7 Things I NEVER Thought Would Happen in My LIFE
So, I’m way overdue for publishing The Paradise Induction – a whole year out in fact!
The book which is the debut of the Taking off My Shoes saga revisits five years—2009 – 2014—where I lived in the Caribbean and endured some interesting experiences…yes, I say ‘endured’ not enjoyed, because it was very different to what I’d anticipated.
Previously, I’d said I would publish The Paradise Induction by June 2017, but life took an unexpected turn in a multitude of unpredictable ways and now here we are…July 2018 – book unpublished.
All I can say is that I’m still on the path to release this book, but I’m not setting a date anymore as life has thrown far too many extreme curve balls. I’ve learned–painfully so–that I’m free to have my ambitions and make my plans, but I’m to humbly surrender how the outcome of those commitments will appear…or for that matter, when they will materialise.
To bring you up to speed with why The Paradise Induction has taken so very long to publish and hopefully illuminate why a book can take years to complete, here are seven things that I NEVER thought I would do in my life:
(1) Leave the country on a silly teenage vow! – Nov 2009
I remember when I made the vow, and I recall when I fulfilled it.
“In ten years’ time, if I’m not happy with my life in London, I’ll leave the country.”
When I completed on this oath—no more or less than 10 years after—at 25 years old, there wasn’t warm peace or joy as I departed through London Heathrow International Airport.
Rather, there was this bizarre force in the atmosphere around me that caused me to feel like I was being ostracised from my country; a form of involuntary abdication; exile!
I wasn’t happy…just numb and obeying the strange promise I’d made at 15 years old.
I travelled to a location in the Caribbean where I lived life in a veritable, tropical paradise so far from anything I ever wanted. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. I didn’t want the eccentric, over-indulgent life of the Caribbean that so many of us crave.
In addition, my Caribbean excursion to the westerner’s dream land bestowed lessons about the nature of pride, morality, selfishness, and greed in ways I could never have conjured up myself…
All of this and more will be in The Paradise Induction through the eyes of protagonist Christopher Charles…
(2) Return to Dreary London in Winter! – Dec 22, 2014
I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t live in London again.
Never! I’d told myself.
I was finished with the city of smog and its cold, disconnected social structure, that seemed to partner perfectly with its dismal weather.
But I learned so much in inhabiting tropical paradise to the envy of the worldly consensus that says, “it must be Heaven to live there.”
I learned about self-righteousness.
I learned about how unfathomably immense pride truly is.
I learned about the weaknesses in my attempt to be a moral man.
And, I learned that relocating is not the answer to life’s ‘challenges,’ no matter how beautiful a country may appear.
With a bizarre twist of events that I stress to everyone was a ‘guided decision’ that sprung from the ether, I left tropical paradise in Dec 2014 with no plan of what I would do, and re-entered into the cold, winter smog of London. Yes, no time to choose summer as my leaving spot and allow myself time to adapt to the weather. After five years in a tropical climate, I came back to feel the frost of a cold winter–I had no problem with this as I like the ‘cleanliness’ and freshness of cold weather, but most would think me mad.
Speaking of madness, I’d lived the alleged dream and left the islands with a mutated psyche, a tougher skin, and a new truth about the world; that it was cruel and trying to be a good, moral man was 100% ignorance and naivety. I had a new way of thinking: Take what you want from life. Trust no one. Be the best. Win.
To find out more about how this happened, tune in for The Paradise Induction.
(3) Declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour – Feb 2015
This life transforming choice did not emerge from some lofty, prideful disposition, or because I don’t care what people think. It didn’t come from a place where I was trying to make myself happier, or choosing something that looked good to my human senses.
This decision was as strange and peculiar as my option to move from tropical paradise back to London…and what’s more, the choice happened very soon after I returned to London; I STILL don’t understand it.
I remember when I ridiculed the Christian Union at University as they handed out toast and coffee to us inebriated fellas; this memory alongside many others keeps me in a constant state of understanding toward people who might think it preposterous to believe that the creation of our world is the result of a loving, higher intelligence.
It’s to be expected that many will disagree about the existence of Jesus—God the Son—coming in the flesh to Earth, let alone that there is a benevolent God in the Heavenly, Spiritual realm watching us.
If one is to be a follower of Jesus, one must accept that part of the journey with HIM is to speak out, spreading the Word of HIS existence, but also receiving a good mocking like HE did; to be called stupid, ignorant, silly, or my personal favourite – suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I still recall the moment I told my University friends—intellectuals, who would claim that they “don’t need or believe in the existence of a higher being;” good friends that they are who understandably would say “anything to do with a spirit world’s existence is fairy tales, fables, stories for children,” or again my personal favourite, “whatever you need to get you through the day,” as if God is chosen from an assortment of pix n’ mix for the lifestyle we pridefully wish to lead.
