A Design for Life…

“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Spiderman

“He who dares, wins. That is my motto.” – Derek Trotter

I’ve always wanted a motto, a code that I could live by, something against which I could judge ever action, every decision, to ensure that I was doing The Right Thing.

I’ve read countless self-help manuals that advocated positive thinking, positive self-talk, affirmations, mantras, commandments, and precepts but have yet to find anything that really feels like me, that just…fits.

The closest (and funniest) one I came across is: never do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of your mother.

I like that but it does kind of proscribe a bunch of perfectly healthy actions that I still wouldn’t do in front of my mother – I wouldn’t make love to my wife in front of my mother, for example – and so doesn’t really work as a design for life.

I’ve been thinking about this, on and off, for years. It came to me this morning, in the shower.

My grandfather died when I was a small child. I don’t remember much about him except that he was a tall, handsome man and I loved him dearly. When I look back, all I can remember of being around him is feelings of love and of safety. I wasn’t told about his death and I wasn’t taken to the funeral. One day he was there and the next day he wasn’t and everyone was sad. I didn’t really understand what was going on – just that I missed my granddad terribly. I used to cry a lot about how much I missed him – especially at New Year, for some reason. It must have broken my mother’s heart.

I went through a series of psychotherapy sessions last year and one of the things I learned is that I am still holding on to a lot of pain from this period of my life. I still, 30-some years on, miss my grandfather a great deal. My mum has always told me what a great man he was: strong, kind, brave, gentle, generous, like all my heroes rolled into one, an almost mythical figure in my life. I think about him every day, I have a number of greying pictures of him around the house, and my mum often tells me how proud he would have been of my musical talents, being a musician himself. I’ve always held onto this. Back in my musician days, every time I walked onto the stage I would momentarily glance up and think, “watch this, gramps”, and then go and play my heart out for him. Every show I played, ever song, was to make my grandfather proud of me.

Yesterday, I was in the shower and thinking about my grandfather. It came to me as easily as breathing:

I will make my grandfather as proud of me as a comic, and as a man, as he would have been of me as a musician.

So there you go. I have a goal in life, a mission, a yardstick by which I can measure ever action, ever decision, every word and every deed. This, along with the often-cathartic writing of this blog and the wonderful, supportive people I’ve met while doing so, could be the start of my road to recovery. It certainly feels that way to me now.

I’d like to thank everyone who has commented, re-tweeted, and reached out over the past couple of days. It means so much to me, words aren’t enough.

Gramps, I won’t let you down.

bdm x


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