Sunday, 3 October 2010
In Pursuit Of Light
The other day my good friend and fellow artist Tina Ashton uploaded this lovely painting to her face book page. She hadn't come up with a suitable title and so ran a little competition for suggestions. Reading through the quite large list of entries I saw there were a lot of references to the book by Richard Bach 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull'.
This brought back a flood of memories for me. I must have read through this book dozens of times over the years. Starting at a time just after I left the British army (way back in the mid 1970's) and I was feeling very lost, not knowing what I was going to do with the rest of my life, finding it so very difficult to adapt to civilian life. Unless you have spent some time in the forces, then it may be hard to understand what I am saying. I had left of my own accord, deciding I didn't want to make a lifelong career of the army and wanting to move on before I got too old to start again. But I so missed the life, the situations and experiences often dangerous, sometimes fun but always unforgettable. Friendships forged during these times that were so close, more like a brotherhood.
So I found myself moping around, getting pissed a lot, looking for something or someone to help fill this massive void in my life. I even considered re-joining but deep down I knew that it wasn't for me and I had to move on. I looked up an old army buddy who had left a year or so before me and lived not too far away in Boreham Wood. I spent quite a lot of time over there with him and his new group of friends but, finding it equally difficult to adapt to civvy street he was slowly getting further and further into a drug habit and going on a journey I didn't want to be a spectator to. So I eased away from that situation and went back home feeling more than a little depressed.
It was then that a friend gave me my first copy of Bach's JLS (yes there was another one Aston) which I read through in one session. It had enough of an impact on me to get me thinking about my life in more depth, through fresh eyes and to start me looking in new directions for a way to move on. Of course things don't always go as planned and I've definitely made more mistakes than I should have, had many more downs than ups throughout my life but I often went back to that book for inspiration and with the help of the odd bottle of single malt found it helped me through some of the worst of times.
I can't remember what happened to my copy which had quite a nice inscription in the front from my friend who passed away long ago. It was a hard back with tissue paper leaves protecting the photographs and I can't find it anywhere although I have a vague recollection of lending it to someone who was going through a hard time. (So if anyone reading this has it, it's about time to return it!) However I have found Jenny's little copy which she has had for many years too. (We have so much in common we do)
The good news is that, as Tina is sending me a print of her painting, I'll no longer need to keep looking out the book (which I know pretty much by heart anyway) as the picture once hung will bring it and all it's memories straight back to me.