Monday, 24 November 2014

Nineteen vs Forty Nine

My nineteen year old self, who craved  all round success, status and wealth would be even more horrified with me, thirty years on than she would have been when I wrote about her a couple of years ago. Possibly she'd be a bit happier that I've done way more partying this year than my stay at home counterpart did back in 2012.   In the main I've given up prolific Crocs wearing too in favour of lovely calf length Doc Marten Authentic Wedge boots that she might have even coveted.  After all, didn't she have a bit of an Air Wair thing going on herself?

There, her slightly elevated approval would abruptly end. Instead of living in one of those magnificent seaside retreats in the South Hams,  I've ended up merely visiting them to do assessments. And I live in a van with no proper plumbing for goodness sake!   I recall that part of the fantasy  too was a shared life with  Mr Perfect, probably a corporate type, and our brood of ultra talented and sickeningly good looking, well behaved children.  They'd of course be looked after by a Norlands nanny while I was pursuing some high profile jet setting career. Single motherhood and a full time non managerial job without paid help was definitely not on the cards. Nor was I meant to be spending so much time with my child, that  happy, funny, grubby son who has to be frog marched to water to get him to wash.

I've been reading a lot more again lately.  It's one of those things that motorhome life allows time for. This book I've just finished is possibly one of the thought provoking pieces of writing that I've ever come across.  Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl is pretty famous.  As it says on the cover, 'Nine million copies sold' so some of you must have read it before me.  It tells the story of Frankl's time in Auschwitz and other concentration camps.  His experiences  shaped his perception of the human psyche and went on to inform his
 therapeutic practice which embodies hope and the capacity for individuals to survive and learn from the bleakest experience.  Wherever you turn in the text there is wisdom.  Frankl's compassion leaps out from each page.  Take for example, this passage:

'An incurably psychotic individual may lose his usefulness but yet retain the dignity of a human being.  This is my psychiatric credo.  With it I should not think it worthwhile to be a psychiatrist.  For whose sake?  Just for the sake of a damaged brain machine which cannot be repaired?  If the patient were not definitely more, euthanasia would be justified.'

This spoke to me so much about the value of my own work with people who many in society have discarded as terminally useless.  It might have to be the credo of an occupational therapist working with people with dementia as well.

To conclude today,  I'll share another Frankl quote because they are so profound.  It's his take on success and crucially how to go about attaining it. Definitely it's a perspective that would have been lost on my younger self but for the older and hopefully wiser forty nine year old that I hope to God that I've become, it's making a lot of sense.

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” 


  1. A bit deep for a Monday morning! Oh well, the sun is shining and the dog is better, so all is good . Have a nice day, as they say!

  2. He's right...that IS the way it works...

  3. I've always meant to read that book - from what you've written I think I should make it a high priority.

  4. That book is top of my list for 2015.

    1. And as is so rare for a book, I might even read it again. x