These hands are meant to hold.

Different things motivate all of us. Achievement, advancement, personal or professional growth, maybe recognition or responsibility? It can be something simpler than any of those things. Eating healthier, getting fit, listening to your favourite music, playing or watching your favourite sports. Once you find something that makes you want to do it religiously, it becomes second nature, you’re motivating yourself every day, although you perhaps don’t grasp that fact in every single moment.

We’re all different people, so all of our motivations are different. When you witness the success of others, it’s easy to not even contemplate the setbacks and struggles that they’ve had to overcome to get to where they are now. Sure, the road to get to a place that you need to be is often paved with failure and a shit ton of pain. There’s going to be hard lessons that you’ll need to learn along the way, you’ll need to have difficult conversations with yourself now and again. Humility and understanding is key, don’t we all need to harness those moments of adversity to help us move forward?

It doesn’t matter who any of us are, we’ve all experienced hard times in our lives. We all have different tools that we need to not only think about what’s happened to us before, but also to try and help us shape what’s going to become part of our future. Aren’t we all resilient on some level? A bad place can become a good place if you’re motivated to get there. Take music. Listen to any song with an open mind and you might realise that some of the words apply to something that you have going on.

It’s not always that easy though, is it? Some days are more difficult than others, it’s tough to see how any of what you have to deal with right now is going to get any better, to make you better.

Another day and you’ve had your fill of sinking.

It’s late on a weekend afternoon and I’ve been in the new place for a few days. The broadband engineer is finally here, first world problems are about to be solved. He ladders down over a high wall into the garden next door where the pole is to connect the street to the telephone and internet lines. I leave him to it, what the fuck do I know about installing wifi? Anything to do with the brain, I’ve mostly got you covered. Anything practical? Forget it, I’m the equivalent of a three legged cat trying to bury a shit on an ice rink.

He shouts over for my assistance, probably not standard protocol, isn’t that what they’re paid for, but part of you always wants to help. Grease on the top of the wall from his boots is there but I don’t see it, I slip, and I tumble over 20 feet to the ground landing straight on my back. I black out briefly, but when my eyes reopen, it’s easily the worst pain I’ve ever experienced that envelops me. He helps me back into my apartment and an ambulance is called. He leaves, apologising profusely.

The ambulance arrives, air and gas is given and a paramedic attempts to take a blood sample. Bless, they’re obviously new at this, and blood goes everywhere, it’s like a crime scene in my apartment, but finally we get sorted and I’m on my way to the local hospital.

I can’t feel my legs and the pain is excruciating. Every bump on the road hurts but I know that I’m headed to where I need to be. Being the weekend, it’s busy, hours pass with me being told to lie on my back and not move. Morphine is overrated, the pain doesn’t lessen. The staff are fantastic though, always checking in until I can go for x-rays and then a CT scan. That’s one thing that was never on the bucket list.

A doctor finally comes round with the results and it’s not good, there are severe spinal vertebrae fractures. Surgery is ruled out because it might make things worse. I’m scared to ask the question that I need an answer to. A day when you’ve lost yourself completely could be a night when your life ends. Painkillers for the rest of my days and intense physiotherapy will mean that I’ll be able to walk again. Hopefully.

No lies, there are a lot of tears and a lot of self pity. I get moved to a ward with three other guys and their prognosis and stories are equally as bad as mine, if not worse.

The night passes and I can’t sleep. Sure, the pain is part of it but I need to figure out how to beat this. I need to be motivated. I listen to music, hit the shuffle button and let the songs take me where they need to.

It’s approaching 5am, no sleep has been had and a junior doctor pops her head around the curtain to check on me. Questions are asked, blood pressure is taken and the first thing she does is to ask me to take her hands and push them away from her. I tell her that I doubt I have the strength but then she says six words. ‘These hands are meant to hold.’ Those 24 letters resonate, I’ve heard those words somewhere before and I push as hard as I can. She smiles, does some more tests and leaves telling me to stay strong.

