After University, I worked for a well-known music, video and video games retailer in Leeds. I was 23 by this point and had both my Degree in Law and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, but wasn’t really sure that practicing Law was for me after all (that 4 years of study and £20,000 of debt!). I had been unceremoniously dumped by my girlfriend of the last 2 and a half (or so) years and needed something to reassure myself that I was going to get through the miserable quagmire that my life had become at that point. I worked with my (now ex) girlfriend at one store and quickly transferred to another, where I had worked during my final year of Uni and where a number of my friends still worked, in the same city.
After progressing (slightly) up the pecking order there, an opportunity presented itself; one of my oldest friends was seeing a girl from our hometown and her father was a partner in a local firm of solicitors – was I interested in completing my training there?
I sit here now, some 13 and a half years later, now a partner in that firm myself. I’m on the verge of 39 years old, have an intelligent & beautiful Wife, Sarah, a ridiculously handsome 3 and a half year old Son, Joseph (he gets his looks from his Mother) and an above average income. This is the place I thought I’d wanted to be… But now I’m not so sure. In my mid-twenties, I always felt I was behind my friends in terms of being an adult – I was single, didn’t own my own home, had no car (couldn’t drive until I was 27, although my Wife would say I still can’t) and earned what would now be more or less minimum wage as a trainee solicitor. Now that I have these material things, and am qualified, I’m not even sure I want them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put my Wife & Son in that category!
So, the title of this, my first post on my blog, is “The Midway Point”. This is a not-so-thinly veiled reference to the fact that I am, in actual number terms, middle-aged. Both of my Grandfathers died before 80 and although I’ve got a fairer chance at entering a fifth score of years, my weight resulting from a preponderance to stuff my face with chocolate, crisps and a whole host of calorie-filled takeaways, may see me expire from heart disease at some point (better this than cancer though as it’s this foul disease which has taken away a great number of my family, so I’m rooting for something else!).
Since my Son came along (who I’m absolutely in love with; he means everything to me) I’ve felt more and more that I need to quite literally “shape up”, both physically and mentally, so that I can be with him as long as I possibly can; I was already 35 when he came along (my own father was 25 when I came into the world) and so I’ve already short-changed myself and him there. Sarah thinks I’m having a mid-life crisis (she may be right) as I’ve been watching documentaries about minimalism (which is something that I’ve been interested in for the last several years) and reading books about travel, exploring and leading a more meaningful life. I don’t particularly enjoy my job; it doesn’t leave me fulfilled nor do I feel it’s my “mission” in life to be a lawyer. Sarah, who has Degrees both in Law and Management Accountancy, has found something she loves recently in being a Slimming World Consultant. If she could make a living from it as a full-time job, she’d jump at the chance; but I’m not sure what I’d do instead of being a lawyer – my main hobby is cinema (or going to Star Trek / sci-fi conventions) and whilst I do enjoy that very much, I’m no Mark Kermode. I’ve subscribed to several YouTube channels in the last year or so and they seem very happy and able to make money from their passion (I watch Urbex channels and one or two automotive vloggers) but I’ve no idea what I’d do if I was to try and emulate that as a hobby; maybe something travel related as that is something I’ve grown to enjoy more and more. I’m also not sure what I’d do instead of my current profession, and I do have a mortgage and other bills to pay (don’t we all?!).
So, what do I intend to do about it? Well, as far as being overweight goes, I hate to run and I’d rather eat my own toenails than go to the gym. I really enjoy walking and exploring, although I rarely do much of it these days – now I have my own car (Mirabeau – I’m sure I’ll talk more about her in future) I don’t even walk the roughly 2 miles to work, although I bought her because I didn’t want my Son being cold and wet in his pushchair on the way to nursery anymore. I’ve done a few hikes in my time; in August 2016 I walked from Whitby to Scarborough to raise money for Child Bereavement UK in memory of a local lawyer who died very suddenly leaving his two young sons and wife behind. I think this was a major factor in my current thought process. He was just 40 when he died – I’m not far off that. It made me think more about how short life is and how you shouldn’t spend the relatively small amount of time we’re given on this Earth doing something that doesn’t make you feel like you’re contributing, like you’re making a difference. A quote from one of the books I’ve read recently sticks in my mind (although I may be paraphrasing, because I can’t remember which book I read it in and I can’t find the quote on Google!) – “Some people wake up in the middle of the night. Some people wake up in the middle of their lives.” That statement feels more and more like it was aimed squarely at me. Lock phasers on target. Fire!
In 2017, Sarah and I took a trip to Orlando for a week without Joseph. We each wrote him a letter in the event something happened and we didn’t come home. I still can’t read that letter without welling up. Although we came home (having spent the entire week pining for Joseph – poetic justice I think) I felt like I should record my thoughts, views and feelings on life and other topics, in the event that I don’t live long enough to guide my Son personally as he grows up; an idea of my design for life so that he can take his own view on what is / isn’t important and how he should view the world. I’m no writer and a publisher is unlikely to print a manual written by a nobody like me, aimed squarely at more or less just one person. So, the internet seems like the most logical place to make a record of my musings for him; but perhaps, other people and not just my Son, might find some utility or sense in them?
Although I own several coats, my favourite outerwear is my berry red coloured Superdry hoodie and although I’m a 39 year old legal professional, I often wear it with the hood up and my hands in the joey pockets toting my ever-present backpack. I don’t wear suits to the office and I haven’t worn a tie now in years. I’m big. I like hiking. My hood’s red. You see where I’m going.