This blog has one of those really cheesy, yucky tiles. I know. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve been thinking about the past. I don’t know whether other people who’ve got to 60 do the same thing, but I find myself playing ‘what if’ sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with my lot. This is not a morbid game of dwelling on regrets. No, it’s a lot more fun.
For example, in my mid-late 20s when I was a single lad, living in a ‘studio’ flat (bedsit) in Didsbury (Fallowfield), Manchester, and a jobbing solicitor in Stockport, I contemplated taking a postal course to qualify as a US Attorney at the Californian Bar (ha, ha, not of the drinking type on this occasion). It may have had something to do with watching a series on the telly in the late 80s called, LA Law. Well, it certainly had a lot to do with it.
I think I probably came up with the idea sitting in the cells at Stockport Magistrates Court on a wet Monday morning whilst on Duty Solicitor duties and listening to some toerag going on about how he didn’t want me to apply for bail, because he wouldn’t get it, on account of the fact that he’d coshed an old lady when he broke into her house, so could I just get the Dibble (police) to give him back his baccy and the dosh they’d taken from him, as it wasn’t proceeds of crime.
You can see why LA was appealing!
Well, of course, I didn’t do it, but what if I had? Would I have gone on to become senior partner of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak? Would I have married Susan Dey? (I hadn’t met VW then, so wasn’t being disloyal !) Would I have lived on the Pacific coastline of Malibu in a 15 bedroomed shack? Would I by now have had a nose job?
The example is, of course, a bit of nonsense. However, it’s a bit ironic that life waits until you’re getting on in years before revealing some of the truths that really would have helped you at the age of 10, 15, 20 and so on. In some ways, it would be good to live life backwards so that by the age of 21, you are one hell of a well adjusted human being. Unless that is, you have just remained stupid all your life, in which case, there’s not much point to this exercise. Think Trump!
You see, when I had this madcap idea of becoming a US Attorney and flying off to LA, my older self could have stepped in and told me to fast forward the video. What it would have shown me was that assuming I had taken the exams and qualified to practice law in the US, and that I got that LA Law job, I’d have got to Manchester Airport, got hopelessly drunk, missed the plane and ended up getting a taxi back to Fallowfield! ‘Don’t do it, Carl.’ Get sober first at least, then have another think!
It would have been great to have my older self around.
So what would I say to my younger self?
Here are 7 basics for starters.
1. Just be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be different. Start off like that and stay like that. As long as you are being true to yourself, and as long as you treat other people the way you’d want to be treated, you can’t really go wrong. Being yourself gives you so much confidence and it means you are more likely to take the path that is right for you, not the one that you feel someone else wants you to take.
2. Bearing in mind that this is me, Carl, telling younger Carl, what he thinks will help him get the most out of his life, probably the most important thing I could say to him is:
‘Don’t drink alcohol, mate. Never’.
There’s nothing killjoy about saying that. It’s just that he (young Carl) and I, were made differently to others. We were born with the ‘ism’ inside us. Mix the ‘ism’ with alcohol and ‘boom’ – lots of crazy, dangerous, painful things will happen and he’ll hurt a lot of people, including himself. He’ll know dark times, the like of which most others would struggle to comprehend. If he’s lucky he may finally come out the other side. Most don’t though. On the other hand, if he heeds the advice, he can achieve anything he sets his mind to.
3. Accept everything – expect nothing. No one gives us a free pass when we are born. Life throws tough things at us all the time. It would be pretty boring if life were a new ‘box of chocolates’ every day. However, that’s what I used to expect – wonderful things to just keep on happening. Surprisingly, that’s not how things always used to turn out. So when they didn’t go according to how I wanted them to, I’d be crushed. Take a drink, most probably, just to anaesthetise the pain of things going wrong or simply not going as I’d planned them to. By just accepting life on life’s terms, everything is so much easier to deal with.
4. Don’t be afraid. I used to be afraid of everything. From a very young age, I’d expect the worst to happen all the time. I had that almost constant sense of foreboding, even if I didn’t know what that meant. It wasn’t usually a fear of anything tangible. It was just that sense that something was just waiting to go wrong. Maybe that was part of my alcoholic thinking, even when I was young. (I believe that I was alcoholic even before I ever drank.) No coincidence, therefore, that since getting into recovery, that sense of irrational non-stop fear has gone, or at least most of the time, it isn’t there anyway. Go on, young Carl. Do it without any fear, because as I’ve since found out, 90 odd per cent of what we fear, never comes to fruition. If it does, you’ll deal with it, because of 5 below.
5. You are stronger than you think. Believe that. Use it to bolster your confidence, because as a young Carl, I know you will be lacking in confidence. Use the knowledge that you are stronger than you think you are, to go out and achieve anything you set your mind to do and deal with anything not so good. That inner strength will get you through anything. It has me. When I didn’t mix it with alcohol.
6. Make sure that you become fluent in at least one other language. At the time of writing, we are living on a small island that’s been taken over by lunatics. Learn another language and go and live and work abroad until the idiots have got bored, gone somewhere else or self combusted.
7. Life is good. If you work at it, it gets even better. Just do the right things and the right things tend to happen. Be kind to others and to yourself. As long as you are doing that you won’t go too far wrong.
Oh and ‘good luck.’ I’ll be looking out for you!
Welcome to my blog. This is my free writing space with no limits. My views.
I’m a husband, Dad to two boys and three German Shepherds, lawyer for over 30 years, law firm founder, professional writer, long-distance runner, grateful recovering alcoholic, politically on the left, European, theatre lover, Man City FC & Lancashire CCC fan, Mancunian now living in the lovely countryside of rural Essex. Co-owner of 17,000 books!