Travelling back home on the train from an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham a few days ago, I glanced around the carriage. Three quarters full, my focus fell upon the passengers who were sat around me, none seemed to be savouring the present moment, instead mobile phones, laptops and note pads, all types of appliances were switched on and in full use. Some of the travellers were wearing headphones, so not to be disturbed, others robotically munching on snacks, whilst continuing to stare into the screens of their appliances. A mixture of well-dressed men and women, all studying their treasured technological aids connecting them to the World Wide Web. I couldn’t help noticing the glazed, almost hypnotised looks upon their faces, transfixed by the information being transmitted from their devices. One man ate his way through a packet of hula hoops within barely a minute. I doubt he tasted the flavour of the nibbles, one after the other he shovelled them into his mouth as he continued to scroll through his emails. “Don’t worry mate, we will win the deal!” another man seemed to be boosting the morale of a worried business colleague over his phone.
No one seemed to notice the beautiful array of autumnal colours displayed from the multitude of trees, as we passed by on our journey north bound. Maybe wrapped up in a deluded need and sense of urgency, to succeed in whatever they have chosen as their career path. Perhaps thinking that one step further up the promotional ladder could help them to buy a little more happiness – the bigger house, most elaborate wedding, or faster car. Suddenly I felt incredibly sad! I wanted to stand up, point to the trees and shout “Look at the beautiful colours, isn’t life amazing!” But, I doubt anyone would have even noticed me and if they had, would most certainly have assumed I was bonkers.
“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” ~ Ellen Goodman
It’s been twelve years since my Dad died on November 12th 2003 and around the time of his passing I wasn’t dissimilar to the passengers I was now observing, believing I hadn’t got time to enjoy the simple, yet most beautiful things in life. On a treadmill, always stressing about reaching the next sales target, grasping at any opportunities to execute it, without any awareness of what was going on right under my nose. Dad was thrilled at how much I had accomplished, but if he was alive today, he would certainly have been an extremely proud man, knowing I am using my experiences and creative talents to be of service to others.
Mental illness is a growing disease and we need to be aware of this. It has infiltrated its way into schools and work places, it affects the rich, poor and famous – it doesn’t discriminate, which isn’t surprising, because from children we are constantly influenced to achieve more and more. Encouraged to be unsatisfied with who we are, and much worse than this, motivated to be more successful than our friends and colleagues. We are always seeking perfection, so therefore we put far too much pressure on ourselves.
Three key elements aided my recovery from a thirty-year battle with depression, I reconnected with nature, began practising meditation and then realised what I believe to be my purpose. Two critical issues have tugged heavily on my heart strings for years, abused and disadvantaged children and our shameful exploitation of animals, so using my artistry, personality and the help of my signature name ‘A Compassionate Voice’ I intend to do whatever I can to relieve their suffering. I would love to wrap my arms around every disadvantaged child and every living creature affected by man’s thirst for greed and power, but although in my heart I can, in reality I know it’s not physically possible, however, my intention is to do whatever I can.
I still have goals in my life, a poignant one being to connect children with animals and wildlife in their habitats, so that they can witness first-hand how it should be, learn and help protect. I’m still a long way from achieving some of my desires, including this one, but I know I can do it, because I am finally armed with something extremely powerful – faith in myself. Without faith in ourselves we cannot help anyone.
I encourage everyone to find their purpose, it’s given me strength, wisdom and the belief anything is possible.
Dad, the next years ahead are my tribute to you!
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology has brought this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit delete…” ~ The XIV Dalai Lama