It’s a well-known fact that the interim answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42
[as a writer far better and funnier than I once shared]
which, coincidentally happens to be my age in this past year. Today, I leave that year behind and, as always on birthdays, look back and forward to assess where I am right now – which moment I am choosing to live.
So, what happened in the year when I was the interim answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything?
Firstly, it was a year of transformation and rebirth.
I stepped out of the corporate day-to-day, determined to live something closer to my ideal ‘portfolio’ life: enjoying my family in more moments, writing, making music and doing work
[to pay the bills]
that I honestly love, without having to pay the organization-political tax of employment.
Taking all that in reverse order. I formed my company and completed my first major consulting gig – cool work with an open client, helping the people, teams and overall organization enjoy more of their everyday, getting work done. And no political backlash from colleagues who feared change
[which had been my reality for nearly 20 years]
It really doesn’t get much better than doing what you’re built to do for someone who wants it done.
Making music. Well, I make music as Monkey68 both alone in the studio and as a three-piece band. I entered my 42nd year somewhat perturbed because our drummer at the time had decided to move to AZ. This gave unexpected downtime, just at the point where I was planning to get a lot of development underway. Luckily, we found the quite wonderful Tony, who brought a truly-enhancing vibe to the band and haven’t looked back since.
[We played last night and it was, by far, our most enjoyable and enjoyed gig as Monkey68. Easily.]
In the studio, I finished off a number of songs that had been lurking and some new ones came along which reflected more of what was happening in the year – more on that further down the page.
In writing? I set out with a clear plan to redraft Family Rules ready for publication and – at the great suggestion of Mark Henning – posted each chapter online as I did so. The work took longer than expected
[doesn’t it always]
because of what happened in the course of the summer and autumn.
In May, my Dad fell very ill. We almost lost him. I won’t share more than that, but it was a very close thing. After months in hospital, he is now out and recovering, a true miracle. Several trips back to the UK and much focus and discussion on the nature of family and love, all at the time that I was publishing a novel rooted in the fictional breakdown of relationships within a fractured family – it was an intense period.
I sang of what was opening up as I watched death come so close to my dad. Thankfully, he turned the corner in August.
Which is when my back finally gave in.
I had been fighting lower back pain for several years and it finally pole-axed me. Except now, I was listening. And as I worked with a somatic coach and massage therapist, the pain migrated from my shoulders, to my lower back, to my hip, thigh, calves and finally out through my foot. This physical reshaping
[I regained about an inch in height]
removed the last vestiges of my corporate self – and oh, didn’t he cling on as I waved him goodbye – which had formed over 20 years of sitting and hunching, swallowing down all the compromises and things I wanted to say but which were deemed organization-politically incorrect. The biggest compromise? My own denial of the extent and potential of my artistic self. Like emerging from an abusive, toxic relationship, I came back to myself – a little broken but ready to stand.
Over the autumn and winter of my 42nd year, I became me again.
I spoke of what was happening, what I was realizing about myself, what I’d been denying for two decades – I am built to share my vision, my voice and my care.
I published Family Rules.
Surprised myself by gathering poems published in the year or so before as Garbled Glittering Glamours.
Most of all though, in becoming me again, I opened myself to be in each moment, loving and present. Speaking with my family over virtual miles, taking the girls up to the school bus, shovelling snow with Jane
[just another of those togetherness things which are so welcome]
re-learning what I’d always known, even if I lost sight of it for a little while: the secret to life, the universe and everything.
All you need is love… Love is all you need.