I haven’t got much money. I’m pretty much broke most of the time. I’ve never had money. And bearing in mind my approach to life, I will probably never have much money. But by all the Gods, I have lived!
I don’t own my own house. The car I drive is over 20 years old. All of my family and friends (save those I actually work with) earn more than I do. But I have travelled the world and seen incredible places and things. I have met some of the most amazing and fascinating people alive today. I am married to a beautiful wife, we live in a country cottage with the most breathtaking sea view and that old car I drive is a luxury model that far outclasses most vehicles in the showroom.
It’s not money that matters. It’s quality of life and how you throw yourself into it. When I first remarked that I had started writing my autobiography, quite a few people looked at me askance and said, “Why? What’s so interesting about your life?” If only they knew! I discovered the lore of the Banshee in London from a woman asking for loose change in a doorway; I’ve spoken with the tongue of Angels in Texas to those who could Understand it; I’ve explored the catacombs under Kiev by candlelight; I was passed the beacon of Leviathan in San Francisco; I led a party in Munich to the constellation of Seven Stars and back again, revealing their essential Selves; I unveiled the Mysteries of Desire in Helsinki; I wore Doc Marten boots on the beach in Fuengirola, and I had my arse caned by a pretty young lady whilst eating a sandwich in Japan.
No, I’ve never had much money. But I have so very many memories, of strange places and stranger people, and I always – always – land on my feet.
So what’s this all about? What am I building up to in my usual rambling way? Simply this: life isn’t made of money, it’s made of experiences. These are the things that make us rich. And in those terms I can turn to many of the people who have more material assets than me and confidently assert in the words of Harry Enfield that “I’m considerably richer than you”.
There is so much wonder and beauty and adventure in the world, and we need to reach out and take it. We are each responsible for our own lives and our own circumstances. Decide what you want and go for it. If you keep your eyes fixed on your goal and steer your every decision in its direction, you’ll reach it. And it really is as simple as that. Some of you are going to react to that, saying that you can’t quit your job or go swanning off abroad. Of course you can. You’re the one who decides. If you hate your job but are still in it, it’s you who’s deciding to stay there. Maybe you have your reasons for that, maybe it’s a means to an end, but don’t pretend you haven’t a choice, and be certain of what that end might be. If you’re not heading for what you want, change your course. Otherwise one day you’ll be on your deathbed with no memories to look back on except yet another weekend’s overtime.
Some things require planning and time, sure. But if that’s the case, make damn certain that you’ve done the planning and have measured the time, that your plan is running according to your schedule. And as soon as you can seize the thing you want, do so.
One of the reasons I never have much money is that I’m never prepared to rest on my laurels. There’s always something to achieve, some plan to bring to fruition, and every penny gets funneled towards that. My wife is a great spur and inspiration, believing in me and helping me to make things happen. This is why we live in an idyllic cottage, drive a plush car and have a really great quality of life: because we apply ourselves and we make these things happen, in spite of money, not because of it.
I’m not trying to be unrealistic. I’m not saying I could go out and get a luxury yacht tomorrow. I couldn’t. (Give me 5 years and I might.) But everybody is capable of achieving far more than they imagine if they only fix their sights and aim for it. Please do so. Life can be much more than you think it is.
As for me … yep, it’s nearly time for me to transform my situation again. Me and my wife, we’re looking forward to it.
So get out there and dare to shape the life you want.