An extract from my book “Crap Thanks”:
Imagine a harbour with millions of little sailing boats bobbing around in the calm waters; in each boat is a lone sailor and in one of them I see myself as a very young child. The huge harbour walls protect the boats against the crashing waves, formed by the swell of the mighty oceans that beckon them. Sure enough, when I look closer I notice that thousands of small craft are slowly drifting through the harbour gates and heading into the open seas.
My next vision is from a bird’s eye view, looking down on a vast ocean covered with millions of little boats drifting towards their destinations, but something is very wrong. Rather than choose a route which would take them through calm waters with favourable winds and currents, the majority of boats have choosing a route that takes on the full might and fury of the ocean, where powerful waves, winds, and currents strive to push them further off course.
Then, focusing on one boat, I start to descend. As I get nearer, I see a lone sailor struggling against the furious elements. He looks tired and haggard and is desperately battling to keep his small craft afloat. As I get closer, I hear him utter, ‘How the heck did I get here?’ And then, to my horror, I realise that I’m looking at myself.
Now I’m standing alone in my boat. The storm has passed; the ocean is temporarily calm and I start to reflect. Clearly I’m a survivor and have developed skills which have enabled me to get to this point in my life, however because of the tough route I’ve taken, surviving one crisis after another has left me feeling exhausted and tired. I’m a good husband, father and grandparent; I’m honest, reliable and hardworking, yet I find myself closer to the darkness than I’d like to be.
Thousands of nautical miles behind, my two grandchildren are starting their journey through life; indeed one has already left the safety of the harbour walls. Initially, when they start heading the wrong way their guardians will gently nudge their boats back on course. And yet, as they drift further out to sea, they’ll have to develop their own navigational skills using the influences, good or bad, of those around them to determine their favoured route. It’s a big ask but every day they’ll be exposed to situations which will have a profound impact on their lives, so they must learn fast. Many fellow sailors will say, ‘Just follow us, you’ll be ok,’ even though they’re heading into the darkness of uncharted and dangerous waters, whilst others will try and coax them into the light. So, unless my precious little boys take the appropriate action during their journeys, they’ll fall prey to negative forces, which will encourage them to go further off track towards an uncertain and potentially disastrous future.
As I entered the next chapter of my life, I started to consciously revisit every page of my past to try and make some sense of it all. As I researched the complexities of the human brain, I became deeply frustrated to learn that my journey could have been so much easier. With the responsibility that comes with being a grandfather I feel compelled to put pen to paper, exposing myself to my inner demons, and write this simple man’s guide. I hope that it might help two little boys to navigate the many hurdles of the modern world without the debilitating and restrictive emotional perils that befell me.
Therefore, the purpose of this whole tortuous process is to leave James and Seb with a legacy to help them develop abilities and skills that will enable them to make the right judgements, be independent with their decisions, choose their influences carefully, keep on the right course and ultimately enjoy this wonderful world in full technicolour, rather than black and white. This book is my ultimate gift to them.