A few years ago – about eight – I was two weeks away from going on holiday. At the time the business was entirely dependant upon me. I had only taken four days off in the preceding eighteen months, and had often gone into the office at the weekend.
On this day I was driving towards a roundabout. Another car was approaching, but didn’t seem to be slowing as I’d expect him to. Sure enough, this car came onto the roundabout, and we almost crashed. I wound down the window and gave him the benefit of my thoughts (something like “What is the matter with you?!”). He replied in kind, but much more calmly.
As I drove away, I chuntered to myself. Idiot, I thought. Everyone knows you should give way to the…..right. Uh oh. To the right. Where he had been coming from.
Mortified, I realised I had just made a complete pillock of myself. I desperately wanted to speed after the car, overtake, force it to stop by braking in front of it, run over to the driver and beg his forgiveness! But it was too late.
This was not me. At least, not the real me. I just don’t do that sort of thing. But I was stressed and tired.
A week later we went on holiday to Italy and, after a week, I started to feel like myself again. I put on a puppet show for the kids. It wasn’t great, but it was silly, it was energetic, and it was fun. I was, for the first time in 18 months, being me again. It was as if I had awoken from a dream to discover that actually there was a pretty decent person living within this shell of a man.
How much of our lives do we spend in that state? Relaxed, happy, really being our true selves? I would suggest far too little.
Over the recent Christmas break we went to Cardiff Millennium theatre. It is, by the way, a magnificent place. My wife drove. In the car, I turned to the kids in the back and told some jokes. Those jokes became stories, which became games. Usually, we would listen to one of the many compilation cd’s I’ve made for them, but this time it just didn’t occur to us, we were having too much fun.
I’m not like that as much as I wish. But a few days off and the real me was back again. A bit quicker this time.
So where does the real me go? When the pressure comes, when the problems hit and the brain gets filled up with the complexities that life throws at us, what happens to our true personality? I miss it. I actually miss it, at times when I am shouting at the kids for not doing something they should have done, knowing that if I was in a different space I would probably handle it in a calmer and better way. I suspect many others feel the same way (which is the reason I am writing this blog).
This has been my challenge ever since I sat in my car eight years ago waking up to the fact that I was not being the real me. How could I change my life to increase the percentage of time that I am truly the great person I know I can be, and reduce the proportion of time being the selfish idiot I also know I can be. It’s been a conscious effort ever since I shouted at that driver. So I write, I play music, I take time off. And I try to be more aware.
If this resonates with you, I’d love to hear what steps you have taken to give that part of yourself you like the most the best chance to appear.
Chris Budd recently published his first novel. Details here: http://www.cbudd.co.uk/