The truth is, we have all asked ourselves at some point, “How did I end up here?” We all have our stories and this is mine.
In my case, my life changed irreversibly when I received an invitation to attend lunch with Her Majesty The Queen in London. It would be a small, intimate affair, just Her Majesty and two dozen or so officers from my former Regiment, The Coldstream Guards. Each of us had served as a Temporary Equerry in Buckingham Palace at some point in our careers.
Well, you cannot turn down an invitation like that, especially when you have been selected to sit beside your Sovereign. However, acceptance would mean traveling halfway around the globe from Australia to London for a weekend. More realistically, it would mean closing down my psychotherapy clinics for a month and I feared what that meant. The golden rule of small business is that if you take your eye off the ball or go away for an extended time, your bottom line has a nasty way of evaporating. I had spent years building a successful practice.
I took my problems to my spouse Rose. She scanned the email and looked at me with sparkling green eyes. “Darling! How exciting! Of course you must go! Write back immediately and accept!”
I spluttered while I outlined the obstacles. She dismissed them with a wave of her hands. “Don’t worry about any of that. Here’s what we’ll do.”
Rose, a woman of instant decision and action, thinks with Gaelic swiftness while I plod along in her dancing steps. Within ten minutes, I bowed to my fate. Lunch with The Queen became a stepping stone in a plan that encompassed a complete overhaul of our lives.
“Richard, you’ve been complaining about how disenchanted you’ve become working within four square walls so why not close the clinics and try something different?” she said.
“Keep going,” I said.
“Here’s your chance to test your theory that you can work with people outdoors instead of indoors.”
“Go on,” I said.
“How about we meet up in New Zealand at Christmas and you take your stepson on a trek afterward?”
“Hm,” I considered. Her son was a first year university student who had inherited his mother’s abstemious ways. While I am a bon vivant, he saved his beer money to buy luxurious Sheridan sheets. His grades, although adequate, reflected a decided preference for late morning lie-ins as a result.
“Come on, darling,” she wheedled. “Take him off for a month and see what happens.”
How could I resist? An affirmative email winged its way back to Regimental Headquarters and Rose roused her son from an afternoon nap to give him the news that he faced thirty days of wet feet, cold nights and short rations on his summer break.