scene 3: William Shakespeare Play.
Ask all the people in the next queue you pass, “What would you wish for if I could grant you one wish only?” and incorporated somewhere within all of their individual answers would be ‘happiness’. Unfortunately, we have been born into a materialistic society in the West, and we associate impoverishment with a lack of money. When anyone attaches themselves to money, position, property, or power, they can never be truly happy.
If there is one good thing to come out of this tragic pandemic Covid-19 crisis we have spent the past eight months living through, it is the knowledge of what really matters in our lives does not cost us one penny. We have all come to understand the crucial importance of the freedoms we once took for granted like having visitors in our homes, who we want, and when we want them there.
Never again will any of us take for granted the kissing and hugging our friends and family, attending weddings without our faces masked, and being able to go to funerals and family events where close association and hugging can take place between the bereaved. Who among us could ever have imagined it being a precious freedom just to be able to say a final ’Goodbye’, by holding the hand of our loved ones on their death bed, and watching their coffin descend below the cemetery ground. What freedom can we enjoy once more when we are able to go to the pub or have a meal out with one’s friends, mix and mingle in larger crowds to commemorate special occasions, watch football from the stands, attend the cenotaph in reverence on Armistice Sunday, or just being able to walk in the woods and across the moorlands, and breathe in pure fresh air instead of the Covid-19 virus! Perhaps we will all emerge better people from these restrictive times we have been obliged to live through and truly come to appreciate what really matters to us in our daily lives.
I will never forget one client I worked with in Huddersfield when I served as a Probation Officer for 27 years in the ‘West Yorkshire Probation Service’. A relationship she had with the man she loved ended after 15 years together. While she had always loved her man, and still professed love for him, he had unfortunately stopped loving her and had found love with another woman and wanted a separation. She understood his position. It deeply hurt her, and she found it extremely difficult to readjust to. The thing I best remember was her saying was something to the effect “ I decided that if we had to separate and go our own ways after 15 years, I wanted it to be a peaceful parting of the ways in gratitude to the love we once shared. I realised that the proper thing to do was to let go and allow him to go live with the other woman without feeling guilty for having to leave me. Finding out that he now loved another person and not me cannot have come easy.” What she was demonstrating to me was an unselfishness that is born out of ‘true love’ for another. She possessed the grace and wisdom to know that when you truly love someone, the only thing you want for them is to be happy; even if it’s not with you. I recall thinking that this man had made some ghastly mistake which he would come to bitterly regret with the passing of time.
Finally, I will end today’s post with one of my mother’s truth that she never abandoned. My mother was always a dreamer and through any wisdom and sound advice she passed to me, she helped my dreams to come true more than she could have imagined possible. I always knew that she loved me because she told me so every day of my life, and never stopped believing in me. Through the copious advice she would give me (usually uninvitedly whether or not I wanted it!), she taught me that when you stop following your dreams, you stop living in hope of a better and happier tomorrow ever dawning. “To live your life fully, Billy” my mum used to tell me, ‘you need to be happy to be alive and to always give thanks for your journey through life”.
I have heard many people in my lifetime pose the question as to whether such a thing as ‘love’ exists, or ask if is it a construct of our imaginations to justify and rationalise being closely bonded with another. I know that ‘love’ exists, because I believe that not one of us would have ever existed without its presence in the heaven above or the earth below. I believe that none of us would ever have been born and the world as we know it never have existed had the love of God not created it and made human birth possible. All my childhood, I lived in the constant presence and reach of ‘love’. All I needed to do to touch love was to hang onto my mother's apron strings.
My mother was my first true embodiment of ‘love’, which is little more than a word until someone significant comes into your life and gives it meaning and purpose for its wonderful existence’, and my wife Sheila shall remain my last image of 'love'.
Love and peace Bill xxx