Well, the first thing I must do - particularly for any reader who picks this up right away - is to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012. Speaking of which, maybe the tradition of “New Year Resolutions” should be remembered as I do hope the contents of my book/Blog might inspire some to take either small or big steps to Just Do It during the coming year.
The first few pages of the book set the scene and maybe the tone. (By the way, do check back to the first post so you know what this is all about!) I have included the preambles - publisher’s notes, dedication and acknowledgements because they are all relevant - especially Michael, as you will see.
It is certainly not the purpose of the book to try to make anyone adopt a particular view about anything or to encourage anyone to be for or against anything or anyone in particular. And certainly, for the avoidance of any doubt, nothing within the book should be taken as encouraging anything other than honesty. Indeed - an honest life as part of a contented one is part of the aim! The reader’s choice of beliefs, interests, politics and all the other choices made in life are the reader’s alone. If the reader finds something within these pages which appears to give a different impression, the writer apologises because he must have expressed his thoughts badly.
Despite what may appear to be the case when reading some passages in this book, any similarity to the content of BBC TV’s Grumpy Old Men (or Women) is purely coincidental!
Dedicated to Michael
If we wait for the moment when everything,
absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.
- Ivan Turgenev
I gratefully acknowledge the wisdom imparted down the Centuries to the present day by those many observers of life whose quotations I have thought relevant to pass on to illustrate and perhaps enliven some of the topics in this book. I hope that by including them, I might help to emphasise to readers that I - and they - are not alone in thinking there must be a better way.
PREFACE - DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO
Do as I say, not what I do.
If I had my life again, I’d do so many things differently.
Those old sayings are interesting, although not necessarily very helpful. It’s easy to offer advice. It’s much less easy to accept and use advice effectively. Our self-confidence and ego intervene. It’s true - I haven’t followed all the suggestions I’ve put into this book by any means. That’s because I didn’t know they mattered at the appropriate time of my life. I’ve written this book exactly because - looking back - I am sometimes angry with myself for not doing the right thing on so many occasions. Sometimes quite important things. It’s a case of: “If only I could live my life again, I’d do so many things differently”. But in the process I’ve had so many good experiences too. And learned a lot, especially in the recent, later, years. I do think I am wiser for life’s experience. Then the simple thought occurred to me that I could maybe pass on some of the ‘Good News’ and a lot of hints and tips which might help others. Later, I offer something of an explanation about why it should be me - just an average guy - doing this, rather than a great many other, probably wiser, people.
Well, here they are. My thoughts on modifying your life to achieve contentment. Plus some advice which readers might find useful. I hope you do find this little book of some value in realising your ‘Escape Plan’.
Do What You Want To Do - Just Do It! That’s easier said than done. Perhaps. So, what am I doing - sitting for hours at a keyboard, suffering endlessly from Writers’ Block (in which you can’t think of the next thing you wanted to say or how best to put the words together)? Is that really what I want to do? I hope this book will reach many interested readers so it is not intended that it should sell for a high price. Some readers may be turned off right away because this is not a ‘money-making manual’ or a ‘downsizing book’ or a ‘dieting book’ or a ‘positive thinking’ book. But Doing What I Want To Do is to try and get a message over to many who might be able to benefit from it. Mind you - as I will have said in these pages many times - I’m not trying to preach. What any reader gets out of these pages will be entirely up to them. Sometimes, someone will read this book and, with an open mind, understand what I am trying to say and pick up a few tips. Or even, in a few cases, become fully converted!
Whether, in your case, I shall be pushing at an open door or whether your door is already firmly stuck shut, I have no means of knowing. Nor can I know how many millions of the population will never have any interest in what I have to say. But, whoever happens to be holding this book right now, read on - you never know!
The reason why I am doing this - Doing What I Want To Do - is to make a modest case for borrowing these words and to say:
“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed,
briefed, debriefed or numbered! My life is my own!”
“The loss of one’s individuality is a nightmare”
“I am not a number - I am a free man”
- Patrick McGoohan/The Prisoner - 1960’s TV series
Throughout history, we have never been completely free to do exactly as we would wish. Shangri-la is elusive. When two or more human beings live in proximity, rules will develop. Punishments for breaking the rules become established. Boundaries are set and skirmishes and wars break out over territory, resources and the dislike of the other clan’s way of doing things.
In Centuries past, a change of King might make the difference between your chances of being hanged or beheaded or not. Either as a traitor or maybe because you had the wrong hair style. Or maybe it would decide on which side you would be fighting to your death in the next war. For most ordinary folk their only other real concern was to have a bit of shelter and to be reasonably sure of the next meal.
Only a Century or two ago the chances of living or dying might depend on whether or not the famous medics had made their remarkable discoveries by the time you needed them. Vaccines. Anaesthetics. A less painful method of amputating your leg. Again, for most ordinary folk their only other real concern was to have a bit of shelter and to be reasonably sure of the next meal.
In modern times we can let Nanny State provide everything. We no longer need to use initiative or commonsense, we are regulated and monitored like never before and we can suffocate or die of over-consumption of just about everything.
In our millions we stare at our screens for hours. We succumb to the urge to buy the latest gadgets and just about everything else for which the global economy so easily persuades us to part with our money. We meekly lie down on our backs and allow our tummies to be tickled by the ever-enlarging Nanny State. We swallow everything we are told with barely a murmur. We happily succumb to everything which makes it easier for Them to control our lives as we are told to look to the promises for the future rather than to learn the lessons of history. The promises are so often so terribly, terribly hollow. We are monitored and regulated as never before. We are gagged if we wish to speak our minds on specific topics which They have chosen and which we are required to regard as special. We seem happy to keep paying more and more for the privilege of being allowed all this. We just keep allowing ourselves to be sucked into Their system.
And you - most people anyway - are probably quite happy to be part of that system!
WELL - ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT THAT ? Well, there’s a good statistical chance that you belong to The Masses (that’s how They see most of us). You are expected to be quite content with all that. Of course, you might not be content and you might already have realised that there should be something much better. Many have already discovered - indeed have always known - that they do not have to accept the standard offering. Or even - you might be one of those who seems to be content but there is something gnawing away, telling you that you - a free-willed human being - equal to any other - could discover a better sort of life. For yourself, your family, maybe even for your wider circle of friends or community.
Real Quality of Life and Contentment seems to me to be so important. Using our time positively rather than meekly accepting the standard offering (which involves our compliance with all the ‘rules’, written or not, which we allow others to set for us) seems to me quite a valuable thing to achieve. Escape from most of that - peace of mind - contentment - a sense of purpose and meaning - will surely follow.
It’s possible, you know. Like any good cause, one by one, bit by bit, the numbers rallying to the cause steadily increase. The cause grows in confidence and the masses who are content with their ‘lot’ get left behind. There - even reading about the possibility makes you feel better! Think how reading, and re-reading, this book and then actually going forward with a purpose could make you feel!
Fulfil your childhood dream or pursue your adult passion. Put your ‘Escape Plan’ into action.
JUST DO IT!
Well, that was what I called the Preface in the original book. We haven’t got to the meat of the subject yet but it has, I think, pointed us in a certain direction. I will let it stand this time, leaving additional discussion for individual topics as we come to them. And so, around Christmas, I’ll post the proper “Introduction”. See you then.