I realise where I heard them and what the song is. It’s my iPhone so I click on it. There’s my motivation right there. Six words from someone I’ve never met before will get me through this. Will it be tough? Sure as shit, but what’s the alternative, you have to keep moving and be positive when life kicks you in the stones. Time to man up, we can’t keep regretting things that didn’t go the way that we wanted, they’re not going to change the past. Go ahead as you waste your days with thinking? Zero point.

Friends ask if I’m alright. Stupid fucking question, but it’s okay to tell a tiny white lie and say yes, isn’t it? Sometimes you need to do things on your own, just keep on going no matter how hard things are. The answers won’t come straight away but if I’m motivated, they will in time.

The old guy in the next bed says to me, cliche as it sounds, ‘Your life is how you make it now, it’s up to you.’ He’s right. No matter how hard it seems just to keep on going, don’t you have to believe in yourself? We won’t all have the same problems but we need to find out what motivates us. Life can deal you a shit hand but don’t you want to beat the dealer?

It might seem like the world is against you, it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, but you have to keep going. I’ve got this, I will walk again, I will run again. Whatever you have going on, you’ve got it too.

Even when your hope is gone, move along.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Change. The Chinese word for it, is comprised of two symbols, one for danger and the other for opportunity.

Pretty much sums it up, right?

New beginnings, new changes can be scary, it’s hard to know what to expect sometimes. Just maybe though, you gain confidence and courage by taking a moment to stop and look at those changes in a good, rather than a bad way. Sure, things could go wrong but what if they go right? You make a choice, deny what could be on your horizon, embrace it or resist it.

Some decisions are smaller than others, less difficult to fuck up. Choose a new store to buy your food from? What could really go wrong, you can always go back to your old place. Change your hairdresser? Admittedly, it’s more of an issue for the ladies out there rather than us boys, have you ever hear of a lady deciding to cut her own hair? Boys are idiots sometimes.

What if it’s something bigger? You want to change the person in the mirror you see every morning or the status of your interpersonal relationships. Do we all see our friends as much as we should? You know your relationship has gone stale, you know it needs to end but do you have the balls to say the words that you need to say? You get a new job offer, are you comfortable enough to take that leap of faith and try somewhere new, to work with new people? Deciding that you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship and pop the question? Moving house, calling somewhere new home? It’s a commonly held belief that changing your job, getting married or moving house are the three most stressful things that you’ll ever do in your life. Doing one is tough, but what if you decide to do two or three all at the same time? Time to make a choice.

Time for you to go out into the world.

The city and country where you’re born doesn’t always feel like home, does it? Being lonely is so hard at times, but being lonely in the place that you’ve known for most of your adult life? No bueno. Maybe it’s time for a change, who wants to be tired of being held back without being able to fight back harder? Male pride is totally a thing but sometimes it’s okay to reveal your vulnerability and your need to connect with something new. A change is maybe exactly what’s needed. Sometimes for good things to happen, we have to make changes and move on from old habits or experiences. Old doors closing and new ones opening. Doesn’t a new door mean a new beginning?

It’s super early on a Monday morning and my iPhone rings. The number is private but I know who it is. An hour long conversation is had about something that could change everything, not just for me but for the people closest to me. It’s a positive call from both sides, follow up calls are to be scheduled to hammer out the finer details about leaving my life as I know it. This means leaving the people here that I love behind, my family, my friends, everyone that I care about. Sure, I know people in different countries and I’ll be able to settle quickly but my mind is still running at a hundred miles an hour. Just change. In any facet of your life, if something comes along that will alter everything for you, there’s a decision to make. Yes or no, what to do?

New beginnings are a chance for a fresh start and for trying new things that you never thought impossible, that you never thought you could accomplish. Time to give yourself a pep talk, to get ready, to prepare yourself for something that means that your life will never be the same again. Closing old chapters of your life, forgetting about the past, but getting ready to write new chapters, to experience new things.

