1. The Journey Begins
Updated: Apr 24
A very warm 'Hello',
First of all, thank you for spending your time to be here. I recommend reading the blog when you're either relaxed, or at least wish to become relaxed as you start reading. The subject matter isn't for the faint-hearted or the rushed. It's important to make time for this!
In this very first blog post I will cover why the website exists and what it can do for you, as well as what you can do for it.
It's 2019 and regardless of our own beliefs there's a lot going on right now in our respective countries and societies. I suppose that applies at any point given the constant changes! I feel that some people are losing grip on what life is really about and just how precious it is. It could be because I'm generally surrounded by other working families also feeling the effects of a high cost of living whilst not always being in a job that pays well. It could also be due to our ever-growing connection to social media where we can't deny that we're constantly targeted, harassed and brainwashed by advertisements. It's also sad to see so many dreams of fame and fortune being pursued by so many people, especially when their chance of succeeding could be extremely low. Not only that but fame and fortune isn't always what it appears to be. Regardless of the reasons for losing grip on life I hope to do my bit to help.
I've witnessed general therapy sessions partly covering materialism and it sank in how I don't have the same material desires that a lot of other people seem to have. I'm not talking about some of the basics, such as wanting a family, reliable car or occasional holiday, but the mostly unachievable desires of wanting things like a mansion, very extravagant holidays or top of the range car. There are even plenty of people who can't bear to not have the very latest technology. This must be so very tiring, especially when you consider that some people make such a great effort to impress others. I see materialism as a form of entrapment, and having experienced that for myself when I was young I know that it is not a nice feeling. It also doesn't get you far in life. In fact it will hold you back. If you get the chance to ask some of the longest living people how they kept going for so long, don't be surprised if they tell you they did it "by keeping life simple".
There is a quote from Abigail Van Buren, an American advice columnist from the 50's, who said, "If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money". This quote covers one of my many beliefs in life, and I can't help but hope that my sons will appreciate this in time. If not, then I hope that My Real Testament will help in bridging the gap.
I could go on and on, but this is the Welcome Post and I don't wish to scare anybody away.
Next - Anxiety:
I used to suffer from anxiety in a bad way. Fast-forward a few decades and it hit me that the anxiety was merely an alarm bell, or several of them, going off in my mind. Nowadays, this alarm bell possibly reads as, "Me, there is a problem!". Once mistaken for some form of mental illness I realised that it was simply my brain just trying to do its job (though also requiring some form of reassurance). Now, when I do get some form of anxiety I know that I need to address something. This website was produced because of an anxious feeling that I had a week or so ago.
It was one of your average January wintry days in the UK, basically wet and grey, and while getting 2 of the boys ready for a couple of birthday parties I was hit by a sense of worry that had crept into my mind. I stopped for a moment to make a cup of tea and wondered what my mind was telling me. There were thoughts and images of me dying while my 3 sons are still young (2, 5 & 11) and them never really knowing me. I realised that should something happen to me, in the future I would only exist as brief memories and other people's stories. If they wished they could have looked me up on social media and perhaps they could easily find old social media posts, getting a slight but perhaps distorted impression on how I was in person with regards to my manner, humour and outlook. This wasn't going to be enough.
I then looked to see whether companies offered to assist in writing personal testaments, so that should something happen to them then their children would be able to read what is essentially a very brief autobiography, one that includes both their outlook and perceived wisdom.
I couldn't find the service, anywhere!
I spoke to my wife about it. She looked and couldn't find anything. She also understood my new predicament. How could it be that the modern day will and testament only covers one's estate?! What about the things that really matter?
Later that day I dropped the debut novel that I had been working on and started thinking about and discussing My Real Testament.
It hit me that others could be in the same situation. I've heard of countless tragedies where as a result of an unexpected, early death the children didn't get to know their parents. While I roam this earth, in sound mind (at least that is how I feel haha), I wish to help others create their own testament, even if it's just a form of backup should something happen.
I can't say this any more strongly: even this "real" testament will not compare to the actual memories of our parents. It should help of course, hopefully providing warmth and guidance, but it's in no way comparable - however, it is hoped that any anecdotes listed in the "real" testament trigger actual memories, which I would consider to be a powerful feature.
I would never claim to be a therapist, though I would love to become one (maybe one day), but I'll settle for readers hearing about my journey through life, tackling various problems or thoughts. If in turn it helps you then it will make my day.
So, this website is for my children and for you and your children. I will release my first draft of "My Real Testament" in the next blog post. Following this I will be happy to help you with yours.
As standard, feel free to comment and ask questions under each post.
p.s. I have to give thanks to Derren Brown, author of the book, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine. This was a life-changing read, not just for me but for many people. I couldn't recommend it enough, though for any gentle souls out there please note that Derren doesn't mince his words and mostly appears to speak his mind. I look forward to reading it again!
Read the next blog post here: 2. My Real Testament.