I’m very pleased to welcome Terry Tyler to Between The Lines today, with many thanks for a thoughtful and entertaining post. I hope everyone finds something to take away or ponder upon, as I have. Over to you, Terry…
First of all, many thanks to Cathy for asking me to do a guest post for her blog. She gave me a list of subjects to write around, and the one I chose was ‘Life Experiences’.
Something close to the hearts of many of us at the beginning of a new year is making changes, getting rid of the negative in our lives and seeking out the new and positive.
I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit lately, because I’ve been talking to a friend who I shall call Max. Max is going through a very difficult time right now. Job, home, relationships, finances – you know how once in a while those things decide to gang up together and cause you problems all at the same time, and you feel as though you’re in a pit from which there is no crawling out. We all get rough years – mine were 1989 and 1997. I’m just crossing my fingers I never have any years as bad as those two again.
The other day I said something like this to Max: Think back six years. You would never have predicted any of the events that have led you to where you are now. Similarly, all sorts of things are going to happen in the next few years, too, because life changes and darts off in all sorts of ways we never expect, all the time. Your fortunes will alter, if you recognise opportunities and open your life up to invite in the possibilities.
A bit about my own life, with the clock turned back six years. In January 2009 I was living alone in a nice little house I could barely afford. I was saddled with too much expense because of an ill-advised love relationship from which I had semi-extricated myself (in that I had removed the man in question from my house, along with the money he brought into it, but was still involved with him). My finances were up the spout, I had little social life simply because I couldn’t afford to go out and do stuff with my friends, so I was lonely. I was a bit fed up with my job, which bored me at times; I shared an office with my boss, a nice enough but difficult woman, and I wasn’t meeting many new people through work. I drank too much wine on too many evenings.
I would never have thought that six years later I would be married again, happily, and living 250 miles away, or that I would be writing again (I wrote a lot in the 1990s but more or less stopped by 2001) and have published nine books – I wouldn’t have foreseen Amazon Kindle, for a start! I could not have pictured myself happy to spend most of my time at home, or imagined anything about this whole new world in which I am so involved, ie, the online community of writers and readers.
I made my life happier again by being open to what life chucked at me, I think. When I first visited my husband in his house where I now live, I thought, everything about this feels right, and positive, for both of us. I’ve been married twice before but am not one of those who says ‘marriage? Nah, been there, done that, you’ve got to be joking!’, because I’m not cynical about relationships. I believe that if you keep your eyes open there is always a new and better love around the corner. The person with whom you had a crap time is only one person out of whole world full of others, after all.
Years ago I had a friend I will call Sylvia. Our first marriages broke up around the same time, in 1988/9; the four of us had all been friends. Sylvia and I were at opposite ends of the ‘moving on’ scale; I tended to plunge into stuff without thinking too much about it, whereas she preferred to wait, assess, weigh up every opportunity to see if it was exactly what she was looking for. Within six months of finally calling time on my marriage I was in a new relationship, having had a couple of transitional dalliances along the way. Sylvia sat in her armchair, read self-help books and waited. Okay, fair enough; some people need a longer recovery time that others.
Twelve years later, I was married again, living in another county (somewhere I’d always wanted to live), had worked at several different jobs and written a whole stack of novels that hardly anyone ever saw but laid the foundations for what I do now. I’d made loads of new friends and had a few romantic relationships. Sylvia was still sitting in her chair reading about life, and waiting for it to happen. She would tell me I was too impulsive; yes, I’d got myself into a few scrapes and negative situations, but life is about living, isn’t it? It’s an ongoing, developing, changing thing. It’s nice to think that we can work towards goals and, once achieved, sit back and think, right, I’ve got to the stage I wanted to be at, now, but it doesn’t work like that.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans” – a now rather clichéd quote from John Lennon. While Sylvia was reading self-help books and philosophy, aiming for a time in which everything would suddenly drop into her lap, her life was actually taking place. That life was her sitting in her chair reading books and saying ‘no’ to practically every invitation that came her way. I haven’t seen her for many years, but I hear that all she’s got is older.
Life is short, and the older you get the more you realise this. There are things I wish I’d done when I was younger, things I wish I hadn’t felt scared of doing. I wish I’d made the most of my twenties and travelled; certain aspects of my life mean that I am not able to do so now. But I’ve met all sorts of people who’ve become important in my life simply by saying ‘yes’; going to a party even though I felt a bit tired and thought I wouldn’t know anyone, walking out of jobs and into others that weren’t ideal at a moment’s notice, I’ve got talking to people in pubs, at work and online who’ve become really good friends, and sometimes more. I’ve followed my intuition. I haven’t made absolutely the best of my life by any means, because few people ever do, but here are a couple of sayings I try to remember, often:
If you do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
No-one ever said, on their death bed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office” (great excuse for leaving work early, that one!).
To sum up – as I keep reiterating to Max, life changes and evolves and presents new opportunities all the time. As long as you keep your eyes open so that you see them, even the darkest hour can lead on to a shiny new dawn.