Are there sad feelings of leaving things behind? Damn fucking skippy. Is there the excitement of new adventures? Damn straight.

Can somewhere else in the world really be your home rather than the place of your birth, the city and country where you’ve spent most of your days? Maybe you’ve been there before, but you had to leave. It hurts when you read about it on the news because memories come flooding back. It’s featured on countless television shows and your heart gets heavy for a minute, or an hour, or a day. There’s no rules when you know that you want somewhere else to be your home, rather than where you stay right now. Yes, it’s a roof over your head but does it feel like you belong? For some of us, absolutely yes, 100%. That’s a great thing, but for others, it’s time to go. It’s an often used cliche, but your time on this planet is short so why not do what makes you happy, or at least what you think will make you happy? If you’re happy with everything in your life, then I’m super jealous. If you’re not, isn’t it time to make a change? Danger and opportunity.

Sometimes when you go somewhere new, to a new job, you can have big shoes to fill. Luckily, I’ve got big fucking feet.

Sometimes the only person that you need to focus on is yourself.

It’s okay to start a new adventure alone.

I know who I want to take me home.

@TheSamMcLeod

Hold your head up high.

Never meet your heroes, they’ll always disappoint you. We all hear that a lot, right? They’ll be an egomaniac, they’ll have no time for you, they’re too big time to speak to the likes of you. Sure, sometimes that’s true, but now and again, you meet someone who is exactly like you thought that they would be. Humble, kind, willing to give you as much of their time as they can. They realise that you’re a fan, that you respect them and for that, they immediately respect you back. It’s not a common occurence, it’s rare, you learn to appreciate those moments and people as you get older.

The heroes in our lives don’t wear capes. They don’t have x-ray vision, they don’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. They are ordinary, yet extraordinary people whose commitment, compassion and service to you and others serve as an exemplary idea of humanity at it’s absolute best. They’re people who you look up to, who you admire and when you’re in their presence, you’re like a little kid. You’re never too old to be starstruck. Never underestimate the impact that kindness has on another human being. He captained the club to a European Cup, nine successive league titles, seven Scottish Cups and six League Cups as a player, four titles and four cups as the main man in charge. He’s Billy McNeill, he’s Cesar, the first British man to lift the European Cup.

Unfortunately, our heroes are not indestructible and today we lost him to thousands, probably millions of people around the world who cherished him.

Today is a struggle for me and all of those other people, it’s tough to imagine the much larger heartbreak that the family are feeling right now. It’s not a stretch to say that all of our hearts go out to you all.

We met once, he signed and personalised his autobiography for me and asked me about my family, about my daughter, about my love for Celtic. He couldn’t have been kinder and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been crying ever since the news broke, much as I’m sure that other people have. He was Mr Celtic and he’ll be missed. The word legend is often overused but not in his case. A giant of a man, yet compassionate to the core. In time, we’ll reflect on everything he did for this magnificient club, this institution but for now, it’s okay to hurt and remember one of the greatest players to ever grace the game. Tributes have been flooding in from across the globe and that is testament to the man who took time to sign my book, put his hand on my shoulder and smile at me, wishing me all the best and asking to pass on his love to my daughter. Easily the most humbling moment of my life. Most of us will have memories of the great man. It hurts that we won’t get to make any more, but cherish the ones you have.

You’ll never walk alone Cesar.

In my head, in my heart, in my soul.

A lot of us have a daily routine, dropping the kids off at school, picking them up, telling your other half that you love them, preparing dinner. Everything in your life can be normal, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’ll have some things that’ll come along too which will take you out of your comfort zone and that’s a cool thing. We’ll all have some days, nights and moments that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives when those chances present themselves, but you can make your own moments too, right? Travel, random acts of impulse, some family and friend things, we can all choose the things that we want to do. It’s great to say yes to things, but it’s entirely your prerogative to say no to others. It’s your life, you choose how you want to live it. When you’re old, don’t you want to look back on your life and recall all the memories that you cherished? That you still cherish.

