Sailing Close to the Wind

I had my 50th Birthday just before New Year and we tend to celebrate the decades as extra special. Decimalization began in the Arabic world and then with the Reformation, the mathematics and science of the Islamic scholars was incorporated into the Alchemical Christian tradition of Western Europe. The two streams of Christianity and Islam combined to build the civilization of our time; a civilization that glorifies science and technology and the numerical system of base ten. If Napoleon had his way we would all be living a ten day week, but luckily he failed and we still get a weekend every seven days. The human being works in seven day periods, ten days would be too long to work without a days rest, and likewise our lives evolve in seven year periods and not decades.

Much has been said by many people about the first three periods of seven years of life, but as a very brief overview, from birth to seven we develop our physical body and then at the change at age seven we gain our adult teeth. From seven to fourteen we start to gain knowledge as our education begins, then at puberty we enter the third period from fourteen to twenty one when we apply our knowledge into developing thoughts and ideas. At twenty one we have developed our ego and can move into the world as adult human beings and this is when talk of those periods of seven tends to stop, but the reality is that life carries on in seven year periods of development.

In my life those periods have been clearly defined with the turning points being marked by accidents and injuries that have always thrown me headlong into the next phase of life. My twenty first birthday was spent on crutches having been knocked off of a bicycle and run over by a car which had a profound affect on the following years. Barely off of crutches I got back to college, caught up on the work I’d missed and threw myself into life, refusing to allow the injuries to my body to hold me back. It didn’t last, though, and by the time I finished college two and a half years later, I was exhausted both physically and mentally. I didn’t lose my thirst for life, I never have, but at the same time I saw the darkness and the harshness of our world, was disillusioned with the ways of society and had no real desire to enter into the manufacturing industry I was trained to work in. My 25th Birthday was the lowest day of my life, but also a turning point. I was struggling to even walk to the pub and my self medication with alcohol and cannabis wasn’t working, but I turned things around, got back to physiotherapy class once a week, joined a yoga class and learnt how to use a body to cope with the damage, taking it to the extreme of walking miles through our countryside barefooted (See my early blog post, ‘The Art of Walking’ for more).

I believe I did well to overcome the issues of my twenties and experience has taught me that what we learn and how we evolve is far more important that what we do. At the age of twenty eight, the beginning of the 5th seven year period of life, I didn’t know what to do and despite my education was turning my hand to being a labourer to make ends meet. This is when fate played its hand to spring me into that 5th period of life and in the most dramatic way. I was driving a dumper truck up a steep slope and managed to turn it over, crushing myself underneath and seriously damaging my spine, leaving me paralysed from the waist down. This was hard to come to terms with, but the experience of my twenties held me in good stead and somehow I managed to avoid falling into despair. In fact I started to experience the compassionate side of life and see beyond the darkness of that 4th period. I created new opportunities for myself, a life in Brockham, a move to The Lodge at the Cheshire Home in Copthorne and then towards the end of the period I met Leonid Blyum and embarked upon ABR Therapy. The period was marked throughout by new hope.

Then at the age of thirty five my thirst for life got the better of me and, following a holiday to the West Country on a motorcycle and sidecar, I got a pressure sore. It was serious and threatened everything I’d worked for and was almost more frightening than breaking my back. It was the turning point that threw me into the 6th period of life. We healed it, as well as was possible at the time bearing in mind that my body was still very lifeless and had yet to be woken up at a deeper pelvic level. Life continued, with vibrance, albeit on a new tack and that 6th period of seven years was marked by the building of a home and smallholding while incorporating a therapy regime into a way of life.

The turning point at forty two seemed to come two years early. My first dog had died the year before and I got myself a husky. I live on a set of wheels and wanted an engine. At a year old she started working hard and pulled me along in a wheelchair. It’s great to have a dog taking the strain, but it did get a little dodgy at times and I kind of expected, sooner or later, that the wheelchair would catch and I would get pulled out onto the ground. I could have coped with the grazes and bruises, but never expected to get catapulted into the air. I’d made the mistake of tying the dog round my waist instead of onto the wheelchair which somehow caused me to pivot up on the end of the rope. I found myself so high in the air that I was never going to land without hurting myself. I managed to bend my right leg up but my left leg stayed straight and landing on my left foot with all my weight broke my tibia and fibula in two. I healed well, as I always do, but had to make some changes. I got the husky working with my handcycle, much safer, and this embarked me on seven years of handcycling round the farm lanes. As I said, it’s not what we do that’s important, but those times of being towed along single track farm lanes where you rarely meet a car were times of real contemplation and life turned more to spiritual development after the last three periods of soulfulness.

The seventh period (42 to 49) may well have turned to spiritual development but those years seemed quite a slog and towards the end I began to question where I was going in life, not with the therapy, but with where I lived and what else I did with my life. Then at the age of forty nine the old wound from the pressure sore, that had opened up sometime earlier in a new phase of deeper healing, got infected. The infection rapidly took hold and I ended up with Founier’s gangrene (see my blog post, ‘Ravaged by Infection). The eighth peiod of life had begun!

I’m not a sailor, but I’ve sailed to France on a Tall Ship and tacking back across the Channel was a great experience. Life is a journey tacking to and fro as the wind blows from the side. At the beginning of each period life turns and then you either lean into the wind or run with the wind behind you. This time, as usual, I tacked a little too far, sailed too close to the wind and the turn was rough, but as each time before I seem to have made the tack and not only come through it in one piece, but with a new impetus to take life forward. While lying in a hospital bed last year I sold my geese and some of my sheep, but I ended the year with the garden looking better than ever, the log shed full to the brim to last the winter, my Soay sheep in good shape and an enthusiasm for a new poultry project this year. I spent a month in hospital between last February and March and then another week in hospital in the autumn having the colostomy reversed, but in between I got the Spinalroots fund raising project off the ground, with the help of my good friend David Sheppard, and undertook my first public speaking at a golf day. I hope there’ll be more.

The gangrene took its toll on me, but I ended the year with a greater level of pelvic development. The whole episode was about awakening at a deeper level, both physically and spiritually. I have a bum on me like I haven’t seen for many years and my sitting interface is truly developing. I was missing a chunk of flesh where they cut the rot out of me, but I’ve been working hard to stimulate new growth and I’m a good half way to filling in the hole.

I’ve bounced back well and the doubts about where I’m going in life have passed. The country way of life is all about finding the help you need and I have good friends around me and I never mind paying a young lad to do the hard graft. Therapy work is going from strength to strength and having made the tack I feel like I’m sailing with the wind behind me.

5 comments on “Sailing Close to the Wind

  1. You are absolutely amazing Steve! You always put a positive spin on things, you put the rest of us to shame! Keep going matey you are truly inspiring! ❤

  2. So beautifully written, meaningful and truly inspiring. X

  3. Steve – it is hard to know what to say when one reads about all the toils you have been through! The human spirit is absolutely amazing and you have one of the strongest ones around. Hold your sails close to the wind as you can in the next period and make sure you can do some artful tacking!

  4. Thank you for sharing this, inspirational x

  5. Dear Steve, I wish my seven year periods had been as clear as your’s. You are incredibly strong, and reading your blog was a pleasure. And I’m very glad that we are friends. Fanny

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