A LARGE part of life is about navigation.
As a youngster you don’t know where you are going or how you are going to get there, often whether you even want to go.
You age and the hand on the tiller usually becomes a more stable one. You often reflect on the route you took to your current destination and the possibilities of other journeys before the ship is unfit for purpose and the compass confused.
Ship/journey/travel metaphors for life not entirely exhausted, there comes a point when you step back and look at how your life mapped out; did it work out as planned? Was much of it a surprise? Better or worse than you thought? A success? A disappointment?
By the end of primary school I knew I would not get married or have kids and that caused problems in relationships as you meet someone, tell them, it doesn’t matter, they don’t want that either, then suddenly they do, but you stick to your guns and it’s over... good or bad? I don’t regret that so I’ll go with the former.
I didn’t want a house or a fancy car and stuck with that — partly due to finances, to be fair — until I was in my late 30s. People would ask why I didn’t want to own a place — well, I had plenty of other things to spend my money on.
Do I regret spending it on going out virtually every night through my 20s and 30s? Not really. I would be wealthier now, for certain, but life would have been a typical house, car, two kids job. It wasn’t what I wanted and I have more stories to tell as a result, though am obviously far less secure financially than many younger people.
Work-wise, I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, not through some burning desire, but because I couldn’t think of anything else. Again, I could have followed other professions that would have made me a lot more money, but I didn’t want to work in a bank or be an accountant, though I was good at maths.
Happy with that decision? Yes and no. I would rather have been a “proper writer”, but either wasn’t good enough or didn’t have/didn’t create the time to succeed and, again, journalism has given me a hell of a lot of stories to tell — and I don’t mean the sort that go in the paper. Did I tell you about the time I met Michael Jackson, David Blaine and Uri Geller...? Er, yes, thanks, several times.
True, my favoured route would have been football, cricket or music, but frankly I was crap at all three and not just through lack of application.
People get lucky, others don’t. Some people have a pre-determined route through life which money buys, others have to plough their own furrow and keep checking the map as their journey is repeatedly de-railed.
I took myself off the rails a couple of times and was shunted off on others, but my second class open journey ticket is still valid and hopefully there are a few twists and turns to come yet.