The thought of getting old gets to all of us at some point. We all know that we’re going to die, it’s hardly breaking news. Perhaps Jhonen Vasquez articulates it better than most, “Nothing quite brings out the zest for life in a person like the thought of their impending death.” If you’ve made sure you’re exactly the person that you hoped you would be, then maybe you’d care a little bit less if you died tomorrow. If you’re going to die young, is it better to make that as late as possible? How do you want your world to end? Better with a bang, rather than a whimper surely.

A day will come when time and life shake hands and say goodbye to each other.

When you get told that when that day is likely to come, one of the last things that you need to be facing is an ordeal worse than the one you’ve just learned about, far less eight ordeals. Bang over whimper though, remember? Take a moment to think and then decide on the journey you want to take with the days you have left. It’s going to be a tough flight home, hard to tell people what’s happening, but it needs to be done. Sometimes it’s the silliest things that make you think. A remake of Point Break is watched on the plane and it’s surprisingly decent. If you’ve seen the film, you might have clicked that the Ozaki 8 is entirely fictitious, although the ideas behind it are real. Something clicks, a decision is made, eight choices/ordeals are chosen.

Ordeal 1 – Emerging Force (Dangerous Rapids)
Ordeal 2 – Birth of Sky (Mountain BASE Jump)
Ordeal 3 – Awakening Earth (Sky-to-Earth BASE Jump)
Ordeal 4 – Life of Water (Surf a 60+ Foot Wave)
Ordeal 5 – Life of Wind (Wingsuit Flight)
Ordeal 6 – Life of Ice (Snowboard an Unridden Line)
Ordeal 7 – Master of Six Lives (Climb a Cliff Face With No Safety Gear)
Ordeal 8 – Act of Ultimate Trust (Put Your Life in The Earth’s Hands)

Numero uno, kayak the Inga Rapids on the River Congo, the deadliest and largest rapids on the planet. Less than half the people who attempt it make it out alive, the odds are not good to make it onto the second one. Assuming all goes okay, mountains will quite literally be on the horizon. Base jump from the highest point off of one of the tallest mountains on the planet, seems a bit easier. Who doesn’t want to scale Mount Kilimanjaro? The bonus is that it’ll be quicker heading down than going up. Number three could be the end. Skydive from an airplane into the Cave of Swallows, the world’s deepest natural cave shaft in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The Empire State building could easily fit inside it, no pressure. Maybe a whimper would be a better idea. Four and five sound more than achievable. Nazaré on Portugal’s Silver Coast for some surfing and then onto Switzerland, one of the world’s best wingsuit destinations. Snowboard an unridden trail? Heading for a spot few people have ridden, where to go? Fjörðum in Iceland, Skeena Mountains in British Columbia, Gangkhar Peunsum in Bhutan, the world’s highest unclimbed peak. Good to have choices, I guess. All being well, six down, two to go. Do a Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2 and head for Utah’s jagged Dead Horse Point? The Eiger, El Capitan in Yosemite or Mount Asgard in Nunavut. Ultimate trust, something we’d all like to have about everyone and everything in our lives, so if number eight makes it onto the horizon, then why not go big? The highest recorded cliff jump in history is a touch under 60 metres, just under 200 feet. Standing atop a cliff, stretching your arms out, staring down, and jumping off from hundreds of feet into the water below has to be epic, I guess there’s a reason it’s called tombstoning. Greece, Hawaii, Vermont, all good options. Might as well go out in style though, Angel Falls in Venezuela ticks the boxes. Home to the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world, more than 16 times the height of the current world record height. Fuck it, why not?

Failure or success, everything remains exactly the way that it was, I’m me and you’re still you. Whatever we were to each other, nothing has changed. No one needs to be out of mind because they’re out of sight. A moment will happen one day and all will be as it was before.

It’s okay to accept that the earth folded in on itself.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

Give yourself a moment.

