The Leunig cartoon below was very significant to me when I first saw it some years back. Would I continue along the life I was leading or regretfully walk past the sign pointing to the life I could have led?
When I was 48 I took a deep breath and walked a totally different path to the one I was on. I gave up the security of a successful business and a pretty comfortable lifestyle to do something I felt unexpectedly drawn to.
After thirty years away from school, I left Australia with my wife and daughters and went back to study in the United States. I was there to learn to play music for people facing the end of their lives. This was an enormous change for me. It was a two-year training. The required instrument was the harp and to make matters worse, I hadn’t played one of them at all before. A transformation from furniture retailer to a bloke who plays harps in hospitals, now there’s a change of careers for you.
It was the scariest, craziest, and as it turned out one of the most significant, meaningful decisions I have made.
We only have one chance at this life and I am so pleased I took the opportunity then to follow my own sense of purpose.
I would be kidding you to say it was a breeze and that the path was smooth, but over twenty years have now passed and I still find an absolute sense of satisfaction and purpose in my work. That chance I took has paid dividends that I could never imagine.
I have played and assisted thousands of people in a form of care that didn’t exist in Australia until I brought it here.
My work has been validated through research, and I have received an award for pioneering this form of care. I have spoken at conferences across Australia and overseas. ABC TV’s Australia Story did a feature story on my journey into this field. My CDs are now being widely used in hospitals and hospices and there has been a book published about all this.
I’ve co-created a new musical instrument…and I’m pleased to report that I am still married to the same wonderful woman who has been on this journey with me. My kids are now young women and they are doing fine too.
Before you walk straight past the sign pointing towards the life you could have led. In my experience, it’s worth having a second look at the direction it’s pointing you towards.