I've been dealing with feelings of jealousy this week. Having been to Glastonbury music festival many times, it was with great regret that my wife and I gave this year's festival a miss. And so I decided to treat myself to a spot of Lionel Richie's incredible set this morning. Hearing the first few bars of 'Hello' reminded me that a) the music video to that song is simultaneously one of the most hilarious and upsetting things ever committed to film, and b) there is a post I've been meaning to write.
I recently met Tony Jackson and have been following his #whatshapedme experiment with interest. I really like the idea that we can create opportunities to share personal stories using SoMe- much in the same way as we would if we all worked in the same office.
On reflection- here are a number of things that have shaped me:
1) Growing up on a street with no other children
I spent the first five years of my life living with my parents on a street in Sheffield (my dad worked at the university there for a time). It was years later I was told that, by some strange quirk of fate, no other children lived on our road whilst we were there. These are a life-defining few years in any child's life- developing language, the ability to walk, not to mention social skills - and my parents in their infinite wisdom had decided to leave me with no one my own age to share it all with, outside of playgroup!
But looking back I can see that it paid off. Instead of locking myself away, I quickly learned that if I made the effort to toddle into neighbour's houses and introduce myself, I would be rewarded with scintillating conversation, juice, and (very often) chocolate biscuits.
Inadvertently, my parents had set me on a course to become the sort of person who still relishes the opportunity to walk into a room full of strangers. I strongly suspect that the value of rapport building, curious questioning and bonding over biscuits will never truly be known!
Confession: I'm not really into football. It's not that I don't appreciate the skills involved, or the atmosphere of being at a live game...it's just that I can live without it in my life. I discovered my football apathy at an early age, and whilst all my friends spent their evenings and weekends watching/playing the game, I threw my energy into something else.
From tinkering around with my dad's first home computer (a BBC)- through to setting up my first home network, I've been fascinated with technology for as long as I can remember. I wanted to know more than just how to type a letter- I needed to know how it all worked, what happened if I unscrewed this panel, unplugged this cable, and so on.
Although this has turned out to be both a blessing (I love that people still ask me for advice when buying/using new tech) and a curse (my in-laws have a good 30mins of 'technical support' time whenever they visit), my obsession with tech has, time and again, taught me a huge life lesson:
If in doubt, have a go. See what happens.
Unfortunately, life has no 'undo' key. But we do have the opportunity to save our work as we go along - stopping, learning, amending, reflecting and consolidating what we've accomplished.
These are perhaps the most obvious influences on my life so far (and I suspect, will prove to be some of the most popular in Tony's experiment). And whilst I imagine that most reading this blog will have been affected by death in some shape or form, for me it is an experience intrinsically linked with disappointment. Disappointment that things didn't work out as you'd hoped they would. Disappointment that you didn't have that important conversation before it was too late.
And yet the funny thing about being affected by death is that it's often very life-affirming. An odd quirk of human nature that we need an experience as extreme as that to remind us about the important things in our lives.
On that note, I thought I'd sign off with some typically wise words from the wonderful Maya Angelou:
You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot- it's all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.