We all have a lot of stuff going on in our lives. Some good things, maybe some great things, some bad things, maybe some awful things. We all have a ton of problems, different things that we need to think about, to make decisions on every day. Some of them are known only to you; some might involve other people. Some things are big, some are little, but they’re definitely different for all of us. All of our problems are unique though, because we are unique. We all lead lives filled with issues, some can be changed or fixed easily, some can have you scratching your head about what the fuck to do about them. Just life I guess, sucks to be an adult at times.

Life can throw you a curveball when other people’s problems impact your life. You’d do anything for your family or friends though, wouldn’t you? Time to look after them before focussing on yourself, but whilst it’s not always the easiest thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Help others, but if you can’t, the last thing you want to do is hurt them, so you try your hardest. Advice, a shoulder to cry on, letting them know that you’re at the end of the phone for them, let them know that they’re not alone. The little things sometimes turn into the biggest things. Isn’t it a beautiful concept that others come first and you come second? Perhaps it’s a form of love that makes you think, that makes you believe that the happiness of another person is essential to your own happiness. Loving a friend so selflessly means that you share in their happiness whether you are part of it or not.That can never be bad, make someone happy and be happy too, win win. Sure it’s easy to take from people, but sometimes all you can do is give until it hurts. You give what you can whether it’s a little or a lot. Maybe it’s who we are from the start? Like everyone that’s gone before all of us, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. It’s easy to be a good friend to others but sometimes it’s more difficult to be more of a friend to yourself.

Caring and thinking of others is awesome but if your present moment is filled with good things, and you’re switched on, you see them. Maybe you need to give yourself your own advice and take yourself away from life for a while, and get totally immersed in the right now rather than everything else that’s going on around you. You need to stop and take a breath sometimes, give yourself a moment and let your body be. Count one, two, three.

An email drops into my inbox that I don’t expect. I don’t know the person, I have no idea when I see their email address and picture as to why I’m even on their radar. I read the message, I understand it and it’s an opportunity to change my life. Not in a Nigerian prince offering billions of dollars for my bank account details kind of way, but something that will need to turn the focus on myself, rather than the friends and family that I’ve been making sure are okay for the past number of years. It feels like that all I have and that all I need is right here in this moment. My index finger hovers over the reply icon. What if life is about not knowing as much as you think you know, about having to change everything, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next? Scary, but maybe every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, with putting one foot in front of the other, taking a step into the unknown. I can be here now but will it be better to be somewhere else later? Consonants and vowels are formed, words take shape. The index finger hovers again but finally clicks the send button.

It’s taking a chance, but shouldn’t you try and promise yourself that you’ll enjoy every minute of the day that is given to you? No point in fucking worrying yourself with what happened yesterday, or what’s going to happen tomorrow, none of us know. What if you get that one call, that one email, that one text, that might change the possibility of everything for you? Maybe we all need to learn that this moment is enough, as long as we have the belief to make it so. It’s all an adventure, so why not try and look after yourself from time to time?

We all endure tough times and the dawning of a new year can feel almost cathartic. Looking after people rather than yourself is an emotionally draining experience. The here and now is all we have, but if we get it right, isn’t it all we’ll need? Nothing is more important than this day. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so the focus needs to be on today. That said, there’s less than 72 hours until a meeting that could change my life forever. Those people I’ve been fighting for are okay now, but they might need to be without me for a little while, because this is about me for a second.

Excited?

It’s okay to be chasing stars and to find a place and lose it.

@TheSamMcLeod
@YouMeMusicLife

The things no one can see.

Day 1.

Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year. If you have children, then maybe the 25th of December is all that it’s cracked up to be. Is there anything quite as heartwarming as the smile and the look of wonder on a child’s face, as they open their presents? Tradition is important at this time of the year. Presents, sure they’re materialistic, but who really cares? Everyone has their own things they do every year. Bucks fizz for breakfast, bacon rolls for lunch, maybe an afternoon nap. Isn’t part of the fun of the day, running downstairs on Christmas morning and discovering the pile of presents waiting for you under the tree, especially as a child? Is it really Christmas until the tree goes up? It’s all worth it though when you switch those lights on and see those smiles again. Don’t be doing that shit before December, it’s just not right.

