Don’t let yourself sink.

‘Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.’ James Conant, a former president of Harvard said those words, clever guy. Maybe the consonants and vowels that left his mouth are about stepping out into the unknown and finding out what we’re all made of, perhaps trying to find that positive attitude towards change and your willingness to take risks in order to move forward with everything that you have going on in your life. Some days are easier than others though, aren’t they?

Just how it is, different things have a way now and again of hurting your heart or throwing you a curveball. When whatever you have going on throws you a left hook, you always want to hit back harder if you can. Easier said than done sometimes, but the thing is, if you look hard enough inside, you can always find something redeeming in even the worst of situations. It would be nice if we were immune to hurt, emotionally and physically but none of us are superheroes.

That said, the easiest thing in the world to do when you’re struggling with things is to sit and feel sorry for yourself. Hopefully a day comes though when you’re done sulking, you realise that you need to suck it up and fight back. Stick on the big boy pants and start with the one person that you can directly affect, maybe you’ll surprise yourself. Haven’t you got to keep moving on, try and get past all of the bad shit and look for something that will keep you moving forward? There’s nothing easier than doing all of the things that we always do, but when you get that feeling of doing that something different, shouldn’t you try and begin a new chapter? Sure, it matters what your life story has been up until that moment when you get that you’re not happy, or when you realise that you need something more. Undoubtedly, special things have happened to you so far, you’ve perhaps met the best person in your life that you’ll ever meet, you know that you have someone that you’ll love forever unconditionally. How about embracing the fact that you can write the rest of your story though, even if it’s just a tiny part?

We’ll all check out one day but before you do, don’t you want to check in first? Do something that you’ve always wanted to do, even if it’s risky, even if it might accelerate the checking out process? None of us wants to let the world rob us of something that we’ve always dreamt about doing. Sometimes you realise where it is that you need to be in that one moment when you suddenly get it and you need something to get you through whatever you’re experiencing right now. Maybe it’s time to completely let go of what you know, what you’ve been comfortable with, even just for a little while.

You haven’t come this far to fall off the earth.

When January 1st comes around, we all hope and believe that the new year will be our year. Some of us will make resolutions, hopefully most of us stick to them, but there’s that curveball again, something happens that you didn’t see coming. The end of a friendship, a relationship. The start of a new friendship, a new relationship. Illness, having to move house, switching jobs, fuck, it could be almost anything, couldn’t it? Good and bad things, they happen to all of us.

2019 is not going to plan so far.

Flying thousands of miles across the world to try and resurrect something that never really stood a chance. Having people that are important pass on. Being subjected to unexpected hospital stays, leaving said hospital, and then having to go back because your male pride makes you ignore medical advice because you had a ticket for the game. Spot the idiot. It turns out that this idiot though accidentally did something good amongst all of the bad, this unexpected stay might actually do some good and take care of something that was unexpected. That said, anyone who’s ever been in hospital knows how lonely a place it can be, what is there to do? If you said to your younger self that you’d spend more than 20 hours of your day in bed, you’d be pretty excited. Who is she, do we take showers together, where do we order food from, does anywhere deliver beer? Do I even float the idea of her wearing a Celtic top?

Just silliness, but a long time spent on your own gets you to thinking. If you’re facing challenges, isn’t it natural for your thoughts to turn to all of the things that you always wanted to do? Like every other choice or decision in your life, you need to pick one first, the rest can follow later. Sometimes you have no clue where the ideas about all of the things that you want to do in your life came from.

The night grows dark, but I’m wide awake. I post a tweet looking for advice about something that I’ve always wanted to do and a good friend replies with a belter of a recommendation.

I have zero clue why, but riding a freight train across the US has always been a thing. Is it illegal? Yes. Is there a chance of being arrested? Absolutely. Could I die? You know it. NYC to LA is the preferred option, always good to end a trip with meeting a close friend. There was a study conducted once and a thousand people were asked if they could know in advance whether or not they would want to know the day of their death. 96% of people said no. Is it wrong to want to be one of the other 4%? Chances are, it might be on one of those days. The journey could last a day, it could last a month.

On the outside looking in though, doesn’t it seem that people who are the happiest do whatever it takes to get to whatever they feel one of their highest points is to overcome all of their obstacles? Perhaps it begins with doing something that you never thought you’d do.

What will it take? Courage, determination, hope, perseverance and strength. Damn skippy, but that’s the same for anyone of us who’s fighting with something. It’s tough but don’t giving up on something that’s challenging.

Wherever it is that you want to get to, make fucking sure that you appreciate the view.

Just keep your head above.

@TheSamMcLeod

@YouMeMusicLife

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