It was a humbling and humiliating occasion when I revealed I was a Christian to my Uni buddies, as I’d not intended to divulge anything of my new vocation to them. But, as I explained to them and I say to everyone of my decision, it literally just happened; like being conscripted.
I never wanted to follow Jesus, but a series of seemingly unspectacular moments in January 2015 spoke to me. I say unspectacular because it wasn’t like I heard a booming voice, saw healing miracles, or anything of the wonders that Jesus can do.
It was simply a matter of observing and experiencing some raw honesty that convinced me Jesus is The Truth…and reading the entire Bible too…that was the contract-closer.
And so began a journey in the opposite direction of my self-absorbed wants and desires…this included choosing to write the book The Paradise Induction as I don’t enjoy reliving the moments of my life in the Caribbean, but something deep down keeps telling me it’s important to write and publish this book.
(4) Go on a Christian Mission Trip to Chennai, India – Nov 2016
The seed was planted in February 2015 or perhaps earlier in my life…I can’t be certain.
Fresh in my church for only a month, I was watching the morning announcements. The video was a promo of the mission to Chennai, India and what had happened the year before.
It was a throwaway comment, but I told a few of the regular members of the church that, “I’ll be going on that trip.”
Something inside stirred and there was very little fear.
Missing the 2015 excursion, in Jan 2016, I confirmed my decision. The mission trip itself was in Nov 2016 and was every bit the eye-opener a journey of this type promises to be.
In relation to my upcoming novel, it made it all the more a reality that this book has to be published.
Travelling and living in other countries is good and healthy, but the main question at the centre of such a move should always be “WHY?” Why are we deciding to move? What is our real intention in relocating? What is our true desire or ambition in travelling?
Knowing the truth of this answer will make our journeys all the more fruitful, and a lot less painful.
India Mission wasn’t fun, but it was very good and I went from a foundation of selflessness, which meant the outcome had no great expectations placed upon it; therefore, no disappointments. I learned a great deal about myself, God, and people.
When compared to my immigration to the Caribbean–in which I went from a place of selfishness–expectations I had weren’t met at all…very very very far from it, and so I left those islands with a massively different mindset than when I entered.
(5) Take a Purity Walk – June 2016 – Mar 2017
I’m not going to delve into the details of what this is, suffice to say celibacy is easy; a purity walk is a whole new level.
No one, not even a great many Christians can grasp how one accomplishes this and I can tell you why. It’s because it’s not will-power. It’s not trying harder. It’s not mental strength of any sort. It’s straight out of the supernatural power of the ‘One on high.’
Of course one has to make the choice to do something as intense as this, but it’s the real deal of walking in faith, day by day, step by step.
When pursuing faith, if a person really wants to know that they are forgiven and cleansed; that the slate has been wiped clean of all their transgressions, this is one way to actually truly see it and live it.
A purity walk is nothing unique to what Jesus says in the New Testament. The difference? It’s faithfully following all of what Jesus says. Not cherry-picking.
(6) Raise money to attend a missionary school – Sept 2017 – June 2018
Raising money to attend a missionary school, to learn more about God and then go to countries that I’ve never had any affiliation with at all…this is one of the latest and most far out things I’ve done that I NEVER EVER EVER would have forecast in my life.
Not a chance. No way. Or as my Uni friends knew me for:
“NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!”
Oh dear…how that regular statement I used so often to press home my severity and resolve has been blown to smithereens.
In May of this year, when I looked up to the stars as we clapped hands to the rhythm of the drums in a mountain village in the Himalayas of Nepal, with Nepali people singing about Jesus in a language I don’t know, I couldn’t help but laugh inwardly.
Teaching children in school with a language barrier? Digging grave size holes to plant banana trees for their food supply? Showing a Jesus film to different villages across the mountains after long hikes in the hot baking sun? Praying for people? Teaching English to a variety of people of all ages?
All of this is so so far from the aspirations I had when I was a child.
(7) Surrender Everything
For all intensive purposes, I’ve surrendered everything I know to God.
Surrender essentially means I can continue to be as ambitious as I wish and my desires can still be the same, but I’m no longer resolved to a specific outcome or conclusion like I used to be.
I’m hopeful and optimistic, but I don’t allow myself to fall into the fantasy of plotting out how things will materialise.
I plan and commit to the plan as best as possible. The rest is up to God.
I hope this explains why The Paradise Induction has taken so long. Forgive me for my tardiness…it will come. Just got to keep writing.
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