Almost exactly nineteen years ago, in about half an hour if memory serves, I stood at the business end of a church in Oxfordshire, waiting for the future Mrs Beckett to arrive. Several aunts stood outside waiting for a Rolls Royce to pull up, and didn’t quite know what to tell anybody when it drove straight past. It turned out the driver had just missed the church (it was very small, and my other half talks a lot).
An hour or so later – after forcing us through the rigmarole that Churches do (this was years before I stopped sitting on the fence, and stopped believing in any of it), I turned around and was quite shocked. While you’re facing the vicar, who is invariably quoting chapter and verse and being very solemn and sensible, you tend to forget that most of your family and friends are right behind you.
I’m just trying to think what we have spent the last nineteen years doing since. Before children arrived in our lives we visited quite a few places around the world – France, Tunisia, Corsica, Spain, North America, Turkey. We also visited the various corners of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and various places around England.
A little over fifteen years ago we started thinking about children and didn’t get very far. After a long and tortuous story that I won’t get into in this post, we finally became parents about twelve years ago – going from zero to three children overnight (four if you inclulde me as a child too). Suddenly I found myself living in a house with four women. Somehow I’m still lucid enough to tell the tale.
Twelve years on and the children are almost grown – leaving schools and colleges, getting jobs, and beginning to find their way in the world. I have no doubt their directions will vary, and that we’ll need to continually remind them that it really doesn’t matter where you’re going, how you get there, or when you get there – as long as you’re going somewhere that you’re not too unhappy about.
Has it all been perfect? Of course not. Has it always been fun? Hell no. Do I regret anything? Of course. Would I actually change anything though? No. I tend to believe we are a product of our journey – of the decisions we make, the things we do, the things we don’t do, successes, failures, and so on. Without the journey we have no story to tell – no wisdom to inform what we might do next.
Maybe the secret to putting one foot in front of the other is to not be too unhappy about where the next foot is about to land. Everything else follows.