A lot of us don’t have work to worry about for a couple of weeks, healthy eating goes out of the window, and it becomes acceptable to start drinking at 10am on a Tuesday morning. It’s also acceptable to be sitting around in your pyjamas all day and watching Christmas movies. You’ve checked out when your favourite Christmas film is on, Elf, maybe Home Alone. Usually when you have time off from work, there’s that pressure to actually do stuff. It’s different at this time of the year, you can sit back, have a few mince pies, a glass of something and feel no regrets. Spending time with family is maybe something that you don’t do much during the year, but the festive season is a chance to put that right. Sure, some of those family members might be annoying, but Christmas gives you that chance to spend some time with them.

It’s not always easy though if you’re not around the ones that you love. Christmas can be a lonely place and time. For all of it’s tradition of being together with family, it can make those feelings of loneliness feel difficult, regardless of who you have around. Tougher if you’re on your own though, right?

You can think too much about things just now. The year is nearly over and it’s been an emotional one. You’ve lost someone close to you, a relationship has ended, perhaps you’re not where you want to be or who you want to be with. The thought of a new year can be cathartic, hopefully everything changes for you if this year has been one that you’d rather forget. Time to make resolutions?

You can be who you were or who you’ll become.

How shit is it when you’re never more alone than when you’re in a relationship? Someone who has no inclination of your feelings and oblivious to your fears. There’s a casual compassion of friends sometimes, but on one level you understand it, everyone is busy at this time of year, even if they’re not religious. Better to be riding solo?

You don’t have anyone around to spend this magical day on, so what do you do? Travel is always a good plan, take yourself away and experience something and somewhere new. Dinner won’t be easy, but you could rock up somewhere and do something different, who says that pizza at Christmas is a bad idea? Shop for gifts for yourself, always nice to have something to open, even if you already know what it is. You can do all of these things and still be lonely though.

Maybe all you need to do is rejoice and reflect. Maybe things haven’t gone your way. Maybe you’re still grieving for everyone that you’ve lost in the last twelve months. It’s okay not to be immerged in the spirit of this time of year as long as you’re okay. It’s okay to remember one thing.

If it all goes wrong, just hold on.

@TheSamMcLeod

#YouMeMusicLifeResolutions

There’s no way I can pay you back.

When someone close to you passes away, everyone around you tells you that loss gets easier with time. Their hearts are in the right place, but they’re not telling the truth. Loss happens to all of us constantly, and the sadness would cripple us if it wasn’t for the support of friends and loved ones, so you can understand that they are hurting for you and that their words might not be quite right in that second. As time goes on, the thoughts of the person you’ve lost, becomes more infrequent and the periods of times that you miss them grow longer.

Something will happen to you occasionally though, maybe you hear a song or you see a photograph, and you remember to miss them again, but it’s still with a heartbreaking pain. You feel guilty because it’s been too long since you remembered missing them or thinking about them. It’s just life, you shouldn’t feel too bad, although you do. More words that you can appreciate but they feel hollow, don’t they? You’re sad and that’s okay.

Maybe from your sadness, a feeling of thankfulness takes place? Their passing can be a reminder to you that your moments are limited and that we should all grasp the chances we have to live as adventurously as we can, to be happy, to forgive, to love.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, but the plan is to show you that I understand.

The anniversary of losing someone is hard, but you need to try and stay strong for the family around you. It’s okay though to have some private time to yourself to cry, to grieve, to remember, even to smile.

Today is one of those days. You have me crying and smiling at the same time when I think of you. I miss you, we miss you. I love you, we love you. It might seem like it doesn’t happen every day, but it does. Thank you for being who you were.

You are appreciated.