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

Your timing was so wrong.

Remember when you were younger and everything was simple and there was no limit to your future? It was easy to think that nothing was going to hurt you with your eyes shut. As we get older though, we get scared now and again of things that we weren’t when we were little. No monsters hiding under the bed any more, no need to sleep with a light on, the fears become different, the older you get. There’s no point of being scared of everything, although no one should be ashamed when they feel afraid, we all do sometimes.

It’s tough to tell someone, especially yourself, not to be scared. There’s always something worse out there, right? It’s normal behaviour to shy away from the things that we’re scared of. Perhaps the more you do something though, the fear is not on your radar as much anymore. When you’re scared, when life is causing you to evaluate what you’re doing and where you’re going, then maybe you’ll find out what you’re really made of. Maybe you take a risk or two? Better to be the person that fucked up, than someone that didn’t even try. There will be days when you can’t see clearly, even with a telescope. Those days when you couldn’t pour piss out of a shoe if the instructions were written on the bottom.That’s okay though, on other days, maybe it’s your job to win the Oscar for the person that most has their shit together.

Chaos, darkness and uncertainty can hover around you when you’re frightened. Maybe we’re scared to try new things because we think we have to get them right, the first time round. Leaving a job and starting a new one? Ending a relationship because you think that you want to be with someone else? Leaving your home and starting fresh somewhere anew?

Being scared can be quite cathartic at times though. Maybe a rule that more of us should have is that if we’re scared of something, we just do it. How brave do you feel when you’re doing things that scare you? A bungee jump, a skydive, anything that takes you out of your comfort zone? You should allow yourself a smile in those moments. Doesn’t everyone deserve to wear a smile sometimes? Each of us are brave, perfect and unique, all at the same time. How cool is that?

It can be scarier if things have to change for you because you had to make the decision because of the actions of someone else. We all make errors of judgement but it’s easy for a mistake to turn into something worse. You don’t want to miss out on the rest of your life out of some misplaced sense of loyalty for someone who badly messed up. Once trust is broken, it’s pretty fucking hard to superglue it back together. If it had happened before, it’s no coincidence now. Coincidence had been left out of your lexicon years ago. You can forgive, but sometimes, forgiving is not forgetting. Now you don’t have two people looking out for you, it’s down to one. Scary as ever, but brave.

Some days are harder than others. One day is like a sky of rainbow sherbet, and then others feel like your life is that side of beef that Sylvester Stallone used as a punching bag in Rocky.

One day though, a chance of something new presented itself. It scared the shit out of me, I hadn’t felt a feeling like it, in what seemed forever. An opportunity for something exciting, a chance to leave some things behind. Some bad, some good. Exciting but scary. Terrifying, really. It felt so cold in that moment, that prostitutes could’ve charged me to blow on my hands and I would have coughed up. Maybe though when you’re afraid of everything though, nothing can hold you back?

It’s a cliche that life is a marathon, not a sprint, but sometimes don’t we want to sprint the marathon? We want immediately to know what comes next, what life has in store for us. Opportunities. Sometimes, all you need though need is a little luck. You can find hope when you’re in the middle of the most hopeless of nightmares. Are you less scared now, will people still try to pull you down? If they want to tear you apart, they better pull hard.

Having someone or something as an anchor holds you in this world and that’s comforting, even if it’s just yourself. You can feel a need to leave sometimes, but then at the same moment, you realise that you have nowhere to go, nowhere to be. Maybe sometimes to speed things up, you need to slow down. Ironic. Until the penny drops, like a copper in a fountain or a well, it’s just one of your wishes, waiting to be fulfilled. One day that chance comes, and you realise that your life can change forever, and for so much the better. You take the opportunity, don’t you?

Being scared kicks in again though and hesitation is too close for comfort. Do you take a chance on what you could have against the security of what you do have? Or perhaps, what you thought you had? Trying to decide, you can drop enough f-bombs to be heard in another hemisphere.

The city had started to darken. Staring out across the impossibly quiet New York night, a decision was made. There was a moment when I was incredibly scared that I’d blow my chance because I was afraid. It was a lifechanger, it would undoubtedly alter the chessboard of a lot of other people’s lives in a big way too. It took a while to decide, fear had reared it’s ugly head again. Was that opportunity still there? It wasn’t impossible, but is was improbable. Thankfully, yes, it was. It’s not goodbye to the people that I’m leaving behind, but perhaps, but some things are better left unsaid. Just for now, not forever. Sometimes you have to break your own rules, sometimes you have to protect yourself.

We might hope or think that wherever we’re going isn’t as bad as where we’ve been. Many cities in the world are beautiful cities. Like many beauties though, they can be temperamental. Like everything else that frightened you when you were small, it’s okay to be scared of opportunities.

There’s so much out there that we’re missing out on. We shouldn’t miss out on anything, we’re here until we’re not. For me, it was a long time being who I wasn’t. Missing something isn’t a feeling that you have to fix, but what if you need or want to fix it? Especially if it’s yourself or something important to you.

I thought we were done with each other. We’re not. I thought that I wouldn’t see you again, but I will. We have history and now we have a future. I don’t have the slightest clue as to what I’m getting myself into, but I think that it’s going to be fun finding out. It’ll be an adventure and I’m not scared any more.

Nothing’s going to hurt me with my eyes shut.

@TheSamMcLeod